Sewing Supplies for Beginners: The Essential List
Sewing Tips

Sewing Supplies for Beginners: The Essential List

Keeping it Classy: A Cut Out Dress Refashion
How to Refashion a Floofy Denim Jumper Dress

If you’re starting to feel cooped up & claustrophobic right now, you aren’t alone my friend. I, too, find myself sighing wistfully at the happy hours with friends, parties, and outings for non-essential supplies from days of yore.

This post contains affiliate links which won’t cost you anything extra, but may provide me with a small commission.

Sewing has been an extremely therapeutic creative outlet for me as of late, and has been a great way to help the time pass more quickly. Of course, adding a few sweet refashions to my wardrobe is a pretty swell bonus!

Sewing Supplies for Beginners: Refashionista's Sewing Studio
My sewing area!

I know a lot of you don’t sew, and I’m not here to judge you for that. 🙂

But I’m willing to bet some of you who suddenly have a lot more free time on your hands might be ready to take on a new hobby right now.

Whether you’re new to sewing, or an experienced seamstress, having the right sewing supplies can make all the difference.

Here’s a roundup of my favorite sewing supplies for new sewists (including my favorite sewing machine for beginners).

Sewing Machine

This is probably the scariest decision a beginning sewist has to make (and the priciest).

There are so flipping many sewing machines out there, ranging in price from uber cheap to crazy expensive.

While I sew on a fancy Pfaff that retails in the $1k range, don’t worry (It was payment for some promo work I did for them a while back)! You don’t need to spend that much, and I actually don’t advise spending that much when you’re just starting out.

You do, however, want to make sure your new machine is made by a trustworthy brand and that it will hold up to whatever sewing challenge you put before it.

That’s why my top pick for a beginner sewing machine is the Brother XM2701 Lightweight Sewing Machine.

Best Sewing Machine for Beginners, Brother XM2701 Lightweight Sewing Machine, White
My top pick!

I’m a huge fan of Brother sewing machines. My first sewing machine was an older version of this model and it checked a lot of boxes.

It’s lightweight, which is super important if you’re not going to have a dedicated sewing area right away. Mine lived on top of my fridge between uses for over a year, and it was never a problem lugging it out for my next project.

This sewing machine is also sturdy and well-built. It can handle sewing through thick layers of fabric and extensive use. I’ve tried using super cheap machines (think $60 and under), and they just feel cheap. This machine feels more high end than its price tag indicates.

You get a lot of good basic features with machine as well, including multiple presser feet and a decent array of stitches.

The price is right. The features are decent (especially for this price point). The construction is solid. I don’t think sewing beginners can go wrong with this one.

If this sewing machine doesn’t quite strike your fancy, here are a few others I’d check out:

Cutting Supplies

The only cutting supplies you really need to get started are some good fabric shears.

Some will say you need cutting mats and rotary cutters, but these aren’t necessities (I can’t remember the last time I used mine).

My sewing scissors of choice are my Gingher 8-Inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears, but if you’re just getting started, you might not want to spend $21 on a single pair of scissors.

I recommend starting off with a cost-efficient multipack, like this one by Singer.

Sewing Supplies for Beginners: Sewing Scissors Multi Pack
Everything you need get chopping!

I also recommend investing in a pair of Pinking Shears. These funky scissors have saw-toothed blades instead of straight, which lets you cut a zig-zagged line.

If you’re using cloth with unfinished edges, cutting the fabric will result in a lot of fraying. While pinking shears can’t prevent fabric from fraying, the zig-zag pattern limits the length of the frayed thread, resulting in a cleaner finish.

Sewing

Now for the little things you’ll need to get started.

Dritz makes an excellent all-in-one starter kit that contains pins, safety pins, a pincushion, a seam ripper, a tape measure, a sewing gauge, as well as a few extras. This is a great way to go if you’re looking to save money by bundling your supplies, rather than buying them individually.

Sewing Supplies for Beginners: Dritz 27081-6 Start-to-Sew Kit
Just the basics.

