Sewing 101: Your Bag of Tricks (part 3)

Posted in: Sewing 101, Your Bag of Tricks — By on September 24, 2010 8:32 AM

Welcome back! This is the final part of our three part series on essential sewing tools. You can go back to part 1 and part 2 if you haven’t seen them already.

Let’s continue, shall we?


Sewing Tools: Measuring TapeMeasuring tape is a very useful tool used for measuring… well, anything. You can get a retractable version that is always neat and tidy or opt for the loose version that you can hang around your neck.

Sewing Tools: Ruler

A ruler is great to have around. A metal ruler with a cork bottom stays put, while quilting rulers are wider, clear and made for precision.

Sewing Tools: Sewing Gauge

A sewing gauge is a mini ruler. It has a sliding bar that helps your mark things like buttonholes, hems or pleats.

Sewing Tools: Marking Tools

At some point you’ll need to transfer or make a mark on your fabric, but you’ll want something that disappears when your finished. Tailor’s chalk and marking pencils can be rubbed away while some marking pens can be washed out or erased.

Sewing Tools: Tailor's Awl

A tailors awl is a pointy tool that you can use to punch holes into your fabric for things like snaps or grommets.

But that’s not all! There are a few things that you’re going to need if you want to sew with a machine…

Sewing Tools: Sewing Machine Needles

One of the keys to a smooth sewing project is choosing the right sewing machine needle for your project. As with hand sewing needles, machine needles come in different thicknesses and points each suitable for a different kind of fabric or thread. The shank of the needle will be flat on one side. Check your machine manual to see how to insert your needle.

The size of sewing machine needles can seem a little bit weird. Basically there are two numbers; one American size and one European (example 14/90… US/EU). The needles get finer as the size number gets smaller. So a 10/70 would be finer than a 14/90. There are a whole bunch of different kinds of sewing machine needles, but we’ll get into that later.

Sewing Tools: Screwdriver Set

A small screw driver set is super handy when it comes to sewing machine maintenance and cleaning. Stay tuned for a future post on cleaning and maintaining your sewing machine.

Sewing Tools: Bobbins

Bobbins are special spools that sit inside your sewing machine.  Your machine will come with a few bobbins, but we recommend picking up more.  Most sewing machines will wind the bobbin for you with a few adjustments. It’s a good idea to wind a couple bobbins in the colour you’re using so you don’t have to un-thread your machine to wind a bobbin in the middle of your project.  Bobbins come in a standard sizes and can be plastic or metal. Check your manual to see which kind of bobbin is compatible with your machine.

Sewing Tools: Iron and Ironing Board

An iron and ironing board are essential for making sure that your sewing project looks sharp.  You’ll press before you sew and throughout the sewing process to fuse interfacing, press seams or pleats.  You might be tempted to skip pressing, but it can make fabrics easier to handle and your finished product will look better for it.


Phew! This is a pretty comprehensive kit that has everything you need to start sewing. It’s a good idea to get yourself a tackle box, sewing basket, or even a drawer to organize your sewing supplies. Once you start sewing you’ll no doubt begin to amass a collection of notions, tools and supplies so it’s good to get organized early!

If you know anyone who is thinking of learning to sew, a basic sewing kit makes a great gift!

Next week we’ll help you pick out a project!

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