Must-Have Tools of the Trade For Sewers

Silva Payne (guest contributor)

When you're first learning how to sew, figuring out which tools and equipment you need to purchase for your sewing projects can be confusing. Sometimes people's enthusiasm to start a new craft may lead them to spend a lot of money on items they end up rarely using. Knowing the sewing tools of the trade will help you decide what is essential, useful or just a luxury.

For sewing projects, the minimum equipment you'll need is a needle and thread. With these simple items, you can join two or more pieces of fabric together. Needles are produced with a certain type of fabric or stitch craft in mind. Some are slender with a very narrow “eye.” These are suited to delicate and precise work such as embroidery. Needles that are thicker and have a large “eye” may also have a blunt point. These are for canvas work where the sewing hole is preformed. Having a small selection of needles in different thicknesses and eye sizes is a good idea.

Sewing thread also comes in a variety of thicknesses and fibers. Very thin thread, sometimes known as tacking thread, is used to temporarily hold fabric together instead of using pins. Tacking thread is easy to break by simply pulling the ends sharply with both hands.

Medium-weight thread is used for general sewing, either by hand or with a sewing machine. It is generally available in cotton or cotton mixed with other fibers, in silk, or in a synthetic blend that resembles cotton. Thread comes in an enormous range of colors, but it is useful to have a large reel of black, white and cream thread in your sewing kit.

Sewing pins are the next item on the list. It is wise to purchase or make a pincushion so that you can easily and quickly pick up and use your pins while working. A pincushion with an elastic strap that allows you to keep the pincushion on your wrist is ideal. Very thin pins do not leave visible holes when removed from fine fabric like silk. Pins with large heads are easier to see and handle.

Scissors are another essential in any sewing box. Most people who enjoy sewing as a hobby will eventually have several pairs of scissors, each for different purposes. The most useful are medium-sized multipurpose scissors that are comfortable to handle. You should use these mainly for cutting paper patterns, card templates and other items that do not require as much precision. A slightly larger pair of scissors should be kept for cutting fabric. This will keep them sharp.

Zigzag scissors are helpful to cut fabric to help prevent it from fraying. This is particularly good for small items that will not be worn and washed multiple times. If you are planning to do a lot of embroidery, a pair of small scissors with a long cutting blade that tapers to a narrow point is ideal. These are often made to resemble a crane or stork-like bird and have an extra hook to rest your little finger on when cutting.

Finally, all sewers must have a tape measure for successful sewing projects. Almost every sewing pattern will call for a measurement of some kind. The most flexible tape measure is a fabric or plastic one that you can roll up to store neatly. Most tape measures are still produced with imperial measurements on one side and metric on the other.

Part of the fun of sewing for a hobby is collecting many other pieces of sewing equipment. Store them all in a sewing box with different-sized compartments so that you always know where to find the item again. In that way, your sewing projects will be a breeze since all your tools of the trade will always be right where you need them.

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Don't get it?
How is zigzag insulting?
Since when are pinking shears called zigzag scissors? I'm sorry, but I find "zigzag" scissors insulting.
Must-have tools
Thank you for this helpful article. You made it very clear that this is information for the beginner and the information is both valid and helpful. Keep sharing good information!
Much overlooked
This is so very elementary that it's practically useless. Anyone who doesn't know you need a needle and thread shouldn't attempt to sew. Where is info on how to mark fabric? What about an iron? Seam ripper? Fray stopper? So much not covered here.
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