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Sewing Guide: 12 Essential Sewing Tools


One thing every tailor needs to do is figure out the sewing tools they need.

Talking about everything is overwhelming. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of sewing tools to choose from. Just name a sewing job and there's probably a tool specifically designed to do the job.

The thought of buying so many things to start sewing can be quite daunting.

The good news is that you don't actually need that many sewing tools.

Sure, some of the more specialized sewing tools can be nice to have, but you can complete a lot of sewing projects using just a few basic, multipurpose tools.

Here are 12 essential sewing tools every tailor needs:

Essential Sewing Tools:

1. A sewing machine
For the most part, home tailors have three basic types of sewing machines to choose from.

Mechanical sewing machines are the least expensive. They do not require electricity to operate and are relatively easy to learn to use. These machines are good for basic sewing tasks like mending tears and making simple garments.

Electronic sewing machines cost more than mechanical sewing machines. Electronic patterns are also faster, more accurate and equipped to handle more complicated sewing projects. Best of all, both beginners and more experienced sewists find electronic sewing machines easy to learn and easy to use.

Computerized sewing machines are the most sophisticated and the most expensive. They tend to have many more features than other types of home sewing machines. Computer models can also be a little too complicated for beginners. But give an experienced tailor a computerized sewing machine and the sky's the limit.

2. Sewing machine needles

The types of sewing machine needles you need will depend on the types of fabrics you will be using and the types of sewing you will be doing. Some needles are designed to handle thick, heavy fabrics like leather and denim. Others are made for more delicate fabrics such as silk. And others are best used to make decorative stitches.

The general rule is that the heavier the fabric, the bigger and stronger the needle will be. And lightweight fabrics require smaller, finer needles.

3. Centimeter for tailoring

Tailor's tape measures are usually used to take body measurements, but they can also be used for other measuring tasks, such as measuring very large pieces of fabric.

Ideally, your tape measure will be at least 59 inches (or 150 centimeters) long. You also want one that allows you to measure in both inches and centimeters.

4. Pins
Pins are mainly used to hold two or more layers of fabric together. This will prevent the fabrics from shifting as you sew.

For most sewing projects, all you need is a pack of standard pins. Make sure the ones you choose are at least 1 to 2 inches long. You also want pins with large, visible heads. A large package of plastic round-headed needles won't cost you much.

While standard pins will work for most sewing jobs, there are exceptions. For example, if you're using silk, you'll want to use very thin, sharp pins. Pins that are too thick or dull can leave permanent holes in delicate fabrics.

5. A pillow

A pincushion is designed to hold small, sharp objects such as needles and straight pins.

When you're in the middle of a sewing project, pulling a pin out of a pillow is easier than trying to fish one out of a box or jar. And as you remove the pins from your project, taping them to a pillow will help you keep track of them.

A quality pillow will be filled with materials such as wool and sawdust. Wool row has properties that will prevent your pins and needles from rusting.

Many pads also have a "strawberry" attached, which can be filled with materials such as sandpaper or fine sand. These substances have abrasive properties that can remove rust and help keep your pins and needles sharp.

If you want to buy a pillow, you can find them in almost any style or color you can imagine. But you might prefer to make your own. Making a pillow is a quick and fun sewing project, especially for beginning sewists.

6. Hand sewing needles

Every tailor needs a good set of hand sewing needles.

There are some people who like to sew entire projects by hand. But even if you prefer to use a sewing machine for most sewing tasks, hand needles can come in handy for things like sewing on buttons, repairing small rips and tears, and cutting.

Hand sewing needles come in a wide variety of sizes and thicknesses. Some have sharp tips and some have flat tips. Some are thick and strong, while others are thin and fragile. Some have small eyes and can only be used with very thin yarn, while others have eyes so large that you can thread a piece of yarn through them.

Fortunately, you don't have to worry about buying needles individually. Buying a variety pack of needles will cover most, if not all, of your bases. Make sure the needles you choose are made of quality materials. Cheaper needles will be more prone to breaking, rusting and losing their sharpness.

7. A thimble

If you want to sew by hand, you need a thimble.

