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Beginner sewing supplies list – what to buy on a budget!

Beginner sewing supplies list – what to buy on a budget!

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Beginner sewing supplies list - what to buy on a budget!

My beginner sewing supplies list!  This is a subjective topic but in my experience, people go overboard with recommendations. Some supplies are more specialized; what you will use most to sew clothes is different than what you will use to sew a quilt, but this is my generic, basic list. I explain what each thing is and why you use it as well as linking to a few different places to shop for it. However, I encourage you to check your local quilt shop and shop small when possible! Even better, ask family and friends if they have any spares or shop secondhand on your local craigslist, Facebook marketplace, or sewing swap group. I am regularly cleaning out random extras and things I don’t use as often, and love giving it away to new sewists.

I know it can be tempted to buy everything little thing, cute storage, coordinating everything, but you risk ending up with lots of things you don’t actually use. I recommend easing into the ‘extras’ bit and focusing on what you truly need. Let me know if you think I missed anything, in the comments!

I also have a separate post strictly on sewing tips for beginners, so read that before you dive in – and also a separate post focused on a diy sewing kit for hand sewing, for my daughter!

If you like this post, check out these other posts while you’re here!

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beginner sewing list

beginner sewing supplies list

First, just a straight list if you want to scan it or take notes. Keep reading for explanations and links to shop!

What do you ACTUALLY need:

  • Sewing machine or hand sewing needle
  • If using a machine, the right sewing machine needle
  • Spools of thread (does not have to be every color)
  • If using a machine, empty bobbins
  • Sharp scissors
  • Pins or clips
  • Fabric or felt
  • Iron & ironing board & press cloth
  • Seam ripper
  • Tape measure
  • Marking tools from around the house
  • A sewing tutorial/pattern from a blog or a book (or a paper sewing pattern but those are not as beginner friendly in my opinion)

What is really nice to have and makes life easier but not NEEDED:

  • Rotary cutter & cutting mat & acrylic ruler
  • Small micro-tip scissors
  • Marking tools made for sewing

What do you ACTUALLY need, explained:

  • Sewing machine
    • A common refrain here is to buy a quality used machine, which I fully support if you can find a dealer selling them with a guarantee or know someone personally who you trust. I think a beginner can’t easily evaluate a used machine and can easily be swindled. You can read more of my thoughts on vintage/used vs. new in this post, but know that the machine I recommend for beginners buying new is the Brother cs6000i or going to your local dealer and buying a mid-level Brother or Janome.
    • Shop: [JOANNAmazon]

different types of sewing needles

  • Sewing machine needles to fit your project
    • Sewing machine needles come in different widths and also have different tips! A ball-point needle is intended for stretchy, knit fabrics but if you use it on a woven fabric, it will leave bigger holes than is necessary. If you use a woven quilting needle on thick denim, it is liable to break or skip stitches. There are needles for quilting, ball-point needles for knit, thicker needles for denim, stretch needles for swim or athletic wear fabric, and leather needles for leather. Using the wrong needle may result in messy stitching, broken needles, or cause your project to fall apart in a few months if the needle punches too big holes and the fabric slowly rips in those places. 
    • Shop: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]

  • Spools of thread (does not have to be every color)
    • If you’re on a budget, you can easily buy thread project by project or simply use black/white/grey if you aren’t topstitching. This is a place where you get what you pay for; cheaper thread will be more likely to break or shred. General all-purpose polyester thread will work fine for the majority of projects but there are different options as well. I’m linking my favorite brand, Gutermann.
    • Shop: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]

what is a bobbin

  • If using a machine, empty bobbins.
    • These will be machine specific! I’m linking an example in case you don’t know what a bobbin is, but it is the smaller spool that goes under the needle.  You buy empty bobbins and then use your machine to add the matching thread to the bobbin as you’ll be using on the top. Having at least 5 makes life easier, so as you change colors you have empties to fill and match. Again, you’ll need to make sure you find the bobbin that fits your machine, they are not universal.
    • Shop: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]

best sewing scissors

  • Sharp scissors
    • There are lots of jokes about only using fabric scissors on fabric but its true; your junk drawer paper and tape scissors are not going to cut fabric well or easily. This is one thing that I do recommend you buy special for sewing and then keep them tucked away for fabric only! I’m linking my favorite brand, Gingher, but any sharp, larger scissors will work. 
    • Shop: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]

