Sometimes my readers ask me to recommend my favorite sewing tools and notions. I’ve compiled this list of my must-have sewing supplies, with Amazon affiliate links in case you would like to purchase them to use in your own projects. If you use these links to make any purchase from Amazon, I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you), which will help keep this site up and running.
I promise you that I will never, ever add a product to this page that I have not personally used and loved! For example, you won’t find my rotary cutter on here, because I’m not completely happy with the one I bought, so I will not link to it here or mention the brand by name.
Basic Sewing Notions:
I adore this seam ripper. I own 3 in different colors, and I haven’t used any other kind of seam ripper in a very long time! It has a large grippy tip on the end that you can use to remove the little pieces of thread that are left behind after you rip out a seam. You rub the ripped seam with the end almost like you’d use a pencil eraser, and the rubbery part grabs the little wisps of thread and removes them. The large handle makes it very easy to control, and it has a precision tip on the bottom end for erasing thread wisps from finicky spots.
These are without a doubt the best sewing scissors I have ever had the pleasure of using. I cut everything from swimwear fabric to leather with them, and they are awesome. They have micro serrations to get a grip on whatever you are cutting, so that even slippery fabrics like organza and slinky knits will be cut cleanly instead of being pushed aside by the blades. Mine were a gift from a very dear friend a few years ago. If you don’t have a good pair of sewing scissors, you really should treat yourself to some nice ones!
I’ve tried many fabric glues, but this is the fabric glue I like best. I don’t just use it for fabric, I also use it to keep knots from coming undone when I’m making jewelry with elastic beading cord (like this Morse Code Bracelet) or when I’m fixing a shirt with a neckline that’s too low. I’ve had good success using it to glue plastic, so I’ve used it on rhinestones and googly eyes also (like when I made this goofy monster pen topper). Your plastic needs to be clean before you glue it, so wipe it with some rubbing alcohol and let it dry first. The glue dries flexible and clear, although if you have bubbles in the glue, that will cause it to look white/cloudy when it’s dry.
This chalk marker uses a serrated wheel that dispenses a thin line of powdered chalk right where you want it. It also makes a fun noise when you use it, lol. The chalk has always washed out of my projects with no issues whatsoever.
I use painter’s tape for a ton of things in my sewing and crafting, in fact it has so many uses that I wrote a post called 17 Painter’s Tape Hacks for Your Sewing and Crafting! It bastes oddly-shaped items together, or materials (such as leather) that are damaged by pins. I also use it to label storage containers in my sewing room, and even food containers in the freezer!
Imagine if tweezers, pliers, and clamps all had a baby: you’d get a pair of hemostats! They grab and lock on to whatever you grip with them, and I use them all the time in my sewing and crafting. For example, stuffing soft sculptures, turning small shapes and tubes right-side out after I’ve sewn them, pinching and clamping small items until the glue dries, grabbing tangled threads out of tricky spots in my sewing machine’s bobbin area, threading my serger, tying finicky knots in thread and small cords, getting a grip on small jewelry findings as I’m attaching jump rings, and holding scraps of fabric safely away from my fingers as I do a burn test to find out what the fabric is made of. Whew! No wonder I always have them close at hand! I just have a plain pair of 5 1/2″ silver hemostats, but you can get them with curved tips, or these with angled jaws, and even pretty ones like these with designs on the handles, or this really fun metallic rainbow-colored pair. I know you’ll find even more uses for them than I have!
Sewing machine oil is one of those basic things that’s easy to forget about. But it’s so important! Regular machine maintenance can save you a lot of headaches in the future. I use this brand to maintain and restore my vintage sewing machines as well as my more modern serger.
Pattern Drafting Supplies:
This needlepoint tracing wheel is quite possibly my very favorite sewing tool. When I was taking a trip, I didn’t know if they would let it on the plane, so I straight-up MAILED IT TO MYSELF so I wouldn’t have to spend a week without it. I use it when I’m making sewing patterns out of clothes I already own, and also to transfer markings from one piece of paper to the sheet below. A long time ago, I used a straight pin that I stabbed in and out of the seamlines over and over and OVER AGAIN, but this tracing wheel makes such short work of tracing patterns and I have been very happy with the quality. It has a real wooden handle, and a metal shaft and wheel. It’s sharp, because it has to be, so (like most sewing equipment) you definitely want to keep it away from kids and airport security. lol
I really love my flexible curve, I use it all the time for transferring angles from one side of a garment to another, or from paper to fabric. You can bend it into crazy shapes, and it stays that way. Then you can trace against it, or use it as a visual aid for choosing an angle. I tried to link to my exact brand, but the brand name isn’t anywhere on my actual curve, and I threw the packaging away a long time ago. But this one right here looks just like the one I use.
