“Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that – one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
The art of Sewing has been a part of cultures and societies for millions of years. It was used for clothing, warmth and shelter by stitching together animal hides. Moving North East from Africa, the weaving of cloth from natural fibres was originated around 4000 BC and even earlier, during the Neolithic Age was when the sewing of cloth accompanied this development. Archaeologists discovered sewing needles with eyes dating back to 17,500 BC, which were likely made of bone, and used to sew skins and furs for items of clothing.
Sewing in Nigeria has now grown to become a profession where people now go to institutions, schools and take lessons to become fashion designers, tailor, seamstress, fashion illustrator, pattern drafter and the likes. It goes beyond just putting a piece of fabric under the machine to sew. You need to take measurements, buy the fabric needed, draft the pattern, cut on the fabric before then finally sewing it on the machine.
So when starting, it can be hard to know the exact sewing supplies needed because technology has so much advanced that there are now thousands of sewing supplies and sewing equipment out there.
This article will guide you through the basic sewing supplies you will need and should own to complete your sewing projects.
Measuring Tools Needed For Accuracy In Sewing
A sewing machine might be the first thing that comes to your mind when you want to learn how to sew but it, however, goes beyond that. Well, you are not wrong to think that way. Some sewing supplies will help make your sewing experience easier and faster. You don't want to start the process of learning how to sew before you now realise some sewing essentials are missing.
First and foremost, you will need to take some measurements and dimensions to know the size of the garment and the amount of fabric you will need to buy. Four basic measuring tools will be discussed below:
This is very essential to have before you start any sewing lesson or sewing project. It helps you take the measurements that will be needed on the sewing pattern like the length of the garment, the waist, hips, depth of hips, length of sleeves, the neck point, the bust, length to waist, chest width and so on depending on the type of sewing project being done. The measuring tape is to the tailor as the stethoscope is to the medical doctor.
No sewing ever gets done without this essential basic tool. Measuring tapes are 60i inches and 120 inches long depending on the one you are interested in buying. They come in different materials like plastic, cloth or satin ribbon and cost about ₦50 -₦100. The fancy and retractable ones cost about ₦1,000 - ₦3,000 depending on the make.
Rulers are very useful when working on a flat surface or transferring your measurements to a pattern paper. Brown papers are the most commonly used for pattern drafting. The Rulers can be plastic, glass, metal or wooden. Metal rulers are the best choice to get when shopping for one. They are usually between 20cm and 60cm, it could be shorter or longer than this range in the market. Other measuring tools other than the straight rulers are:
- French curve
- Hip curve
- L-shaped ruler
- flexible curves
- Sewing gauge
Quilting rulers are see-through so you can choose which part of patterned fabric to show in the shape you cut. They ensure the fastest and easiest way to cut angles or triangles. It helps in the learning process by making it easier to trace patchwork squares, transfer a pattern and to mark hems. They measure u to 50cm.
A sewing gauge is a ruler, typically 6 inches long, used for measuring short spaces. It is typically a metal scale, marked in both inches and centimetres. They can be used as a gauge to know the amount you want to take your hem up by, to mark places where you need to start and stop sewing, Marking buttonhole placement, measure pleats and so on.
Tools Needed To Mark And Transfer Your Sewing Pattern
Even if you are a professional and have the best sewing machine, you will still need to make markings on your fabrics and transfer your patterns to your fabrics before you proceed to sew. There are two main sewing tools when it comes to markings and they are the tailor's chalk and marking pencils or pens. It is advisable to use a white pencil on dark materials and tailors chalk on light fabrics.
Chalks And Pencils
Tailor's Chalk and pencils serve to mark sewing allowances, pleats, gathers and as a guide for your sewing depending on the style of your project. The marks made by chalks and pencils on fabrics are temporary, do not stain and easy to erase off the fabrics. No one in the fashion design industry can deny its advantages while on a sewing project.
