What Sewing Tools Do I Need To Start Sewing?

What Sewing Tools Do I Need To Start Sewing

You've decided you'd like to start sewing (yippee!) but what sewing tools do you need? Like any new hobby you want to have the necessary equipment to make it easy and enjoyable, but you don't want to spend a fortune in case it doesn't work out (trust us, it will!) Here's our no nonsense guide to getting that balance juuuuust right.

Tape Measure

The first sewing tool you will need is a flexible tape measure to take your body measurements and choose the right sewing pattern size. You can read more on how to do this here.

There are a wide range of tape measures on our site to choose from including imperial and/or metric options to retractable and extra long tape measures, which you can see here.

Essential Sewing Tools

This is the one I use. Personally I think it is always useful to have metric and imperial measurements because different brands of sewing patterns refer to different systems.

Paper Scissors

Once you've chosen your sewing pattern size you'll need to cut the relevant pieces out (unless you're planning on tracing your pattern in which case see below).

It is always best to use a pair of paper scissors to cut out your pattern pieces, I use my kitchen scissors or you could choose something like these. If you use your precious fabric scissors on paper it can blunt them so this is a big no no.

Tracing Tools (Optional)

Some sewers prefer to trace their pattern pieces rather than cut out the original sewing pattern. This means you always have the original to go back to if you change size or want to test out sizing adjustments on a copy first.

If you decide to trace you will need a few extra sewing tools:

It is a good idea to have some brightly coloured pens to mark your chosen size on the original pattern pieces so they are nice and easy to see through the tracing paper.

Dressmaking Tracing Tools

You will also need some tracing paper or similar to trace the pattern onto. We have a selection to choose from here. I like to use this Burda tracing paper for all my tracing paper needs - the sheets are huge and it is very inexpensive.

You can either trace the markings simply using a pencil or you can roll a tracing wheel over the lines to make little indentations first, which you can then draw over with a pencil. We have a selection to choose from here and this one would be a great starting point for a beginner.

To make life easier and more accurate you can use rulers to draw the necessary lines. For curved lines such as sleeve heads a French curve is a useful tool to have, you can find them here. They also have a straight edge useful for straight lines on your patterns.


Once your sewing pattern pieces are ready you will need to pin them to the fabric. Believe it or not there are a very wide range of pins to choose from.

Some people prefer to use traditional dressmakers pins, where the head and the body of the pin are entirely made from metal. Other people prefer to use glass head or flower head pins because they are easier to see and remove. The versions on our website are resistant to the heat of the iron too, which is useful when it comes to pressing. There are also long pins and pins for certain types of fabric, you can find our full range here.

I would suggest a pack of glass head pins is a good starting point for a beginner. They will enable you to complete a wide range of tasks and are economical to buy too.

Marking Pens Pencils or Chalk

Now your sewing pattern pieces are pinned to the fabric you will need to transfer some markings onto the fabric such as darts or pocket placement markings as indicated by the pattern.

I like to sew a tailors tack (see here for an explanation) or push a pin through the relevant spot then use a chaco pen to mark a cross. You could also use tailors chalk or a marking pen or pencil.

Any of these options would be ideal for a beginner and it is really a matter of personal preference.

Dressmaking Scissors

Now it's time to cut out your fabric and I would highly recommend investing in a good quality pair of dressmaking scissors. They should slice through the fabric with very little effort and will stand the test of time too. This is one sewing tools not to scrimp on.

I love my Janome 9" dressmaking scissors, which I have used from the day I started sewing and have never needed sharpening. They are made from Japanese steel and the quality is second to none.

Essential Sewing Toolkit: Dressmaking and Embroidery Scissors

You can find our full range of scissors here and there are plenty to choose from.

Small Scissors or Snips

A small set of scissors or snips is useful for trimming off loose thread ends to keep things nice and neat. I like to use a pair of Janome embroidery scissors for this task, which are inexpensive and perfect for the job.

Some people like to use snips, which you can see here.

Sewing Machine Needles

There are a wide range of sewing machine needles to choose from depending on the fabric you are working with. We wrote a handy in depth article detailing all the main types here.

As a starting point for a beginner a pack of universal needles in assorted sizes should be enough to get you going. You may also have a pack of needles included with your sewing machine.

Hand Sewing Needles

Many sewing projects require a little bit of hand sewing here and there so it is a good idea to have a packet of hand sewing needles in your essential sewing kit.

You can find our full range here and an assorted pack of straight hand needles such as this should be fine to get you started.

Seam Ripper

When you start sewing, and even when you're a seasoned sewer, mistakes are par for the course. The good news is they can be undone by using a seam ripper to unpick the incorrect stitches.

Sometimes one of these sewing tools will be included with your sewing machine. If not, we have a range to choose from here. I use this very basic one, but sewers also rave about the ones that include a rubbery bit on the end, which you drag across the fabric to pick up the stray threads left behind.

Sewing Tools for Beginners: Hand Sewing Needles, Machine Sewing Needles and Seam Ripper

Steam Iron and Ironing Board

A good steam iron and an ironing board are crucial for pressing seams to achieve professional results. You can find our top tips on how to press for success here.

It goes without saying you'll also need a sewing machine - you could always borrow one, a sewing pattern, some fabric, thread and any other notions to get started.

Have fun sewing!


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