pins vs clips for sewing

  • Pins or clips
    • Lots of people use only one or the other; I use both depending on the project. Alternately you can use simple metal alligator clips like you’d use in hair, they can be much cheaper! These will hold pattern pieces together before you sew, hold applique pieces on, and mark places you want to add a button-hole or straps.
    • Shop pins: [EtsyJOANNAmazon] Shop clips: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]

fabric or felt

  • Fabric or felt
    • So obviously this will vary widely depending on your project. But generally speaking, you’ll want to sew with wool blend felt (not polyester craft stuff, it’s stiff and yucky). Amazon is full of random and generic fabric so I would recommend not shopping there unless you have a specific recommendation
    • Shop fabric – giving woven quilting cotton examples: [EtsyJOANNFat Quarter Shop]  Shop felt: [Etsy this is my longtime favorite shop- JOANNAmazon]

ironing board and press cloth

  • Iron & ironing board & press cloth (this can just be a white cotton piece of fabric or a cotton handkerchief)
    •  Using an iron while you sew is so important! You should iron the fabric before you cut it and press seams as you sew. If you’re short on space, use a tabletop board. A press cloth is used if you’re sewing with delicate fabrics that might respond poorly to high heat (some cotton-lycra blends will turn “shiny” if you press the seams directly), or if you’re using a glue to add something on top and need to protect your iron.
    • Shop:  JOANNAmazon (this is the iron I’ve used for years happily)]

  • Marking tools from around the house
    • You don’t need to buy fancy sewing ones, use household objects to trace patterns or make marks where details need to be attached.
    • Shop: your house! A pencil for drawing on light fabric, a dried sliver of soap for marking on dark fabric.

  • Seam ripper
    • Definitely a must, they aren’t pricey so make your life easier and get one instead of trying to snip stitches when you make a mistake (we all do!).
    • Shop: [EtsyJOANN – Amazon (my favorite seam ripper)]

  • Tape measure
    • This can be used to measure a pillow, your body, or laying out on the fabric to cut specific size rectangles.
    • Shop: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]
  • A sewing tutorial/pattern from a blog or a book (or a paper sewing pattern but those are not as beginner friendly in my opinion)
    •  This can be a tough one. Keep in mind that anyone can put a tutorial up on the internet, it doesn’t mean it was tested, but also that books aren’t fact-checked or tested either! I have used tutorials and book patterns only to find they were absolutely missing steps or had wrong measurements. So what to do as a true beginner? Find a site you trust. You can scroll down on a youtube video or blog post and look at comments, it’s encouraging if folks have posted that they’ve tried it. Obviously I try to be trustworthy here and only link to blogs I trust; check out this list of beginner sewing projects here.
    • Shop a good beginner book: [BookshopAmazon]

What is really nice to have and makes life easier but not NEEDED, explained:

These are things that I don’t think are extravagant by any means, but not truly necessary.

  • Rotary cutter & cutting mat & acrylic ruler
    • I LOVE cutting things out this way. I have a gigantic table and gigantic cutting mat that I can fit clothes easily on, but you can also start small and more affordable. I use this method for curves the same as I do straight edges.
    • Shop rotary cutter: [Etsy JOANNAmazon] – Shop quilt ruler: [ JOANNAmazon] – Shop cutting mat: [ JOANNAmazon]

  • Small micro-tip scissors
    • They don’t seem like they’d be much different but they are! Tiny tip scissors are perfect for trimming threads, clipping corners, and more. This is my absolute favorite pair linked below.
    • Shop: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]
  • Marking tools made for sewing
    • These are pretty cheap and allow you to more easily trace patterns or make marks where details need to be, and they will wash away once you’re done.
    • Shop disappearing ink pen: [ JOANNAmazon] Shop chalk pen: [EtsyJOANNAmazon]

Did I miss anything you think is a ‘must have’? Leave it in the comments!

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Mary

Friday 28th of January 2022

Patience. And that a regular hardware tape measure will not work. Needs to be cloth and/or very flexible. Love your list!

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