Sewing tools are a necessity for all sewers. If you want to start sewing and are on a limited budget, or want to start small to see if you like it, (trust me, with a little practice you’ll love it!) then these are the basic sewing tools and equipment you will need to set up a beginners sewing kit. You can often save money by buying a kit with quite a few of these items bundled together.
Beginners Sewing Tools
Many new sewers ask themselves what are the best sewing tools and equipment to have in a beginners sewing kit?
Sewing Tools can be divided into:
- Pins and Needles
- Sewing Thread
- Cutting Tools
- Measuring Tools
- Marking Tools
- Pressing Tools
- Miscellaneous Tools
When you are on a budget, look for kits with numerous items rather than purchasing everything individually.
Pins and Needles Sewing Tools
Pins and needles is one of the largest categories of sewing tools but don't worry as they are all small and inexpensive. You can often get kits with assorted sized needles and pins so you have sizes for different sewing projects without having to purchase them individually.
These can be broken into:
- Hand sewing needles
- Machine needles
- Safety pins
Hand Sewing Needles
Most of my pdf sewing patterns have little or no hand sewing but there will be a time when you always need a hand sewing needle handy. Just get a small pack of assorted sizes. These are usually labeled universal or sharps needles which just means all-purpose.
Further Reading: Types of Hand Sewing Needles
Start your sewing tools with some Universal needles suitable for a wide variety of woven fabrics. If you will be sewing knits then you will need stretch needles. Needles come in different sizes so make sure you match the needle size to the thickness of your fabric.
Machine needles often come in packs of assorted sizes which will save you purchasing full packs of different sizes.
Further Reading: Machine Needle Sizes
When setting up your sewing tools and equipment kit, buy a small pack of assorted sizes of safety pins. These are commonly used for threading elastic through casings and turning tubes of fabric the right way out.
If you are sewing tulle or quilts, they can be handy to hold thick or multiple layers of fabric together.
While not absolutely necessary, a thimble can protect your fingers when hand sewing. They are generally included in starter sewing supplies kits. If you are planning on sewing any kind of embroidery then these are a must-have.
Further Reading: What is a Thimble?
Pins are an essential part of sewing tools and equipment as they hold your seams in place. The plastic ball headed pins are cheap to buy and come in packets of assorted colors. If you have a little more to spend consider buying glass head pins as they won’t melt if you accidentally touch them with the iron. If you are sewing fine silks or delicate knit fabrics you may need more specialty pins but most of the time, just the one type of pin will do.
Further Reading: Types of Pins for Sewing
You will need somewhere to keep all your pins safe. A pincushion will be one of your most-used sewing tools. It can be useful to keep an empty one next to your machine at all times so that when you are sewing, you can remove the pins and put them somewhere safe straight away. The white pincushion in the picture below has a magnetic base to hold your pins in place. Magnetic pincushions are great for running along the floor if you ever drop your pins.
If you’d like something fancy then try making this colored felt one yourself with my free felt sewing cushion pattern.
The red pincushion in the photo is called a tomato pincushion can be found cheaply at most fabric stores. It normally has a small strawberry attached which contains sand for sharpening your pins.
Even though you are setting up your sewing tools on a budget, invest in a good quality thread like Rasant, Gutterman, Mettler or Coats and Clark.
Cheaper threads get fluffy and break easily which will only frustrate you in the long run. Most threads found in sewing kits aren't great quality. Start by purchasing some basic colors for your kit such as white, cream, black, blue, red and pink. Then purchase other specialty colors only as you need them.
Further Reading: Types of Sewing Thread
Cutting Sewing Tools
For your basic sewing tools kit, you will need a large dressmaking pair of scissors and small sharp embroidery scissors or thread snippers.
It is also a good idea to buy a cheap pair of scissors for cutting paper patterns so you don’t dull your good dressmaking shears.
Pinking shears cost a little more but can be a good option for finishing seams if you don’t have a serger (overlocker). If you have a serger I'd save my money on pinking shears as although they look pretty, they won't get used very often.
Further Reading: Cutting Tools for Sewing
Hopefully, you won’t use it too often but it is a fact of sewing that at some stage you are going to make mistakes. This happens to even experienced sewers so don't be discouraged if you have to use yours at lot at first. They are cheap so purchase a couple as once they are blunt they don't do the job properly.
Further Reading: How to Use a Seam Ripper
A rotary cutter looks a little like a pizza cutter and is used mainly in quilting to cut perfect straight edges.
If you plan on quilting then add a rotary cutter, spare blades and a cutting mat to your sewing tools and equipment list. For sewers who would like to be sewing clothing, you don't really need this tool straight away.
Measuring Sewing Tools
Get just a regular clear ruler preferably with both inches and centimeters on it. There are lots of fancy quilting rulers available but if you are just starting then something simple will do. Clear rulers allow you to see the fabric through it. This green one cost just $1!
Further Reading: Measuring Tools
Measuring tapes help you take accurate body measurements. One that has both inches and centimeters is handy in case you are sewing from patterns from different countries.
Don't purchase a measuring tape that is too thin or made from plastic as it will stretch when you are trying to take your measurements giving you inaccurate results.
Further Reading: How to Measure for Sewing
A seam gauge is a small measuring device designed to measure small hems, seam allowances and markings. It is the ruler on the far left of my photo below.
When you are starting with sewing tools this will make it much easier to measure small increments and hems with a seam gauge.
Marking Sewing Tools
You will need a method of transferring markings onto your fabric. The cheapest marking sewing tools are usually chalk pencils that come in packs of a few colors like white, blue and pink. You will need different colored chalk for different color fabrics. Chalk pencils brush off and are easy to use.
Disappearing pens are a little more expensive but do a good job of accurately transferring markings. If you live in a hot climate the pens tend to disappear faster.
Further Reading: Marking Tools
Pressing Sewing Tools
When sewing you will need a steam iron and an ironing board. You probably have these already in your house so I don't expect this is an extra expense. A spray water bottle can be useful for stubborn creases.
Further Reading: Pressing for Sewing
Miscellaneous Sewing Tools
One of the last things in your sewing tools is great lighting. If you don’t have the budget for a lamp, try positioning your sewing table near a window. Sunlight is free! It will make sewing so much easier.
Many sewers think they need a dressmaker dummy but when you are starting out this is not strictly necessary. A dummy is great to have long term if you are sewing regularly or sewing as a business. I have to admit I do like the look of my dummies in the corner of my workroom but if you are on a budget, save it for later.
Further Reading: Dressmaker Dummy Guide
Sewing Tools - Machine Feet
Most sewing machines come with a few feet so you shouldn't have to spend much money on these sewing tools. If you are looking to have some fun, consider some of the aftermarket feet kits you find on Amazon or eBay. These are inexpensive and can broaden your horizons with many different specialty feet.
Further Reading: 10 Best Sewing Machine Feet
These are a must! Your sewing machine will come with 5 or so bobbins but a few extra always makes your life easier. You will frequently run out of bobbins as you sew and having some extras already wound in different colors will make you so happy. Purchase 10 or more extra bobbins and add them to your sewing tools. Bobbins are cheap. Just make sure they are compatible with your brand of machine.
Occasionally you can't pin a fabric as the pins leave marks. In these instances, you would normally weight the pattern down with pattern weights and then start cutting. Unless you have a large budget, don't bother purchasing store-bought pattern weights. You can use any tin in your kitchen cupboard instead.
Sewing Tools - In Conclusion
So now you are all set with the basics of a beginner sewing kit it is time to start sewing! Do you have any tips for other beginner sewers out there? We’d love to hear your ideas for creating a sewing tools kit on a budget.