Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Confession

Last week I compared a sewing room to a kitchen pantry, and asked what supplies you stock up on. You told me that your equivalents to salt, pepper and olive oil are interfacing, elastic and thread.

This week, let's move from the kitchen to the garage - what are the basic tools that every sewing room should have? What are your equivalents to hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and drills?

If you had a friend who just finished her first sewing class and wanted to set up her own sewing room, what are the basic tools that you would tell her to get?

And don't forget your dream sewing room - what special tool(s) will you buy when you win the lottery? ;)

Photo credit: barto


CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

Sewing machine - in excellent working order. The machine doesn’t have to be new but it has to have the ability to sew a straight stitch, zigzag stitch and button hole.

Adjustable zipper foot for your sewing machine.

heavy iron,

ironing board

silk organza for pressing cloth

Good scissors – don’t skimp on scissors because you will be sorry.


Cutting table – it will save your back.

Pins and Pin cushion

Tailors chalk or marking paper, tracing wheel

Seam ripper

Measuring tape

Measuring gauge
I have two and use them all the time

curved stick
for making changes to you patterns

Good lighting - save your eyesight

Comfortable chair

Serger - You don't have to have a serger but sure does make sewing a lot easier.

Computer - visit blogs for inspiration and help. visit sewing forums for reviews of stores, patterns and help.

My dream sewing room would have:

Coverstitch machine

sewing cabinet - Ergonomic cabinet which holds sewing machine, serger and coverstitch machine

an industrial machine - 'cause I want it

Smooth flooring for easy chair movement.

Plenty of closet and cabinet space

Zep said...

I have a blog post about this for my students:

I was going to cut and paste it here but it's too long.

I'm lucky to say I have my perfect sewing room at my sewing center. I have everything I need from dress forms to steam press. The only thing I could wish for is a baby lock singer is always breaking down.

Having the right tools to work with could make all the difference in the world. This includes different styles of pressure feet like a ruffle foot It's nice to have otherwise you're measuring and pressing each fold before sewing. Some things just make it easier but aren't necessary to have.

Zep said...

Oh, I forgot one more thing.
I love the little seam guides (lifts)which are magnets and stick on the 5/8" (or whatever you want to follow). My students sew really straight lines with them.

mamafitz said...

for me:

a few pairs of GOOD QUALITY scissors (i have 3), this way when you need one sharpened, you still have some.

thread clips/snips

good iron (i have a gravity feed which i LOVE) and good solid ironing board with a plain white or off white cover (i don't like printed covers), press cloth (i have a silk organza one and a muslin one), sleeve board and tailor's ham.

good sharp pins, i much prefer glass head pins. pincushion (regular or magnetic, regular for me)

needles (my faves are straw or milliner needles), silk thread for marking/basting

seam ripper/hem gauge

cardboard cutting mat. i can put this on my dining room table or my kitchen table, and can pin directly to it. i don't like to use a rotary cutter for cutting out clothing.

however, a rotary cutter and mat are fantastic for cutting bias strips (and a must have if you like to make quilts).

i can't think of what else i use. i don't use specialty presser feet (i only use the regular foot, zipper foot, 1/4" foot for quilts, buttonhole foot, and free-motion foot).

Towanda said...

A comfortable table and chair, good lighting. Storage containers.

The best sewing machine that you can afford. A serger if you can afford it. An assortment of sewing machine feet especially a zipper foot and an edgestitch foot.

Heavy duty ironing board, heavy iron (I love my gravity feed), 2 silk organza press cloths - 1 for pressing and 1 for fusing interfacing, manila folders for pressing seams and templates, pressing ham and clapper or tailor board (I used a brick wrapped in aluminum foil for a clapper).

Good scissors, thread snips and a rotary cutter. A rotary cutting board. A cutting table set at the right height. Pins and multiple pin cushions. Plenty of seam rippers. Sewing needles in different sizes. Hand sewing needles. Extra bobbins.

Measuring tape, 18 inch metal ruler and seam gauges. Bamboo skewers or an awl.

Tailors chalk, marking paper, silk thread and embroidery floss for making tailor tacks.

My current setup is close to my dream sewing room. The only thing missing is more space and an unlimited budget for fabric and notion shopping.

gMarie said...

I agree with just about everything that has been said. I few things I didn't see:

I actually have a hammer - for inserting eyelets, grommets and snaps;

rotary cutting tools;

I really like my quilting type chalk marking mechanical pencil. There are different colors of chalk and it's easy to change between colors.

I love all my accessory feet and do actually use quite a few of them.

I think that's it :)

m.millar said...

all of your fabric in plain, neat view. really nice scissors. a couple of machines (i have 7). chalks of every color. endless thread. bobbin winder. thread snips. rotary cutter & mat. acrylic rulers. dress forms. the list is endless....

Jen said...

My needs are pretty simple, really. I just need these:
-- good scissors
-- iron and board
-- seam ripper
-- 6" measuring gauge
-- measuring tape
-- several white and black bobbins I've wound

Now I have a nice Pfaff machine, a good serger, a decent sized table, several feet for my machine (which also does hooped embroidery), and tons of thread and fabric.

