What tools do you need to learn to sew? My top 5 beginner tools.

13:31 usefulbox 0 Comments

Learning to sew can be daunting when we realise how many tools we need to make sewing easier.  On the other hand, it can be quite fun to "tool up" and get all the trappings right at the beginning.

But what are the basics? What can you get away with when just starting to sew?

I mean besides a sewing machine, What tools do you need to learn to sew?

I'm asked this at every single workshop or lesson that I do. Everyone is keen to get it right at the beginning.

Here are my top 5 tools needed to learn to sew (besides a sewing machine, obvs!):


Scissors are at the top of the list. With the obvious reason of that we need to cut the fabric into a certain shape in order to sew it.  Sewing is all about cutting something in 2D and making it into 3D, and to do that we need good sharp scissors.

You can definitely go out and buy very very good fabric scissors like these from Gingher.  But I really suggest that you buy the best that you can afford.  And that might be these Birch Serra Sharp Scissors from Spotlight for around $60.  Or indeed some simple, albeit fine, Triumph Titanium Scissors also from Spotlight for $10!

Fabric Scissors are coveted by sewers and we have quite a "thing" about keeping them as THE GOOD SCISSORS!  We will become obsessed with only allowing them to cut fabric and not, ever, cut fabric.  I have been known to dive onto flatmates who are about to use the good scissors!  Isn't that right David???

But in all fairness, there is lots of truth in that.  If we want our scissors to cut a nice clean line in our fabric, thou shalt not cut anything other than fabric with the good scissors!

Tape measure & Rulers

My father would have a conniption that I just used Rulers instead of Rule to describe something to measure with.  But anyway, that's another story!

Tape measures are vital to sewing.  You use them to of course measure the size of the person you are making the garment for to determine which size in the pattern to cut and make up.  You use them to line up the grainline on the pattern to match the grainline in the fabric.  You use them to measure any alternations.  You use them to mark hems and seam allowances.  You get the idea, you use them lots.  Super important to have.

Rules (not Rulers, like the Queen, to quote my Dad), do all the same things as a tape measure, obviously.  However, these tricky see through rules can also help you line up right angles etc and are VERY useful for pattern making once you get up to that.  Or even take up quilting, quilters have all the cool haberdashery!

Fabric marker

These Pilot Frixon markers are all the rage in the sewing world at the moment.  And they are pretty darn cool.  Write on paper and you can erase with the tip.  Or indeed mark up your fabric and to erase it, just iron over it.  Pop it in the freezer to get the marking back again.  Super cool.  Pretty cheap and can be bought at newsagents or Big W-esque shops.


There are a lot of sewers lately who are not using pins and instead use weights to lay down and cut a pattern.  Or even using magic tape to effectively "pin" seams when sewing.

I am steadfastly a pinner! (I also love Pinterest too!) I just can't seem to break the habit of pinning.  And frankly, I don't think I need to.

Certainly, as a beginner it's best to start as you mean to go on.  But I do recommend you use pins.  Cheap glass head pins are the easiest to start with and then you can work your way to fancy pins like my favourite, Clover Flower Headed Pins.

Choose glass headed pins as they won't melt if you catch them under the iron.

Quick unpick

Usually a quick unpick, or seam ripper, will come with your machine.  It's a small handheld gadget that has two spikes with a blade in the middle.  This will become invaluable to you as we all make mistakes, especially when learning.  Plus we use them to open up buttonholes.  Best to keep them super sharp and clean.  These tools to come either really cheap or expensive, sharp and fancy.  I just use my basic one!

You'll also notice in the pic that I have snuck in a screwdriver as well.  Thee usually come with your machine but I find that they are always a bit flimsy or small.  I use this .5cm flat head screwdriver for everything from changing the bulb in the machine to pushing out square corners!!!

Bonus tip! Thread!

This is a bit of an obvious tip too.  But I wanted to mention that thread is super important to the success of your garment! You'll need to use the appropriate thread for your fabric.  I wouldn't use heavyweight thread on a silk blouse for instance or a cheap thin thread to make jeans!  No way Jose!

Speaking of cheap thread, this is up to you and what you can afford.  But please try to buy the best quality you can afford.  I love Gutermann thread - it's mid priced, strong and has great colours.  Just remember that the cheaper the thread, the more it will break and you'll be rethreading often! 

So there you have it.  Which tools do you already have?  And which do you find that you can't live without?

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