I love to post sewing and craft tutorials here on the blog and on my YouTube channel. This post is going to be all about the basic beginner sewing essentials I can't live without.
I honestly don't mind all the questions about my sewing notions. I love to know what notions people are using to make their sewing adventures a little bit easier too. Todays post is all about just that. The basic beginner sewing essentials you see me using. Most of these essential sewing items are great for a beginner just starting on their sewing journey.
I have found these tools over the last 12 plus years to be really helpful whether I'm sewing a quilt, a handbag or clothing items. I hope you find them helpful too.
I hope this post is helpful for all of you and takes the mystery out of where I purchase all these helpful gadgets and how to use them. Basic beginner sewing essentials are the foundation of a good relationship with sewing, quilting and clothes making. Let's jump right in!
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This simply means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at NO EXTRA cost to you. As an amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Let's talk about gadgets. It seems like every craft and hobby has them.
Gadgets have the ability to make things so much easier. Am I right? If you are a sewer, quilter or crafter then obviously you know this is true. Notions are just one of those things that have the ability to simplify. When I find a new one I always think, "why didn't I think of that?!"
Am I the only one that gets giddy when I find that new special tool at a craft or hobby show? Gosh I hope not. Let's get to my list of top ten sewing essentials that I personally think you can't live without. Let me know if you have any of these tools and how you like them.
Let's begin with the sewing essentials list.
#1. The elusive Alex Anderson 4 in 1 tool. This is probably the number one notion I get asked about in my videos. It seemed like an obvious choice to put it first. What is it you ask? Let me explain the jobs it can do. Retail $14.95.
This tool is exactly as it says. 4 tools in 1! Thats a win for me. Alex Anderson did us all a great service by making something so compact that can do the job of four-and in one handy tool no less. Thats a win for me.
Let's start by listing all the jobs this handy gadget can do.
- Seam ripper.
This 4 in 1 tool is made of smooth wood it's simple and beautiful.
The Alex Anderson 4 in 1 tool has it all.
This tool has an ergonomic grip as well. The middle part of the handle is square cut, but the edges remain smooth so it doesn't hurt your hands to have to hold it for a prolonged period of time. Say ripping out the seam on a quilt perhaps? I would know nothing about this (uh hm). Ok, moving on to the next one. Final thoughts on this tool? Get one, and you can thank me later.
#2. Olfa self healing cutting mats. These cutting mats have been great. I've had my current 24" x 36" mat for 5+ years with no issues. Over the last 12 plus years on my sewing journey I've tried quite a few cutting mats. I'm sad to say that I don't have the same love for all the ones I've tried. Retail $35-$300 (depending on size and style you select).
These cutting mats are a really great addition to any sewing room. Heres a few of the reasons why may want to consider upgrading to one of these mats.
Disclaimer: This is a notion that will eventually wear out like everything else and need to be replaced. However, they do last much longer than a standard mat. Believe me, your rotary cutter will thank you for making the investment.
Some things to know about Olfa cutting mats:
- Self healing mat. This just means that when you use your rotary cutter to cut your fabric, the mat isn't left with deep grooves that inevitably your rotary blade will find in the future with ease. These mats heal themselves so the groove lines aren't noticeable.
- Longevity. These mats have lasted me much longer than any of my other cutting mats.
- Size availability. These mats come in quite a variety of sizes.
- Functionality. My 12" x 12" rotating cutting mat makes cutting small quilt squares far less painful. No more lifting the fabric to make another cut. Spin the cutting mat (like a lazy Susan), and make your next cut. You can find that cutting mat HERE.
#3. Panasonic CORDLESS Iron. This iron is a steam or dry iron with low, medium and high setting. Retail $55-$89.00.
I purchased this cordless iron almost 5 years ago now. I don't think I'll ever use a regular iron again. The fact that there isn't a cord that gets hooked on everything is so great. I know, it's the silly things really. But seriously, who loves to iron anyhow? Why not make it a job that's a little less painful and use an iron thats simple. Bonus? You can't trip on the cord and burn yourself while holding it.
Go ahead and grab one!
#4. Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion. I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Buy one of these and you'll never find yourself stepping on those loose pins again. Retail $12-$14.00.
- These pin cushions come in a variety of colors.
- All the Grabbit brand magnetic pin cushions come with sewing pins. The ones pictured on my pin cushion are sold separately. Because these particular pins have a silicone top, they won't melt if you touch them with the iron. If you are interested in these "magic pins," you can find them HERE. However, the pins that come with these pin cushions work just fine too. So don't feel like you need to purchase separate ones.
- Grabbit pin cushions retail for $12-$14.00 making them a really affordable notion.
- Keeps your pins in place. The pins won't ever just fall off.
- Place a couple ruler grips on the bottom like I did to keep your pin cushion from sliding around on your sewing table.
These things are wonderful!
#5. Clover Wonder Clips. These clips of course made my top 10 sewing essentials list. I use these clips to attach bindings to my quilts and bags. You can also use these in place of pins for just about any project. The clipping mechanism is really strong unlike some of the brand-less versions. Retail $9.99-$45.00. Price will vary depending on how many clips you want. The 100 pack (below) is the best value at $34.00.
I really can't say enough good things about these clips. My first bag of these clips were purchased at a sewing expo years ago and have since bought another bag. I own enough clips to do an entire king sized quilt binding. Over the years I have managed to break one clip. I dropped one on the ground and stepped on it so it was my fault, not a bad clip lol.
There'e really not a lot you can say about these clips. Their clips. Are they more pricey than pins, yes. Are they worth the investment? Absolutely.
Let's get snippy.
#6. Havel Mini Snips. These mini snips are perfect to keep at your sewing station to snip threads. Retail $14-$18.00.
- Made of stainless steel.
