My friend Shelby took our Intro to Sewing class at Fabric Bliss, and she’s hooked! So much so that she spent a study break writing this for her husband:

Shelby wants to get one of the Brother machines that we use at the shop and that I have at home. But since there are a lot more supplies you need to start sewing, I promised her a list of my 5 essential supplies for the beginning sewist.

1. Thread

You need something to fill the bobbin in that machine, so better get yourself some thread! I generally use Gutterman brand or Coats and Clark Dual Duty. I like to have lots of bright colors around as well as neutrals, for variety.

2. Iron

One simple fact: having an iron handy in your sewing space is essential. But what kind of iron doesn’t matter so much for a beginner. I still use Mike’s old iron in my space. You may get lots of advice about using a particular iron or another, but honestly you just need an iron that works. At the beginning, it’s more important how you use it. Learn how to press, rather than iron. Learn when to use steam and when to avoid it.

3. Cutting Tools

Get a good pair of dressmaker’s shears, and only use the scissors for fabric (not paper!). Though a rotary cutter was once thought of as very avant garde, I’d venture to say it’s becoming essential. Personally, I find it very hard to cut straight lines, and I don’t think I would be a very good quilter without the rotary. Also pictured here: a self-healing mat. If you get a rotary cutter, you have to get a mat. All the major sewing tool companies manufacture these pieces; I have Fiskars’ scissors and rotary, but when it’s time for a new set, I’m going to get Olfa all around.

4. Pins & Magnetic Pin “Cushion”

You will always need pins, whether you end up sewing garments, accessories, quilts. It doesn’t matter what kind of pins, although I prefer longer pins and, although not pictured here, flat-head pins. But what does matter is a good pincushion, and I’ve found that the magnetic pin holder is completely essential. Once you start sewing, you’ll have scraps, needles and pins everywhere. At least the magnetic holder can help you keep those pins and needles in check!

5. Measuring Tools

You need at least one acrylic translucent ruler; I recommend the 24-inch, if you’re only getting one. But remember: your self-healing mat is also a measuring tool. I find myself using it to measure almost as much as the ruler.

So, where to shop for all these goodies? Of course, you can look to the big box fabric and crafting stores, which often have deals on these tools or coupons that make them very cheap. I also recommend checking out, where I found great deals on the self-healing mat, rotary and scissors. The local quilt shop is likely to have fun, unique accessories — for example, fun pins, pincushions and preferred threads.

~ Kristina