But honestly, what I really use all the time are those things I listed.

Anonymous said...

I do agree about the sewing machine, but I disagree about zig zag and button hole stitches. I think I have had one machine that's done a zig zag in 20 years of sewing, and yes I can sew stretch fabrics on mine.

I'll hit on the more unusual things I use all the time that haven't been mentioned.

Button hole attachment: IMO makes the best buttonholes and the gal I used to take them to to get them "professionally" done used the same old 40s Singer attachment.

Sleeve board. I use this more then I don't and was the best use of $15 on Amazon ever.

Lamps. I sew at night and I need light. I need it in the daytime too.

A coaster and ashtray. I drink coffee and smoke, you live. I also tend to forget these things so I have to hop up and go and get them anyway. It's easier to leave them there. Even if you don't smoke, an ashtray is good to throw thread (just don't do it if you smoke).

Magnets. Pins, carpets and my cat do not mix, plus I can throw one onto the machine and have an instant seam guide.

Patience. This is possibly the one thing you do need.

Really, I'm fairly simple with my sewing. I use what I have on hand, even if it wasn't meant for sewing.

As to dream things, all I really want is a blind stitch attachment, the art deco one and a set of dressmaker rulers. I don't think I would change anything I do have, and the few things I use one in a blue moon (like an embroidery machine) my mother has and I'm the only one that can work the programs on the computer anyway, so I get the stupid things I want. I wouldn't upgrade my machine, and I wouldn't get a serger. I'm kind of happy with the whole vintage and harder work. As to helping someone set up, unless they are on a budget of oh, $20, I'm not the person to ask.

Becky said...

Absolute musts: a sewing machine (and I will agree with the straight stitch/zigzag/buttonhole). (And extra needles!) Sharp scissors only designated for fabric. Pins, hand-sewing needles, seam ripper, seam gauge, iron/board, even if it's just one of the ironing pads. (I've done enough sewing away from my usual space, such as when visiting friends, that I've learned to improvise!), clear gridded ruler for checking grainlines on patterns or giving a straightedge, measuring tape. And, of course, fabric!!! (And someone to ask for help/advice, whether in person or online!)

Nice to have when getting more serious about it: rotary cutter/mat (unless you're a quilter, then add this to the must-haves--since I primarily make clothes this is more of an afterthought for me personally), ironing ham/sleeve roll (I've gotten away with not using them when I must, but they're good to have), some kind of dress form even if it's just duct tape, point turner, tube turners. (My mom also taught me to use hemostats, like the medical clamps, to help with these because you can actually grab the fabric with it.) I love my serger. Also, some kind of tracing paper to trace out/modify patterns or create your own. And some of the specialty feet--the ones I tend to use the most are the walking foot and invisible zipper foot.

Dream sewing space: I'm not exactly sure what a coverstitch machine does, but it could be fun!

Btw, thanks for the timeliness of this one-- I'm trying to consolidate my supplies into a basic kit that I can take for sewing on the go (since I occasionally travel to friends' houses and sew with them), so this is a great way to evaluate my must-haves!

meredithp said...

Hard to find something not listed, but here are my faves, particularly the more unusual and less expensive ones. Don't get me wrong, believe me, I spend money on sewing and supplies, but there are a lot of great tools that aren't necessarily expensive, or are well worth investing in:
-good iron-mine's gravity feed-not very expensive when the cost is spread over 15-20 years.
-point presser/clapper combo (if I could have only one pressing tool, this would be it)
-wooden "seam stick". I resisted buying these for years, thinking they were silly and overpriced. Use it ALL the time, particularly the long one for pant seams. The short one can substitute for a sleeve roll.
-Dry press for fusing interfacing. My husband surprised me with one years ago (from Sams). It's the best thing ever for fusing on interfacing, doing a beautiful, durable and time-saving job. I like the dry press because there aren't little holes on the iron surface.
-Hanging storage for rulers (pegboard, hanging grid, hooks, whatever)
-Pressing pad rather than an ironing board
-metal "yardsticks" from the hardware store. These are fairly recent: I have a 3 ft. and a 4ft. metal ruler from Home Depot. They were inexpensive and surprisingly useful. Sometimes it's helpful to have a really long straight edge.

OK, not so cheap: Cutting table at counter height.
-SM (obviously) and a serger really made a difference in the "inside" quality of my garments

I could go on and on...

Summerset said...

While I am not a gadget person by any means, and although I have a decent amount of sewing specific stuff, here is what I use the most and find indispensible for sewing:

good scissors - one pair for cutting fabric *only* and one pair of snips or clippies; a back up pair isn't a bad idea either.

good rulers

good pins

straw needles - I use these for almost all hand sewing.

water soluble marking pen/white pencil

sewing machine

good steam iron/ironing board/press cloth

That's really what I have to have, I've been sewing for a long time and even couture-like sewing boils down to good basics (and a lot of practiced skill!).