Recommended Supply List for Students

Required:

  • Pattern
  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • Needles (For Machine & Hand Sewing)
  • Scissors & Shears
  • Pins
  • Seam Ripper
  • Marking Pen or Chalk Pencil
  • Measuring Gauge
  • Transparent Quilter’s Ruler
  • Notions: Zipper, Elastic, Buttons, etc.

Recommended:

  • Sewing Box or Tote Bag
  • Sewing Machine Trolley
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pincushion
  • Safety Pins
  • Bodkin
  • Thimble
  • Point Turner
  • Fray Check
  • Beeswax
  • Seam Gauge
  • Pressing Ham & Seam Roll
  • French Curve Set

You don’t need to buy everything at once. The “Required” items are important for your first few classes, but the “Recommended” items are not. Wait until you discover a need for a particular item, and then purchase it. See below for more information on each item, along with ordering links.

Yesterday’s Thimble is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. What does this mean? Basically, if you click a link to an item sold on Amazon and then order it, I earn a small fee that helps support this website.

 

Required Supplies:

  • Pattern, Fabric, Thread, and Notions

Patterns, fabric, and notions may need to be purchased from a local craft store, such as Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s. Alternatively, you can order patterns directly from Simplicity, New Look, Butterick, McCall’s, or KwikSew, but wait for a sale, or search eBay and Etsy for discounted patterns. If you want to order fabric and notions online, I recommend Fabric.com or Etsy. (Notions include things like zippers, elastic, buttons, etc.)

While not crucial for beginners, I do recommend ordering silk thread online, as most fabric stores don’t carry it. Silk thread is great for basting—temporarily hand stitching your pattern pieces together, so they don’t shift while you’re sewing them. Choose a pale neutral color, like beige or ivory. (Dark or bright colors may bleed dye onto your fabrics.)

 

  • Pin & Needles

You’ll need pins to secure your pattern to your fabric while you’re cutting it out, and to hold your pattern pieces together while you sew. Size is a personal preference, but the thicker your fabric, the larger your pins should be. I prefer ultra-fine glass-head pins, as they’re thin enough to not leave permanent holes in delicate fabrics, and they won’t melt if you accidentally touch them with a hot iron. If you’re working with heavy fabrics, like denim, twill, corduroy, etc., you’ll want long pearlized pins instead. (Just be careful with them, as they will melt if bumped with an iron.)

Having a variety of needles is useful. You’ll need hand needles for sewing snaps and hooks, as well as for basting, and finishing techniques that must be done by hand. Try a multipack of hand needles to start. Once you know your preferences, you can get a package of sharps, betweens, or my personal favorite, milliner’s straw needles.

It’s recommended that you change your sewing machine’s needle with every new project you start, or after 8 hours of sewing. Machine needles come in different types, such as Universal for woven fabrics, and Ballpoint for knit or stretchy fabrics. They come in different sizes, too, which will vary depending on your fabric weight. (#9 for very lightweight fabrics, like chiffon, organza, batiste, lawn, or voile; #11 for medium fabrics, like quilting cotton, muslin, broadcloth, or lightweight flannel; #14 for moderately heavy fabrics, like denim, twill, or corduroy; #16 for very thick fabrics, like upholstery fabrics.) If you don’t know what kind of fabric you’l be working with, get a multipack with different sizes.

 

  • Scissors & Shears

You’ll need a good pair of sewing shears. Dedicate a pair solely for cutting fabric, so they’ll stay sharp longer. If you’re serious about learning to sew, don’t waste time or money on cheap, low-quality shears. They’ll only frustrate you. I recommend Fiskars spring-loaded shears. They’re affordable, extremely high-quality, and make cutting a breeze.

4″ embroidery scissors are useful for clipping threads, cutting ribbons and trims, as well as notching and grading your seam allowances. You don’t want to use shears for this kind of work, as there’s a high risk of accidentally cutting more than you intended.

 

  • Seam Ripper

No matter how experienced you are, you’re going to make mistakes from time to time; a good seam ripper will help you remove your stitches quickly, without damaging your fabric. I don’t recommend the tiny plastic seam ripper that comes with your sewing machine. It’s too small to hold comfortably and the slick plastic makes it easy to drop. Instead, look for an ergonomic seam ripper—one with a comfortable rubber grip. Avoid those with an extra-large blade, as they make it harder to rip out small stitches.

 

  • Quilter’s Measuring Gauge

A quilter’s measuring gauge is one of sewing’s best-kept secrets! It’s a flat piece of metal with protrusions in a variety of common measurements. Place it against your fabric and instantly see how wide your 5/8″ seam allowance needs to be, for example, without having to get out your ruler to measure the exact width. It’s also useful in training your eye as to what the common measurements look like. Knowing what 5/8″ looks like, as opposed to 1/2″ or 1/4″, can be very useful.

 

  • Marking Pen or Chalk Pencil

Every pattern has notches, dots, and other marks that need to be transferred to the fabric. For this, you need a fabric marking pen or chalk pencil. My favorite is a purple fine-tipped air-soluble marking pen. Its marks fade with exposure to air, so they vanish after a few days. This is impractical for class, however, since any marks will be gone by the time you return the following week. Therefore, I recommend a blue fine-tipped water-soluble marking pen, which only fades when it gets wet.

