Sewing School // What You Need To Learn To Sew (no matter how small your budget)

Welcome to part one of Sewing School! (Find out more here) Before you learn to sew there are a few things you will need. There are probably a few people out there who are worried about learning to sew because they think they can't afford it. Well here is my list of things you need, suitable for almost any budget.

The Absolute Essentials (and how much to spend)
This part of my 'what you need list' is a list of things to have access to for a good starter kit for sewing. You can do some sewing with only half the list but most projects, and what I will cover in sewing school, will need all these things. But don't worry yet, its not going to break the bank.

1. Some Fabric To Sew: Fabric can get kind of expensive, and you may have your eye on something already but don't go forking out a fortune just yet. If you are just learning its a good idea to save the fancy and expensive fabric until another day. A good fabric to start on would be a non-stretchy cotton. Something like an old pillow case or sheet. You probably have one of these lurking at the back of a cupboard somewhere, if not an old top or skirt will do. Or if you really can't find any of these pop down to a charity shop and buy something there for a few pounds. To start with we are just going to be learning to use the machine so it really doesn't matter what it looks like. Cost: Free! (or a very small amount)

2. Something To Sew With, i.e a sewing machine: Arghhh, this is the part you're worried about, buying a sewing machine. Well fear not my friend, while I would recommend you get yourself a sewing machine if you are serious about learning to sew you can almost guarantee that you have a friend/relative/neighbour who has a sewing machine in their cupboard that isn't being used. Chances are they wouldn't mind lending it to you either. The best part about this, you can ask them how to use it when you pick it up so you don't even have to bother reading the sewing machine manual. Winner. If you start to enjoy sewing you can ask for a machine for your Birthday or Christmas or start saving, they really aren't too expensive. Cost: Free!

3. Something to Cut Your Fabric with: Fabric needs an extra sharp blade to cut through it. In the above photo you can see a few different options available to you. From the left we have dressmaking scissors, these are brilliant for cutting your fabric into the right shape and size pieces that you would need for most sewing projects. The pink pair are called embroidery scissors. They are good for snipping end of threads or cutting into seams (more on this during sewing school) but its virtually impossible to cut out a neat shape with them so you would still need some dressmaking scissors. The third pair along, the smaller black pair, is another kind of fabric scissors. They are cheaper and smaller than dressmaking scissors so can be good for small projects and if you are sewing on the go but aren't as easy to use. The last thing, the yellow one, is called a rotary cutter. If you are thinking of learning to quilt more than make clothes then investing in a rotary cutter will make your life much easier. They can be used in dressmaking too but can be a little more tricky than the scissors for cutting out the curved edges. The cost varies depending on which kind you buy but you could buy any one of these for less than £10. Cost £10

3. Some Thread: When you get serious about sewing you will probably want to buy yourself some thread to match each fabric that you buy. For now, while you just practice on your machine, you can use anything. The kind person that leant you the sewing machine might even let you use whats already on the machine, but if not head down to a local haberdashery and buy some. If you buy some white or black chances are you will use it up eventually. Before you pay just check with the shop assistant that the one you have chosen is compatible with sewing machines, some aren't and they end up getting all tangled up. Been there, done that. Cost: £1-2. (or less)

5. Hand Sewing Needles: While most projects do use a sewing machine, they quite often involve some hand sewing to finish them off. While you are in your haberdashery buying thread, buy yourself some needles too. Even if you aren't interested in sewing after trying it out you will probably need these one day to fix a hole, sew a hem or attach a name label to your kids PE kit. Cost: £1-2

6. Seam Ripper: Trust me you need one of these. Its the red thing with a see though lid in the photo above. This handy little divice with help you undo any mistakes you make. I still use mine lot's and I used it most when I was a beginner. Plus this is handy even if all you ever do is learn to hem your trousers. Cost: £3-4

7. Pins: The Last of your essentials that you need to buy are pins. Technically you could use masking tape instead of pins to hold two pieces of fabric together (or a pattern to your fabric) but pins will come in handy in other ways too as you learn to sew more and more. I have shown safety pins in the photo which can be useful but what is more useful are straight pins which are also called dressmaking pins. They are much quicker to use so when you are using your sewing machine you can quickly slip them out before the sewing machine needle hits them. Cost: £1-2

Other thing you will need but probably already have:
Large paper or baking parchment
Paper scissors
Iron and an Ironing board
Ruler (the longer the better)
Tape measure (the long flexible kind, not the tool box kind)

Or buy a travel sewing kit and get a few of the listed items above at once.
A travel sewing kit won't have everything you need but it may cover several of the things mentioned above and therefore save you even more money by buying it all together. My sewing tin (shown in the photo) contains thread, needles, seam ripper, embroidery scissors, a thimble, buttons, pins, needle threader and a measuring tape! Check the contents before you buy one as they aren't always the same, but you could be saving yourself a few pennies and buying a nice tin or box to keep it in. Cost £5-10 (could be more if you get a really fancy one)

These few items are enough to help you learn to use a sewing machine and get to grips with the basics. I think the totally cost could be as little as £10 if you get a good travel sewing kit and invest in some dressmaking scissors. Each time you start a new project there will probably be a list of things you need for that particular project but the things in this list will be used almost every time you sew. In the next session I'll go through setting up your sewing machine with you before we can get started with sewing. See you soon, Zoe xx

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