Sewing kit essentials for beginners

It can feel a bit overwhelming when deciding what you will need for your first sewing project, and although you can practise and hand sew your first few makes, I’ve put together a list of essential items any sewist needs for your first sewing kit. The list can be endless and it might feel like you need to buy lots of items, but I’ve narrowed it down to a small list of absolute essentials that will help you tackle any beginner-friendly sewing project!

A trusty no-frills sewing machine

Researching what sewing machine you want to buy, can feel like a huge task and it is! There are lots of different brands and price points to consider but for your first machine, I recommend The Brother LS14S Sewing Machine. It’s the one I purchased and still use as it’s relatively inexpensive and is a very robust machine! I found it super easy to use as a beginner and it comes with 14 stitches, including a buttonhole setting. It does sew beautifully and is perfect for any type of project. I truly believe your first machine does not need to be super expensive, it’s all about learning the techniques and being patient.

Illustrations by Tammy Johal

A good pair of quality fabric scissors

For the first few months of sewing and practising dressmaking, I used a pair of old scissors that were honestly at least 5 years old and were a bit rusty! They did cut the fabric fine, but it was always a bit of a struggle and I just thought that all scissors would react the same way. Oh how I was wrong! I ended up investing in this pair of dressmaking scissors and the difference is insane!!! They cut like butter, and it’s so much smoother and easier, so I don’t have to go over the same cutting line ever again! The ones I bought are VERY sharp, so please be careful when using them as a few times I have underestimated the sharpness and accidentally left a mark on the table. So if you’re a beginner sewist or you want to up your sewing game, I highly recommend buying appropriate scissors – it really does make all the difference!

Illustrations by Tammy Johal

Fabric pins that don’t hurt your fingertips

You need fabric pins or fabric weights to hold a pattern down on the fabric, so it makes cutting it out a lot easier and more accurate. The first pins I bought were a metal type without little balls on the ends, and they hurt so much when pushing them through layers of fabric. I then bought these pins, which have a glass coloured ball at the end and it’s so much easier to have something to properly grasp onto and push them through. Maybe I have sensitive hands, but once you experiment with using different pins you’ll see what I mean!

Illustrations by Tammy Johal

The dreaded seam ripper

The amount of times I’ve had to rip seams because of some unfortunate mistake is insane. But mistakes are all part of learning and how you grow as a sewist! Getting a good quality seam ripper that actually cuts the thread rather than hacking at it is a must! If you make a mistake in stitching, rather than throwing the whole garment in the bin, just unpick the seam and act like nothing ever happened!

Illustrations by Tammy Johal

Good quality sewing thread

I always switch between using standard polyester thread and higher quality Guterman thread depending on the sewing project. To be honest, this polyester thread works absolutely fine but I do notice a difference when I use the Guterman thread, it glides through the machine much smoother and has less fluffy on the strand. I also recommend buying a variety of different colours because you can never have too much thread, and using the perfect colour match for your fabric always feels like a small win!

Illustrations by Tammy Johal

A flexible tape measure

I have a few different measuring tapes because I always use them and lose them! They are essential for taking correct body measurements and come in handy when tracing/making patterns and general sewing. I bought this tape recently and it works perfectly fine.

Illustrations by Tammy Johal

That is my round-up list of the absolute essentials any beginner sewist needs to start creating beautiful things! There are so many items that you can buy to improve your sewing but that would make the list so long! So below I’ve added a few more items that you may want to purchase to make life easier when sewing and achieve a more professional finish.

An overlocker / serger

An overlocker also is known as a serger and is a machine that finishes the raw edges of fabric and achieves a professional, neat finish. Overlockers are also handy when sewing with knit or stretch fabric, this is because the overlocking stitch sews a seam that allows the garment to maintain its stretchy properties and creates a strong seam that is less likely to rip with wear and tear. Ordinarily, you can use a simple zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine, but since investing in a relatively inexpensive overlocker I have noticed a huge difference in the professional finish of my clothing.

Good quality pinking shears

If buying an overlocker isn’t something in your budget, you could alternatively buy these Pinking shears. They look like scissors but have saw-toothed blades which create zig-zag cuts. Pinking shears are perfect for finishing raw edges of fabric as they limit the amount of fraying and result in a clean, professional finish. It’s important to buy sharp, quality scissors as they will create a smoother cut so you won’t have to go over the same cutting line.

A quality rotary cutter and mat

If you don’t like using scissors to cut your fabric you can instead buy a rotary cutter. A rotary cutter is great for cutting fabric more accurately and allows you to cut through several layers at once. The circular blade allows you to simply glide across the fabric and cut curves with ease! There a variety of different sizes with different purposes, but if you’re looking for a standard, all-purpose one this should do the trick! You will also need to buy a cutting mat which is made from PVC, so you protect the surface your working on as you wouldn’t want to cut through the kitchen table!