With school (dare I say it) just around the corner, it’s probably that point in the summer when students are looking at their supply list and wondering which tools they still need, which ones are essential, and which would just be incredibly helpful to have in their bag. Not to worry – in today’s post, we’re going to outline each handy sewing gadget that we love to use from design to finish!
1. Design Supplies
Every project should have a design stage; a time when you can find inspiration and sketch ideas. Sure, you’ll find a sketchpad and some fashion sites helpful, but the internet isn’t the only place you have to turn to for ideas.
- The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion
- If you ever wanted some in-depth insight into the history of Mood and how it all began, this book is a must. However, it won’t stop there. The Mood Guide will also give you the tools to learn all about the different types of fabrics, fibers, prints, and patterns, identifying specific characteristics of each. So you’ll already be on your way to becoming a pro when you show up for class this semester.
- 9 Heads – A Guide to Drawing Fashion
- This book, essential for any student studying fashion, is what Mood uses in all of their illustration classes. In addition to covering techniques for drawing fashion figures, 9 Heads is also a comprehensive guide to drawing all kinds of modern fashion garments, silhouettes, and constructional/design details. This edition even includes a new chapter on Composition and Fashion Shorthand (a guide to composing groups of garments for professional standard portfolios) and a complete set of tutorials on how best to utilize Photoshop for fashion illustrations. 9 Heads leave no future designer with anything less than all of the basic tools in formatting fashion illustrations on a professional level.
- Do you love designing clothes, but have a hard time putting your ideas on paper? If so, a Fashionary might just be the perfect fit for you. These pads are the perfect blend of fashion resources, templates, and sketchpads, making them the tool for brainstorming, fast sketching, and quick referencing for students, designers, and home sewers alike.
- If templates just distract you, basic sketchbooks and pads are always a great option. Mood has several for pencils, pens, or markers. Before a single stitch is sewn, these pads capture the essence of a garment’s design, ensuring clarity of concept and a roadmap for execution.
- Pens, Pencils, and Markers
- Not every writing instrument is the same. If you’re finalizing your sketches with pens and markers as you should be, there are a slew of tools that can help you make sure your idea on the page is exactly what you’re designing in your head. Prismacolor’s marker set is terrific, as is their marker blender, and Fashionary’s color collection (made exclusively for Mood) contains a full and effective range of contemporary fashion colors for extensive design applications!
2. Draping Supplies
If you like to make your own patterns, draping is almost always a necessary extra step, which means a few more supplies. In the end, though, your designs will flourish for it.
- Dress Form
- Dress forms are one of the most helpful tools a fashion designer can have. Not only can you fit semi-finished garments on it, but you can also drape muslin or other fabric to create your own brand-new garment or pattern.
- Muslin is typically made of inexpensive cotton and is best used for draping and mock-ups. If you have a pattern that you’re unsure of, make a test version with muslin first! Mood even sells 5-yard bundles of their premium 45″ muslin at 2/3 its typical price!
- You can never have too many pins! Be sure to have a few of each kind so you always have the right pin on hand for the fabric you’re using.
- Draping Tape
- Draping tape, much like painter’s tape, is often thin and flexible, making it ideal for mapping out seams and curves on a dress form or muslin.
- Pattern Paper
- Draw out your own patterns or save yourself some money by tracing ready-made patterns in different sizes – either way, pattern paper can be incredibly helpful! Plus, it typically has a built-in 1″ grid system for easy measurements.
- Fabric Clips
- Fabric clips are handy tools used to hold layers of fabric together without the need for pins. They’re especially good for materials like quilting or leather where you don’t want holes. Essentially, they keep things in place, making sewing and cutting a whole lot smoother.
- Safety Pins
- Safety pins serve as versatile tools in the world of fashion and garment creation. When draping, safety pins are used to temporarily secure the fabric on a dress form or mannequin, allowing designers to manipulate, adjust, and visualize how the material will lay on the body before committing to permanent stitches.
3. Measuring Supplies
Measuring tools have evolved fantastically from a basic straight ruler. These awesome gadgets can make sure every garment you make is tailored to perfection.
