12 Items For Your Basic Sewing Tool Kit

Where Do I Start?

With so many sewing tools available, where should you start to prepare your basic sewing tool kit?  It can get very confusing!  I’m here to help you clear up some of the frustration of choosing.

The basic sewing tools I’ve listed here are the ones I really cannot live without, but you can probably get by without some of them initially – then acquire the ones you need over time.  Some of the tools will really make your sewing tasks easier and more efficient.  And as I said, some may not be necessary right now but would be nice to have when you need them.

Purchase Sewing Tools When They’re Discounted

For infrequent tasks you may be able to improvise sometimes, and if you find that a particular sewing tool would make the job easier, by all means, go ahead and get it!  Watch for discount sales and coupons to save on the cost.

Purchasing more tools than you need in the beginning could get you into overwhelm, so be careful.  There is a huge assortment of sewing tools available, and it can be very confusing and overwhelming.

And don’t purchase every “shiny new tool” that comes along, because you may not really need it now, or ever!  Wait until you see someone actually using the tool, or demonstrating it, before deciding if it’s something you really need.

I got 99% of the items in my basic sewing tool kit on sale or with coupons over the course of a lot of years, and I have just about anything I need when I need it, already in my tool kit!  But I didn’t really need all of those sewing tools in the beginning of my sewing journey.

Also, keep in mind how much storage room you have.  If you allow yourself to get lots and lots of tools, notions, fabric and patterns, you may end up not being able to find what you need when you need it!  Being organized in your sewing space becomes a critical aspect of your sewing life.  Trust me on this.  Being organized is a must!

Each person’s sewing tool kit may be different from another person’s, and sometimes it’s hard to know which tools are essential.  My advice is to choose the items that you think will make your sewing tasks quicker and easier.  Ask the employees at your fabric store or sewing dealership which sewing tools they like the best if you’re still uncertain.

12 Sewing Tools In My Basic Sewing Tool Kit

The following basic sewing tools are ones I recommend for my beginning students and are ones that I have found are the most necessary.

1. Seam Ripper – You’ll need more than one seam ripper so you’ll always have a sharp one. Seam rippers get dull over time, because you’ll be using them often to “un-sew” lots of different areas of stitching. 

In other words, you’ll be ripping out a lot of stitches, over time!

2. Sharp Fabric Shears – It’s important to have a pair of good quality, very sharp fabric shears for cutting your fabrics. Make sure the ones you pick have a comfortable grip.  Some have a cushioned grip, which makes cutting all fabrics easier on your hands, especially the thicker fabrics. 

I recommend a bent-handle version because they’re easier to keep the fabric flat on the cutting table.

3. Seam Gauge – This can be metal or plastic.  It’s a small, narrow ruler with a double-pointed slider built in that can be moved into position to indicate a specific measurement from the end of the ruler.  Some are only 6 inches long, others are longer and may have one pointed end.

4. Thread Snips or Small Scissors – Thread snips or small scissors are very useful at the sewing machine to clip threads at the beginning and end of seams, and also to clip threads close to a stitching line where shears would be too big and clumsy to use up close.

5. Iron – This is a very basic sewing tool.  However, I know a lot of homes today don’t have an iron, because not many people iron anymore.  But, irons are necessary so you can get professional-looking results in your finished project. 

My recommendation is to “sew, then press” along the way for the best results.

6. Ironing Board or Pressing Mat – In order to iron or press your sewing project efficiently, you need an ironing surface: a padded board that stands on the floor with fold-up legs so it can be stored away; or a small table-top pressing mat or a 100% wool pressing mat that can be used next to your sewing machine or on a table. 

Just make sure any residual heat that might penetrate through the mat won’t hurt your table.

7. Tape Measure – An essential basic sewing tool for taking body measurements.  A plastic tape measure is my preference over any other material.  Plastic won’t stretch – accuracy is critical when measuring!

8. Glass Head Straight Pins – I really like straight pins that have glass heads.  The heads won’t melt if touched by an iron, and they are very, very sharp and thin. Most are longer than regular straight pins.  They are available in different lengths, so choose which length you think will suit your needs best.

9. Pin Cushion – My preference is a wrist pin cushion that has a comfortable elastic band that slips onto my wrist like a bracelet.  The traditional version pin cushion is called a tomato pin cushion with divisions marked by a cord allowing you to section off different types of pins. 

A magnetic version can be very handy, especially if you spill your pins on the floor.  Turn it over and swipe it near the spill and it attracts the pins, even out of carpet!

10. Marking Tools – Tailor’s chalk; chalk wheel; water-soluble, air-erasable or heat-erasable marking pen; soap sliver – all good, basic choices for marking fabric. 

My warning is to always test on a scrap of your fabric to make sure the markings can be removed, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

11. Daylight Task Lighting – I must have good lighting when I sew because the older I get, the more I need it to see the detail of my work.  A desk lamp will suffice, but make sure it is equipped with a daylight bulb to cut down on eye-strain and to have quality, clear, bright lighting. 

A daylight bulb mimics just what it says: bright, daytime light.  Find energy-efficient LED daylight bulbs at your local home improvement store.

12. Point Turner – These come in various sizes.  Some are plastic, some are wooden.  Point turners have one pointed end which is used to poke out corners on collar points, sleeve cuff corners, upper hems on shirt pockets, and are handy to use for smoothing out a curved seam from the inside. 

I have used both versions with equal success.  However, I am cautious about how sharp the pointed end is.  With an end that’s not so sharp, I don’t fear pushing a hole into the corners.  Sometimes, I’ll use a wooden chopstick when I need a longer length.

Don’t Allow Yourself To Get Overwhelmed!

With these 12 basic sewing tools, you’ll have the most important tools in your sewing tool kit and they’ll give you a good start on your sewing journey.  As you gain sewing experience, you’ll feel more and more comfortable trying out new tools and adding them to your basic sewing tool kit.

Be Blessed, Be Creative, And Let’s Sew!

Sandy Davis, Certified Sewing Instructor – Your Sewing Coach


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  1. Gosh I am glad I found this site! Yes, I’m afraid of my sewing machine¡. Well, I tried threading it and sewed some stitches which stayed awful close to each other after which the thread broke. So I became discouraged and did not get near the machine for a while. I am going to try again because I am an elderly lady who wants to sew before the Lord calls me…So thank you Ms Sandy for the words of hope and encouragement¡. I will try continue to try¡

    1. Hello Laura,
      Thank you for your kind words! And I’m glad you found my site, as well! I have a couple of suggestions for your situation:
      1. Change your needle to a fresh, new one.
      2. Check your upper thread tension to make sure it’s in the mid-range, between the highest number and the lowest number. (Yes, you can change your thread tension setting!) Tension that’s too tight can cause stitches to malform or thread breakage.
      3. Make sure you’re using a good quality thread that isn’t old. Poor quality (cheaper/old/weak) thread doesn’t have high strength and can break easily. Be sure to keep your threads out of direct light and dust-free. Direct light can weaken thread quality.
      I invite you to sign up for my exclusive, weekly newsletter, at this link where I share in-depth tips on setting up your sewing machine, correcting problems, and lots of tips on sewing machine use, maintenance, and trouble-shooting. And as a subscriber, you will get up-to-the-minute sewing information that I glean from many different sources, as well as from my years of training and teaching experience.

      Thank you for commenting on my blog post and I wish you the best in your sewing journey. Feel free to contact me anytime you need help and I’ll do my best to help you remedy your situation. May God continue to bless your efforts and your sewing journey!


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