Shopping for sewing supplies in a fabric or craft store can be daunting. If you have recently made the decision to try your hand at sewing and are unsure of what you need to purchase, I will help you. I have made a list of the things the average person will need to buy to get started. In no time you will be able to navigate these stores with confidence on your own. Let’s get started.
The first thing you need to do is get a best sewing machine if you do not already have one. This is like buying a television. You can get a decent one that is relatively inexpensive, or you can decide to go for the top of the line machine and spend a lot. You should base your decision on your experience level. If you’ve never tried sewing in your life and are not sure if you will even like it, go for the most basic model you can find.
These machines will cost you an average of $100. Do not confuse these simple sewing machines with the junked ones they make for kids. You want a real sewing machine. They come with instruction manuals, but if you are really timid about threading it for the first time you should ask your salesperson for assistance. Most of these people will be happy to use the display model as an example to show you how it works.
When you are buying your sewing machine, you should also get a bottle of sewing machine oil. This is a very important item to have. Your sewing machine is like your car, it needs to be lubricated on a regular basis or it will stop working.
You will need sewing machine needles. These are sold with the hand sewing needles. They come in different sizes. You should always get the “skip free” needles. This is to prevent skipped stitches. If you plan to sew a lightweight fabric, you should get size 11 needles. For medium weight fabrics, you should use size 14. They even make special needles for sewing denim. Your sewing machine needles should be replaced frequently. Ideally, you need to change your needle with every item sewn. They are inexpensive, a couple of dollars for a package of five, so buy several packages.
Thread is another item you will need to buy. I do not recommend purchasing the cheap thread that is sold for a dollar or less. This thread is not strong and will cause your projects to fall apart rather quickly. I buy Gutermann thread, or Coats brand thread. These spools are about four or five dollars apiece, but I assure you, it is money well spent. Always buy the all purpose thread for use with your sewing machine. It is best to match your thread to the fabric you want to sew.
You will need to buy a package of bobbins. These little plastic things are filled with your thread on your sewing machine in a matter of seconds. It’s very easy and your sewing machine manual will explain how to do this. Buy lots of bobbins and always fill one with each new thread you buy. This way you will be prepared when you get ready to sew. Bobbins are also inexpensive.
You will need a package of straight pins. I like the kind with the large, colorful plastic heads. You need to do a lot of pinning when you are sewing, so buy good ones. A pin cushion is nice to have, but not really necessary. You can keep them in the plastic package they come in.
You will need a good pair of fabric shears. Don’t settle for the cheapest here. Splurge on a good pair and do not allow anyone to use them for anything but fabric. This is important. Using your fabric scissors for paper or hair will cause them to get dull, and they could get nicked. Pinking shears are the ones with the zig-zag edge. These are nice to have, but not necessary.
Get a seam ripper. Unfortunately, you will need this at some point. They come in two sizes. I would buy both if I were you. Both sizes will be handy to have, depending on the fabric you are working with. These can be purchased for a dollar each. Seam ripper’s are not an item you need to spend a lot of money on.
Pick out your sewing project. Decide what you want to make and buy a pattern. There are patterns for everything you can imagine. Allow yourself time to sit on the stools in the store and look through the pattern books unrushed. This is part of the fun. Choose a project that is in comparison to your skills. If you have no special skills yet, that’s OK. Find a pattern marked “easy” and you’ll do fine. This is important because there are some very complicated patterns out there. If you frighten yourself on your first try, it will be hard to try again.
Read the back of your pattern and find out how much fabric you need. If you are unsure of how to do this, ask for help. Don’t be shy. If you are new to sewing, I don’t advise buying expensive fabric the first few times. Start out with simple cottons. Again, I don’t recommend purchasing the one dollar per yard fabrics. Some of these are inferior and can wear out quickly. You will learn how to spot quality as you go. You won’t go wrong if you stick to the mid-priced fabrics for now.
A very important item in the sewing room is an iron and ironing board. You can get a decent iron from the dollar store. Your iron will be necessary when ironing out your patterns and fabrics, but you do not need to spend a lot of money for it.
Now you are ready to sew. Obviously, there are many more items you can purchase for this hobby, but that will come later. For now, get to know your sewing machine and make sure that this is something you intend to continue doing in the future.
I bought a very simple sewing machine for myself twelve years ago. I had no sewing skills and I did not take any classes. I taught myself how to use my sewing machine and made a lot of sun dress sets for my little girl. Since then I have upgraded my sewing machine twice and my little girl is now fourteen. She is no longer interested in homemade clothing, so I’ve taken up quilting. Sewing is a very satisfying hobby and can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.