Seamingly Badass

Learn to Sew: Tool Basics

Beyond fabric, there are a minimum number of tools/equipment/notions you will need just to get started sewing. (See Sidebar)

Sometimes in sewing-speak, these things are found under the category of “notions”, especially on websites.


There are things you need to make garments.

Some of these things you need to replenish (consumables like sewing needles and thread). Other things should last longer, but may wear out the more you use them. (Scissors).

So, there are two aspects of sewing.

There’s sewing, actually cutting the fabric, pinning it together, and making the seams. The other aspect is pressing. (More on pressing later)

Sewing Tools

There are a ton of awesome tools out there for sewing. But the good news is that if you want to start sewing, there’s a bare minimum you actually need.

Some of these come with your machine. (If you inherited your machine or got it used, these might be broken or lost, and will need to be purchased.)

Some might come with the machine but are consumables, which means you’ll need to have extra on hand.

And of course, there are tools that don’t come with your machine that you absolutely need to have.

Essential Sewing Tools and Notions:

Scissors (For Fabric)

You will need some way to cut the fabric.

Granted, the scissors you have in your junk drawer or craft bin might work. But if you keep sewing you’ll want a dedicated pair for fabric. 

It’s really frustrating to try to cut out fabric and have your scissors just not be able to handle the job.


You’ll need pins. Probably. I mean, technically, you can get away without pins, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner.

Heck, I still use pins. (Even though I curse them all the time. If I’m sewing with pins, I will stab myself at least once with them.)

Plus, in order to cut your fabric pattern pieces out, if you don’t have pins, you’ll need more other equipment. So, Pins.

(Pins also wear out in a variety of ways.)

Machine Needles

You’ll need machine needles (Sometimes a small assortment will come with your machine.)

Needles are consumables which means they will eventually need to be replaced.

They also need to be matched to the fabric that you’re using (more on that later).


You’ll definitely need thread. (I use all-purpose thread 99% of the time).

Seam Ripper

Usually, a Seam Ripper will come with your machine. But if your machine was used or a hand-me-down, you may need to purchase this.

And while it’s all well and good to think that you won’t need one, it’s really the best tool for the job of seam ripping. And yes, you’ll likely need one at some point.

In fact, I just used mine to undo 2 seams two days ago… and that’s after over 3 decades of sewing. I still F up.

Optional Sewing Notions:

Hand Sewing Needle

This depends on what you’re going to be sewing in the near future. But let’s say you do decide to sew some stuff soon. It’s just good to have one of these around.

Tape Measure

While not essential for sewing. I will say it’s essential for sewing clothes. You will need it to measure yourself. And it’s the best tool for measuring curves on patterns.

I mention this here though because if you’re following along and want to sew your own clothes, you might as well get all the things you’ll need to do so.

Pressing Tools:

Just as with tools for sewing, there are a bunch of cool tools to make pressing easier.

However, this is just what you NEED to get started. Not what’s super cool to have.

Essential Pressing Tools:


If you’re just getting started, pretty much any iron will do. You may even have one lying around. Eventually, you might want to upgrade to something better. Or, yours might be perfectly fine for your needs.

Heat-resistant surface for pressing on

This is usually an ironing board but could be a board that is padded and covered and just sits on your table.

You want something that can have high heat applied to it, won’t be affected by steam and cools off relatively quickly when the heat is removed. It really sucks to be pressing something and then touch the surface and feel the burn.


Let me say that I sometimes use tools, equipment and notions interchangeably.

What the heck is a sewing notion?

According to wikipedia:

“In sewing and haberdashery, notions are small objects or accessories, including items that are sewn or otherwise attached to a finished article, such as buttons, snaps, and collar stays. Notions also include the small tools used in sewing, such as needles, thread, pins, marking pens, elastic, and seam rippers.”