Tips & Tricks
Sewing Kit Essentials
As with any trade, sewing has it’s basic tools and instruments that are necessary to tackle any project that comes your way. You would not put together a functional sewing kit without pins and needles, for example, just as you would not put together a first aid kit without band-aids and gauze. If you are building a basic sewing kit for the first time or just getting around to replenishing your well-used collection.
Disappearing Ink Pen
This is a pen with a non-permanent, usually blue or violet ink. This is very useful for transferring pattern markings. The ink is either air-soluble or water-soluble (easily removed with water).
Iron & Ironing Board
Sewing is almost impossible without this. Pro tip: While you are actively sewing, keep your iron warmed to the wool setting, and press each seam after you stitch it. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the type of fabric you are using and its heat tolerance before you do so, however.
Sewing needles, whether for hand or machine use, are obviously a must-have item. Keep in mind that there are many types of needles, and stock the types that match your projects and the materials you work with. For basic machine sewing projects, choose a ball-point (universal) needle for knit fabrics, and a sharp one for woven fabrics. The size of the needle will need to be determined based on the weight of the fabric. For lightweight fabrics, choose a finer needle (lower numbers); for heavy-weight fabrics, choose a thicker needle (larger numbers).
Look for sharp, smooth, rustproof pins that can bend without breaking. Straight pins range in lengths from 1/2″ to 1 7/8″. Different types can be used for different purposes like general sewing, quilting, working with silks or knits.
Pincushions come in all shapes and sizes! You might recognize the most popular style, which is the red tomato with an emery-filled strawberry dangling off the top. My favorite pincushions come on plastic wrist bands for easy access while leaving my hands free! Many come with the small emory-filled attachment that helps sharpen and clean the tips of pins and needles by poking them into the attachment repeatedly. We even know people who make their own pincushions by filling pouches tightly with sawdust or very fine sand!
Another name for this is the sewing gauge. This is a 6″ ruler with a sliding red marker that has many uses. You can use it to measure and mark even hems, buttons, and buttonholes. Also, it can be used to design details, such as pleats and tucks.
This is a curved metal cutting blade that has two ends; one end of the has a sharp point and the other has a small plastic ball that prevents the ripper from slipping. This tool is very useful as a seam ripper to remove stitches one at a time, to slash machine stitched buttonholes, or to pick out loose threads caught during stitching without damaging the fabric.
This is a flexible fiberglass or fabric measuring tape used for taking body measurements, measuring patterns and layouts, and for any general measuring when sewing.
This is a small tool that is made of metal, rubber, leather or plastic. It serves as a protective cover slip over the index or middle finger. When hand sewing or quilting, a thimble protects the fingertip from pin pricks and can also be used to push the needle through multiple layers of fabric.
If you are unfamiliar with any of these tools, don’t hesitate to ask staff members at the crafting store! Most of them are sewers themselves, and will be happy to make recommendations and even demonstrate the tools. Also keep in mind that purchasing high-quality tools is often worth the investment. Looking into brand names or highly rated products will increase their lifespan, keep well in storage, and perform for you effectively when you need them.
And of course, don’t forget to leave a compartment in your sewing kit for your custom clothing labels to finish off all those beautiful projects.