We know from experience that a sewing box can get out of control FAST. So we took a good, hard look and determined that, aside from a sewing machine, there are really only 10 things you need to tackle most projects.
10 sewing box must-haves
Make sure they're sharp and that they're earmarked to be only used for fabric. Cutting through other surfaces, even paper, will dull the blades — which means instant frustration at sewing time.
Tailor's chalk is used to transfer pattern markings onto their corresponding fabric pieces, particularly on dark fabrics. (Pro tip: to get rid of the marks when you don't need them anymore, just brush 'em off with a second piece of fabric.)
Though it's no fun to remove stitches, a sharp seam ripper will work quickly, and is a must if you're revamping an existing piece. They get dull over time, so don't hesitate to replace yours if it's not working as well as it once did.
This is probably a no-brainer, we know. It's essential for taking body measurements when sewing garments, but a measuring tape can also be used to measure fabric width and items longer than your sewing gauge or clear ruler. (See below!)
Water-soluble fabric marker
You can use a fabric marker the same way as tailor's chalk, but the blue (or sometimes purple) color allows it to mark light or white fabrics with a crisp, fine line. Most wash away easily with water.
This little ruler is great for pressing perfect, even hems and taking small measurements. The plastic arrow slider can move the length of the ruler. Set it to your desired measurement to quickly and easily mark a set length in multiple areas.
Here you'll want a variety of needle sizes to work with different weights of fabric. You'll reach for these mostly when basting, mending, sewing on buttons and blind hemming by hand.
Use pins to hold multiple layers of fabric together until they are sewn. The length and type are up to you; some are thin and meant for fine fabric while others are longer for use in quilting. General-purpose glass or plastic round-head pins the most common and do the trick.
You'll definitely need somewhere to stash those pins when you're not using them, and a pincushion really does work better than a box, which is just asking for a poke on the fingertip when you reach in (ouch).
Another no-brainer here. The size of your collection will depend on how many projects you have going, since you'll want to match your thread color to your fabric. That said, it's always good to keep cream and black thread on hand as back-up for emergencies. Make sure your thread is high quality; the cheaper stuff may break easily, causing sewing machine (or wardrobe!) malfunctions.
6 advanced sewing box essentials
Consider these added tools and notions a bit more varsity level. They're certainly not needed to get started sewing, but the more you learn and progress, the more frequently you'll find yourself reaching for these items.
Transparent rulers come in many sizes, but the best size for you will depend on the types of projects you make. They're mostly used for cutting quilt blocks into even and consistent sizes.
Pinking scissors leave a line of zigzags as they cut through fabric. The angled cuts are less likely to fray, so they help create more durable finished edges inside your sewing projects.
This wooden tool has a slightly rounded tip to gently push fabric when turning corners right-side out. Very handy for projects like stuffed animals, tote bags, or shirt collars!
These easy-to-grab scissors generally have spring-loaded blades and are great for cutting threads when machine stitching. The pointed tips also help when trimming threads close to the fabric and clipping curved edges.
Rounded blades allow you to make more accurate straight cuts with a ruler. They're perfect for cutting quilt blocks and can cut through multiple layers. A rotary cutter can also be used to cut curves, and some sewers use them exclusively (instead of fabric scissors) when cutting pattern pieces.
Self-healing cutting mat
A large or small
is an absolute must when using a rotary cutter to measure and cut fabric. The mat will protect your sewing surface and keep your blades sharp longer.