Sewing Machine Artistry


Posts in Category: Basic Quilting Supplies

14-Basic Sewing Supplies 



14 Basic Sewing Supplies



Hi Sewing Friends!



I know how overwhelming it can be to learn something new.  I'm sharing the 14 basic sewing notions that I think are a must for everyone.  As you talk to more people, take classes and become more experienced, your basic sewing notions will include many more items than what I have listed here.  There are several others that I so badly wanted to add to the list.  Instead, I narrowed it down to only 14 items.  If you have these 14 notions you will be well-prepared and ready to make a simple sewing project right away! 



A clean sewing machine in good working order.

A clean sewing machine in good working order and the owner's manual.


First of all, your machine should be in good working order!  If it has been sitting in the back of the closet, do yourself a favor and take it in for maintenance.  It just may need to be cleaned really good and oiled by a certified technician.



Be sure to have the machine’s manual.  This is such a handy resource to have.  If you cannot find your original manual, look for it online.  Be sure to download and/or print it, and keep it handy, especially if you are taking a class.  You can learn so much more about your machine.  Take some time to read through the manual and familiarize yourself with your machine.   Consult your manual if you are having problems, it could be that your bobbin is in backwards.  


Clover Seam Ripper and Bent Tipped Tweezers


Seam Ripper!  I tell people that EVERYONE can sew...as long as you have a seam ripper!  There are all sorts of seam rippers on the market, in all kinds of lengths and colors.  There are even lighted seam rippers for those who have difficulty seeing small stitches.  


Tweezers.  This might not be a must-have, but it is for me, and everyone else who doesn’t have a pair when they need them. 


Small scissors and a pair of cutting shears.


Scissors!  To cut thread tails, you will need a small pair of scissors, but if you want to cut large pieces of fabric, you will want to use shears, which are bigger scissors.  Depending on your age, and maybe experience, you may find that having a rotary cutter and cutting mat is an absolute must.  A rotary cutter is like a pizza slicer, except that it IS razor sharp.  We’ll talk more about rotary cutting another time.  



TIP:  I tied a piece of scrap fabric to the handle of my shears so I would not get them mixed up with someone else's scissor when I take them to class.  


A beautiful basket of Sulky decorative threads, to include the brand new Cotton + Steel 50 wt. Cotton Thread by Sulky.


Next you will need some good thread.  All right, I’m biased about using a good quality thread, especially Sulky brand thread.  But I have a great story for you about the difference a good quality thread makes in your machine.  By good thread, I mean a brand name thread that is not in the bargain basket.  You know, the buy 2 for $1, or something.  Not knowing what type of sewing you plan to do, I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend general all-purpose thread.  It’s a great idea to check the instructions for your project, as they may indicate which thread to use.  Soon, independent shops will have Sulky’s Cotton + Steel 50 wt. Cotton Thread in stock.  This thread is ideal for piecing and other small projects with seams that won’t get a lot of stress.  


I honestly had a student attempt to use the cheap thread in class despite my plea to buy one spool of good thread.  This lady had a very clean older, mechanical sewing machine.  During class she had all kinds of problems with her machine.  The thread was breaking, the machine jamming, and if she was able to sew, the machine was skipping stitches.  At the end of the first class, I told her that I thought it was the thread she was using and asked her to please buy one spool of good thread.  She came back the following week with the same cheap thread.  Again, she was having problems and was very frustrated.  I threaded her machine with good thread, and guess what?  Her machine sewed like a champ and she could not believe it!  If you find good quality thread to be too costly for your budget, buy one or two spools in a neutral color.  For lighter color fabrics, use something like a white, ecru or light gray thread, and for darker fabric, use a black, dark gray, dark blue thread or even brown.


Schmetz Universal 80/12 Sewing Machine Needles


Next on the list is sewing machine needles.  There are several brands of machine needles to include Singer, Klasse, Organ and Schmetz.  There are different size needle and specialty needles too.  Check your project’s instructions for a recommendation.  If you are making something with a light-weight cotton and are using all-purpose thread you can use a size12/80 Universal type needle to get started.  We’ll get into this topic in the future.  


Yardage and precut fabrics.


Of course you are going to need fabric.  Your project’s instructions will specify exactly what you need and how much.  But if you are looking to have some general fabric to practice with, I recommend quilter’s cotton.  It is available in a lot of pretty prints and solid colors too.  If you don’t know where to find it, don’t be afraid to ask someone.  You can buy fabric by the yard, or there are pre-cut pieces of fabric available in a variety of sizes that are a lot of fun to work with.  


Create-a-Pincushion by Clover.


Pins and a pin cushion or even a magnetic pin cushion!  Look for pins that have a colorful head as they are easy to see and the head makes them easy to remove.  I personally recommend glass head pins, because they will not melt if you iron over them.  You will need a place to put your pins for easy retrieval.  A pin cushion is nice and they are so fun nowadays.  You can even find free patterns on the Internet to make your own.  In fact, you can even create your own custom pincushion using your favorite fabric with the Clover Create-a-Pincushion kit.  


Magnetic Pin Cushion by Clover.


Clover also has a magnetic pin cushion.  A magnetic pin cushion can serve two purposes.  To hold your pins and to pick them up, or find them. laugh  Just think about how easy it would be to pick up pins using a magnetic pin cushion if you were to accidentally drop a pin or an entire box.  Trust me, I know first hand about this! 




Ironing board and Iron.


Iron and Ironing Board, or some other type of pressing surface. I remember teaching a children’s class and I told them that we would be using an iron.  One of the mothers was very surprised and she was the type of person who was very animated with her expressions.  Can you imagine her reaction.  That still makes me laugh.  I don’t even think she owned an iron.  LOL… Your iron does not have to be fancy but it needs to get good and hot.  I once had a young student bring one a toy iron to class, and it did not get hot enough to press the seams properly. 


A 6" x 24" is a must-have.  Oftentimes you can find a 3 pack of rulers with a smaller 6" x 12" ruler.  Having both is quite is handy too.  Eventually, you will find that a 45mm Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat by Clover are essential. 


Measuring.  If you plan to sew clothing, you will need a measuring tape more so than a ruler.  If you plan to sew quilts, crafts, totes and home dec projects, you are going to really need a quilting ruler.  You will want to invest in a clear acrylic ruler.  In fact, I would recommend a 6” x 24” quilting ruler and perhaps even a smaller ruler such as a 6” x 12”. 


Two of my favorite fabric markers are the Chaco Liner Pen Style and Trace 'n Mark, both by Clover.


Fabric Marker.  You can decide which will be best for you.  There are all sorts of fabric marking tools available.


If you look at the left end of the Chaco marker you will see very fine teeth.  This chalk-like marker makes a fine and very precise temporary line.  


One of my favorites is the Clover Chaco Line Pen Style, and they have fun colors too!!! 


Trace 'n Mark pen by Clover is air soluble and water soluble.  It even has dual tips that are different sizes.  


Another fabric marking tool that is new to me is the Clover Trace ’n Mark pen.  The packaging indicates that this is an air erasable marker and that it disappears with water!  Air soluble means that it will disappear over time.  How much time it takes varies, and a lot has to do with your climate.  If it is humid where you live, the marks may disappear faster than another part of the country.  Water soluble means that it disappears with water, so if you spray a little water on the mark, it will go away…ta-da, just like magic!  What I really like about this pen is that it has different sized tips at each end.