A beginner’s sewing kit does not need to be elaborate or expensive to be effective. There’s no need to drop thousands of dollars on fancy equipment when most novice projects need only basic tools.
The must haves:
1. A sewing machine
While I admire hand-sewn projects, in my house “hand” is the ultimate four letter word. I only do hand stitching if absolutely needed! Most sewing machines will work fine for a beginner, just make sure your machine has a variety of stitches available. If you don’t already own a sewing machine, visit a few locally owned fabric stores. Many are certified dealers for different sewing machine brands. And, while you can pick up a machine at a big box store, often the smaller fabric stores offer lessons on any machine bought there.
In addition to the sewing machine, make sure you have extra machine needles and bobbins that are compatible with the machine.
2. Hand sewing needles
Even with my distaste for hand sewing, everyone should be able to quickly finish out a seam or sew on a button by hand.
3. A seam ripper
The seam ripper will be both your best friend and hated enemy, but is an absolute necessity for every sewer. Rarely do I complete a project without whipping out my trusted seam ripper.
4. Fabric and thread
While it is obvious that every project starts with an idea and fabric, it is important to note, especially with fabric, you get what you pay for. Find your locally-owned fabric store or quilt shop and spend some time feeling the fabrics. The quality is typically much higher than what is offered at a chain craft store. In addition, the people working at a local fabric store are generally very knowledgeable and are often willing to talk through a project with you, help coordinate fabrics, or help get over a sewing hurdle. They can also determine what type of thread will work best for your project.
5. Iron and ironing board
This is pretty self explanatory. You don’t need anything fancy.
There are many options when looking at craft rulers. To begin, everyone should have a basic clear ruler. A clear ruler allows you to more easily line up the fabric. As you become more invested in sewing and/or take on different types of projects, other rulers will come in handy. Because I enjoy quilting, my favorite ruler is a shape cutter that works with a rotary cutter to easily cut squares or strips from the fabric.
Kitchen shears, paper scissors and fabric scissors are not the same! Make sure you have a sturdy pair of fabric scissors. You will also want a smaller pair of sewing or embroidery scissors for clipping loose threads.
8. Rotary cutter/cutting mat
A rotary cutter is great when a project calls for multiple straight edged pieces. Fabric can be stacked and multiple pieces cut at a time with a sharp rotary blade. However, make sure you use a cutting mat underneath, because a rotary cutter will damage whatever surface you are cutting on.
9 . Pins
Many beginning sewers will use pins to ensure the fabric is properly aligned. Any pin will do, so long as you will be able to see it in the fabric. This is important because sewing over a pin can damage your machine’s needle.
While there is always something new or interesting to look at in a craft store, many projects can be completed with these few supplies. Make sure to read the pattern though, because sometimes the instructions will call for additional materials such as bias tape or interfacing. These items can be purchased on an as-needed basis and are not necessary for all projects.