This is part 3 of my Frougie Tip Friday series, part 2 covered how to save on a sewing machine. Today I want to talk about the sewing essentials, the basic tools that a sewist needs. Acquired over time these things don’t seem costly but buying them all as once can be. Let me show you how to build your sewing kit the frougie way.
First of all what are the essentials. A stop at a sewing store or a quick Google search can expose you to all types of nifty sewing tools. For a gadget lover, like myself, it can be overwhelming as you come up with excuse as why you need yet another type of marking pen. As a newbie sewist it may be hard to determine what you really need starting out. Here is my list sewing essentials:
- Sewing machine – covered here
- Fabric scissors /shears*
- Paper scissors
- Tape measure*
- Pin cushion*
- Seam ripper*
- Fabric chalk or fabric marker
- Hem guide*
- Machine needle (correct size and type)
- Hand needles*
The starred (*) items can be purchased in a basic sewing kit. They typically include a pair of scissors, a tape measure, a seam ripper, hand needles, straight pins, a pin cushion, a hem guide, a marking pencil. If you have a new machine or were able to acquire all the parts to a used machine it may have come with a seam ripper, but believe me you can never have enough seam rippers! A basic sewing kits are around $10-$15 in craft stores like Michael’s, JoAnn, or Hancock Fabrics. Don’t forget to check each stores website for coupons. Micheal’s, for instance, almost always has a 40% off coupon that can bring that $10 sewing kit down to just $6. Big box stores like Target or Walmart carry them for around $8-$10 in store and online. And of course you can also pick one up from Amazon, the carrier or everything, for around $8. Don’t forget to spend $35 for free shipping if you don’t have an Amazon Prime account.
There are three things that come in a basic sewing kit that I still recommend you buy individually. The first is fabric marker/chalk. You will need this to transfer markings from your pattern to your fabric.I could never get the chalk in my starter sewing kit to actually mark on my fabric. I believe my kit came with both a white (for dark fabrics) and a blue (for light fabrics) marker, neither worked. I recommend either a marking pen like the Dritz Dual Purpose Twin Marking Pen found here (Amazon Walmart Hancock JoAnn) for $5-6 dollars. Again check for coupons! A marking pen is a sewing notion and both Hancock and JoAnn often have a 40-60% off one sewing notion coupon in their weekly ad, though this is often on just one item and not all your notions. I like this marker because the blue side disappears with water and the purple with air. I will say that I have had issues with the blue washing away on occasion.
Another option is a chalk pencil or triangle, usually around $2-$3. I actually prefer this Clover Pen ($7-$10) found on Amazon and JoAnn. Chalk often shows better on darker fabric. Chalk is also easy to remove as it just brushes (or washes) away. I would recommend starting with the marker unless your first project is a dark fabric.
The second thing is scissors. Good fabric scissors are worth their weight in gold and those bad boys are heavy! If you know a sewist you know that if you touch his/her fabric scissors all H-E-Double hockey sticks is about to break out. LOL Good fabric scissors are important, they help you to achieve clean lines when cutting your fabric which make construction easier. The fabric scissor that come in these starter kits are cheap, as a good pair of scissors will cost more than the entire kit. If you are truly a newbie, unsure about sewing and don’t want to invest in good scissors you can start with the ones in the kit, because you likely may be working with cottons which are not difficult to cut. However, nothing is more aggravating in sewing (besides not being able to find your seam ripper) than bad scissors and this could discourage you from sewing. So if you are relatively sure you want to stick to sewing and you have the means to spare invest in some good scissors. Every sewist have his or her favorite brand. I love my Ginghers, others swear by Kai, others still stick with Fiskars. A pair of 8″ shears retail for around $45. I know, I know $45 for SCISSORS. You know I’m going to tell you the frougie way. Your first option is to buy them from walmart.com or Amazon for about $25. Though scisssors/shears are often excluded from coupons, as they are not considered a notion, you can still save in store. Another option is to check your weekly ad for Hancock and Joann as they are often on sale for 30-40% off bringing them down to $32-27. About once a quarter or semi-annually Hancock will offer them for just $19.99, so if you can catch that sale grab a pair as I’ve never seen them lower than that. Fiskars are more frougie friendly at around $15-20 retail. They are also included in the 30-40% off sales. I’ve only seen the Kai brand on amazon.com and they run around $20.
Just another note about scissors never use your fabric scissors to cut anything but fabric! Cutting paper patterns or anything else will dull the blade and make your good fabric scissors cut like kiddie lefty scissors. So let those less expensive scissors that came in your sewing kit be your paper scissors.
The third thing is pins. The pins that are included in the sewing kit are short flat head pins. These can be difficult to see and use. I prefer ballhead pins. They can be purchased at Hancock, Micheal’s, JoAnn, Walmart or Amazon like the other items. Stock up on these during a notion sale or with a notions coupon. If there isn’t a sale at the moment Walmart has the best everyday price at around $3.
Machine needles are a must! The type of needle you need is based on the type and weight (thickness) of fabric you are sewing. You need a different type of needle when making a heavy denim tote bag than you would when making a light chiffon top. I could go on about this for a while and may do a separate post one day. However for now if you are simply practicing you will be fine with size 11/80 universal needles. Needles also fall in the sewing notions category and are often 30-60% off at both Hancock and JoAnn, they can also be found at Walmart for a reasonable everyday low price. Several companies make needles and they all are about the same. The important this is to change your needles every 2-4 projects, a dull needle can ruin your sewing experience. Several sewing issues can be solved by just changing to a fresh needle.
Last but not least thread! There is plenty I could say about thread, like needles, but to keep it short stick with good quality thread. Good quality thread is Coats and Clark or Gutterman. I’m sure there are others but these are widely available. Again like with needles thread comes in several varieties, but for most projects you want polyester or polyester coated cotton thread. If you took one of my frougie tips from last week and borrowed a sewing machine buy your own thread because you don’t know the age of the thread on the machine and old thread dry rots.
Here are this weeks coupons! Don’t forget that both Hancock and Joann accept competitors coupons.
I hope that helps you to get started the frougie way. Post any questions below and I’ll be sure to answer them. If you would like a post about sewing machine needle or thread types let me know!