Sewing tools and equipment and their uses

Let me show you my 20 Favorite Sewing Tools and Equipment, all that you need to start sewing as an absolute beginner!

Did you already know them all? Have some unusual tool not listed here below? Teach us in comments!

You’ll see that some of the sewing tools and equipment I’m showing you aren’t exactly sewing-related… but if you are able to think outside the box, you can always save some Bucks and use what you already have under your eyes!

You might want to read the other episodes from this Sew Basic Series:

Serger Pepper Sew Basic Series Sewing Machine Title SergerPepper Sew Basic Series Sewing Machine one web SergerPepper Sew Basic Series Sewing Machine two web Serger Pepper - Threading Sewing Machine in 3 Easy Steps


Being a sewing tools list with pictures, this is a long post, I would suggest you to Pin It for future reference, you won’t regret, promise! (it’s easy – just hover your mouse over the first pic, you’ll be redirected to your Pinterest account!)

Let’s talk about Sewing Tools and Notions

(both Usual and Unusual!)

Serger Pepper - Sewing tools and equipment and their uses

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I’m listing in order of importance and urgency (for me) all the sewing tools and notions you should get to start sewing comfortably.

In fact, from number 10 and below, I’m listing some of the sewing tools you can do without with no problem at all, but I think some of you already have them in their house and maybe don’t know they can be used this way!

 1. Scissors Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Scissors

You need them to cut your fabric and thread. I would suggest you buy tailor’s scissors if you can afford them: they last nearly forever and can be sharpened when they start cutting less.

Dimensions matter! To cut fabrics, the longer the better. You should have a little scissor to, just to cut thread tails and avoid to cut fabric too, in the meantime!

A Warning: never use your scissors for anything different from fabric (or thread): never with paper (i.e. cutting patterns), plastic nor other materials, or they will lose their sharpening soon! Warn Your Relatives Too…. (ask me why I’m telling you this!) … or: you can use a Scissors Lock like this: Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Scissors Lock

 Meaningful, don’t you think?

2. Measure Tape Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Measure Tape

Depending on your preferences, you can use a measuring tape with centimeters or inches (or both, like my pink one, featuring cm on one side and inches on the other, while the yellow/white has cm on both sides).

As you might guess, these sewing tools are used to take measurements, mostly on curvy lines (like circumferences and any other body measurement).

3. Needles Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Needles

You’ll need needles for sewing by hand (the one with the pink and blue package) and for the domestic sewing machine (the Schmetz ones are my absolute favorite brand: I just love them!).

You can recognize the sewing machine ones because the eye is near the tip of the needle and the hand sewing kind has it on the other end of the shaft.

Tip.1: you need to change your sewing machine needle most often than you can think (or actually do), at least every time you start a new project!

Tip.2: use a specific kind of sewing machine needle for every type of fabric: there are denim needles, ballpoint needles for knits/stretch, twin or even triple needles and many more; choose a proper size too, basing on your fabric thickness.

4. Pins and Pincushion(s) Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Pins and Pincushion(s)

Pins are meant to keep the fabric in place while cutting or sewing; you can buy the all metal kind or the ones with the colored head: just pay attention to choose the glass head ones versus the plastic head (that will melt into your fabric the first time you’ll press above or just next to them with your iron!)

There are different sized pins both in length and thickness, to start just choose the regular ones: you can get the ballpoint (for knits) or the thinner ones (for sheers) once you will master a yellow belt in sewing.

To collect your pins, you can use a repurposed box/can/jar, get a fancy magnetic pin bowl, create a nice pincushion (better if it has a built-in sharpening feature) or refashion your daughter’s wool tights and some DIY boiled wool into a one-of-a-kind wrist pincushion!

5. Iron and Water Sprayer Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Iron and Water Sprayer

Pressing while sewing makes the difference between homemade and handmade! Check my How-To Press list of tips, if you are still thinking that you can skip this step!

I would add to this point: a press cloth (a simple white cotton fabric scrap to put between iron and fabric), a regular iron board and, as soon as you can, add some Fancy Pressing Tool DIY: Tailor’s Ham, Sausage Roll and Pressing Glove: easy to do, lifesaver and money saver!

Your next step will be heading for a point presser/tailor’s clapper, either DIY (a free pattern is included, along with tips for using it) or storebought

6. Thimble and Threader Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Thimble and Threader

While they’re designed for hand sewing, these sewing tools are needful for sewing by machine too! The thimble goes on your middle fingertip to protect it while you push your needle. I use it while I am fixing thread tails left from sewing machine/serger.

