Tools of my Trade

March 12, 2009

I’ve read a lot of lists with supplies for sewing, and I understand that to begin sewing you don’t need all of these things…

I’ve been sewing for years and my list grow in time, so I’m sharing it with you.

From the pages of my favorite magazine

  • Big room with lots of light 🙂
  • Desk Lamp

Sewing supplies
The package
Sewing machine

  • I have a convertable sewing machine Brother HE120. It converts into an embroidery machine
  • a simple machine is ok if you also have a serger, otherwise one that does a straight stitch and a zig ziag is ok

Embroidery machine

Embellishing machine – on my wish list…

Serger – nice to have especially for stretch and for sheers but not mandatory

  • Singer Quantumlock will also do a wide, narrow and triple coverstitch
  • if you are willing to spend more
    • look for automatic thread tension adjustments
    • look for coverstitch capability

Cutting table

  • I got a fold over table on wheels – saves space but it is not very stable

Sewing table – I prefer a corner table with the sewing machine on the right and serger on the left

Dress form

Notions storage

  • shelves for magazines and sewing books
  • transparant plastic drawers bins – for my fabrics so I can see through
  • tin bins from cookies for different notions
  • plastic case for sewing machine threads
  • plastic case for bobbin threads
  • wood wall hanger for overlock threads
  • jar for pencils

Misc Notions
Orange Ribbon

  • seam reaper
    • for serger seams
    • for button holes and sewing machine stitches
  • tracing pencils, tracing paper
  • a tracing roll – I never use this…
  • pencil sharpener
  • zippers
  • buttons
  • snap fasteners – I love Dritz pearl decorative snaps
  • snap fastener tool – I got one from Dritz, looks like a plier.
  • grommets and tool for attaching them – for corset lacing
  • fasteners for skirts and pants
  • magnetic fasteners for bag closure
  • buckles for belts
  • ribbon flowers for lingerie items
  • thimble – for hand sewing protects finger tips
  • rulers – for precise measuring, curved french rulers for pattern drafting
  • measuring tape
  • pins – glass tips for ironing over them with ease, choose them thin and change them often as they become blunt
  • pin cushions and magnets
  • ribbons – for marking the dress form main lines, for neat seams
  • tissue paper – I use it for my patterns
  • cardboard and hangers – for patterns
  • loop turner
  • pipping
  • cords for pipping
  • tape – for marking sheer fabrics
  • sequins, beads, pearls for embellishments
  • pin bulletin board – for planing future projects and inspiration
  • magnifying glass
  • oil for machines – check your manual, only specific parts need to be oiled
  • toothbrush, vacuum cleaner and air pressure spray for cleaning machines

Bra Supplies
Stretch Black Tulle with Velvet Lilac Roses Bra

  • underwire
  • fluffy tape to cover underwire
  • bra cups
  • bra hook fasteners
  • plastic circles for straps
  • elastic tape for straps


  • fancy lacy elastics – for lingerie
  • fold over elastic – for finishing knit seams, lingerie, swim suits
  • transparent elastic – for stabilizing shoulder seams in knits, for shirring
  • elastic thread – mentioned before – for shirring, hand wind it to a bobbin and sew by machine, select a longer step straight stitch.
  • online sources for elastics

Scissors – my preference


  • polyester
  • cotton
  • topstitching thread
  • elastic thread for shirring
  • embroidery thread
  • wooly nylon thread for sergers
  • ribbons, yarns for decorative stitches
  • dissolve away thread for basting – find it in the quilting isle
  • pearl cotton thread – for buttonholes – used under the stitches for stabilizing stretch fabrics and giving definition/height to the stitches
  • floss for hand embroidery

Hand sewing needles

  • for tracing on sheer fabrics
  • for basting
  • larger eye needles for decorative hand stitching and embroidery

Embroidery loop

  • for hand and free motion embroidery

Sewing with Nature

  • for stabilizing fabric to prepare it for embroidery
  • iron on
  • tear away
  • water soluble – also can be used for creating interesting lacy fabrics by sewing ribbons and remains together sandwiched in a double layer of stabilizer
  • Spray Adhesive – to stabilize fabrics together for appliques, before sewing and for mounting layers of fabrics in the embroidery frame


Serger/Overlocker Needles:

  • make sure you have the correct kind of needles for your serger, check your manual
  • not all sergers work with sewing machine needles, some need a longer needle type
  • available in different sizes just like regular sewing machine needles

