The Essential sewing kit list.

The Essential sewing kit list.

I originally thought about writing this post for beginners. People who might have been lucky enough to receive a sewing machine for Christmas or are just planning to get stuck into sewing as a new hobby this year. When thinking about what you need to get started I realised it is pretty much the same as what you need when you are experienced too. Along the way and the more seriously you take it you will probably find extra tools to add to your kit. I’ve never been one for gadgets and gizmos I really like straight forward functioning good quality equipment that does the job it needs to do. With that in mind I have compiled this list of equipment that I believe to be the essential sewing kit. 


There are a huge variety of scissors on the market ranging massively in price and size. I have an extra large pair of 35cm long Wilkinson sword tailors shears that I bought when I studied and also own a beautiful pair of Gingher scissors that I treated myself to when I tried a pair that belonged to a customer. However huge heavy scissors or pricey beauties were not realistic to offer to my customers in classes. I kitted my classes out with several pairs of Fiskars 25cm dressmaking shears . These tick all the boxes, they are light enough to use comfortably. The blades are long and sharp, so they cut smoothly through all weights of fabric. They are also reasonably priced.  Fiskars also offer a left handed pair. 

Paper scissors:

It is important to keep a pair of separate scissors for cutting paper in your essential sewing kit. Paper blunts scissors, the last thing you want when you come to cut your beautiful fabric is scissors that chew! Its not massively important what scissors you use for paper. I would recommend either old dressmaking scissors that have been relegated or a cheap pair that is comfortable to hold. I had these fun ‘paper’ tags made by Tracy from Sew nothings impossible. The tags make the scissors easily identifiable. Especially useful if you have little people who like to borrow them for crafts!!

Embroidery scissors:

A small pair of scissors or embroidery scissors are another essential item in your sewing kit. Again these need to be nice and sharp to trim threads, clip seams and unpick. I also love  Fiskars embroidery scissors. I have some other small scissors from different brands but find Fiskars stay sharp for the longest time.

Seam ripper/unpicker:

I always joke in my classes that someone should have invented a beautiful jeweled or designer unpicking tool to make the experience of unpicking a little less dull! However it is reality that things go wrong and need unpicking. It’s nearly always worth it in the end. Unpickers are also essential for making buttonholes. There are lots of super cheap unpickers available from around 50p. I prefer the ones with a more sturdy handle. Not only are they more comfortable to use but they get lost less easily.


Pins, pins, pins, you wouldn’t think you can go wrong with pins but you can go very wrong with pins. Blunt pins, thick pins, rusty pins, pins that snap in half. All of these are not fun when you are in your happy sewing zone. I am always envious of customers who arrive at my sewing classes with beautiful tins of unmixed glass headed pins. My pin tins tend to be a mix of all the combinations I bought thinking I was getting a good deal, along with random buttons and other clutter. I recommend buying branded pins like Hemline or Prym that make good quality items. The glass headed pins are my favourite because they are easy to pick up and easier to see. They won’t melt if they are in your work when ironing. I always avoid mixed or general packs which seem often to contain such thick pins I would feel more comfortable hammering them into a wall!

Pin cushion:

Pin cushion, pin tin or both. I think its good to have a variety. if you want to transport your pins you need a tin or container with a lid. When working at the sewing machine it can be handy to have a pin cushion close by as you remove pins from you work. I quite like to have a wrist pin cushion that moves around with me, I wrote a tutorial for my fun watch pin cushion. However probably the most useful pin cushion I have is the magnetic pin dish. This is especially useful if you are a bit accident prone, or again if you have little helpers who often and regularly knock the pins on the floor! This will save loads of time and your knees!

Hand sewing needles:

Much the same as pins, it is really worth investing in a decent brand like Hemline. Its good to have an assortment of sizes to cover all the jobs you might need to use them for. Some needles come packaged in a hard case which makes them easier to keep together. 

Tailors chalk or fabric markers:

There are lots of options for marking fabric, I wrote a more in-depth post showcasing some of the different products to mark fabric. Since discovering Chaco pens they have become my number one choice. I don’t use them every time I need to mark fabric however between the options I think I use these the most.  Chaco pens have a thin wheel which as you roll delivers a fine line of chalk. The fine line makes them very accurate and as the chalk is in a pen shape container they are easy to use. They are a little expensive however they are refillable.

Tape measure:

A tape measure is the last of my essential sewing kit recommendations. Most tape measures have imperial and metric measurements. Even if you only use one or the other type of measurements its good to have both to hand. There can be times when a sewing pattern refers to only one or the other.

Lastly its useful to have a solid ruler. Though I don’t include this as an essential item for beginners a Pattern master ruler is a fantastic addition to your sewing kit even if you have no plans to make patterns. I hadn’t realised how much I use mine for sewing projects, from checking the angle of pockets, buttons holes or other decoration. I use it to cut bias tape as well as amend patterns once fitted, and a multitude of other tasks. There are other cheaper versions on the market however I can’t vouch for their quality. 

If you are just starting out this kit should cover everything you want to do now and stand as an excellent foundation for years to come.

Though this post is about the essential sewing kit if you are looking for a sewing machine recommendation I would suggest a Brother Innovis NV15 this is a great quality machine. it is the latest version of ones I use in my classes and have been used and enjoyed by beginners for years. 


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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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