Here’s my review of what I think are the best sewing items and supplies. Basically, which ones I use most often. There is obviously an endless amount of brands and price points for each, but these are just the ones I happen to use and like enough to pass along to someone else. I mostly shop at Joann’s to take advantage of the coupons, but I definitely love the convenience of having something delivered for free from Amazon. (Links below are mostly to Amazon. Let me know if you have any questions before you buy!)
1. Sewing machine – I’m currently using a Baby Lock Quest Plus, and I absolutely love it. It was an investment, and something that I plan to use forever. If you’re in the Seattle area, I got my sewing machine at Quality Sewing and Vacuum, and they were great. I used both a Juki and Janome sewing machine when I was in school and loved those brands too.
See here for some thoughts and suggestions on sewing machines for beginners.
2. Serger Sewing machine – I use my Euro-Pro serger I got off of Craigslist all the time. It cost me $100 and is still going strong years later.
See here for thoughts and suggestions if you’re looking to buy one of your own.
2. Thread – The only thread I use, and therefore the thread I think is best, is Gutermann. Other brands have the little lip that always gets caught when I’m sewing and it drives me crazy. This Gutermann multi pack would be a good investment if you need various colors for future projects as well.
3. Scissors – Invest in a decent pair of scissors (not expensive, just decent) and then don’t let anyone else use them. I had a sewing instructor in school harp on that constantly – everyone puts pressure in different areas of the scissors and you don’t want your alignment to get messed up. Fiskars is my brand of choice, and this pair looks like a great place to start. (Mine are pretty old so I couldn’t find a relevant link.) Also, don’t use them for anything except fabric. They’ll get dull quicker and there is nothing worse than trying to cut fabric with dull scissors.
4. Small Scissors – I use a small pair of Fiskars scissors with very sharp points as much as I use my standard fabric scissors. They’re better for small clips or for snipping threads.
5. Scissors sharpener – I got this Fiskars scissors sharpener a few years ago and try to use it every few months or so.
6. Clear ruler – I use this Westcott 1″ x 6″ ruler so often during each project that I actually have 3 of them. I alway seem to set one down and misplace it often enough that I finally just bought more.
7. Measuring tape – I actually use one that was my mom’s, so it’s really pliable and worn in. But any brand of one of these will be necessary.
8. Straight pins – I don’t have a particular brand I like, but my one suggestion is to get the ones with the glass heads (like these). The ones with plastic heads are really cheap and will get melted by your iron. You really will only ever need one box of pins, so you may as well spend a couple more dollars to begin with.
9. Chalk – A former instructor of mine got me addicted to this chalk. It’s a brand that’s made in Japan called Chakoner, and it’s the absolute best. I can actually only find it on Ebay at the moment, but it is definitely worth the money. It’s a powder chalk that comes off really easily when you no longer need to see the line you made. You can buy the Chakoner alone, and get chalk refill packs as well.
10. Iron – I definitely think spending a little more on an iron is worth it. Not a lot more, just a little more. As long as you clean it well and take good care of it, it’s something you should have for a very long time. We have this Rowenta, that at $50, is on the low end of their options. I would just avoid the $20 sale iron if you want it to last.
11. Hand sewing needles – I bought this Singer needle set about 12 years ago and it’s still what I use every time I need to hand sew something. Just make sure and put your needles back after each project and you’ll never need to buy more.
12. Sewing machine needles – I don’t actually have a specific brand to recommend. Just know that you should have a lot of them on hand. A new needle should be used for every project. They dull out very easily, which can damage your sewing machine, the fabric, etc. The best rule of thumb is to use a new needle each time you start a new project.
13. Seam ripper – I don’t have any special thoughts or reviews about which seam ripper is best, I just know that I use the ones I have a lot. That’s the beauty of sewing something – you can just about always redo and keep going.
14. Rotary cutter – These are amazing for cutting fabric or paper. The blades last quite a long time, so the cost is really initially to buy the cutter. I use this Fiskars rotary cutter, but I’m sure any brand would be good.
15. Self-healing cutting mat – This is pretty much a requirement when using a rotary cutter so you don’t damage your table or floor. Any brand would do, but this is the one I’ve been using.
16. Heavy duty ruler – I only use this Fiskars acrylic quilting ruler when I’m cutting fabric with a rotary cutter. Any other rulers are too flimsy and will get damaged from the sharp blade.
These are the items I have on hand to use for almost every project. Like I said above, the possibilities are endless for price point and brand. My words of wisdom are to only buy what you’ll use, and don’t go too crazy with the high-end price points. You can always upgrade later on if it’s you think it’s necessary.