Serger Presser Feet:

  • blind hem foot
  • pipping, cording and sequins attachment foot
  • shirring foot
  • lace insert foot

Sewing Machine Needles:

  • knowhow
  • 60, 70 for thin fabrics
  • 80 in between
  • 90-100 for denim
  • ball point needles for knits and lycra
  • embroidery needle – has a larger eye and prevents the thread from breaking
  • metallic thread needle – larger eye
  • double needles or twin needles – for coverstitches and embroidery – have a variety of widths on hand
  • needle for leather – has sharp cutting point that cuts into the leather instead of reaping it

Sewing Machine Feet:

  • buttonhole foot
  • for sewing in buttons
  • lace attaching foot
  • open toe applique foot
  • darning foot or a free motion embroidery foot
  • zipper foot
  • invisible zipper foot
  • narrow hemmer
  • magnet seam guide – DO NOT USE on computerized machines, use a seam guide foot with a ruler instead



  • I like to copy mine from the magazines on tissue paper for packaging
  • I keep mine organized in transparent plastic pockets and inside binders
  • Every binder for a category of patterns – dresses, shirts, pants, jackets, accessories
  • other binders for crochet patterns, knit patterns
  • I save the pictures from the magazines and store them on my computer, photo browsers help me search easily.


  • steam iron
  • ironing board – stiff
  • sleeve ironing board
  • ham or a towel to iron on
  • point presser
  • manilla folder for pressing for templates
  • a silicone glove to iron on and protect your hands, also to press seams when they are still hot
  • a white cotton cloth to iron through on sensitive fabrics
  • a velveteen cover or a plush towel to iron over velvet…carefully!
  • Here’s a cool tutorial as to why pressing is important that shows the tools you need. I do believe it is what sets professional looking garments from “made at home…”

Knit and Crochet

  • A variety of yarns to keep me busy while watching TV or traveling
  • Crochet thread size 10
  • Wool for shawls
  • Cottons for crochet blouses and dresses
  • Bamboo for a dress
  • wish I had more,  building a stash

Knit picker – for running knit stitches, also great for embroidery

Knitting needles

  • assorted sized
  • interchangeable sets
  • straight
  • circular
  • double pointed
  • huge – for broomstick lace

Crochet Hooks

  • assorted sizes

Hairpin lace loom – adjustable

Knitting machine – the Bond Ultimate Sweater machine

Yarn-tainer bin – for mobile projects on the go

Sewing with Nature

  • Wool fibers for felting – assorted colors
  • Felting needles
  • Felting tool with multiple needles
  • Felting Pencil tool
  • Felting mat
  • Bamboo table mats
  • Bubble wrap


  • dyes from fabric store
  • natural dyes – coffee, tea, saffron, tumeric, etc…
  • beads for shibori dye
  • buckets
  • vinegar for rinse


Jewelry making
Painted Maple Leaf Pendant and Earrings

  • silver wire
  • PMC
  • plastic cutting mat
  • fire resistant brick
  • torch and gas
  • pliers
  • protective goggles
  • masks for respiration
  • files and sand paper for silver
  • Primo clay for molds
  • Pearls and glass beads
  • Beading wire
  • ribbons
  • earring wire, clasps, loops
  • rubber stamps
  • dried leaves
  • olive oil
  • deck of playing cards
  • PVC pipe for rolling

Did I forget something? Did I get all the names right?

If there is anything that you don’t know what it means and you can’t find it on google or inside BurdaStyles SewPedia, then ask me about it.


14 Responses to “Tools of my Trade”

  1. emy Says:

    That’s a very comprehensive list you’ve got there!

    The sewing supplies will come in handy when I set up my sewing machine one of these days 🙂

  2. jhoney Says:

    Interesting Read! Very detailed blog.
    Thanks for sharing

  3. Teodora Says:

    Hi, again. Just a small advice about the embellisher machine on your whishlist : choose an expensive one ( Husqvarna or Pfaff, your choice) because you’ll be more satisfied with all the extras that those carry. I have the Merrylock ( a no-name, should I say, but last year was the cheapest in Europe) and I am quite unsatisfied : low power, low speed, no rise needle position, and so on…please, try one on a good “ride” before shopping. ;)( mine was on-line bought).
    And, yes, I like your last post ! 😉
    Hugs again.

