After sewing for many years now, I always seem to find myself reaching again and again for the same sewing tools to make my projects easier. In this round-up, I’m passing along 10+ of the sewing tools and notions I think are most essential to have in your arsenal.
Did you receive a new sewing machine recently, and are wondering what exactly you need to get started creating magic with your new toy? Or do you have a machine that has languished for years in a box at the back of a closet, simply because you don’t know where to begin? Or, maybe you simply want to learn more about sewing so you can improve the quality of your projects and get more enjoyment out of the process? If any of these applies to you, my list today is truly a must-read, because the items I’ve included will make any sewing project–no matter your skill level–easier and more enjoyable!
This helpful list of must-have sewing tools is divided into three different sections:
Sewing Tools for Cutting
Sewing Tools for Measuring and Marking
Other Core Sewing Tools
This list of sewing tools is full of all of the items I use on a regular basis for my sewing projects. A collection of these tools would be a terrific gift for anyone in your life who loves sewing or is just getting started with the hobby!
Sewing Tools for Cutting
Cutting and clipping are fundamental to of any sewing project, and it’s important to have just the right tools for the job. The number of cutting tools available can be overwhelming, but I’ve narrowed things down to the must-haves.
- Thread Snips
- Rotary Cutter and Mat
- Large Cutting Mat
Shears Used ONLY for Cutting Fabric
I have mentioned before that my mom is an accomplished seamstress, and I can recall so vividly as a child being scolded by her any time I made an attempt to use her sewing shears for cutting construction paper! Now, of course, I am the mama getting onto my kiddos for doing the same. 🙂 Truly, any sewist should have a pair of shears used solely for sewing projects to prevent the blades from becoming dulled and thus damaging fabrics as they are cut. I recommended investing in a quality set of stainless steel shears that can be sharpened over the years. I’ve had mine for over 15 years now, and with regular sharpenings, they still work like new.
Keeping threads trimmed as you sew and trimming strays in finished projects are key to achieving professional results in your projects. Thread snips are much more manageable in size for trimming stray threads than large shears. They are great for hand sewing projects, too.
Rotary Cutter and Mat
I rarely tackle a sewing project when I don’t put my Fiskars Rotary Cutting Set to good use. The sturdy self-healing mat and clear ruler make the task of making numerous cuts a breeze, and the rotary cutting tool is easy to use, with a blade that can be switched out in seconds.
Large Cutting Mat
If you don’t have a dedicated space for cutting out projects in your home, a large cutting mat is essential to prevent surfaces from getting scratched as you make cuts. There are many different varieties of cutting mats available, but I really love my Singer Pattern and Craft Board. At 36×72 inches, it is ample for just about any project (including home decor projects), and I love that it folds up neatly for easy storage.
Sewing Tools for Measuring, Marking and Finishing
These essential sewing tools for measuring and marking help keep things nice and precise, which is the name of the game in achieving professional results in any sewing project.
- Tape Measure
- Seam Gauge
- Marking Pens
- Seam Turning Tool
A standard ribbon tape measure will do the trick, but I prefer a retractable tape measure that can be rolled up and put away in seconds.
To ensure accuracy in pressing hems, pleats and more, a seam gauge really is essential. I love my simple and sweet Dritz seam gauge that has a sliding gauge to ensure even, consistent placement.
Marking measurements and placements for patterns is made easy and tidy with marking pens with water-soluble or disappearing ink. You’ll need marking pens suitable for both light and dark fabrics, like this set pictured here.
Point Turning Tool
This point turning tool is one of the tools I reach for the most as I complete projects. It is so handy for achieving crisp corners. I couldn’t live without it!
Other Core Sewing Tools
Some tools are as essential to sewing as a sewing machine itself, and this section is dedicated to those important items.
- Pins and Pincushion
- Seam Ripper
- Sewing Clips
More than anything, I firmly believe that pressing projects is one of the most surefire ways to ensure the best possible results in finished projects! For that reason, the first purchase I recommend anyone to make once they are the proud owner of a sewing machine is an iron to use specifically for sewing projects. Select one that isn’t too heavy, and that feels comfortable in your hand. Depending upon personal preference, you can select one with an automatic turn-off (great for homes with children and pets), or one without that feature. Because a “good iron” is such a subjective concept, the perfect iron for your needs doesn’t have to cost a fortune. My favorite iron I’ve ever used was actually a very inexpensive little Sunbeam iron that lasted through nearly five years of consistent use before it finally gave out!
One last note about irons: no matter how pure the water source (or even if it’s bottled purified water), I recommend against ever filling the iron with water for steaming, even if the instruction manual says you can do so. The same steaming effect can be better accomplished with a simple spray bottle, and it will ensure the longevity of your iron for years to come!
Pins and Pin Cushion
Pinning fabric layers together is a key step in any sewing project, so pins are a must-have for your sewing kit. Having a way to keep pins consolidated is just as important! In homes with children or pets (or for those of you who, like me, enjoy sewing in bare feet!) keeping pins stowed safely away is a must. There is no easier way to ensure pins wind up where they belong than to have a magnetic pincushion. This handy tool allows you to place pins in the basic vicinity of the holder, and the strong magnets pull the pins into place (and keep them there). I’ve had mine for many years, and it still works great! Of course, the standard tomato pin cushion is an inexpensive alternative, and you can even find pin cushions that go around your wrist so you can keep pins contained as you remove them when sewing.
Let’s face it: mistakes happen, even for experienced sewists. A good seam ripper is a must! My mom gave me the handiest seam ripper as a stocking stuffer one year: it contains a traditional seam ripper on one end, and on the other, it has a handy rubber fitting that whisks away cut threads like magic. I don’t know how I ever lived without it!
Pinning projects can admittedly be very tedious, which is why I’ve added handy sewing clips to this list. Clips can quickly and easily be attached and removed from projects, making them a great alternative.
This post was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with relevant links and ideas.
Having grown up in a home brimming with sewing notions and paintbrushes, Amy has a deep love for all things creative. On any given day, you’ll find her knee-deep in her latest creative endeavor, with projects ranging from sewing and crafts to home decor and kid-friendly ideas. Amy believes that everyone, regardless of skill level or experience, possesses the ability to create something beautiful, and Positively Splendid was born of her passion for helping others harness their innate creative potential.