- Spring like snipping action causes less hand fatigue with use.
- Curved blade makes it easy to trim threads super close to your fabric without poking your fabric with the end of your scissors.
- Affordable? Questionable. I didn't think so at first, but they are so worth the money and glad I made the investment. I haven't bought snips in such a long time that I really don't have anything to compare the price to. Right now at the time of this post the price on amazon has dropped to $14.00. Grab them now! I see the price fluctuate with these up to almost $19.00!
- Still worth it at that price? For sure. But saving money is always a good thing. Use that savings to buy more notions and fabric! You're welcome lol.
If you are needing to purchase some new thread snips, give these a try. I think you may be surprised at just how much you love them.
Cutting tools of the trade.
#7. Rotary Cutter by Quilters Select. This weighted rotary cutter took some getting use to. I'll admit, when I tried it out at the sewing expo I wasn't sure I was going to like it at all. Retail $46.99-$49.00.
- This rotary cutter weighs more than the standard rotary cutter. It's all metal parts.
- The handle is really nice to hold. Has silicone inserts for a comfortable grip that won't slip.
- Easy to change the blades.
- Press the button on the handle and "tap" the blade on your cutting surface to engage the blade to cut.
- When you're finished cutting, just flip the rotary cutter over and give it a quick tap to disengage the blade back into safety mode.
- The weight of the rotary cutter helps prevent fatigue when cutting. You don't have to press your weight down as hard to obtain an accurate cut. The weight of this helps with that. I think thats the number one reason I like this so much.
- Pretty expensive for a rotary cutter? Yes. Yes indeed. But my dad has always taught me that if you buy quality up front, you won't have to replace it later. So I made the investment.
- These rotary cutters have a hole on the end of the handle so you can hang them on a notions wall in your sewing or craft room. Love this feature. I don't personally hang my rotary cutters or scissors but most of my sewing fiends do. So I'd consider this a bonus.
If you are looking for a more affordable, but ergonomic rotary cutter, try one of these by the brand Olfa (same as the cutting mats I showed you). These are the only rotary cutters I used prior to purchasing the quilters select brand one.
Squeezing the handle engages the blade to cut, release the handle and the blade returns to safety mode. I honesty believe that these are a close favorite to the quilters select brand. If I hadn't have found the other one this year at the expo, I'd still be using my Olfa cutter and that would be just fine.
#8. O'Lipfa Lip Edge Ruler(s). These rulers are going to help with accuracy and change the way you look at all your other rulers. Game changer for me! Retail $14.00-$35.00 depending on the size of the ruler.
These rulers are made of clear acrylic. Making them really easy to read and use. The lip edge on the end of the ruler hooks onto the edge of your cutting mat making it easy to keep your cutting lines super straight.
The perfect addition to your sewing station. Trust me, I've tried them all.
OK. First things first. The wool pressing mat. They are NOT all created equal. How do I know? I have purchased three other mats that were definitely lacking in quality before I settled on the Pam Damour version. Don't make the same mistake I did and try to purchase a slightly less expensive one. The other versions I got were not very dense and honestly didn't smell like wool. This led me to believe that they were not 100% felted wool. I also wasn't able to find anything on the packaging that said they were in fact wool. Oddly enough they were advertised as such, but when I received them I was really disappointed.
Benefits of using a wool pressing mat.
- This mat contains dense wool fibers that trap heat. This allows you you to press both sides at the same time.
- Because these are felted wool, they provide a firm surface for pressing quilt squares without stretching your fabric.
Disclaimer: Because I want to be totally transparent, when using steam on these they do give off a smell like wet wool. I personally don't mind the smell. I'm a knitter and I love the smell of wool.
It's not strong enough to be offensive by any means, but it is wool. Wool is a natural fiber. So if you are sensitive to smells or allergic to wool, obviously I don't recommend these as safe to use for you.
The mini iron.
Next up is the CLOVER wedge iron (official name). I just call it my mini iron. Sadly when I decided to include this iron in my top 10 sewing essentials list, I had no idea that these were no longer available on Amazon. Total bummer. I have reached out directly to CLOVER company to see if they are even making these anymore.
I will update this post when I get a response from Clover to my request.
I'm currently on the hunt for a mini iron I love as much as this one. If and when I find one, I'll report back. If you are able to find a site that still carries these mini irons, please let me know in the comment section below.
Besides my sewing machine, it's my favorite thing.
#10. IKEA Skarsta sit/stand desk. Because of the price, this is by the far the most expensive items I have on my list.
Because of how much I use it, I'd say it's right up there with my sewing machine in terms of importance. I love everything about this table. Literally EVERYTHING! Retails for $249.00-$279.00 depending of what size you buy. They have 2 available in the hand crank model. I have the larger of the two sizes.
- The smaller IKEA table retails for $249.00 for the smaller table (47.25" long x 27.5" deep).
- Retails for $279.00 for the larger version (63" long x 31" deep).
- Height adjustable.
- The Skarsta desk is also available in an electric model. However, it's quite a bit more expensive. For this reason, I chose to purchase the crank model instead.
- You are able to purchase the top and base of the desk separately. I opted to purchase the butcher block top from IKEA instead. I felt like having a desk top of solid wood would
- It's really heavy. Won't tip over easily. Roughly 75 pounds for the larger version.
- It has a large work surface. Can hold multiple sewing machines.
- White color with white top or white base with faux wood top.
- Another plus? It's available at IKEA so you can order online for home delivery (for a fee). Or order online for in-store pick-up (free).
Hope you all enjoyed seeing this list of my top 10 sewing essentials. I truly love each one of these items and have used most of them for years.
As I said in my video, I definitely have more than ten sewing essentials. Soon I'll have another video with the remaining 10 to 15 as well as a review of my Juki sewing machine. Until my next post, keep on crafting.