Learning to sew is like learning a new language, and it's normal to have lots of questions. Even once you master the basics, there will always be more to know and room to improve. Believe me! As much as I know about sewing, I still learn something new every day.
In class and in our shop, we hear the same fundamental questions repeatedly from folks learning to sew. So this month, I'd like to spend a few minutes answering your most frequently asked questions:
Are you ready? Here we go!
- Which finger do I put a thimble on?
Ok, but first, what is a thimble?
A thimble is a finger covering for your dominant finger on your dominant hand. It is typically made of plastic, metal, leather, or a combination.
We sew with our dominant hand. I am right-handed, so I wear a thimble on my right hand, middle finger. You can use your pointer or thumb if you prefer.
- What are sewing notions?
Notions generally refer to the smaller tools used in the sewing process, such as needles, thread, pins, and marking, cutting, measuring, and pressing tools. Fasteners, trims, and tapes are also considered notions. In fact, almost anything and everything can be lumped in the notions category!
- What are the essential sewing tools?
The basics you will need to complete any beginner-level sewing project are the same ones you find in a travel sewing kit:
Needles — these are small, sharp metal pieces with a hole in one end used to pull the thread through the fabric.
Thread — these are long, thin strands of fibers, like cotton or wool you sew with.
Pins — these are small, sharp metal pieces with a bulb attached to one side used to keep fabrics in place before they are permanently attached.
Pincushion — this is a small pillow used to hold pins when not in use.
Thimble — this is a metal or plastic piece placed over your finger to protect it from being stuck with a needle while pressing it into the fabric.
- What are the essential add-on tools to take your sewing to the next level?
Scissors and fabric scissors — these are the primary tools used for cutting out your fabric. We recommend a simple 8" blade.
Ruler — you will want several sizes of see-through rulers. It's great to have a big 6″ x 24″ one for measuring and making longer cuts. These often have various angle markings, making it easy to find and cut along the bias. A big ruler can be unwieldy when you need to move it around to make smaller cuts. So you'll also want at least one smaller ruler, maybe 6″ and 12″ for this purpose.
Tape Measure — we recommend either the fashion color tape measure 60" or the singer pink tape measure fiberglass 60in tapes.
Rotary Cutter — a 45mm rotary cutter stick is our favorite. (always with sharp blades)
Seam Ripper — we (un) happily use the Dritz deluxe seam ripper whenever the situation calls for this drastic action. It's not the Dritz's fault!
Sewing Guage — the Dritz sewing gauge 6" is our favorite.
For me, the real fun is the stitching together part. When your creation comes to life.! That's why they call it "sewing" and not "measuring." However, I've come to realize that if you want your sewing to look its very best, you must be accurate. And if you have the right tools, you can get things done faster, easier, and better so you can get back to the fun stuff!