Here are my top recommendations for small sewing supplies you’ll need to get started on your sewing journey:

Extra Sewing Machine Needles
Needles wear out and break fairly frequently. Unless you want to take an unwelcome pause in your creative project while you run to the craft store to pick up a new pack, it’s a good idea to have some on hand. Just make sure to replace them when they start to snag your fabric!

Pins
I prefer pins with colorful heads to the all-metal variety, as they’re much easier to find when you drop one (which you will), and they’re just more visible in general.

Hand Sewing Needles
While the vast majority of your sewing will done on your machine, you’ll still need to complete some projects by hand. Bummer, I know. 😉

Pin Cushion
All of these pins and needles will need a place to call home! I like the classic Tomato model as it comes with a pin-sharpening attachment (Bet you wondered what that little strawberry thingy was for).

Seam Ripper
I keep a few of these on hand (they always seem to wander off when I need one) for my refashioning projects. You just can’t beat them for ripping off sleeves, shoulder pads, or whatever else is getting between you and the awesome design you’ve envisioned. They’re also helpful for helping fix the occasional sewing mistake!

I prefer flat seam rippers to round ones as they’re less likely to roll off your work surface and get lost!

Measuring Tape
Measure twice, cut once! I like this pack, because it also contains marking pencils (Bonus!) at a really good price!

Sewing Gauge
Whether you’re hemming, making bias binding, or measuring pleats, you won’t want to be without this terrific tool!

Black & White Thread
You don’t need a rainbow of thread colors to start your sewing journey. As long as you have black thread for dark colors and white thread for light colors, you’ll pretty much be okay. Of course, it’s better to match your thread color with your fabric color, but very few people will notice the difference.

Pre-loaded Bobbins
I almost didn’t add this one to the list, as these aren’t strictly necessary. However, a lot of sewing beginners get intimidated by threading their new machine for the first few times. Having pre-threaded bobbins to start makes this process a little less daunting. Plus, the bobbins can be rethreaded later!

Pressing/Ironing

Fold-out Ironing Board
Some sewing practitioners recommend tabletop ironing boards, but I prefer their larger fold-out counterparts. I think they’re easier to work with, plus you get the added bonus of a fold-out work space for non-ironing projects as well.

sewing supplies for beginners ironing board
So useful!

I use my fold-out ironing board as a cutting table all the time, as it sits at a perfect height to not strain my back. And when I’m done with it, I can tuck it neatly away in a closet or or the corner of my sewing area.

Steam Iron
A huge part of making your sewing projects/refashions look professional is pressing them. Fortunately, you don’t need a crazy expensive iron to do this. As long as it heats up quickly and is reliable, you’re all set to press! This inexpensive model does the trick just fine.

You can view a shoppable version of my beginner sewing essentials recommendations right here!

Are there any other sewing supplies you have questions about? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Essential Sewing Supplies Every Beginner Needs

Sewing Supplies for Beginners: The Essential List 1

33 Comments

  • kristine

    When I finally learned how to thread and use my Brother serger (Costco on sale), I got my Sharpies out and just started writing notes on the machine. Once you get the hang of your machine, get a cheap piece of fabric and practice, practice, practice! I find that getting the tension just right is the biggest pain in the rear with a serger.

  • kristine

    Hi Jillian, I’m soooo excited you are back!!!!! I have been following you from the very beginning.
    What I recommend to all newbies out there is to do what Jillian and I do, find cheap (no more than a dollar) clothes from the thrift store (the bigger the dress, the better=more fabric) and just practice! If you mess it up, oh well you spent a dollar or less! I have even bought dresses just for the buttons on it. Nowhere are you ever going to find nice buttons, zippers, etc. for a dollar or less! My family teases me that I have my own Goodwill/thrift store in my sewing room from all the years of finding beautiful fabric for less than a dollar. Some of the fabric I also use to make different crafts with, like Christmas ornaments.

