I have many friends that sew, but even more that want to learn. The days of home economic classes are somewhat in the past and many of our families never learned or passed down the tradition. But it is not too late! In May, I paid tribute to my sewing mentor – my mother – as she shared her sewing tips and tricks. Today, I want to share with you my must-have sewing tools. These are the items I use every time I sit down in the studio.

  1. Rotary cutter, metal straight edge and cutting mat. Why spend more time than needed cutting repeat straight lines when you simply want to get to sewing? I use the metal straight edge I once used for model making during my days in architecture school.
  2. Scissors: Yes, I use three different types of scissors and I believe I need every one of them. Could I get by without the small detail scissors, sure, but if a $10 pair of scissors saves me time I am all for it. Of course, pinking shears (the zig-zag cut) and a nice spring-loaded basic pair are a must.
  3. Iron: Buy the best iron you can. You will be using it more than you care to if you want a store-quality product. I use a Rowenta.
  4. Fabric: Of, course you need fabric! But I always buy the best quality I can afford. Our Organic Canvas Line is made with 7-ounce print canvas and is durable and beautiful. Steer clear of bargain bins unless it is a project you plan to toss after a few uses.
  5. Pins: Speaking of using things more than you like… After ironing, pinning will be your number one nemesis. But, again, if you want it to look store-quality, get to know these little guys. I like the metal-head version, but I have a friend with fingertips “too tender” for them. She uses plastic heads to keep her fingers comfy!
  6. Sewing feet: Really you need at least three – your basic, your zipper foot and your buttonhole foot. What fun is sewing a pillow or dress if you can’t finish it beautifully?
  7. Markers: You will need to mark up your sewing at some point, and they make special pens for that! So put away the ball-point and grab a pen with disappearing ink, washable ink or permanent ink. You will know what you need when you need it.
  8. Zippers: Not just any zippers, but high-quality zippers. I almost always go with YKK. The brand is dependable and trusted.
  9. Needles: You will need both hand and machine needles. Get the right needle for the job. Most of us use basic cotton in our home sewing projects, so just grab the “universal size.” Don’t forget to make sure the needle is shaped to mount in your machine type.
  10. Seam ripper: Yes, it happens to all of us. Even if you are not upcycling uniforms like I do for our Cadet Grey Line, you will still get this thing out at least once during your project. And that is OK!
  11. Buttons: Shiny new or upcycled vintage, choose something fabulous. These can be flat or fancy – the sky is the limit, so get expressive!
  12. Thread and extra bobbins: I love Guttermann threads and use it whenever I can. When I can’t find the right shade, my back-up is Coats & Clark. A tip I heard somewhere that is a bonus: always keep an extra bobbin ready to go, because there is nothing more irritating than stopping to rethread one when you are almost done!
  13. Ruler: This special little ruler has a gauge on it so you can check for hem sizes and more. I use it all the time and its small size is super handy.
  14. BONUS: Tracing paper and roller: If you are a pattern user, this is really a must-have with the age of digital download patterns. You pin your pattern in place, then lay your tracing paper between the pattern and fabric. Using the roller, you transfer the washable chalk to your fabric and are ready to cut. Now you can make it in every size without reprinting each time!

Do you have every item on this list? Do you have more to add? Please comment and let me know. I need to keep my sewing studio well-stocked. Then please share these tips on your twitter or Facebook page so that friend who always wanted to sew – will know a great place to start.

Thanks for stopping in!