The Basics

The New Sewist’s Wishlist

One of the tough things about learning to sew is all the stuff you need. Some of that stuff is obvious, you need a sewing machine, fabric, needles. But which ones? And what else? If you’re looking to learn, pass this list off to anyone who asks what you want for the holidays!

Sewing Machine

Obvious, right? There are so many different machines out there, and they are definitely not created equally.

I tell all of my new students to get a computerized Brother. They are easy to thread, and are incredibly user friendly. This Brother XR3240┬ácomes with lots of toys too- a seam ripper, some bobbins, an automatic button hole maker, even embroidery stitches. The best part is it’s on sale through Costco, so I highly recommend you pick it up!

A good sewing machine will make sewing a breeze. In my experience, the smaller, more inexpensive machines cause a lot of headaches for the novice. It’s not worth the savings!


You see thread at the supermarket, packaged with a few needles and a mini scissor. Don’t buy them! Especially not for your new sewing machine. These will often break when going around the machine. Purchase brands like Guttermann and Coats & Clark for excellent quality sew-all threads. After Thanksgiving, Joanns offers a thread tower of Guttermann’s most popular thread colors, which is something to look out for!


When I was a kid, I always used to ask for a yard or two of fabric, just to experiment with. Having some basic cottons with fun prints can be great motivation to get started sewing pillows and bags. You can buy pretty prints from most fabric stores by the yard or in quarters.

Pins and Cushions

This might seem obvious, but I show up to a few too many students houses without a pin in sight. Get ones with a large, round head┬áso you don’t lost them in the fabric. There are also a ton of pin cushions out there, but I prefer one that can sit flat on the table (rather than a tomato). I’ve been using this one for about ten years! Throw a safety pin in there too- a small tool full of big uses.

Flip Flop pin cushion ftw!


Guess what! You can’t use the kitchen scissors! A lot of people don’t know this, so I’m telling you that right now. Paper dulls the blade of a scissor, and you need something really sharp to cut fabric. I use these, but really any scissor untouched by paper will do. Make sure you write FABRIC ONLY on the blade! Non-sewers seem to be drawn to fabric scissors to cut open boxes, for some reason. Beware!

Odds and Ends

Just some extras you want to check to see if you have- a ruler, tape measure, a pencil. Your sewing machine will probably come with a seam ripper (or as my students call them, the Soul Crusher, thanks Elle!) but you can get one with a nicer grip since you’ll probably be getting real friendly with it in your early days! The machine will also come with a few extra needles and bobbins, but if you want to be safe, you can pick up some refills to start with.

That should be everything! Happy Sewing!