When I committed to living handmade, I decided that I was going to learn how to sew. I learned the basics back in junior-high home-economics. Unfortunately, at that time I was more interested in the guy sitting next to me than I was in mastering the art of sewing.
Today I started looking for supplies that I am going to need to start sewing. At the moment choosing a sewing machine seems really daunting and overwhelming but I think I have supplies under control. Here is a list of the must-haves that I plan on digging up…
I must start off by offering my mom an apology for secretly using her sewing scissors to cut pictures of the Backstreet Boys out of Seventeen Magazine. Sorry mom! Based on what I have read I am going to pick up a pair of 8 inch all-metal sewing scissors and I promise to never use them on paper! Sew4home recommends a pair of scissors that a have a 45˚ angle at the pivot point. If I learned one thing from all the research I did, it is to buy the best pair of scissors that you can afford.
The consensus seems to be that Size 17 dress maker pins are the best place to start. Elissa Meyrich (author Sew Fast Sew Easy) says that this is a good size because these pins can get through most fabrics without leaving large noticeable holes. Wendy Mullin (author Sew U) and sew4home recommend buying straight pins topped with colourful glass heads because they are easy to see if they fall on the ground. I would also like to add that they are much prettier than the plain ones.
Even I know that sewing requires measuring and precision so you better get yourself a tape measure. Elissa Meyrich recommends that you buy a good quality tape measure that will keep its shape and will not stretch out.
Clear Plastic Ruler
As a newbie I am not 100% sure about this tool but apparently it can be used to correctly set out a pattern or to take flat measurements on patterns. Both Elissa Meyrich and Wendy Mullin recommend a ruler that is 18 inches by 2 inches. Would you agree that this is a must have?
I am learning that sewing is all about precision and chalk is another tool to help keep your project on track. Use it to draw straight lines and mark button holes. There are also other types of marking tools like water-soluble markers and disappearing ink markers but my mom used chalk and I am going to stick with what I know.
I have a feeling that the seam ripper is going to be my best friend over the next few months. My most vivid memory from my junior-high home-economics sewing project is picking the stitches out of the waist band of the boxer shorts that I made.
Hand Sewing Needles
I hear that hand sewing needles are great for sewing on buttons and delicate trim that will give your projects the WOW factor! Hand needles have an eye at the top and the pointy end at the bottom. Another fun fact is that they come in several sizes. Lower numbers are for heavier fabrics and higher numbers are for lighter ones. All the experts recommend buying a variety pack to suit different types of fabrics.
It is also a good idea to have a few different machine needles. First off, Sew4home says “The rule of thumb is to start every new project with a new needle. It’s like sharpening your pencil before you write.” Unlike hand sewing needles, the eye and the point are located at the bottom of machine needles. To make things even more confusing machine needles with smaller numbers are for lighter fabrics and machine needles with larger numbers are for heavier fabrics. One final note: needle size is listed with two numbers (example: 80/12). The larger number is the European size and the smaller one is the American size.
Thread comes is many colours, materials and weights. The heavier the fabric the heavier the thread should be. Wendy Mullin recommends starting with cotton wrapped polyester Thread. She also recommends picking the darker shade of thread if you are matching thread to your fabric and cannot decide between two different hues.
Iron and Ironing Board
An iron and ironing board are used to prepare fabrics and open seams. The beat on the street is that an iron is necessary if you want your sewing to look neat and professional. Always make sure your iron is clean before using it and consider laying down old fabric like an old t-shirt over your project to make sure you don’t burn it.
Finally the pièce de résistance… the sewing Machine
OK no ideas on the sewing machine yet. Any tips on buying a sewing machine?? If so, please comment or send me an email! Like Scarlett O’Hara I’ll think about that tomorrow. Watch for a post sometime next week about buying a machine!
How did I do on the supply list? Are there any other must-haves that you can think of?