On my Sewing Tips for Beginners post someone commented requesting that I make a list of some basic supplies that I think a Beginning Sewer should have. I thought it was a great idea so I set out to compile a list of what I think are some basic supplies that you should have when you start your sewing journey. These are my personal favorite items, however, when you get started you may find that something else works better for you and that is perfectly fine! I try to keep my supplies as affordable as possible (I'm sure I don't have to reiterate how awful the economy is) so I will give you some tips on keeping sewing affordable on a small budget.
First things first...
1) The Sewing Machine
I personally use a Brother CS6000i machine and I love it! However, if you are just starting out and don't want to splurge (because you are like me and don't know for sure that you are going to stick with your hobby in a month..or week...or couple days) then by all means try to find something a little cheaper! I have been sewing for a very long time and the first machine I used was a hand-me-down from my Grandma and was by no means glamorous. It was yellowed from age and barely worked. I used that machine for years, and when it would give me too much trouble I would just turn it off and hand sew. As frustrating as it was at the time I appreciate learning on a difficult machine because I am fully confident in my hand sewing capabilities from having to rely on them so often. After that machine (many years later) I purchased a Brother LS-2125i which was pretty cheap. That machine worked really well for many years and only started to give me problems towards the end. I would recommend starting on a Brother LS-2125i if you are looking for something pretty cheap to learn the basics on. It wasn't until I felt really confident in my sewing abilities that I looked into upgrading to a more expensive machine.
2) High Quality Thread
My personal favorite is Gutermann Natural Cotton Thread. As I mentioned in my Sewing Tips Post, when I buy thread I buy the largest spool I can of a neutral color and use it on every project. It seems to be a really effective method because I don't have to constantly change my thread to a different color or fill bobbins with corresponding colors. I personally use a light grey color (almost the same as the one in the picture). Higher quality thread will prevent a lot of problems with your machine.
3) Back-Up Needles For Your Machine
When you get your machine make sure you verify what needles it uses so you purchase the correct ones. Make sure you are always using a sharp needle when sewing. That doesn't mean you have to change it every time you start a project, but when it starts to dull or you notice that it is having trouble going through the fabric then it is time to switch to a new, sharp needle. Also, make sure you are using the correct needle for the type of fabric you are using. Thicker, heavier fabrics and lightweight fabrics use different types of needles. When you know what machine you are using a quick Google search can tell you what needles you need for your machine.
As with the needles, you need to verify that you are getting the correct bobbins for your machine. A search online or the User Manual that comes with your machine will be able to tell you what bobbins to get.
5) Straight Pins
Make sure that you get straight pins that have thin, sharp needles. This will make it a lot easier when going through multiple layers of fabric.
6) Rotary Cutter, Self-Healing Mat and Clear Ruler
Using a rotary cutter, self-healing mat and clear ruler will make it a lot easier when cutting your pattern pieces. They aren't super cheap but it will make your life a lot easier. You can get a kit (like the one below) that has all three items together, it might be cheaper to buy the kit then everything separate.
7) Something to mark your fabric
When you are sewing you are going to have to make marks on the fabric at some point. You can either buy special marking pens or pencils, use chalk or (my new personal favorite) use Pilot Frixion pens, which have ink that disappears when heated with an iron. They are cheap and the ink disappears immediately when heated with an iron leaving no trace of the ink. It's truly amazing!
8) An Iron
Make sure you get an iron with a steam and spray function. They aren't expensive and you can find them at a lot of places (or you might already have one around the house).
9) Something to hold your straight pins
You can go the traditional route and get a pin cushion to put your straight pins in, however, I decided to use something a little different. At first I had my straight pins in a pin cushion but then my ridiculously mischevious cat (Doug) learned how to pull the pins out and throw them all over the floor. I had to adapt and find another method of housing my pins and what I ended up using I like even better than a pin cushion. I use a magnetic paper clip holder to hold my straight pins. The pins are easy to grab and pull out, and at the same time they are secure because the magnet holds them in the container.
10) Large Fabric Cutting Scissors
Another thing that you don't want to skimp on. Don't just grab scissors from the "junk drawer". Make sure you get a pair that are sharp so they can cut through multiple layers of fabric.
11) Small Scissors
I personally use a tiny pair of nail cuticle scissors for cleaning up thread thats sticking out when I am finished with a project. I find that need use them quite a bit at the end of a project, especially if I have sewn on a label.
12) Seam Ripper
At some point you are going to need a seam ripper, especially if you are just starting out. That doesn't mean that you are bad at sewing so don't be hard on yourself! Even the most experienced sewers use seam rippers. They are very useful to back track if you accidentally sewed something wrong or want to try again on a seam that isn't perfectly straight. They are also great (and necessary) if you plan on using your new sewing skills to alter clothing, such as taking in the waist of a pair of pants.
Check with my Sewing Tips for Beginners for a quick overview on interfacing and a link to a detailed description of all the different types of interfacing. If you plan on making quality projects then I recommend familiarizing yourself with interfacing early on. If you are just starting out I would recommend buying some Pellon SF101 Fusible Interfacing, which you can buy at your local Joann Fabrics. Pellon SF101 is my personal favorite and is very easy to use and fuse.
14) Tape Measurer
I personally don't use my tape measurer often, however, that's not to say that I don't have one close by all the time just incase. Especially if you are going to be making clothing or altering clothing it is good to have a tape measurer. If nothing else you can use it to measurer your waist if you are losing weight or walk around with it draped over your shoulders so you look like a professional ;)
15) Ironing Board
You are obviously going to need somewhere to iron but if you don't already own an ironing board and live in a small space like me then I have a solution for you. My "ironing board" is actually an extra TV tray that I already had with fabric stapled on top. It works great and folds down to save space when I'm not using it! I used an extra piece of fleece I had laying around and put that on top first to create padding and then stapled the fabric over that. Here is an example of a TV tray ironing board (*Note this isn't mine, I found the picture on Google images):
16) Hand Sewing Needles
Even with a sewing machine there are going to be times when you need to hand sew. A pack of hand sewing needles is a must :)
I hope this list helps all of you who are new to sewing! Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!