When learning how to sew or as a professional you will need a tracing paper and tracing wheel to transfer your pattern to a piece of fabric. They are also popularly used to trace darts onto the fabric from the pattern. It works better on light fabrics than thicker ones. You might not see the tracing mark on a thicker fabric eg wool. It is advisable to use a cutting mat for your tracing to prolong the life span of the tracing wheel especially when transferring a pattern to another paper.
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Carbon paper may be old fashioned but they help to preserve your patterns for use at another time. It is used together with either a tracer pen or tracing wheel to mark your fabric or darts, hiplines, seam allowances etc. It is very useful in transferring lines onto light fabrics.
Tools To Cut Your Fabrics
It is always a good idea to take all the necessary measurements before shopping for fabrics so you have an idea of how many yards of fabric will be needed for the sewing project. You will need one fundamental tool called scissors in cutting your patterns, thread fabrics, mending old clothes, cutting a buttonhole and the likes.
Scissors For Sewing
It is important to note that whatever scissors you use for fabrics shouldn't e used to cut your papers for the pattern. You should have separate scissors for cutting fabric and a separate one for cutting the papers used for your patterns.
- Fabric Scissors can be used for light and soft fabrics where accuracy is paramount.
- Paper scissors are clearly used for paper and anything else that is not a fabric.
- Tailors Shears have long blades and are best used for thick and heavy fabrics
- Pinking shears are used for cutting woven cloth. The blades are sawtoothed instead of straight and they leave a zigzag pattern instead of a straight edge.
A rotary cutter is also very good for precision cutting. Rotary cutter whether manual or electrical should be used with a cutting mat (prevents scratches and damages to the table) and should be stored safely because of its visible sharp blades.
Mistakes while sewing is inevitable no matter how professional you are. While learning how to sew, don't beat yourself up if you make a mistake and have to loosen to resew. That's what the seam ripper is there for. They are used to remove stitches, open seams, cut threads and open buttonholes. Make sure to be careful to not prick your finger while making use of it.
Now that you understand what sewing essentials you need for cutting fabrics, you can go ahead with your sewing project.
Sewing Supplies For Pinning Your Project
Pinning Your Sewing Project
You will need quite a lot of sewing pins while learning how to sew depending on the number of your projects. Pins help keep fabrics together while you are cutting and also while sewing on the machine. There are a lot of colourful pins out there and different storage for it like the pincushion, box or even the magnetic trays. You can get varieties and prices of sewing pins from Pricyhubs and they can deliver to your doorstep in any state in Nigeria.
Thimbles have been around for a very long time now. In short, most domestic sewing kit comes with one. It is worn on the middle finger to avoid injuring yourself when pushing needles or pins through fabrics.
If you have bought a sewing machine, you will definitely need sewing needles. Though most new sewing machines come with some sewing needles. It is important to know that there are different needle sizes and needle types for the types of fabrics out there. For example, there are needles designed for stretchy materials, light materials, thick fabrics, Jeans fabrics, leather and so on. Having different needles will help you to learn how to sew easier. The different needles will be most likely discussed in your advanced class. For now, focus on learning how to sew with fabrics like calico and Ankara. This material is easier for beginners to handle on the sewing machine.
Threads and Bobbins
Tools like threads and bobbins cannot be missing from your sewing box and list of sewing essentials. It is highly recommended you get different bobbins so you don't end up with different sewing threads on the bobbin or discarding the remnant from your previous sewing. Most new sewing machines some with extra bobbins but it is advised to buy more before you start your many sewing projects.
The importance of threads for your sewing projects cannot be overemphasised. Without them, you cannot put a garment or project together. It is recommended you get good quality threads and different colours for your sewing kits. You don't want to be caught using a thread that differs from the colour of your fabric. This will definitely affect the outcome of your project in a bad way. The cost of threads is ₦50 or less and even cheaper when you buy in bulk.
Learning how to sew or fashion designing is very interesting with the right tutors and sewing supplies.
Good luck during your learning process.