- Yard Stick
- The yardstick provides precise measurements to ensure accuracy and consistency in garment construction. Its rigid structure and marked increments allow for straightforward and efficient length assessments, from measuring fabric cuts to determining hem lengths. By using a yardstick, sewists can achieve a professional finish, ensuring that each piece aligns perfectly and fits as intended.
- French Curve
- This easy-to-use gauge is terrific for measuring and drawing curved lines like armholes and necklines. It ensures those curves on your patterns are nothing short of perfection, giving your garments that oh-so-professional finish we all crave.
- In sewing, a T-square is a handy tool for ensuring straight lines and precise measurements. It’s especially useful when drafting patterns or marking fabric to get those perfect cuts. You’ll definitely want one of these if you do a lot of quilting or geometric work.
- Hem Gauge
- This curved gauge makes pressing new hems incredibly simple – just wrap your hem around the curve and iron! It can also be used for pockets, pattern alterations, and belts or waistbands.
- Hip Curve
- The hip curve ruler is an essential sewing tool, allowing designers to achieve those smooth, natural curves around the hip and waist areas, ensuring a flattering fit every time If you’re looking to create long, graceful curves in your designs, this 2-foot ruler needs to be in your supply stash.
- This is a straight edge and T-square all in one, terrific for right angles and borders! The L-square with its right-angle design, ensures that seams align perfectly and patterns are impeccably scaled, solidifying its spot in every seamstress’s arsenal.
- Measuring Tape
- We all have at least 3 of these right?? Tape measures are terrific for taking measurements on non-flat surfaces, which is a necessity when you need to measure your model.
- Sliding Gauge
- If you don’t want to spend the money on all of these right away, you can try them out with a nifty little sliding gauge. This pocket-sized gadget features a buttonhole spacer and sizer, a seam allowance gauge, a circle compass, a hem gauge, and a T-square – all in miniature!
4. Marking Supplies
- Tracing Wheel
- A tracing wheel is a great marking option for soft fabrics. It leaves a small dotted indent that disappears after pressing. For leather or vinyl, it can also be used to evenly space and mark where to hand stitch.
- Tailor’s Chalk
- This chalk is best if you need a nice, solid line. However, be sure to remove markings before pressing your garment, as the heat could set the color slightly.
- Marking Pencil
- Marking pencils are much like a tailor’s chalk, but they tend to be a bit lighter. They come in three shades, so they can work with most fabric colors, and there are even water-soluble options that can be removed with a damp cloth!
- An awl is a tool used to punch holes in leather, vinyl, plastic, and fleece, to hold and ease fabric under a needle while sewing, to start holes for small wood screws, and to mark dart holes in both fabric and preliminary patterns. Essentially, it can be used for a lot of things – such as marking stitches on leather by hand instead of using a tracing wheel, or fully puncturing the markings initially made by a tracing wheel.
- Tracing Paper
- Once you have all your markings and measurements, you may want to recreate them on pattern paper or muslin, or even your final fabric. Tracing paper can be a great assistant when it comes to this step.
5. Cutting Supplies
- Buttonhole Cutter
- Similar to a chisel, you can insert the tip of this buttonhole cutter in the center of the buttonhole and rock it back and forth until you cut through to the other side. Be sure to place a piece of cardboard or other protective material behind the fabric when cutting.
- Seam Ripper
- Many beginner kits and machines come with a seam ripper, but if you’re unfamiliar with them, they can be used to open seams, cut and remove stitches, and cut buttonholes open.
- Edge Trimmer
- These applique scissors are designed to make applique work and rug making a breeze as the paddle-shaped blade pushes away the bottom layer of fabric for flawless, controlled cuts close to the stitching.
- Cutting Mat
- These mats are self-healing, meaning they won’t be easily destroyed by knife or rotary cutter marks. A cutting mat ensures precision while protecting your workspace. Crafted specifically for sewists, it not only prolongs the life of your rotary blades but also ensures your fabric cuts are clean and accurate, a must-have for any sewist.
