Guest Author - Tamara Bostwick
In addition to a sewing machine, there are some basic sewing supplies that you will need to have on hand in order to be able to sew effectively. The article Essential Sewing Tools and Notions
describes and explains some of the most essential items used for sewing. In addition to these basic items, there are a few supplementary items that I would recommend purchasing in the beginning to make the sewing process easier.
|While it is likely that you will be using your sewing machine for the majority of your sewing tasks, there is often a bit of hand sewing here and there that needs to be done so you should keep an assortment of hand sewing needles on hand. Many closures such as buttons or snaps are sewn on by hand, as are some types of hems. Or there will be times that you will need to hand baste or tack pieces in place (don't worry, I will explain all of these techniques in other sewing lessons).|
The needle assortment shown the to the right is a nice one to have because it includes a needle threader which can help you thread needles with a minimum of frustration.
If you find yourself poking your fingers, you may want to purchase a thimble as well.
|During the sewing process, you will need to mark your fabric in a non-permanent way, especially when you are using patterns. These markings will indicate where and how pieces should align, how large a seam or hem should be or where to place buttons, just to name a few examples. |
There are different types of marking tools and sometimes certain types are better for certain tasks. Dark and light fabrics also typically require a different color of marking agent. Be sure to always test whatever you are using on a scrap piece of fabric to make sure that it will come off completely and not stain your fabric.
My favorite marking tool is this chalk cartridge set seen on the right. It comes with an assortment of different colored chalk cartridges that work on almost all fabrics. I like how easy it is to change the cartridge, you just press down on the top to open the grippers and put in a different color.
Another way to mark fabrics is to use fabric marking pens (and pencils) come in some different colors such as pink, blue, or purple. What you want to watch out for is how they disappear. Some are water-soluble and others are air-soluble (which means they disappear over time). Be careful using air-soluble markers if you do not plan to finish a project fairly soon after marking it because you will come back to your project and all of your markings will be gone.
There is also chalk based tracing paper that is used with a rolling wheel. It is placed between the pattern and the fabric with the chalk side facing the fabric and then the wheel is rolled over the markings on the pattern to transfer the chalk from the paper to the fabric. This method helps the most with transferring dart markings because it is important to know the shape and length of the dart. Finding tracing paper that actually works can be hit or miss though because it seems to dry out over time making it less receptive to pressure.
|Another nice tool to have handy in your sewing area is a yardstick, which is a 36 inch ruler. The wooden ones are pretty typical, but they can become rough around the edges after awhile and snag your delicate fabrics, so I prefer a long, plastic ruler like the one shown to the right.|
|The last item on this list is a sewing gauge. This is a short (six inch) ruler with easy to distinguish markings and a slider that helps you sew your hems and seams consistently.|
I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to sewing tools and their uses. Next time we will start sewing!