  • Connie

    I have a Kenmore serger, and was very frustrated with it. I took a serger class, and the instructor informed me that the manual actually had the threading order wrong (two of them were reversed). Take a look on line or maybe on Youtube and see if there are any on threading a serger.

  • Kate

    I love this post! I have been wanting to get into sewing but have been a little intimidated – a friend’s professional seamstress mom gifted me her sewing machine and it’s a little daunting to get started. But I am always so impressed by your creative refashions and with all this quarantine business, I’m inspired to start learning again! Thanks for the motivation! Cheers to new hobbies ☺️

  • Karen Wilson

    I enjoyed this post . I have a singer machine and a singer serger. I am very intimidated by the serger. I was practicing a year ago the thread messed up. I can not figure out retreading. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Kay

    Great list! I encourage everyone to just jump in, even if you simply sew a doll dress or make a place mat. I did pick up a couple of extra notions from your excellent lists, thank you very much. Any links to spare machine bulbs or those wonderful sticky things you put on your machine for a seam guide would be useful, too.
    I love teaching the little kids in our family to sew. They go so slow at first and are so proud of their creations. Anyone can do this, just go for it!

  • Anne

    Great post! You got me back into sewing a few years ago – thank you!! I would love to hear about basic equipment and process for dyeing – flat Color as well as the funku designs. Thanks!

  • Jan

    I would appreciate knowing more about your dress form & its features. I am a lazy refashioned, & it has occurred to me a dress form might be easier than the hassle of removing my clothes, trying on my new fashion, putting back on my clothes, sewing the adjustment, removing my clothes, trying on the adjusted refashion, putting back on my clothes . . .

  • Liz

    I love that you care about passing on skills to others. Enjoying you posts for quit a while and so glad you have and special person in your life and the boys.

    I hope you post for a longtime you and hubby are so cute and I enjoy seeing what’s coming next.

  • KelleyB

    This is really helpful to me. I would really benefit from more things for beginning sewists. For example, I see you do a lot of hemming when you shorten a dress, but I always struggle being able to cut the bottom of the dress evenly. How do you do this in a way that is both quick and only somewhat perfectionist? Even the proper way to pin, because I’m always questioning if I should go horizontally or vertically. I would love a couple more small tutorials like that for beginners. Thank you so much for your blog, I’ve been reading it for years, and I always greatly enjoy it!

  • Bree

    I think this post is a great idea. Thank you for thinking of this and posting it all. I have sewed for years but there are lots who would like to learn and this is a great starting point!!

  • MJ

    You and this post are so awesome, encouraging! Such a great service to people to jump in to sewing.

    One good pointer I learned after sewing for decades is to buy a few shades of gray thread, in addition to definitely buying black and white. It is amazing how well they blend with so many colors. A couple of shades of taupes would be my next priority. You don’t have to buy a lot of other colors. I wish I knew that sooner!!

  • Karen Branscome

    Hi there! I have been following your blog for about 2 years now and I love what you are doing. I have decided I want to take up sewing and just the other day I ordered the very same Brother machine you recommended on today’s post! I’m so excited to get started and knowing that you recommend this machine makes me feel better! Please keep posting new things! I really enjoy seeing your transformations, especially these days! Take care and stay safe!

  • marijo1951

    Just dive in and do something… turn up a hem, make an apron (??) You might be overthinking this and preventing yourself from gaining a lot of pleasure. I should know – I have a smartphone and can just about make calls and send texts with it. I’m ridiculously inhibited about learning to use it to the full.

  • Catherine

    What a great post, I am a sewer, I have an old turquoise colored sewing machine that will sew through a belt, that is when motors were made to last.
    I have two sergers which I use often.
    I think everyone should own a seem ripper even if they are not a sewing kind of person.
    I hope you are staying well have a great week.

    Catherine

  • Cheryl Shipman

    I have an “entry level” Bernina, and I mostly look at it wistfully wishing I knew how to use it. About 3 years ago, a kind person helped me use it to make curtains, and I should have kept going with it because now I’m intimidated by it again! But, this quarantine time has me determined to get it going again! I will conquer it!