The needle threader is useful for threading any kind of needle (for sewing by hand or by machine): you put it in the eye of the needle, then thread it and pull it back, so it threads your needle.

I found it useless on the serger, where tweezers are way better, due to the reduced space (see n°10 below).

7. Threads Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Threads

You can’t sew without threads! The most used are cotton (for woven fabrics) or polyester (better for knits) threads, but you can find also nylon and wooly nylon (used in sergers), metallic, silk, rayon… The other things to look at is the thickness of the thread; the most used are weight n°50, that means that 50 km of this thread weighs 1 Kg!

Tip: Use the same thread kind on both spoon and bobbin, except when using embroidery thread or denim hem thread; this will minimize hazard of thread breaking!

8. Rulers Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Rulers

You can use any rulers you like, they’re perfect for taking straight measurements (like while adjusting your patterns). I have them from when I went school, they’re transparent so you can look through and see what’s below.

I have a metallic one too (this is really long and it’s good to measure fabric from the bolt), this is newer – no need to have one if you’re not a sewing gadget hoarder like me 🙂

Other measuring tools you might want to add to your wish list are quilters’ rulers, which are extremely helpful when you need to add or subtract a consistent amount, let’s say, from the hem. I have a 6×24″ bigger one and a tiny 1×6″ one.

9. Pattern weights Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Patternweights

Pattern weights are a huge timesaver when you have to cut your pattern shape, mostly on knits, sheer or any fabrics you can’t pin (like leather or PUL).

The ones in the pic are clearly handmade (from hubby – thanks, Mr.P!), you can use also: canned food, sandbags, heavyweight mugs… anything you have in hand!

I had fun putting together this list fo So Sew Easy: 11 ways to make your own pattern weights… I hope you can find something interesting, there 🙂

10. Seam Ripper and Tweezers Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Seam Ripper and Tweezers

A Seam Ripper is your best friend, believe me, or not! His primary purpose is to cut seams, both wrong seams (think when you sew together wrong sides instead Right Sides Facing… how many times!!) or existing seams on garments to be refashioned; you’ll find it useful to open your buttonholes if you’ve made them with a sewing machine: this is one of those versatile sewing tools!

Tweezers come with your serger for a reason: you’ll find them essential to thread your needles and loopers unless you have really tiny fingers!!!

11. FrixionPens Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Frixion Pens

They’re one of my favorite marking tools, useful for transferring pattern notches onto light colored fabrics. Maybe you can find these ballpoint gel pens on your children’s pencil-case (I do). Yes, ’cause they’re erasable pens that have a side feature: they disappear with heat too!

Tip: always check on scraps before using them on a place that you can see from the outside of your garment… someone noticed that they tend to reappear with extreme cold (put the test-scrap in your freezer after pressing it with hot iron… just to stay on safe side!)

12. Chalk Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Chalk

This is one other marking tool I use a lot. There’s a specific tailor’s chalk you can use but I often run out of it (or break it into one hundred tiny pieces… I hate it), so I always keep a couple of boxes of plain chalk, the one you can use on regular chalkboard: it’s cheap, comes in many colours and is good for most situations! The only fact against it is that his markings won’t last long, so use it when you expect to finish your sewing project within the day, just to stay safe!

Remember: Check if it leaves traces, trying to brush it out before marking all your fabric.

13. Lint Roller Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Lint Roller

I love this (unusual) sewing tool! You can use it to keep your project clean from bits of thread wandering after using your seam ripper…  or if you don’t have a thread catcher (or you own it but still have to get in the habit of using it, like me – so your project acts as a thread catcher itself!).

This one on the pic is from Ikea and is built to catch pet’s hair so it has really strong adhesive power. Any other one will go, just double check you can separately buy the refills.

14. Sewing Gauge and Binder Clips Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Sewing Gauge and Binder Clips

This Sewing Gauge is a multipurpose gadget that helps you:

a. measure and mark hem depth

b. draw scallops and circles

c. evenly space buttonholes, tucks, and pleats d. add seam allowances

Little binder clips can be used instead of pins for sewing leather/PUL and for keeping together pattern pieces while already cut out. I have also bought a bag of these Wonder Clips and I love them sooo much!

15. Masking Tape Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Mask Tape

Yes, the masking tape you use when wall painting

Place it on your sewing machine needle plate to mark the distance from the needle: you’ll only have to align your edge to the masking tape… et voilà: a straight hem is done!  Plus: it leaves no traces when you pull it off!

