Tools You Need to Get Started with Sewing

Essential Sewing Tools

This list is what I consider the Essential Sewing Tools that you will need to get started sewing. You will no doubt buy more as you learn to sew, but these tools are what you need to get started.

The tools list may seem long and a little daunting, but remember you only need to invest once since most tools will last you years.

If you have a family member or friend that sews ask if they have any tools or maybe even a sewing machine you could borrow. Sewists tend to accumulate a lot of tools, so you may well find that they have surplus tools and even a sewing machine and are happy to pass them on to you to use.

So here is my list in detail, you can also find my YouTube video on Essential Sewing Tools if you scroll down.

Essential Sewing Tools


Every sewing kit needs a good quality pair of dressmaking shears and ideally, they should be 91/2″ long, giving you a nice long cut.

A smaller pair of snips is also very handy for smaller jobs and trimming loose threads.

Make sure your sewing scissors are dedicated to cutting fabric only, this will ensure they stay sharp.  I tie a piece of ribbon onto mine, so I know (and my family knows) which ones they are.

If you’re on a budget, a larger pair will do both jobs.

I really like Kai Dressmaking Shears

For snips I like Mundial Embroidery Stalk Scissors and there will be no mistaking that they are yours.


You’ll need pins to hold your pieces of fabric together while sewing. I like flat head pins. I find they are easy to handle and easy to find when they drop on the floor, and this happens a lot more often than you’d think. I like Clover Flower Head Pins


A magnetic pin caddy is absolutely one of my favorite tools I have ever bought. I love the Clover Magnetic Pin Caddy because in my experience it has a much strong magnet than cheaper brands.


Mistakes are just part of the process and taking the time to unpick and correct a mistake is key to lovely finished items. I like the Clover Ergonomic Seam Ripper because it’s a little bigger than most, making it easy to hold and easier to find amongst your tools.


A tape measure is needed to check measurements like hems, and to measure things like ribbon and elastic. Any flexible tape measure will be fine, it is handy to have one that has both inches and centimeters.


It is useful to have a couple of different options with chalk or washable markers, some work better than others on different types of fabric, as well as different colors show up better on different colors of fabric. Some of my favorites are:

Clover Pen Style Chaco

Fons & Porter Water Soluble Pencil

Clover Water Soluble Pencils


Extra bobbins are really useful so you can have them ready to go in your favorite colors of thread. I wind 3-4 bobbins of white thread and store them in a zip lock bag with the thread so they are always on hand. It is important to make sure the bobbins are compatible with your sewing machine. I do not recommend generic bobbins, I buy the particular brand that goes with my sewing machine.


A rotary cutter is essential to cut your fabric with perfectly straight lines. Once you get used to using one, it will become an indispensable tool in your sewing arsenal. My favorite is the Olfa 45mm Rotary Cutter.

Also, grab a pack of spare blades, you need to remember to replace them every now and then. Ensure they are the same size as your cutter. For example if you get the 45mm Rotary Cutter, you will need the 45mm blades.


You’ll need a self-healing mat if you are using a rotary cutter. You’ll use this to cut all your fabric on. The bigger the better when it comes to healing mats, I recommend getting the Olfa 36” x 24″ Self Healing Mat and I have only ever used Olfa.

When storing your mat please make sure it stays flat, if it can’t stay on your table or desk, try under your bed.


The final tool to go with your rotary cutter and self-healing mat is a ruler, all three tools work together for perfectly straight and accurate cuts. If you are only buying one ruler I suggest the largest size ruler, a Omni Grid Quilters Ruler 6” x 24” you can do everything with this one ruler.


An iron and ironing borad is essential and I can’t stress enough that after we sew every seam we press it. The most basic iron will do perfectly fine. I recommend buying an iron in your budget. If you can afford an Oliso Iron, which is the designer iron for sewing and quilting, go for it. A $20 iron from Target will also do the trick. My iron is the Chi Steam Iron from Amazon and is in the middle price range.


So, this one is a given, and the biggest investment in your tools. I suggest you stick with a reputable brand and in my experience, a good basic sewing machine is going to start at around $100 and goes up from there.

If you are wanting to invest more than a few hundred dollars I recommend you visit a dealer that sells machines and try them out, they also might offer free lessons on using your sewing machine.

Some features that I like are:

  • Speed control
  • Needle down
  • Free arm
  • One step button hole
  • If you want to quilt then throat space is also something to consider

A couple of machines that look like good options in different price points are:

Brother $120

Brother XR9550 $200

EverSewn Sparrow 20 $280

Brother ST150HDH $300

Juki HZL-LB5100 $350

Janome JW8100 $400

Janome  4120QDC $700


This post is part of a free online course to learn how to sew, to find out more click here.


Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. I know all the different tools and options can be a little confusing to begin with. I have linked above what I consider to be good options.


Stacey x

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