I use freezer paper for drafting and tracing all of the patterns I make, and I make a lot! So I have an enormous roll of freezer paper. I like using it because it’s extremely durable, and it won’t tear or wear out the way a tissue paper pattern will. It has two sides: the paper side can be written or printed on, and the plastic side can be ironed directly to fabric, so that you can use it as a template or even a stencil/resist. The plastic on the freezer paper will adhere to the fabric when you iron it, and then you can just peel it off when you’re done. If you don’t need a huge roll of it like I do, you can get smaller amounts of freezer paper here, or you can check your local grocery store near the plastic wrap. I like working with the 24″ width because it will accommodate any pattern piece I want to draft, but if you mostly want it for applique templates or stencils, you may be happy with a narrower size.
A French curve ruler is extremely useful for drafting patterns, and I definitely can’t be without mine! It’s clear, so you can easily see through it, and it has all of the necessary markings to help you transfer measurements and trace shapes. The ruler is quite thick, so I also use it as a cutting guide with my rotary cutter and mat by cutting against the edge.
Miscellaneous Arts and Crafts Supplies:
Who doesn’t love a good X-Acto knife? This basic cutting tool has so many uses. I’ve used it with my rotary cutting mat to cut vinyl, paper, cured resin, wood, on and on. It keeps a good edge, and it’s very easy to hold on to.
I have tried many different brands of acrylic craft paint over the years, but I haven’t found any that I love as much as Folk Art acrylic paint. They have really fabulous finishes (like their color-shift Flash line, and some really great metallics), and I’ve been very happy with the adhesion and wear. Their Multi-Surface paint is designed to be used indoors or out, and to be dishwasher-safe! They have an amazing array of colors, and I’ve even used some of the Flash paint as color-shifting toenail polish when I needed a fun accent to an outfit that I wore for a kids’ camp.
Preval sprayers turn pretty much any paint into a spray paint! You add your paint to the refillable glass jar, mix in a thinner if you’re using one, screw on the top, and go! I’ve used them with water-based and oil-based paints, and they provide a great finish. They are easy to use, but be careful not to treat them like a normal spray paint can (don’t shake them, for example). The box has helpful instructions, as well as guidelines for thinning different kinds of paint.
Silicone caulk is, surprisingly, one of the most-used items in my sewing studio. I wrote a post all about the ways you can use silicone in your sewing and crafts: to add traction to area rugs, keep bra straps from slipping off your shoulders, glue craft projects together, and many more. For smaller craft applications, I always recommend the smaller squeeze tubes like this, because in my opinion they are easier to control than the huge tubes that go inside a caulking gun.
My favorite brand of fabric paint is Tulip. I have just about every color, and I don’t just use it for embellishment… I also sometimes use the dimensional (3D) paints to add grip or texture to fabrics, like to keep bra straps from sliding off my shoulders. I’ve also used the 3D paint to replace the rubbery cushion on a set of earbuds! The paint comes in several textures and finishes, like brush-on vs dimensional, shiny vs matte, squeeze bottles vs spray, even glitter and metallic and glow-in-the-dark! If you’re buying it to add grip or texture, you need to get the dimensional (3D) variety. I’ve also watered it down (it’s water-based, so no fancy additives are needed, just the paint and water) and put it in a spray bottle to spray on t-shirts and other fabrics. Even watered down, the color stayed bright and it didn’t seem to fade in the wash at all (and I’ve had one of those t-shirts for quite a few years)! The brush-on paint can be used for screen printing.
I use Tulip’s Fabric Markers to cover stains on clothing, which is a handy way for you to rescue stained garments and end up with a beautiful display of your creativity! I have also used them to tint fabric patches to match a garment.