16. “Professional” Tools to Add Seam Allowances (LOL) Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - "Professional" Tools to Add Seam Allowances

Depending on where you live, you can expect to find patterns drawn with or without seam allowances (in Europe we have to add them, while in the rest of the world you mostly find patterns with included seam allowances).

You can use this Pinterest Wise-Tip: tape together two pencils (or pens) and you’ll have a perfect 1.5 cm Seam Allowance, just follow the edges of the pattern without seam allowances to add them!

And it works the other way too, to find sewing lines: just follow cutting lines to trace a seam line toward the inside, when your pattern s.a. are 1.5 cm!

If you’re more a gadget hoarder, you can always check the Seam Allowance Guide!

17. Glue Stick and Ponytail Holders Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Glue Stick and Ponytail Holders

I know that there are glues specific for fabrics, someone says that they don’t stick to your needle and don’t go inside your sewing machine gears… and I do not question it… but I always use a regular glue stick from my LilPotato’s school pencil-case to stick zippers or appliques to main fabric, by using the caution of a thin layer of it!

You can use ponytail holders when your project asks for round elastic, as for a button closure on wallet or sunglasses cases… It’s cheaper than the store-bought by-the-meter round elastic and comes in more colors!

18. Chopsticks Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Chopsticks

Chopsticks are perfect sewing tools (as well as eating tools!), used for turning inside-out corners. You can also press fabric while they’re inside, to give shape without burning your fingers!

19. Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat

Serger Pepper - Sewing tools - Rotary cutter and mat

Mostly used by quilters, but also useful for cutting sheer fabrics – they’re usually quite costly, but really useful if you plan on cutting many straight lines. Getting the full set might grant you a better price.

20. Tracing Wheel Guest Post - Sew Basic Series - Sewing Tools and Notions - - Chopsticks

A tracing wheel is used to transfer pattern markings to the fabric by leaving a fine imprint on smooth fabrics that can be pressed away after sewing. You can use it paired with some wax or chalk paper so your markings will be more obvious.

And that’s all for today! I hope you liked this (long) post about sewing tools, perfect for beginners.

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About the Author:

Hi there! I love sewing, creating my own patterns and refashioning pre-loved clothes... If you love the same things, why not be friends? See you on Pinterest


  1. Slizzy Greensleeves January 31, 2014 at 13:05 - Reply

    There are some really useful gadgets and tips here. I shall be making the pressing ham, sausage and gloves ASAP. Loving the scissor lock.The masking tape trick looks cool too. I would never have thought about the pencil trick for seam allowances. Just brilliant. Thank you for sharing.

    • Mamma Nene January 31, 2014 at 14:49 - Reply

      Thanks Su <3
      I’ve collected them along all my “sewing life” and I thought it was nice share them all together LOL
      Try the pencil tip, is really useful! You can use a pen in the outside too, because the lines you write are outside your garment, so they won’t show 😉

  2. Val February 1, 2014 at 19:08 - Reply

    Irene, these are fabulous tips! I especially like the one about the scissors. Good thinking!


    • Mamma Nene February 2, 2014 at 11:51 - Reply

      Hehehe! I’d like to lock mine too, also if they’re in my Off-limits-to-all Sewing Room!

  3. Theresa February 2, 2014 at 14:17 - Reply

    My favorite (unusual) sewing tool is a bar of soap. More specifically, the small hotel bars. I use this to mark fabric, everything except for light colored material. It is a lot cheaper than marking pens and it washes right out. I also use it for the patches I put on the boy’s clothes, just use it like a crayon rub. Gets all of the little details perfectly.
    I love the list!

  4. Val February 2, 2014 at 17:24 - Reply

    Hi Irene, responding to your question about the tracing wheel. There is a type of paper specifically made for this method of transferring onto fabric. Most sewing stores will stock it.The tracing paper sandwiches your fabric. The transfer side of the paper faces the wrong side of the fabric, and your pattern goes on top of it. You then run the wheel along any seams or darts on your pattern that you wish to mark. When you lift the paper off you will have dotted lines denoting where to pin and sew. Pretty neat concept! Hope this helps,

  5. Pam @Threading My Way February 4, 2014 at 04:00 - Reply

    A comprehensive list of sewing tools, Irene. I do have to get myself a sewing gauge. I think one would be very handy.

    • Mamma Nene February 4, 2014 at 23:52 - Reply

      It’s pretty new on my Sewing Room, but I truly love it, really versatile tool 😉

  6. Pam Turner July 24, 2015 at 20:26 - Reply

    I think you might want to know about my side threading needle. It is a needle with an opening on the side so it is easy to thread and it stays threaded. Check out my website. I would be happy to send you a sample.