  • Sharon GD

    Oh Brother Where Art Thou? I also now have an expensive fancy smancy quilting Bernina, (only because I got a huge retro paycheck from a class action type union suit)….(i also got my husband a Kegerator))..anyways…My 1st machine that I shared with my sister was a Brother. 1960 something. Lol. And when I got married 1977 my husband got me another brother (besides my bro-in law). I still have both, er all 3 brothers. And they all still work! I also recommend a soft lead pencil for making little ticks when marking. I like this better than an actual marking pencil. It is easier for me to see and washes out.

  • Keri

    I’ve been sewing since 8th grade also- must be a magical time for learning to sew! I am thankful to have had the chance to do Home Ec. I have a weird mix of trinkets in my notions drawer: I keep a grease pencil to go back and make small pattern marks I might have forgotten to trace while on the cutting table; I use an old plastic chopstick to square off or flatten edges after turning (like facings); I keep a presscloth handy for fabrics that can’t take alot of heat from the iron (just a length of silk organza); rubber fingertips (from office supply) to help grip fabric. I also search estate sales for all the fun sewing notions from the old days.

  • Queen of Fifty Cents

    A very handy thing to have in your sewing equipment is a retractable extension magnet, like mechanics use to pick up nuts and bolts. You can sweep the floor for those dropped pins and needles, reach behind furniture, and never miss a one of the little buggers. You can get one from Amazon for less than $10 and never have to crawl around on the floor again. Unless you want to, of course!

  • vadhamrick

    I’m so excited to see that your top pick is the one I ordered to replace my machine that was lost in the recent tornado. I used it at school and kept forgetting to bring it home. Of course I could kick myself! I seriously thought about asking you for a recommendation and voila you read my mind.
    P.S. I love your refashions!

  • Maria Victoria Del Toro

    There are You tube videos for beginner sewing, love this, I also been sewing since I was in 8th grade,. They used to have Home economics classes back in my day at school. Also in my 60, I have been repurposing some of her Moms clothes and mine for her.

  • Anne Whitney

    A serger is great for hemming things you chop off. A rolled hem on a top that was once a dress….wonderful. Most newer sewing machines have an overlock stitch so if you aren’t ready to spend money on a serger that will work almost as well.You can sometimes score an older machine for not a lot of money. People trade up machines all the time. Members of quilt guilds and sewing clubs could be a good resource. I have a Brother Innivis 85e and love it. It was around 600. I also have a Bernina 830 embroidery machine and it cost a bit, well a lot more. I’m a very experienced sewer.

  • Beverly McCall

    This is an excellent post. So thorough and helpful for a newbie. I know since I’ve been sewing since 8th grade and I’m in my 60s now. It’s message comes at the right time during this stressful time. Thanks for providing an alternative.

  • Loretta M Mitson

    I used to sew ALL my clothes, but with thrift stores and garage sales, I have found them to be more economical and time saving. I would appreciate a tutorial on sergers: are they worth it, what brand, best uses for them, tip and tricks? I have wondered if they are worth it if one is doing mostly mending, altering, and refashioning. Thanks, I always love your efforts!

  • Amy Louise Levengood

    Thank you so much for this post! Are there any tutorials on using a sewing machine that you recommend for absolute beginners?

  • marijo1951

    I think it’s useful to have a spare sewing machine light bulb as they have a habit of suddenly dying just when needed. As for threads, I think a light shade of grey is very versatile especially in the bobbin.

  • Murielle

    Ah, it looks like auto-correct doesn’t like the word serger. I have one, too, but have never used it as I bought it second hand and it is thread-bound. Will have to clean that up and see if I can figure out how to serge. Would love some tutorials on that, please.

    This is a very useful post–thank you!

  • mhenggeler

    Loved the sewing suggestions. I saw in pic that you have a server, can you give some tips that we could follow for using it. Also can you give us advice on simple mistakes to avoid. Thanks. Been enjoying your ideas for years!

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