A thimble will help protect your fingers from being poked and pricked by needles. They will also help you push the needles through thick fabrics a little easier.

Most thimbles look like metal buckets. But they can also be made of other materials, such as plastic, wood or even leather.

8. Seam breaking device

If you make a mistake while sewing a seam, a seam ripper is the easiest way to remove the stitches. And you can do it without tearing or damaging your fabric.

Choose a long-handled seam ripper, which will make the job of removing the seams much easier. And if you can find a sewing machine with a non-slip handle, even better.

Don't hesitate to replace a seam ripper that has lost its quality. Trying to remove stitches with a tired stitcher can do more harm than good.

9. Sewing scissors

A good pair of sewing or fabric scissors are a tailor's best friend. So you want to buy the highest quality scissors you can afford.

There are a few things to look for when choosing your primary pair of sewing scissors. First, you want a pair that is 8 inches (or 20 centimeters) long. Next, look for scissors that have angled handles, which will make it easier to cut fabric that is on a flat surface. Finally, for more precise cuts, you'll want your scissors to have sharp tips.

Why can't you just use regular scissors?

First, ordinary scissors cannot cut fabric with the same precision. Second, tailoring involves a lot of cutting and using scissors that are actually meant to cut fabric will help prevent hand fatigue.

Sewing scissors are extremely sharp, which is why they cut fabric so well. So, you will need to sharpen the blades of the scissors from time to time.

If you want to keep your scissors sharper longer, don't use them to cut anything other than fabric. Even using them to cut the paper pattern will dull the blade. And using damaged sewing scissors can lead to uneven cuts, shredded fabric and a tired hand.

Make sure the handles of your sewing scissors are different from the handles of any other scissors you own. That way, you won't accidentally use them to cut something else.

10. Zig-zag scissors

Zigzag scissors are scissors that have blades of teeth. These blades will cut your fabric in a zigzag pattern.

Zigzag scissors are a quick and easy way to give non-tear fabric like felt or fleece a decorative edge. You can also use them to finish edges on tightly woven fabrics.

As for other types of fabric, cutting the edges with zigzag scissors will help prevent damage. This will be especially useful if you have fabrics that you want to keep for a while.

11. An iron

Most sewing projects will instruct you to iron...something, whether it's seams, hems, or a piece of fabric you're going to cut. So having a good iron at your disposal is a must. And of course, you'll probably want an ironing board.

Sometimes when you're in the heat of a sewing project, the last thing you want to do is stop to iron something. But ironing the fabric throughout the sewing process will help you end up with a cleaner, more professional piece.

12. A fabric pencil

Fabric pencils are easier to work with than other marking tools such as tailor's chalk. And you'll probably want to have two of them in your sewing kit. A light fabric pencil will make marks that stand out on dark fabrics, and a dark pencil will make visible marks on lighter fabrics.

There are different types of fabric pencils to choose from. For example, a water-soluble fabric pencil will make marks that can be removed with water. And the marks made by a chalk fabric pencil can be removed by hand.

Other handy sewing tools

Here are some sewing tools that aren't necessarily essential, but are nice to have on hand.

A sewing machine

A sewing machine is a circular blade attached to a plastic or metal handle. If you rotate the blade on a piece of fabric, you will leave behind a clean and precise cut.
Sewing machines are fast and accurate, which is why many seamstresses prefer them. They can also cut multiple layers of fabric at once, which is why they are so popular with quilters.

The blades of a rotary cutter are extremely sharp. As the blade loses its sharpness, the cutter will become less efficient. Fortunately, rotary cutter blades can be easily replaced.

Tailor's chalk
Tailor's chalk can be used to transfer markings from a pattern onto your fabric pieces.

Markings made with tailor's chalk are easy to remove. You can simply brush them with your hand or a piece of cloth.

You can find tailor's chalk in a variety of colors. You can use a light colored tailor's chalk to mark dark fabrics and a dark colored tailor's chalk to mark light fabrics. One of the great things about sewing is that you don't need that much to get started. In fact, as long as you have a few basic sewing tools, you're unlikely to run out of potential sewing projects you can make.