  4. cj Says:

    Your work is very detailed and beautiful. Looks like you have mastered a variety of techniques! I saw you listed the Ultimate Sweater Machine as one of your tools. Have you worked with any other knitting machines?
    I was wondering if perhaps you could provide some advice for working with Ultimate Sweater Machine.
    Would you be able to answer a question about how you set it up? I just (as in the other day) purchased Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine and am having a hard time with it. I took my time and followed the directions very carefully, step by step, and completed all successfully, until I knit the first row…it only knit like four stitches and them seemed to jam up. Earlier-When I was putting the “bed plates” together (assembling the two needle plates) I noticed this thin strip of grey foam protruding from the inside out of the plastic plates near the needles where the two ends meet to attach (where you have to fit the tiny grooves into one another). I was trying to figure out whether this foam was extra cushion for manufacturing purposes or it served some other function as to hold the needles in place, (giving the needles a grip so they wouldn’t slide all over the place when moving into various positions). My first instinct when I saw the foam was that it was extra cushion from manufacturing and to tear it out but when i examined it closer it seemed that the small piece that I had thought it was -was really apart of a much longer strip spread inside the plastic beds over all the needles-So I did not remove it but left it intact but noticed the difficulty in moving the needles into place when preparing for a row. My question is- should that foam be removed or is it there for a reason to provide grip for the needles so they are not sliding all over the place when the carriage moves across the plates? Did you remove the foam? How did you set your machine up? Are their any tips you have for more fluid movement of the carriage in contact with the needles? Thanks so much!And wish you continued success with your projects!

    • Mirela Says:

      Thank you CJ!

      Waw that does seem like a lot of trouble with the machine. I have used only a single other knitting machine, a very very ancient one made out of wood that my mom has passed down form her grandmother. So the Ultimate Sweater machine is the only knitting machine i own. Yes, I did setup mine and didn’t have such a problem with the needles not moving, unless the yarn was too thick or with thinner and thicker portions. The needles should move freely easily back and forth…About the foam, I don’t recall any foam on the needle bed, but I will have a look tonight and let you know…

      • CJ Says:

        Thank you Mirela!for taking the time to look. It is much appreciated. This is my first knitting machine and I have no experience knitting. You mentioned your mother had a wooden knitting machine…that is very interesting…I have seen on youtube a variety of knitting machines put into action..but not a wooden one!(someone even constructed a mechanical knitting machine out of a printer)
        You are so fortunate to have grown up surrounded by creativity!

      • Mirela Says:

        Oh My! Here is the link

        . The Bond is simpler and manual, I would really love one of those automated types….computerized, programmable, complicated 🙂

      • CJ Says:

        Hi Mirela,
        It would definitely be great to have some kind of easy electronic knitting machine!
        I just joined a knitting web board in which members discuss the Ultimate Sweater Machine.
        It seems each person has their own approach to it.
        Thanks again for checking about the foam. (so much appreciated) and I will try your tips!

        here is the link to the web board:

      • Mirela Says:

        did you see this one?

      • Mirela Says:

        Hello CJ,

        I carefully looked at the needle bed for the Bond knitting machine, and the foam IS there, so do not remove it! But it is trimmed to the size of the needle bed, it can barely be seem and does not stick out at all when the two beds are put together, there should be a nicely flat match between the two when mounted, should be almost invisible…
        Check out Youtube for the Lessons or the DVD, I like to start to create a closed edge, by wrapping the yarn around each latch needle, in an e shape but loosely if it is too tight then it might jam,…I’m not sure what else to suggest, check the yarn, go slow and make sure the tension on the knitting yarn is also loose. Good luck!

  5. Dear Sir/Madam,
    I am presently manufacturing Endless Garniture Tapes on Handlooms and recently purchased a high speed needle loom to manufacture Endless Garniture Tapes used in Cigarette Industry.
    The problem is one edge of the tape becomes thick. Others are making Tapes but I find a link leaving 5mm from the edge, i.e. one weft yarn comes from right hand side and stops at 5mm width and the weft yarn which comes from the left hand side makes a link with the weft yarn that comes from right hand side.
    How can make this type of tape on high speed needle loom. Can you kindly help me in this regard.
    Best Regards,

    • mirela Says:

      Dear Acharya,
      I’m sorry, I wish I knew, but I’m not the right person to answer your question. Maybe some people with experience in working with automated weaving machines would know more…the article above is about a very basic knitting machine with just one thread, and it knits only, it does not weave.
      Best regards,

  6. You’ve got some great supplies!

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