    • Sammy Malerba July 8, 2017 at 05:11 - Reply

      I would love a sample as well how to use

  7. Fianna December 29, 2015 at 13:52 - Reply

    Oh jebas, the lock idea is perfect..
    My husband and close friends have been warned about using my scissors for anything else, and as I also have hairdressing scissors to look after the rule on asking first is strictly observed at home. But you still get eejits who just see scissors and don’t understand the importance of that particular pair until you tell them how much they’ll cost to replace…

    • Mamma Nene January 3, 2016 at 16:01 - Reply

      HEHEHE… I know, it looks perfect 🙂
      Hubby goes on saying it won’t hurt using my sewing scissors for anything else and it makes me scream every single time. And he adds I’d better buy the cheap ones, since they are all scissors: I mean…are you kidding me?
      Happy New Year Fianna, and thanks for writing me 🙂

  8. Olatunji idowu February 9, 2016 at 12:59 - Reply

    Nice one for a beginner like me.

    • Mamma Nene February 10, 2016 at 07:26 - Reply

      Always glad to help!
      Welcome to the sewing world <3

  9. Andrea June 23, 2016 at 18:48 - Reply

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the scissor lock- Duh! I have tried everything else I can think of- including buying every person in my house their own pair of good scissors – and put their names on them! Oy vey. A lock. Brilliant!
    The tracing wheel is used with fabric carbon sheets- they used to come in packs of many colors. My mom always used one. With these tools you could avoid cutting out individual pattern pieces. The down side was that after a couple uses your pattern would pretty much fall out of the sheet- not necessarily in a good way.
    I never had good luck with them myself- too much shifting when working on something large.

  10. Tina October 21, 2016 at 15:58 - Reply

    What is the tool called that is used to apply snaps. My sewing instructor had one that looked like a bottle cap machine for home bottled soda/pop.

  11. Best Sewing and Embroidery Machine Combo - Stitch 101 June 6, 2017 at 12:30 - Reply

    […] mostly because of its very handy carrier. With the rolling bag, you won’t have to carry all your sewing equipment with just a top handle. The wheels really make it easier to lug around and take to […]

  12. Janome Memory: An Easy to Use Embroidery Machine - Stitch 101 June 6, 2017 at 13:21 - Reply

    […] is best known as a brand to invest in if you’re planning on buying a sewing equipment. It has always been a quality manufacturer of these items, so you’re guaranteed that all of their […]

  13. Lightweight Sewing Machines - Stitch 101 June 7, 2017 at 12:52 - Reply

    […] without straining your eyes. If you’re simply experimenting with sewing, this machine, with its wide range of accessories, will help you succeed without a hassle. Its free arm ensures you can sew pants, collars and cuffs […]

  14. Lynda November 29, 2017 at 07:50 - Reply

    Why is the maker of that dress is so talented?Huh? Tell me how did her/him did that?
    I want to learn from her/him.

  15. Darlene Lobina February 4, 2018 at 12:55 - Reply

    Where does one find a sewing gauge like the one shown in the picture?

    • Irene February 7, 2018 at 15:40 - Reply

      Hi Darlene!
      You can find that exact sewing gauge here: (it’s my affiliate link).
      I hope this helps 🙂
      Happy sewing,
      Irene // Serger Pepper Designs

  16. Nimmon Sunday Joan June 4, 2018 at 20:21 - Reply

    I run a dress sowing outfit in a rural developing area in Calabar, cross River state of nigeria. The demand for sewing tools and accessories is quite enormous, as such I have decided to add to my sewing, tools and accessories. Moreso with a secured hall that can accommodate stock of 4 containers of 40 feet stocks, I hope to grow the business to that capacity, dealing only on wholesales.
    Kindly send me:
    1. Varieties of your sewing tool/accessories and prices
    2. Mode of payments and shipment
    3. Duration of freight.

    Joan Nimmon

  17. marc keneth q okorie June 6, 2018 at 12:37 - Reply

    Thank you for posing this article, it can help me doing my project

  18. Priyadharshini July 9, 2018 at 13:53 - Reply

    Thank you very much. It helped me in doing my assignment.

  19. eumisia August 22, 2018 at 08:09 - Reply

    thank you

  20. Sarah November 6, 2018 at 12:08 - Reply

    Thanks for sharing these tipps! Very useful! I like this sewing gauge!

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