White dressmaking tape measure on white fabric background. Image contains text overlay: 13 sewing tools, the essential ones only.

13 Essential Sewing Tools: Get Started With Sewing

November 6, 2018Eve Tokens

Want to share the love?

13 Essential Sewing Tools: Get Started With Sewing

So you want to learn to sew. You’re excited about the idea of making your own clothes. But you’re not sure where to start?

You need a sewing tools list!

Why? Because if you have the right tools, even just the basic essential sewing tools set, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to get crackin’ when it comes to sewing your own clothes!

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase at no further cost to you.

embroidery scissors, rotary cutter and tracing wheel on piece of white fabric

What Classifies As Sewing Tools?

Some people refer to sewing tools as notions. I stick to the term tools. They are tools that help me achieve what I see in my head, much like a DIY-er using a hammer and a saw to build a table. Right?

If you’ve ever been to a sewing store, you’ll know that it can be quite an overwhelming and inspiring place to be. I used to go to sewing shops with my gran when I was little, and loved exploring al the different shelves and drawers.

Rows of fabrics, scissors and other tools, reels upon reels of different threads! Ribbons, zippers.. So much to look at and touch!

Keeping a Sewing Tools Kit


silver needle with red thread on a white fabric background.

My gran used to keep her sewing kit in an old flat biscuit tin, and it was always close to hand, while her threads and buttons were kept in a beautiful sewing box my grandad made for her. I have continued with her ways, with a big flat cupboard drawer for my tools – I have a much bigger toolkit than she did 😉 – and a sewing ‘cabinet’ of sorts for my threads, zippers and other bits ‘n’ bobs. I actually inherited the sewing box made by my grandad, but sadly it become too damaged to save during a bad flat rental. One of my biggest regrets! 🙁

Anyhow, lets take a look at the basic tools to get started, and then some more advanced options too further below, that will help you to achieve a more professional finish!

The Sewing Process

Now, it is important to remember that there are different tools used for different purposes.

The sewing process includes:

  1. Measuring the body and fabric
  2. Marking the fabric
  3. Cutting the fabric
  4. Pressing your seams
  5. The sewing up process too!

If you’re new to sewing and not quite sure where to start, check out this post on sewing seams!



There are so many options for measuring both yourself, your pattern and your fabric! You’ll want option no.1 for measuring your body. This is a standard dressmakers tape measure, and can even be used to measure from the edge of the fabric to your pattern piece grain-line. Option 2 is if you want a second option for measuring grain-line distance. And option 3 is great for sewing beginners who aren’t yet practiced and accurate with turning the right amount of seam allowance.

The basic options are

  1. Tape Measure
  2. A Ruler for measuring
  3. A Seam Gauge

Fabric Marking

Again, so many options! It’s a good idea to use a dark colour on light fabrics and light colour on dark fabrics, just be careful to do a test first, and remember that only one of these is necessary to start! I started with item no.3 – the tailors chalk, but you should have a look at each options to decide which might work best for you!

  1. Fabric pencils
  2. Washable pens
  3. Tailor’s Chalk (this is my favourite, but it takes some getting used to!)

Fabric cutting


An orange pair of Fiskars scissors laying on a piece of white fabric

Your fabric deserves to be cut with a nice sharp blade! I use a dedicated pair of shears for my fabrics, and have different scissors for different fabric types. This recommended pair is great for sewing beginners needing dedicated fabric scissors!

• Fabric Scissors or Shears

If you’re going to be printing and cutting PDF sewing patterns, you’ll want to use paper scissors for the job. You can use regular household scissors unless you think sewing will become a joy for you, in which case, the pair below are a good scissor to buy!

Paper Scissors (This is the pair I use daily for any kind of paper cutting!)

Pressing fabric

  1. The absolute essential item you need is a good steam iron. If it doesn’t have steam, your creations won’t be as professionally finalised as you’d like them to be. Seams need pressing once they’re sewn, to set the seam, and then pressed open too! Your hand sewn items will look better for a good press – promise!
  2. An ironing board helps too. I have a small table top one. It does the job, until I can get my bigger one back from storage.
  3. A pressing cloth is another essential for when you are pressing tricky fabrics. Man made fibres need to be pressed at a lower heat setting, and can often end up with a ‘shine’. A press cloth helps with this, and I consider it an essential tool!



Stailnless steel dressmaking pins laying upon a white fabric background.

Now this is where the list gets busier!

  1. You need some good quality dressmaking pins to keep your sewing sections together. You don’t need to use a lot, but the garment pieces should be pinned together at the notches at least! I buy a box of high quality pins that will last me a while. This is a great box to get for yourself!
  2. Needles! Either for your sewing machine or hand sewing needles if you are more into working by hand. For hand sewing, this hand sewing needle set makes a great starting point.
  3. A pin cushion to keep your pins and needles organised. There’s this one that you can attach to your wrist for easy access when you need the pins (helps that it’s also made of sewing illustration fabric!) or you could use this one which is magnetic. I find this one is a great option, as you can use it empty to pick up pins from the floor – my other half appreciates this no end! 😉
  4. Seam Ripper. This really IS and essential. Because we all make mistakes, even pros!
  5. Matching sewing thread. I usually use this brand, as it’s one of the best out there. Good quality sewing thread is an essential. Don’t try to sew with any old thread lying around, your sewing won’t look so good, and will fall apart if the thread has deteriorated at all. The shade of your thread should match as closely as possible the shade of your fabric, unless you’re making a statement with it!

(Do you know the basics of sewing? When the sewing machine was invented and the different stitches? Check this post out to fill in your knowledge!)

More Advanced Sewing Tools Options (To Add To Your Kit Later)

  1. A 1m metal ruler and pattern master if you intend to modify or get creative with the sewing patterns. Other pattern masters just don’t match up. This is the newer version of the original pattern master design, so is longer and thinner. Not a bad thing, as my two old versions have both snapped when accidentally sat on! Yikes!
  2. Tailors thread for marking if you’d like to be more thorough
  3. I LOVE this Rotary Cutter – and have multiple sizes for multiple uses! If you go for a rotary cutter, you’ll need some sort of cutting mat to protect the surface of your work area. You can’t have one without the other, so make sure to buy both!
  4. A Tailor’s Ham is essential for pressing 3 dimensional shapes, such as collars that have a nice curve, of the sleeve head of shirts and jackets – it helps to prevent crumpling and wrinkling of the fabric!


That’s it my friends! An essential getting started with sewing tools list. If you think there should be something else included – and remember it has to be considered an essential tool as it’s for the benefit of sewing beginners! – let me know in the comments below

Til next time.

Comments (4)

  • Lesley

    November 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I would like to add that a very useful tool is something magnetic for when you tip over your pin box! I have a telescopic stick that looks like an aerial that I can sweep over the floor and those pesky pins I can’t see just leap to it.

    1. Eve Tokens

      November 12, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Argh! How did I forget to add a magnet to the list! Great thinking Lesley – will add it in ASAP! Thank you! 🙂

  • Janet

    May 9, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Hi there Eve,
    I dont think I saw a sewer’s best friend, a un-picker on the list!

    1. Eve Tokens

      May 9, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Are you serious? Did I actually miss the un-picker off the list? It’s my go-to tool, because I frequently need to unpick a stitch – or many – and am never without it! Yikes! I’m off to check this and add it in if it is missing!
      Thank you so much for pointing it out Janet! x

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post Next Post