A list of 10 must have sewing tools and why they are important! Learn to identify each one and why the right tools and equipment will make your sewing projects much easier.
Like any activity, the right tools for the job makes all the difference. The right supplies won't make your sewn items perfect, but they'll help along the way! Here's a list of the sewing tools and equipment I find to be my favourites.
Flexible Tape Measure
This tool is probably one of the most used tools in my arsenal. I must confess: I have more than one! A flexible tape measure is perfect for measuring NON straight things that need measuring. A soft tape measure makes measuring your body and measuring curves on patterns (like armscyes) a snap.
I'm sure you've seen the jokes about locking your good scissors with a padlock. There's validity there. Using good fabric scissors feels like the sun is shining on you. As soon as you use fabric scissors on something other than fabric they just don't cut the same. There are a few different kind of scissors that I have and love:
8" Fabric Shears
These scissors give such a satisfying crunch as you cut through your fabric. They are a do it all scissor and you definitely need them.
Duck Bill Scissors
These are commonly called applique scissors. The curved duck bill allows you to safely cut along a seam without worrying about cutting the underlying fabric. I use them for grading seams, trimming seam allowance, and cutting bulky seams.
I got these little thread snips as a gift with a sewing related purchase, they, at the time, were something I didn't know I needed. I keep these little guys right beside my sewing machine, serger, or coverstitch. Thread snips are much easier to wield while sewing than your 8" fabric scissors!
Pinking sheers are scissors with zigzag teeth and are used to cut woven fabrics to minimize fraying and finish the edges. Pinking shears can also be used to add decorative elements.
This one is probably my favourite sewing tool. The day I got my rotary cutter and accompanying mat was the day that cutting patterns became quick, easy, and not the most dreaded part of any sewing project!
The rotary cutter not only increases cutting speed, it also increases cutting precision and I find it to be more ergonomic.
Self healing cutting mats go hand in hand with the rotary cutters. I promise you, a rotary cutter and a cutting mat will change how you sew.
I am not your Gramma, heck, I hardly enjoy folding clothes, never mind ironing. That said, I am an advocate of ironing while you sew! An iron is essential when sewing. They help to keep seam allowances in line. Irons reinforce hems, pleats and darts. Irons also help to keep your fabric wrinkle-free, and looking perfect through, and after sewing!
No matter how good you are, or think you are, you need a seam ripper. I call it an "Oh shit". As in oh shit, I have to fix that. The better the stitch ripper you have, the happier you'll be - a sharp ripper will cut through seams much better than a dull one. A ripper with a small rubber topper will help to pull out rogue threads.
Marking Pen Or Tailor's Chalk
There are plenty of times during sewing that it's helpful to make a temporary mark on you fabric. Tricky seams, dart markings, specific notches, or to trace patterns directly onto the fabric.
There are heat erase pens, water-soluble pens, chalk markers, heck, you can use your kid's machine washable markers if that's all you've got handy! Regardless of what you use, it's really nice to have marking tools in your sewing kit.
These little metal dodads are so convenient when measuring small areas, setting hem depths, checking your seam allowance, measuring pleats and buttonholes. You'll use a sewing gauge more than you think!
These little wonders don't leave you playing "the floor is lava" when you drop one. Sewing clips are SO handy to have while sewing. Not only are they great for holding multiple layers of fabric together while sewing, you don't need to worry about stabbing yourself, sucking up a pin in your serger, or accidentally inhaling a pin you were holding in your teeth. I also use them to clip my cut fabric and pattern pieces together for complex projects to keep myself organized.
Tracing paper is SO nice to have. I love using it to trace patterns that I know I'm going to use in another size at a later date - this prevents me from cutting the original pattern, and then having to reprint (and reassemble) it. I actually don't have actual pattern paper, I found a roll of medical table paper and use that!