Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Let's get this party started! Go get your party supplies!

What do you need to start sewing?

Unless you plan on sewing everything by hand, which is possible, you will want a sewing machine. I am not the person to teach you how to sew by hand, so get a sewing machine if you want to join this party. 

That was obvious, but what else will you need?

-Fabric, duh. We will talk more about different types of fabric tomorrow.

-Sewing machine needles. Different types are needed based on what fabric you are using. We will cover this when we talk about different types of fabric.

-Seam ripper. When I first started sewing, I was convinced this would be optional. Like, if I never messed up, I would never need one right? Hahahaha, that was a laughable thought. You will need one. You will mess up. Go buy yourself one. Or two, they like to grow legs and wander off. I spend more time looking for the seam ripper than anything else.

-Thread. Once again, there are different types and it can seem overwhelming. I generally use all purpose polyester thread either Coats and Clark or Gutterman. Some machines are more finicky with lower quality thread (the lower quality threads can lint up machines.) I haven't had a problem with either of those two brands (Some do not like Coats and Clark,), but this might be something you look into more as you dive further into sewing. Also, because I'm a huge nerd and was a science major in college, I found this blog post to be a fun visual of different thread as seen under a microscope. Here is another helpful blogpost which shows how to assess thread quality. Now, different types of thread might be needed for different projects, here is one more blog post you might want to check out. This one shows uses for different types of thread. Like I said, I use polyester thread (usually labeled "all-purpose") for most of my sewing. By the way, the last blog post I linked was found at Craftsy, which is a great resource for learning more about sewing.

-Straight pins or sewing clips

-Fabric Scissors. Buy yourself a pair of scissors designed for cutting fabric that will be used for nothing else other than cutting fabric. Write "FABRIC ONLY, IF YOU USE THESE FOR ANYTHING ELSE, I WILL PERSONALLY USE THESE SCISSORS ON YOU NEXT!" on them with a sharpie. Congratulations, you are now a seamstress, protect those scissors at all costs. 

Ryan Gosling understands:

But Andy Dwyer doesn't. Someone please tell him it's because they need to stay sharp. Paper, or many other things, will make them dull a lot faster than fabric will. Cutting fabric with dull scissors is just no good.

You do not need to go out and buy expensive scissors. Although there are some  pricey options out there, you can get decent scissors inexpensively. If you decide that sewing is a hobby you want to invest in, feel free to buy the more expensive option at that time. I have been doing just fine with my Fiskars that I purchased with a coupon at JoAnn.

-Iron. This one might seem optional, but it is very important. This can make all the difference in how professional your projects will look. Like the scissors, you don't need to go out and buy the most expensive option. For the first few years of my sewing journey, I used the cheapest iron I found at walmart. When it finally gave up on me, I went with the Shark brand to replace it, not the most expensive option by a long shot, but it works great for me. Lots of steam!

Here is a blog post about the importance of ironing if you want to read more. You might notice that the post says how you don't want your items to look homemade, which is a bit of a naughty word in the sewing world. I just thought I would point that out. Handmade, ok. Homemade, bad. Homemade cookies, however, very good. 

-Hand sewing needle. I do hate hand sewing, but it is necessary for certain projects. Not all, thankfully. 

-Measuring tape. This will be important when we sew apparel. Because of vanity sizing in the stores, you can't just assume you can sew the same size when it comes to patterns. You need to go off your measurements and not the size you typically wear. The sizing can also vary between different pattern designers.

-Paper scissorsThese can be your regular household scissors, just as long as they aren't your fabric scissors. If you have scissors you use around the house already, you can just use those and continue to use them as you normally do. These will be used for cutting patterns, wether they are patterns you drafted yourself, paper patterns or patterns you printed.

If you are drafting your own patterns, you will need some paper. You can use what you want, but freezer paper is awesome. After you draw your pattern on it and cut it out, you can iron it directly to the fabric to cut out the fabric. And you can reuse and iron it again and again. That being said, I rarely use freezer paper because I tend to just print whatever pattern I need from my collection of PDF patterns, but if you find yourself tracing patterns or drafting your own frequently, you might consider getting freezer paper.

If you are printing PDF patterns (more on that when we talk about patterns in Part 2), you will need the ability to print and tape or a glue stick to attach your pages together.

Lastly, a serger is completely optional. I have one, but I didn't buy one until I had been sewing for several years. It is great for sewing knits and for finishing seams but you absolutely do not need one. I won't cover using a serger at all during our series. It will just be somthing to keep in mind should you choose to dive further into sewing later.

There will be some things you need for certain projects like buttons, zippers, elastic... but we will cover that if we come across such a project.

Here are specific items you will need for each project in PART 1, not including fabric or other sewing basics. All projects, except for the skirt will require very little fabric. Let me know if you want more specifics on the fabric requirements for any of these projects before the tutorial is posted.  Remember you are not committed to complete all of these. Just choose which one (s) you want to do:

Hair Bows: If you want to glue these to hair clips, you will need alligator clips, ribbon for lining them and glue (I use a hot glue gun when doing hairbows, but other glues will work too.)

Baby Paper: I bought actual plastic baby paper here, but other people have made these with other plastic, such as cereal bags or baby wipe packages. Ribbons are optional if you want to make this into a taggie type of baby toy.

Small Bean Bag Toy: Something to fill them such as dry beans, rice or poly pellets (found at craft stores). I used rice in some I made a couple years ago and they are still going strong.

Skirt: Elastic: I used 3/4" elastic, but you can use anything wider if you wish.

Here is a little preview of the first two projects, the hair bows and the baby paper. You can do this!

Have I fogotten anything? Please let me know if I have, or if you have any questions.


  1. How do you feel about a rotary vs scissors? I honestly can't cut a straight line to save my life

    1. Good point! I actually didn't think of that because I tried a rotary cutter once and hated it. Yes, that is an alternative option to scissors, but you will need a cutting mat as well. I won't push one way or another, so choose which option you like best.

    2. Amanda, I also thought of one more thing. If you choose to go with a rotary cutter, you might also want some pattern weights. I know that some either make their own or use things around the house, but you can also purchase pattern weights if you want.

    3. I think I'm just going to get a new pair of scissors to start with I'm thinking a sharper pair will aid in cutting straight :)