- Thread Snipper
- Thread snippers are designed to trim thread, floss, yarn or other light materials with accuracy and comfort. Fine-point tips offer access and control when trimming stringing materials in tight places while the precision-ground stainless steel blades make clean cuts. Spring-action handle with finger loop makes handling both easy and comfortable!
- Rotary Cutter
- Rotary cutters are especially terrific for long, straight lines – like those you’d be cutting if you’re a quilter. With its razor-sharp circular blade, it glides smoothly across fabrics, ensuring clean cuts even for the trickiest curves and corners.
- Pinking Shears
- Pinking shears are special scissors used in sewing to prevent fabric fraying. Their zigzag cut minimizes unraveling and offers decorative edges. They’re ideal for notches and crafting techniques.
- All Purpose Scissors
- All-purpose scissors are designed to handle a variety of tasks from cutting fabrics to trimming threads. Their versatile nature ensures clean and smooth cuts, making them essential for both novice and expert sewers. With a balanced weight and sharp edges, all-purpose scissors promise precision, elevating the quality and ease of sewing projects.
- Fabric Shears
- Fabric shears are specialized scissors designed exclusively for cutting fabric, ensuring clean and precise cuts without fraying. Their unique build and sharp blades allow for a smoother glide through various textiles, preserving the fabric’s integrity. Utilizing fabric shears in sewing projects not only enhances accuracy but also prolongs the life of the material by preventing damage.
6. Sewing Supplies
- Sewing Machine
- A sewing machine is a versatile tool used in textile crafting, automating the process of stitching fabric. It features a moving needle, thread mechanism, and feed mechanism to advance fabric. It’s adjustable for various fabrics and stitches, from straight to zigzag. Some offer embroidery and quilting functions, streamlining sewing for enthusiasts and professionals.
- Elastic, invisible, fusible, heavy-duty — ever wonder about all the different types of thread? I recently outlined all my favorites right over here! Choosing the right thread not only ensures longevity for your stitches, but it can also elevate the finish, making your piece look professional and polished.
- Machine Needles
- Machine needles are essential components in sewing, designed to seamlessly pierce through fabrics, allowing the thread to form stitches. The type and size of the needle selected can greatly influence the quality of the stitches, making it crucial to choose the right one based on the fabric and sewing project at hand.
- Hand Needles
- Whether you’re weaving delicate embroidery, securing a stray thread, or creating a seamless invisible hem, the humble hand needle is a sewist’s intimate companion in ensuring every project is stitched to perfection.
- Needle Threader
- Maybe this one isn’t a necessity, but I am in love with needle threaders. They can be used with both hand and machine needles, and they completely eliminate the frustration of fighting with the eye of a needle and fraying thread.
- These come in a few different sizes, to protect your finger while hand sewing. Plus, if you find the metal ones uncomfortable, there are also leather ones!
- These, of course, typically come with your machine, but it’s always a good idea to have a few extras. Some will always get lost, and others are just great to have so you don’t always need to waste thread by juggling the same two. Just be sure you choose the ones that fit your machine!
- Ever tried wrangling a rebellious thread or setting a delicate embellishment without tweezers? Trust me, in the sewing realm, these little gems are the unsung heroes, ensuring every detail is just so. Every stitcher’s toolkit deserves a pair!
7. Crafting Supplies
- Seam Creaser
- This is a must-have for any sewist. The narrow end helpfully turns points on shirt collars, lapels, pockets, and more, while the rounded end creases seams open (or shut!) for a tailored look every time.
- Loop Turner
- A necessity when making narrow spaghetti straps, button loops, or frog closures. Latch-hook end catches fabric to pull it through bias tubing!
- Fabric Glue
- Sometimes, you just have to use glue. When adhering to fabric though, be sure to use glue meant specifically for fabric. Others can stain or eat through certain fibers, and others simply won’t do the job as well.
- Hem Tape
- Intimidated by hemming? Hem tape can take that fear away! There are several different kinds, although most are iron-on. Some are permanent, while others wash away and act more like temporary iron-on pins. This can also be used for appliques!
So what sewing tools are your favorites? Did we leave any out in our ultimate list? Once you have your ultimate sewing kit put together, be sure to download our new monthly sewing planner to keep your projects just as organized!