Sewing notions are all the extra supplies you need besides your fabric in order to complete a sewing project. They may include elastics, tools, zippers and even specialized cottons or needles. Sewing notions are indicated on the back envelope of paper patterns or on the first couple of pages on downloadable sewing patterns.
Where to Buy Sewing Notions
You will find sewing notions at your local fabric store usually grouped in one location. Other sources include eBay, Amazon and online fabric stores.
Basic Sewing Notions
These basic sewing notions will form the basis of all sewers kits and will be used over and over again making them great value. Many of these can be purchased in kits to save money.
Needles – Machine and Hand
Needles come in different thicknesses and serve different purposes. Choosing the correct needle will make all the difference when sewing tricky fabrics. They will prevent skipped and uneven stitches and will give a nice even tension. Examples of machine needles include stretch needles, leather needles, topstitching needles and universal needles that are used for general sewing.
If you are looking for an all purpose hand sewing needle then start with a packet of sharps in assorted sizes.
Most sewing projects can be sewn with an all purpose polyester thread. Choose threads that are good quality as you will save giving yourself the frustration of threads snapping. Occasionally your pattern may call for a specialized thread such as embroidery thread or upholstery thread.
Further Reading: Types of Threads for Sewing
Did you know there are different types of pins for sewing? Pins vary in lengths, thicknesses and tips may be sharp or rounded. Using the right pins is essential on delicate fabrics such as silk and knit fabric to prevent holes and snags
Further Reading: Types of Pins
Well, you need somewhere to put all those pins and needles! Pincushions are inexpensive to buy or you can easily make your own from small scraps of fabric. Magnetic pin cushions are useful to have as well and can be purchased from most fabric stores.
- How to Make a Pincushion – Patchwork square shaped pin cushion
- Pincushion Patterns – Felt with an applique sewing machine motif. This pincushion is done is all hand sewing.
- Mason Jar Pincushion – Recycle old jars into a stylish pincushion for your workroom.
- DIY Pin Cushion – Round pin cushion
A seam ripper is a must have tool that while not always listed in sewing notions, you cannot be without. This tool will remove stitches that are crooked or just wrong. Even experienced sewers need to unpick some days, so keep several on hand and never feel bad for using it.
Sewing Machine Feet
Most sewing is done with an all purpose sewing foot but there are times when a pattern may specify a particular foot.
Further Reading: Sewing Machine Feet - top 10
Tools Sewing Notions
There are tools for all kinds of things that you will need for sewing. Most are inexpensive and small so will fit easily into a sewing box or drawer. Like the basic sewing notions, these will be used repeatedly and are a great investment in your hobby or business.
Cutting tools are considered essential sewing notions and will be among your most used items. If you are on a budget, then just purchase a pair of sewing shears, a cheap pair of scissors for cutting paper and some snippers for cutting threads. Pinking shears have a serrated edge and although they are a little more expensive, they are useful if you don't have a serger for finishing seam raw edges.
Further Reading: Cutting Tools
The most basic marking tool is tailor's chalk. It comes in different colors and can be in a pencil form or shaped pieces.
Further Reading: Marking Tools
The main sewing notion you will need for sewing is an iron and ironing board. There are tailors hams, mini irons, and numerous other pressing tools but these are mostly optional and used by more experienced sewers.
Further Reading: Pressing Tools
For sewing projects that have embroidery, you may need some extra sewing notions such as an embroidery hoop. Embroidery is an inexpensive way to embellish items and can be a relaxing and enjoyable hobby. Sewing patterns that have smocking may call for certain embroidery threads.
Fasteners are one of the most common sewing notions that you will find in sewing patterns. Most clothing will need something to help you get it on the body including zippers, snaps, velcro and buttons.
There are 2 main types of zippers that will be listed in sewing patterns - nylon zippers and invisible zippers. When the length of the zipper is specified it is measured along the actual zipper - metal to metal. It is not the full length of the tape which is usually around 1.5 inches (4cm) longer.
Velcro (Hook and Eye)
Velcro is one of the wonders of the modern sewing world. Easy to sew, even for beginners, it is popular on kids clothing and bag patterns. Your pattern should specify the length and width of the Velcro needed. The generic name for Velcro is hook and eye tape.
Further Reading: How to Sew Velcro
Different elastics suit different purposes. Some are loose and overly stretch and others are firm and designed to be sewn into waistbands and necklines. As well as the type, take note of the width required.
Buttons are used to close blouses, shirts, skirts, dresses - the list goes on! Look for the button size and type.
While buckles aren't a common sewing notion, they can give character to dresses and belts. Check the width of the buckle specified and when purchasing, take into account your washing methods. Some buckles don't do well in the wash.
Snaps and Poppers
Snaps are an easy alternative to using buttons. They can be sewn on or purchased with setting kits.
Your sewing pattern may specify certain embellishments in the sewing notions list or you may choose to add your own. Nothing adds individuality to a sewing pattern more than a bit of sparkle and color!
Ric rac is the wavy trim you see pictured above. It comes in numerous widths and may be sewn on top of an item or caught into the seam.
Further Reading: How to Sew Ric Rac
Pom Pom Trim
Pom pom trim is a row of pom poms attached to tape. They can be cotton or polyester and like ric rac, may be sewn on top of a garment or caught in at the seam.
Ribbon makes a pretty statement when used as a sewing notion. Just make sure you get a good quality ribbon that won't shred in the wash.
Further Reading: Types of Ribbon
Sequins and Rhinestones
Bling it up! Sequins and rhinestones add sparkle and fun to leotards, dresses and absolutely anything. Sequins can be purchased as individuals or joined together in a row.
Lace is a really popular sewing notion. It is easy to add to sewing projects and generally washes and lasts quite well. It the lace will touch any part of the body, make sure it is not scratchy. Cotton laces are generally softer than polyester ones.
Sewing notions often include tapes. These can be bias tape, piping, webbing and even hemming tape. The usages of these vary from the functional to the decorative.
Hemming tape is designed to hem garments without sewing by fusing it with an iron. It is also useful for sewing knit fabrics as it gives stability to hems. You are more likely to find hemming tape listed as a notion in no-sew or beginner patterns.
Further Reading: How to Use Hemming Tape
Bias Tape is an extremely common sewing notion. It is used as a decorative finish for raw edges and can also be used on necklines, armholes and curved hems. Bias tape comes in limited colors and widths in fabric stores or you can make your own easily.
Piping is commonly used in the edges of pillows as an attractive and durable border. It can also be inserted into seams for a pop of color and to add some structure to garments and bags.
Further Reading: How to Make Piping
Sewing Notions - In Conclusion
Now you know "what are sewing notions" you are ready to start sewing and creating something truly unique. Always think about how you can embellish your sewing projects and add a bit of your personality.