Another option is Frixion erasable pens, whose ink disappears when exposed to the heat of an iron. Note, however, that with many fabrics, the ink doesn’t totally vanish, but leaves a faint mark behind. Also, if the fabric is exposed to cold temperatures, the ink will reappear.

If your fabric is very dark, you may find that a marking pen’s ink won’t show up. In this case, you’ll need a white chalk pencil. (You won’t need this very often, so there’s no need to buy one until you actually need it.)

Regardless of what you use, always test the pen or pencil on a scrap of your fabric to be sure the marks will come out!

 

  • Transparent Ruler

A ruler is essential for measuring fabric, lace, and trims, but also necessary for altering patterns and cutting bias tape. It gives you a long, straight line to mark and cut. Find a transparent quilter’s ruler that’s 2″ x 18″.

 

Recommended Supplies:

  • Sewing Box or Tote Bag

You’ll need something to store your project and supplies while traveling to class. Sewing baskets are nice, but tend to be expensive. A craft tackle box works just as well.

 

  • Sewing Machine Trolley

It can be a pain to lug your sewing machine to and from class, and there’s always a risk of damage if it’s sitting in your trunk or back seat, getting bumped around. To keep your machine safe, invest in a sewing machine trolley, which is like a carry-on suitcase, with wheels and a pull-out handle. They come in a variety of colors and prints, so you can get one that suits your personality. Plus, it’s padded and has straps to secure your machine, which will make traveling with your sewing machine safer and easier.

Note: They also make trolleys for sergers, embroidery machines, and scrapbooking, so make sure you get one that’s specifically for sewing machines. Check the measurements, too, to be sure your machine will fit inside.

 

  • Measuring Tape

It’s important to take your measurements before deciding which pattern size to cut, but a measuring tape comes in useful for other things, too. You can get a traditional dressmaker’s measuring tape, or the retractable kind.

 

  • Pincushion

A basic pincushion will keep your pins together and prevent them from spilling. Also handy is the kind that attaches to your wrist. It’s easy to make your own pincushions, but you should buy at least one traditional pincushion for the little strawberry that comes with it. The strawberry contains ground emery, which sharpens needles and pins.

 

  • Safety Pins

These are good for a variety of things. One common use is to thread elastic through a waistband, though I prefer a bodkin for this purpose. Keep an assortment of safety pins on hand.

 

  • Bodkin

A bodkin clamps onto a piece of elastic or twill tape, making it easy to thread through a waistband or drawstring channel. My favorite kind looks like a pair of tweezers.

 

  • Thimble

A thimble is a lifesaver when hand sewing. It protects your finger from the eye of the needle when you’re pushing it through several layers of fabric. They come in a variety of sizes and materials: metal, plastic, rubber, leather, elastic, and even little adhesive dots that stick to your finger. I prefer the thin leather Nimble Thimble, but try a variety to decide which kind works for you.

 

  • Point Turner

A plastic device with a pointed end. It’s used for producing a sharp edge after you’ve sewn a corner. Alternately, try That Purple Thang, which can be used for corners, but also for guiding difficult fabric under the presser foot.

 

  • Awl

This is a tool designed for poking holes in your fabric. It works by spreading the fibers apart, rather than cutting them, so your hole will be stronger and less likely to fray or become larger than you intended. Great for installing eyelets and grommets. Look for one with an ergonomic handle.

 

  • Fray Check

Fray Check is a thin liquid glue that you apply to the edges of fabric to keep them from fraying. Very useful for baby clothes and doll clothes, or fabrics that fray easily. Always test it first, because it may discolor or leave “water-marks” on certain fabrics. When applying, place a piece of cardboard underneath the fabric, so the Fray Check won’t seep through and get on other parts of your garment.

 

  • Beeswax

Beeswax will strengthen your thread, keeping it smooth and tangle-free for hand sewing. Pull your thread through the wax several times, until your thread feels a little sticky, like dental floss. Fold the thread into a clean strip of muslin and press it with a warm iron. This melts the wax, fusing it with the thread. (Note: If you order beeswax in the summer, it may arrive softened or melted. So long as it’s still contained within its plastic holder, you can leave it in a cool location to harden. After a few hours, it should be as good as new.)

 

  • Seam Gauge

A seam gauge looks like a small metal ruler with a sliding knob. It’s useful when you need to measure the same distance over and over, such as for a hem or a row of buttonholes. Simply measure the distance you need and set the gauge. The knob will mark the spot and you can then copy that exact measurement as many times as necessary.

 

  • Pressing Ham & Seam Roll

A pressing ham may look odd, but it’s quite useful for pressing sleeves and darts (or any curved area), since it allows you to shape your fabric while pressing. Simply lay your fabric across the ham and steam-press, rotating as necessary to get the shape you want. To hold the ham while you use it, you can invest in a wooden holder, or you can get an inexpensive football kicking tee. Just be sure you don’t touch the iron to the plastic tee, as it will melt!

A seam roll is likewise handy, but for a different purpose. If you press a narrow part of a garment, like pants legs or a sleeve, the iron will leave creases at the edges of the fabric—unless you place a seam roll underneath. The seam roll will raise the section you’re pressing, so you don’t get creases at the edges.

 

  • French Curve

A set of French curves comes in handy for pattern-drafting and altering. They contain a variety of curved edges, making it simple to draw necklines, sleeve heads, princess seams, hip curves, and hemlines.

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