Essential Tools to Get Your Sewing Journey Started as a Hobby (Again)

how to start your sewing journey as a hobby

It’s happened. The sewing bug has bitten you. You want to set up a dedicated space for your new hobby, but you’re unsure where to start.

You have come to the right blog. This is the first in a series of posts about what you’ll need to set up a dedicated sewing space in your home, even if you’ve never sewed a stitch before. t’sSetting up a dedicated creative space is not impossible (even in the smallest spaces) and it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. How do I know? Because I just did it for the first time as a middle-aged person. If I can do it, you can too.

My Sewing Journey

I learned how to sew a straight stitch first at my grandmother’s elbow and in 7th grade (let’s hear it for all the home ec teachers!) I made what can only be described as a barely functional can koozie. I didn’t really do much with a sewing machine again until my kids were babies; I used my machine on my dining room table to sew 2 pieces of flannel together to make burp cloths. (Again, with the straight stitches.) I remember my back and shoulders aching after about 30 minutes at the table and what a pain it was to pack and unpack everything at least three times a day.

Despite my creative nature and honest enjoyment of sewing, the discomfort and inconvenience of trying to start up a sewing hobby in a small house with a husband and three children underfoot was just too overwhelming. The sewing machine didn’t see the light of day again for 7 years.

When I started working for Arrow Sewing, I got inspired again. It’s hard not to, spending each day looking at the amazing art all you sewists out there create – just this morning, I’ve swooned over these quilts, a garment designer, a slew of adorable stuffed toys, useful and stylish bags of all sizes, and quilted soup bowl holders (they’re a thing, and they’re on my project list).

I also have a 12-year-old daughter who is as creative and crafty as the day is long and becoming far too cool to hang out with her mom. Let it be known that I’m not above a little trickery to get my tweenager to spend some time with me. The wheels started turning!

Now, more than ever, I’m entering a phase in my life where I’m ready to set up a functional, comfortable sewing space in my home! Luckily, I could draw on the experience of the Arrow Sewing Personal Shopper to help me choose the right equipment to get started. It is absolutely possible to create a dedicated sewing space in your home without breaking the bank!

all the essentials for a sewing space

Essential Tools for Your Beginner Sewing Space

Before we start talking about studio setup, though, let’s make sure you have all the tools and equipment. Here’s what you’re going to need to get started:

    1. A Sewing Machine: Sewing machines can be expensive… but they can also be very affordable. Check out our blog on the Best Sewing Machines for Beginners to get started. There are also options to rent a sewing machine or even borrow a sewing machine from the public library. Donated sewing machines can be found for budding sewists on limited or fixed incomes as well.
    2. Sewing Machine Needles: Your machine comes with needles to get you started with basic projects, but there are a variety of needles out there that work better on different fabrics or for different techniques. You don’t have to worry about any of that right now, but it’s good to be aware that different needles for different uses exist.
    3. Scissors: You’re going to need a couple of different types of scissors.
      • Paper Cutting Scissors: You’re going to use these to cut out your pattern pieces.
      • Fabric Scissors: These are designed to glide through the fabric and should not be used for any other purpose! Ask pretty much any sewist what happens to the person who takes the fabric scissors to construction paper.
      • Dressmaker Shears: These are optional but very nice to have. The lower half of the blade lays flat on the cutting table. The cutting angle combined with the super-sharp blades means these scissors glide through fabric like a hot knife through butter.
      • Pinking Shears: Pinking shears have a zig-zag blade that makes a zig-zag edge on your fabric and are used as a way to finish an edge or create a decorative look.
    4. Pins: There are also a variety of pins you can get. Most beginners are best served by glass head pins, as they provide better visibility. Other pins available are ballpoint, silk, and extra-long sharp pins that will not bend. Here’s a handy guide to different types of pins and the projects they’re best suited to.
    5. Thread: Like needles and pins, there are different types of thread available geared toward different project types. You’ll want to choose a quality thread to keep your project together for a long, long time. It’s always a good idea to start out with a neutral palette of thread colors (think black, white, gray, and brown) on hand. You can also match your thread colors to your project fabric.
    6. Tape Measure: Do not steal the tape measure from the garage! It’s not bendy enough to take body measurements. Your flexible sewing tape measure (also called a tailor’s tape) is also handy for measuring fabric, positioning paper pattern pieces, checking hems, drafting patterns… pretty much anything you’d use a ruler or tape measure for can be done with a sewing tape.
    7. Marking Tools: Sometimes, you’re going to have to make a little mark on your fabric. There are several options. There’s tailor’s chalk, fabric marking pens, or chalk markers. Chalk marks can be easily brushed off or pressed away, and marks made by marking pens can be removed by heat – a hot iron or hot water will work.
    8. Bobbins: Like needles, your machine will come with some bobbins. Make sure you have some extras too. Be sure to select the right bobbins – different machines require different sizes. Your sewing machine manual will tell you what size it needs. Check out this blog post for more information about bobbins.
    9. Binder Clips: These are also sometimes called sewing clips. Like pins, they hold your fabric pieces securely together as you stitch seams. Unlike pins, they’re great at securing multiple/heavy layers of fabric and are your best bet for fabrics like leather, where you don’t want pin marks showing on the final product.
    10. Thread Snips: Most machines have a thread cutter built in, but you will soon find that stray threads can appear at any time. It’s a good idea to have a pair of thread snips next to your machine as you sew. It makes removing those pesky strays as you go quick and easy.
    11. Iron and Pressing Surface: Pressed fabrics come together better and make your finished project look better. You’ll want an iron that can steam and an ironing board or pressing mat to protect your fabric and surfaces.
    12. Seam Ripper: Mistakes happen. A seam ripper helps you undo those mistakes easily without damaging your fabric. Most machines come with a seam ripper, but there are different types for different projects. Here’s a quick guide to what different seam rippers are best for.
    13. Pincushion: Pins are small and sharp, and gravity is real. Dropping pins onto the floor is a recipe for an inadvertent foot stabbing, and nobody wants that. There’s always the classic tomato-and-strawberry pincushion (here’s a fun little history on that ubiquitous tomato), but you could also use a magnetic pin dish or a wearable pincushion on your wrist.
    14. Rotary Cutter: This is an optional tool as well, but worth the investment if you’re dreaming of quilting. A rotary cutter looks like a wheel pizza cutter and is especially good for cutting around curves and shapes as well as zipping through straight-line cuts. They come in different sizes and must be used with a cutting mat to protect your table or counter. There are also optional rulers designed to be used with a rotary cutter available.

I know, it’s an extensive list. Luckily, everything on the list comes at different price points. Do take the quality of the tool into consideration when shopping for supplies. Investing in the best quality you can afford will help eliminate frustration and save you time and money in the long run.

You know what you need… time to go shopping! And when you’re ready, check out this guide to effectively organizing your sewing room.