The Ultimate List of Essential Sewing Tools for Home Sewists

The Ultimate List of Essential Sewing Tools for Home Sewists

Embarking on the wonderful journey of sewing can transform from a hobby into a passionate craft with the right tools in your toolkit. Whether you’re a beginner at the sewing machine or a DIY enthusiast eager to create personalized garments, understanding the essential tools and how to use them can elevate your sewing game. I made lots of mistakes when it came to tools when I first started sewing, so I’m going to help you not repeat those. Here, we break down the ultimate list of essential sewing tools for home sewists, which you can also find bundled together in the Beginner Sewing Tool Kit on our site.

Marking and Measuring Your Territory: Chalk, Invisible Ruler and Measuring Tape

Tailor’s Chalk

One of the first tools you'll need in your sewing kit is chalk. Chalk is used for sketching out cut lines, indicating where pieces should meet and marking the wrong and right sides of your fabric. Classic white school chalk might pop into your mind first, which definitely gets the job done, but let me introduce you to your new best friend, Tailor’s chalk. 

Tailor’s chalk comes in various colors which is particularly handy to contrast and make markings clear on different coloured fabrics. This chalk is meant to wash off, so you'll see it while you're constructing your garment and sewing, but it disappears when you're ready to wear the clothes. 
When you’re buying tailor’s chalk, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Buy chalk with multiple colors so that you can see it against different colored fabrics.
  • Avoid buying in bulk; a single piece of each colour will last a long time.
  • Opt for chalk with a case to protect and keep it tidy, ensuring it lasts longer.
  • Chalk will get dull over time which will stop you from drawing precise lines. Don’t buy new chalk when this happens. Instead, you can sharpen them using scissors.

Invisible Ruler

Next up, you'll need an  invisible ruler, a must-have for accurate measurements and straight lines. Unlike standard rulers, these are transparent, making it super easy to see the fabric beneath. This tool is invaluable, whether you’re drawing a straight line for a hem or marking a precise measurement for a seam allowance.

When you’re picking an invisible ruler, look out for the following features:

  • Make sure the measurements and graphics on the ruler are printed internally, on the inside of the plastic. Externally printed measurements will rub off over time, which makes the ruler useless. I didn’t know about this when I bought my first invisible ruler so I had to use a sharpie to mark the measurements.
  • Ensure the measurements start right at the edge of the ruler, instead of having extra buffer space from the edge. This way, you can push the edge of the ruler against where you want to start measuring from and be confident it’s accurate.
  • Have both imperial and metric measurements on the ruler, so you’re prepared for either type of measurement showing up in patterns and sewing instructions.

I was so tired of being let down by the different invisible rulers available from different brands that I decided to make my own. You can find the be glorious invisible ruler here.

Measuring Tape

Every sewist needs a reliable measuring tape. This flexible tool allows you to take body measurements, measure fabric lengths, and more, with ease. They are offered in a variety of lengths but I have found that I use my 60 inch or 1.5 meter measuring tape most of the time. And of course, opt for one that features both imperial and metric measurements to ensure versatility no matter what pattern you use.

The Cutting Edge: Scissors, Snippers and Rippers

Fabric Scissors

Investing in a good pair of fabric scissors is non-negotiable. These are designed specifically for cutting fabrics, allowing you to make long, clean cuts. Keep these scissors exclusively for fabric to maintain their sharpness. Fabric scissors come in a variety of blade lengths but I’ve found the sweet spot to be between 8 to 9 inches to maintain maneuverability while still being able to make long cuts.

 Craft Scissors

Having a separate pair of craft scissors for cutting paper, like your pattern pieces, will save your dedicated fabric scissors from dulling. You don’t need to overthink this item - any pair of general purpose scissors will do the trick.

Thread Snipper

A thread snipper, while not essential, is a handy tool for snipping loose threads. It’s much more precise for cutting threads close to the fabric than scissors. They’re also very satisfying to use, and make you feel like a professional.

Seam Ripper

Nobody likes using a seam ripper, but every sewist needs one, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. A seam ripper does exactly what its name suggests—it rips seams. It’s an essential tool because mistakes happen, and sometimes you just need to start a stitch over. I recommend buying one with a long handle for easier use. I remember my first time sewing a band around a circle, and how many times I had to use the seam ripper because the fabric kept getting bundled up.

Keeping It Together: Sewing Pins and Clips

Sewing pins and clips are the unsung heroes in every sewing kit. They’re used to keep fabrics together and mark where to precisely sew them together.

Sewing Pins

Pins come in different sizes and with either a plastic or glass head. Glass-headed pins are ideal as they can withstand the heat of an iron as you press fabric together.

Sewing Clips

For those like myself who find pins a bit fiddly, sewing clips are a great alternative. I find that in most situations I opt to use clips over pins. They can hold layers of fabric together without puncturing them, which is especially useful for materials like leather or vinyl where pin holes might be noticeable. The only time I have to use pins is when I want to attach two things together further away from the edge of the material. 

One non-functional reason clips are great is because they add a pop of colour to your sewing process. Glory Allan offers two custom colourways that are different from the ones available elsewhere, so you can get pick colours that match your style. Find our custom sewing clips here.

The Finishing Touch: Iron and Ironing Board

Last but certainly not least, a good iron and ironing board are essential. You’ll constantly be ironing throughout a project to ensure the fit and form of the finished garment is right on. Pressing your seams will help your garments look crisp and professional and elevate the overall look and feel of your finished piece.

When selecting an iron, opt for one with variable heat settings so that it can be adjusted for different types of fabric. An ironing board with a sturdy surface and adjustable height will make pressing your garments much easier and more comfortable.

Starting your sewing journey with these essential tools will not only make your projects easier but also more enjoyable. For that reason, Glory Allan offers our very own hand picked Beginner Sewing Tool Kit, so you can get started on the right foot. Each tool has its place in your sewing practice, from measuring and marking to cutting and finishing. Embrace the process, and happy sewing!

I’ve also put together a detailed guide on choosing the right sewing machine. Check out our video and article that’s dedicated to that topic. Whether you're assembling your first sewing kit or interested in learning more about the craft of sewing, I’ve got you covered.