Getting Started: Beginner Tools

Thursday, 8 July 2010, 12:00 | Author : Kricket
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So you’ve inherited your first sewing machine, purchased fabric, and are now ready to start sewing your first cosplay costume – the question is, are you missing anything?

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Fabric stores carry an abundance of sewing tools (commonly referred to as notions) but I have found that only a few items are consistently useful.  My recommendations as to what you should spend your money on will depend upon your skill level and whether or not you truly want to invest in this hobby.  This post is the first of three which will walk you through the most essential (to the most luxurious) sewing tools.

My first set of recommendations are intended for those of you who have never sewn before and don’t know where to start.  So to speak, these are the “bare bones” that you should carry in your sewing box.  Each item will cost about $3 and they are all available in your local fabric store.


Honestly, I used to mark my fabric with #2 pencils I had around the house.  I quickly learned, however, that the lead was too dark and difficult to remove.  To temporarily draw lines on your fabric, use fabric chalk which comes in three colors (white, red, blue) If you wish to remove the powder, you should dab it with a wet cloth.

Machine Sewing Needles

Needles come in various sizes (8-19) which correspond to the thickness of the needle.  It is important to buy needles that are most appropriate for the fabric you are sewing: sheer, stretchy, demin, upholstery, leather, or standard (cotton); the back of each package will explain the intended use.  It is generally useful to stock your sewing box with size 9,11,14.

Measuring Tape

Think of measuring tape as a flexible ruler.  Its basic function allows you to assess your proper size (by measuring your hips, waist, and bust) when you purchase patterns.  However, it also comes in handy when calculating  how much to alter a garment in relation to your body.  While they can be purchased in any width, I prefer the tape that is 1/2″ wide, so that I can turn it sideways and quickly add a half inch seam allowance to my homemade patterns.


These sticks of metal hold your fabric in place prior to sewing.  Dressmaker Pins come in different lengths while Quilting Pins have a bright yellow ball on the end.

Seam Ripper

Seam Rippers tear through the stitches in your costume using a U-shaped piece of metal.  For safety reasons, point the tool away from you while using.


Is there a difference between fabric scissors and paper scissors?  Not really – Although, I’m sure we could argue about material components, blade thickness, or degree of sharpness.  The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to worry about purchasing the best scissors you can find.  I’ve been told that as long as you only cut fabric with your scissors, they will continue to stay sharp.  Following such advice, I’ve always purchased the “Value Scissors” for $2 and they’ve definitely been worth the money.


Thread is best bought simultaneously with your fabric so that you can color match the two.  Remember that if you cannot find the exact color, you would be better off going with thread that is darker rather than lighter.

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