Let’s Talk Supplies: Sewing

Over the next few weeks I thought I would try and post a few basic tutorials but first it might be useful to talk about equipment and supplies.

The cost for any hobby can quickly add up and I am all for finding a bargain. However, some things are worth paying for.

First up I have made a list of my sewing equipment. I did not have all of this when I first started sewing, I didn’t even know if I was going to like it so didn’t want to buy absolutely everything! I just bought a few basic pieces and gradually increased my stash.

A sewing machine

I have a very basic machine that cost about £80. There are machines out there that cost in the thousands! For someone starting out, I think my machine is pretty good. It has a good selection of stitches and is simple to use. So far, there hasn’t been anything I have wanted to do but not been able to because of my machine.

Brother LS17 Machine
Brother LS17 Machine

Sewing machine needles

The machine came with 1 needle and Simon bought me another small packet. I probably don’t change needles as often as I should. I use a standard middle weight needle for pretty much everything. If you are going to sew particularly heavy fabrics, such as denim, you will need a stronger needle. If you are going to sew stretchy knit fabrics you will also need a ball point needle. This pushes between the fabric fibres rather than piercing and causes less damage, enabling the fabric to retain its stretch. I have only recently bought a pack of ball point needles and also a twin needle (for hemming stretch fabric – have a look at your tshirt hem) but have not yet used them. Make sure you check that any needles you buy will fit your machine! Schmetz are a good, well known brand for needles. I got my needles from ebay.

A selection of machine needles

Sewing machine presser feet

These are attachments for your machine to help with different tasks. My machine came with a zipper foot and a button hole foot (I haven’t tried the button holes yet). I quite like invisible zips, so the first foot I purchased was an invisible zipper foot.I managed with these basic presser feet until I recently bought a whole set of feet on amazon (here) for only £13.99! The main reason for the purchase was that I want to sew stretch knit fabric and apparently a walking foot is good for this. It was actually cheaper to buy the whole set than a walking foot on its own. I will let you know when I have tried them. Again, make sure they will fit your machine before buying.

Bargain presser feet set
Bargain presser feet set

Fabric scissors

Again, something that varies hugely in price. On ebay you could probably pick up some fabric shears for about £5 but you could spend £50+ on a good branded pair. I think I got a mid-range pair for about £20 from the local sewing shop in Tunbridge Wells – World of Sewing.

Black handled fabric shears and purple handled paper scissors
Black handled fabric shears and purple handled paper scissors

Seam ripper

You will make mistakes. You will need to unpick stitches. The seam ripper is your friend.

Your new best friend
Your new best friend

Tape measure

For taking measurements. And I mean a soft dressmaking tape measure, not a builders tape measure! Nothing fancy needed. Mine cost 50p.


Lots and lots of pins in a pretty pin cushion to help hold your projects together as you sew. Brightly coloured heads make them stand out against your fabric (and the floor if you are prone to dropping them). Try and avoid sewing over them as they can blunt your needle, cause it to break or jam in the machine.

Pins, pins, pins
Pins, pins, pins

Marking tools

When I first started sewing I just used a chalk pencil. I would cut the pattern out, pin it down and then draw around it. This is fine if you can cut your paper pattern. But if it is a pattern that has lots of sizes printed on one sheet or pieces overlapping then you need to trace it onto paper first, then cut it out. Or, my new favourite way, dressmakers carbon and a tracing wheel. No need to cut or trace the pattern. You simply lay the fabric down, put your carbon paper on top and the pattern on top of that and use your tracing wheel to run over the lines! Use some weights to hold it all in place and stop it shifting (I use tins, mugs, my phone – anything really).

Dressmakers carbon, tracing wheel and blue chalk pencil
Dressmakers carbon, tracing wheel and blue chalk pencil


You can use any paper. I bought a big roll of paper marked with a grid from amazon, which is perfect.

Rotary cutter

This is not a necessary purchase but I decided I wanted one as a treat. It is AMAZING! Once you have marked the pattern on your fabric you just use your rotary cutter to glide over it and cut it all out. Easy peasy. I still use the scissors for tight curves and angles though. They can be pretty pricey but again, look around online. Mine is from amazon (here) and cost about £10.

Super sharp rotary cutter
Super sharp rotary cutter

Cutting mat

If you are going to use a rotary cutter you will need a cutting mat to protect your surfaces. In craft shops a large A1 cutting mat will cost £80+. However, you guessed it, I got one on ebay (here) for about £11 (prices can vary).

Best bargain. Save your table or floor)
Best bargain. Save your table (or floor)


Lots and lots of bobbins. You can buy a multipack online pretty cheap. Just make sure they fit your machine.

Iron and ironing board

For pressing your fabric, seams and hems.


So there you have it, my list of sewing equipment. It really doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

I hope you find it useful and feel free to comment if you think I have missed something!

Love Ashleigh x

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