While your sewing machine is certainly essential, it’s not the only essential sewing tool you need. As you build up your sewing skills, you’ll want and need to add many other tools and notions to your collection.
15 sewing tools and notions you need
1. Fabric shears
You can’t use regular old scissors to cut fabric! You need fabric shears made specially for cutting through fabric.
Buy good ones and take care of them. That means never ever cutting paper or anything other than fabric with them. If you have to lock them up to keep your spouse or kids from using them, so be it. Have them sharpened every so often. Sharp tools are the key to enjoyable sewing.
And for my fellow left-handed makers: don’t even think about not using left-handed or ambidextrous scissors. It’s not worth it!
2. Rotary cutter, clear plastic ruler and self-healing cutting mat
When it comes to cutting out pattern pieces, it’s much easier to use a rotary cutter than fabric scissors. This is something else you want to keep sharp, but you can easily replace the rotary blades yourself.
A self-healing cutting mat is a must if you’re using a rotary cutter — otherwise you’ll destroy your work surface. And a clear plastic ruler is extremely helpful you’re trying to straighten up your fabric’s edges.
3. Pinking shears
I consider pinking shears — scissors that cut a zig-zag edge — essential because they are such a quick way to finish many seams. You’ll also find them useful when you are working with fabric that unravels easily; pinking the edges will cut down on your frustration.
4. Small craft scissors
I always keep a pair of small craft scissors nearby for clipping threads. If you’re careful, they can double as a seam-ripper when you’ve misplaced yours (don’t ask me how I know this).
5. Seam ripper
Your seam ripper will become your best friend! Sooner or later, you’ll make a mistake and need this little guy.
6. Pins and a pincushion
It’s often easier to stick pins back into a pincushion than some type of box (plus, who can resist an iconic tomato pin cushion?).
7. Sewing machine needles
The needles your machine came with can only get you by for so long. You’ll need extras for your machine since they will gradually become dull with use (remember, sharp is best!), and you’ll want to swap out your needles for various fabric weights. If you’re working with knits, be sure you have ballpoint needles on hand.
8. Hand sewing needles
Most sewing projects require a little bit of hand finishing, like sewing on a button.
9. Measuring tape
You’ll need a soft, flexible one for getting accurate body measurements.
10. Water soluble pen or tailor’s chalk
You need some sort of marking tool to mark notches, lines and more on your fabric. I prefer a water soluble pen, but tailor’s chalk can be a better choice for marking dark fabrics. Have both on hand just to be safe!
11. Seam gauge
Turning up a hem ¾” is much, much easier with a seam gauge. It also doubles as a ruler when you need to measure out smaller amounts.
What are your essential sewing tools? Let me know in the comments!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2013 and was updated in January 2018.