#1. Odds + ends: Sewing

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A quick make – A sweet retro-styled summer bustier.


This new blog post series will feature everything you’ll need to get stitching + crafty. Every item here has been tried + tested, & I’m going to let you know how you can utilize them in your own makes.

From sewing notions, to machinery, needles + threads, pattern-making & design – I’ll be featuring the items you’ll need to get started in a series of posts. I’ll help you find your way to your own crafty niche + pin point which tools are going to help you succeed in creating your own designs.

Today’s edition of the Odds + ends: series will be sewing tools for those of us who are just getting started, [or need a bit of a re-cap] in the wonderful world of sewing!

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Apologies for the hideous quality of the picture – you don’t know the torture I went through to get it here!

1. Tape measure. Preferably one with metric and imperial as a lot of vintage patterns differ between the two. For a basic tape measure you’re looking at $2-$5. Many bargain stores with have them in their habby section. Great for measuring yourself, lengths, seams, patterns, etc.

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2. Pins. Pins pieces of fabric together while sewing. You can get all sorts of pins, I prefer ones with medium-sized coloured heads on them as they are easier to work with and pick up. Smaller metal heads tend to leave dents in my fingers after using them. Plus coloured pins look cute. The other important thing here is sharpness [is that a word?]. Blunt pins come in cheaper packets and will make runs in your nice fabric, and be harder to push through all the layers. Make sure they are sharp! For a decent packet of about 50 pins you will be looking at approx. $7. Be warned – unless you are super vigilant with putting them back into their container or chosen tin, they WILL disappear [into time or space or where ever all our bobby pins are] and you will need to buy new packets every so often. You or your partner will also step on a few at some point or another. Get used to it!

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3. Fabric scissors. Cuts fabrics. These look a bit old + worn *don’t judge me*. Again, sharpness is what you need here. These pair are mid-range, about $40, they are my 2nd ever pair in about 9 or 10 years. They will need to be sharpened once a year if you can find someone who does this. Otherwise if they are too far gone, just replace them and keep your old pair for other uses/back ups. This pair is 100% metal and I much prefer these to plastic handled scissors. I’m not sure why, I just associate them with being professional tailor’s shears, traditional, and therefore correct for what I need them for + won’t consider plastic handles [unless I am really, really strapped for cash].

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4. Thread. Goes through your sewing machine or needle and sews your fabric together. There will be another extensive post on threads in the future, but these are your basics. Poly/cotton thread is what is most common in everyday garments. There are a boat load of other kinds but I won’t get into that now. You can get cheap threads at Textile Traders for $1, but if you have a temperamental machine then you’re going to want to give it the best darn threads you can find. That will be Gutermann of course. These days a small spool will cost you a whopping $3. Alternatively, invest in larger cones of thread (usually better quality, however limited colour range locally) and a thread stand – or larger spools of Gutermann will usually be slightly cheaper for the yardage/meterage as well. There are a few other lower-budget, quality threads out there if you’re willing to look – consider trying Mettler instead. I can say that I have tried them and they work pretty great too.

P12002735. Thread clippers. Snips your threads while sewing. You’ll find them for $2 at Textile Traders. They are designed to be a light-weight, small, efficient tool easy to grab to snip your threads. Picking up a 1kg pair of scissors gets tiring after a while! When you buy them they will often have oily residue on them to prevent rusting and encouraging ease of snip movement on the blade. Simply wipe off the oil with a scrap piece of cotton fabric or tissue and they are ready to use. They also come in a small plastic sleeve. Throw it away. You will NEVER use this. They rip and unless you carry it in your pocket there is no need for it. Same with pinwheels. Seriously. BIN THEM! They are a waste of time. Stick your tools in a box or tin instead.

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6. Un-picker, quick un-pick, seam ripper etc.
 Unpicks mistakes and wonky seams with haste and reckless abandon. $2 – $4 depending where you shop. The longer the handle the better. I have a love-hate relationship with them. I have ripped many a hole in my almost-finished garments with one of these babies. Ugh. But when they’re good, they’re good… a seam comes away just like that! I guess moral of the story here is: go slow and hold your seam tight as you push this damned apparatus forward. And only use sharp ones. And don’t run the un-picker point towards your hand. You will impale yourself and don’t come running to me saying I didn’t tell you so! Ye be warned! 😉

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7. Sewing Machine Feet. Attaches onto your sewing machine + creates different effects/techniques. Most common are plain presser foot, zipper foot and buttonhole foot. The types of feet are far and wide, and they will differ between domestic + industrial, and sometimes even between brands of machine. You’re looking at anything between $5 – $20 for a foot. When you buy a machine you usually get the basics with it. Anything special like an invisible zipper foot will need to be bought seperately.

P12002758. Tailor’s chalk/marking chalk/sewing chalk, etc. Marks out pattern pieces, notches or alterations. Pictured here is a range of colours, plus a thin piece of hand soap that has been used down to a sliver. This is great for marking silky fabrics that slip and slide all over the place! It glides on without moving the fabric [too much]. Around $3 for 1-3 pieces per pack.

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9. Bobbins. Filled with thread, this goes inside the machine, under the feed dog/mouth plate depending on your machine it will go on top or sideways underneath. I will go more in depth on this topic when I feature my machines. Bobbins also require a removable bobbin case if using an industrial sewing machine. Pack of 12 found for $2 at bargain store. Price differs between types of bobbins + where you purchase them.
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10. Sewing machine needles. Goes into the machine, screwed in flat edge to the back, goes up and down into fabric to stitch together with the thread from the bobbin + thread spool. A pack will usually set you back $5. Special needles such as jersey or twin needle will cost about $10.

11. Screwdrivers. Will need on various occasions when you need to take your sewing machine or overlocker apart, needles out, etc. Costs between $5 – $15 depending type + brand.

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12. Tweezers. Really handy for threading overlockers + getting threads out of tricky places!
Long handled are best, with a grippy textured tip on the end/inside for picking up + holding onto your threads. About $12 for a good pair that will last you forever.

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13. Not pictured. A couple extras below that may come in handy. Thimbles, overlocker cone adapters/supports, mini metal ruler for measuring seams if you haven’t got your ‘eye’ in yet. Believe me, after 15 years of sewing – you will definitely know how much 1cm is… by eye, every time! And, while not pictured, you will need a bit of courage, a full bobbin’s worth of determination… & a LOT of scrap fabric.

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Please leave a comment if you have any questions! I’m happy to help. 🙂                                                                                       Happy sewing xxx

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2 thoughts on “#1. Odds + ends: Sewing

  1. May I suggest….
    Instead of regular colored pins; glass head pins? The glass won’t melt under the hot iron, and they’re cute flower shapes in many different colors! they have slightly bigger flat flower shaped heads and are a bit longer. I’d suggest everyone spoil themselves and get those instead~!
    ~A

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  2. Hi A! Thanks for your great tip. I’ve never seen glass head pins here in Perth, WA. They sound very nice indeed! My pins don’t usually stay in by the time I get to the iron, they are out after the piece has been sewn, and I’ve never ironed over any before – to my relief! Thanks for commenting your blog looks beautiful 🙂

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