My essential sewing supplies

I’m often asked for recommendations for essential sewing supplies. In addition, I’ve just begun offering sewing lessons in my home. So this post is for my students and anyone else who is interested in having the best tools for sewing.

Required for all sewing projects


Rotary cutter/ruler/mat plus extra blades: I like Olfa cutting mats and rotary cutters and Omnigrid rulers. I have this Olfa rotary cutter, this Omnigrid 6″x24″ ruler as my main ruler (plus a couple others, such as the 4″x14″ ruler in the picture ), and this Olfa cutting mat. I also like to watch for sales on extra blades because they are pricey and it’s nice to buy them when they’re on sale and not when I’m in a pinch and really need one but they’re full price. (Technically speaking, you could get by with just fabric scissors. However, using a rotary cutter/mat/ruler is infinitely faster, easier, and especially more accurate. They are definitely worth the investment.)


Fabric-only scissors: At a minimum, you should have one big pair for cutting fabric and one small pair (good for hand sewing, snipping threads, etc). For big scissors, I have had this pair for 8+ years and am only now needing to get them sharpened – they’re really great. For small, I have this little pair and like them because the tips are really sharp.

Be sure to threaten family members and friends with DEATH if they use them for anything other than fabric!

Seam ripper (totally required, you will mess up) – I like the Dritz ergonomic one. You want to be comfortable when ripping out a really long seam.

pins and a pin cushion: I highly recommend using a magnetic pin cushion, because it’s 60 million times easier to use than a traditional pin cushion! Just throw your pins at it. I like pins with a round head but I have also discovered that everyone has very distinct preferences for pins so choose what you like.

Super helpful but not absolutely necessary


Seam gauge – You really should have a seam gauge if you want to sew clothing but I also use them for bags and even sometimes for quilts. I have four because I’m always losing one around my sewing room, thinking that it’s lost forever, buying another one, and then finding the lost one . 🙂

Zipper foot – If your machine didn’t come with one and you think you’ll want to sew zippers for clothing or bags, you’ll need to purchase one. This is specific to your machine.

Walking foot – If you want to do any straight line quilting (required for this), much sewing with flannel or knits, or if you want to make bags, a walking foot will make your life WAY easier. I use mine all the time and would consider it a required part of my sewing equipment. More expensive machines come with them. My machine is high quality (cost around $400) but I had to buy my walking foot. I think it was around $30.  It was definitely worth the investment for the long term. You’ll need to buy one specific to your machine.

Quarter-inch foot: Most machines come with a standard presser foot that is bigger than 1/4″ (usually 3/8″). If you plan on doing any quilting, you should sew a sample seam to determine what your standard foot is and then purchase a 1/4″ foot if you need it (specific to your machine). I love mine and use it as my main presser foot.

Extra bobbins and a bobbin holder:  You’ll want to have extra bobbins so that you can easily use multiple colors of thread.  Usually the machine only comes with a few. With lots of extra bobbins, you’ll want a place to store them. I have a cheap bobbin holder (like this one) although there are nicer ones out there.

Pro Tip: Be sure that the bobbins you buy are compatible with your machine. I have to buy bobbins directly from the Viking dealer because the “standard/universal” bobbins don’t fit.

215Let the record show that I only rolled up my flexible measuring tape because that’s how my mother stores hers and I didn’t want her to have to cringe when she looked at this picture. 🙂 Usually, mine is in a jumbled pile.

Flexible measuring tape – This is required if you’re planning on sewing clothes. You’ll use a flexible measuring tape to take the necessary measurements for choosing the pattern size and/or drafting a pattern.

Hera marker – I just got one of these and it’s SO much better than using fabric markers for marking lines when doing bags and quilts.  It’s definitely optional but if you think you’ll do much quilting, the Hera marker is cheap and super awesome! I wish I had bought one long ago.

Wonder clips: As with the Hera marker, Wonder clips are not necessary at all but they make life WAY easier when sewing bags, binding quilts, or doing anything that is thick and difficult to get pins through.

Fabric marking pens: When tracing patterns to cut out, I just use a Ultra Fine Tip Sharpie (much cheaper than using an erasable option). If it’s in a place that will show in the finished product, I usually use this water-erasable marker (although be careful about applying heat to it afterwards).  For dark fabric, a white erasable pen is also useful.


That’s a good start! There are plenty of other gadgets out there but there are the ones that I use all the time. You might have noticed that I missed fabric and sewing machines. Those two huge topics need their own posts so those will be coming in the next few week.s

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