Sally from Sew Sally has joined us on the blog before. She’s an excellent sewist and teaches classes in the Portland area, and this month she joined our Sew,Mama,Sew! Editorial Board to help plan all of our Make It, Wear It! excitement! We’ll share her board member interview tomorrow but today you can enjoy all Sally has to teach about finding the right tools to sew clothes!

Edited to add: We made you a Tool Kit PDF download with all of Sally’s tables about needles, marking tools, thread and pressing tools. Print it out and enjoy!

There are probably as many tools for sewing as there are people who sew and it can be hard to choose which ones you really need for garment sewing. And when you are standing at the notions wall in the fabric store, the sea of choices can be overwhelming. We are here to help!

The most critical tools are pins, scissors, a 60” measuring tape, and a seam ripper. Everything else is optional, but sewing is much easier, faster, and more enjoyable when you have good tools.

When you first start making a garment, you will place your pattern on the fabric. Some people use weights to hold down the paper and I once saw a woman use beautiful flat river rocks that she had collected. But most of us will reach for pins, the question is, which ones? I prefer to use very fine, very sharp pins that are about 2 inches long. Silk pins are my favorite as they slide effortlessly through the fabric and never snag. They come with colored glass heads, so I don’t worry about ironing them or losing them in the carpet. Really long pins are great for quilting, but get in the way of navigating sleeve hems and other small areas.

A magnetic pin cushion can be swept across the floor to retrieve any errant pins. And a magnetic pin cushion with a lid can be easily stored or taken to class without any pins getting lost.

Once you are ready to cut, you will need some sharp fabric shears. They should be designed for comfort and to reduce hand fatigue.

I have small hands, so I often reach for my 7” shears or a pair of “featherweight” shears. Some companies have spring-action scissors that make cutting much easier. Most of all you want to be sure they are dedicated to only cutting fabric (never paper!) so they stay sharp. Some people prefer to use a rotary cutter, but be sure you have a large enough self-healing mat under your project so you don’t cut into your table top!

Marking Tools:
After you have cut out your garment, you may need to make some marks on the pattern. Here you have an enormous variety of affordable choices.

Be sure to test the marking tools on your fabric, both to see how they look and to test removing the marks. Some inks and chalks will be permanently set with heat from the iron.

After you’ve marked your pattern pieces and you are ready to sew, you’ll need to get your machine ready for the project too. Start by threading with good quality cotton or polyester thread and choose a needle that is right for your project.

Like changing the oil in your car, your machine will run more smoothly and quietly if you have a new needle after every 8 hours of sewing.



After you’ve sewn your seams, you’ll need to press them. This sets the thread into the fabric and makes a nicer looking project. At a minimum you will need a good iron and a flat heat-proof surface. A sturdy ironing board and some simple pressing tools will make your garments look even better!

Pressing Tools:

With luck, you won’t reach for it often, but a sharp seam ripper is another sewing essential. An ergonomic handle makes removing stitches all the easier.


We’re giving away fabulous prizes this month from SINGER, Ottobre Design and Sew,Mama,Sew!

1–Comment Here

Comment in any post this month to be entered into a weekly drawing for great prizes from SINGER and Sew,Mama,Sew!

2–Enter the Make It, Wear It! Challenge

Submit a photo of clothing you make this June in our Make It, Wear It! Challenge photo pool or in this thread in the Forum. You might win a SINGER sewing machine or a subscription to Ottobre.

See this post for details about all the prizes this month!