There’s a vast amount of information online regarding what kit a budding dressmaker should own and it can feel like the list is never ending. Not to mention the escalating budget required!
Above: I’m guilty of buying way too much before I even started.
So here is, in my opinion, the absolute basic kit a beginner dressmaker/tailor will need. For less than £65.
1. A sewing machine.
This is pretty much a given. A basic machine with button hole function, zig zag stitch and adjustable stitch length should do. John Lewis Mini Sewing Machine is a bargain at £52, but has no buttonhole function. Hobbycraft stock some cheap “mini” machines, but the Brother LS14 is a great beginner model and a bargain at £69. Alternatively, you could take your chances on getting an eBay bargain.
2. Sewing machine needles.
If you’re buying a new machine, then hopefully you’ll be supplied with some spare needles. If not, you can pick some universal sewing machine needles from Hobbycraft for £1. Haber 10 Sewing Machine Needles at Asda for £1.50.
3. Dressmaking shears/scissors.
Don’t be tempted to use any household scissors, as they simply won’t be sharp enough. You can pick up a basic pair from Hobbycraft for £1.50, Korbond Dressmaking Scissors at Tesco for £7 (Update: These have been found at Wilko fo £4.50. Thanks for the tip, Clare). A word of advice – Never use dressmaking scissors on paper or anything other than fabric. They will go blunt and you won’t get accurate clean lines when cutting fabric.
4. Standard household/paper scissors.
Nothing too fancy. These scissors are to be used for cutting out paper pattern pieces and for anything else. You probably already have a pair. If not, you can pick them up almost anywhere. Find some at Hobbycraft, or Tesco for £1.
5. Hand sewing needles.
Yes, you have a machine, but believe me you will still be hand sewing at times and needles are a must. Guess where you can get a pack for £0.90? Yep, Hobbycraft. Korbond Sewing Needle compact from Tesco is £1.50. Haber multi pack of sewing needles is £1.50 at Asda.
6. Dressmaking pins
There are various different types of dressmaking pin. The most readily available are plastic round headed pins. Their only disadvantage really is that you can’t iron over them. Glass headed are preferable, or just use common sense and don’t iron the plastic bits! Grab them for £1 at Hobbycraft, or needles without heads at Tesco for £1.50. Asda have 100 Glass Headed pins for £1.50 here.
7. Seam ripper/unpicker.
These little things are indispensable! You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to want to unpick everything and try again. Also handy if you’re recycling a charity shop find and need to take it apart without cutting. Pick up a Value Crafts Seam Ripper for £1 at Hobbycraft, or for £1.50 at Tesco, and £1.25 from Asda.
8. Tailors chalk.
Essential for marking fabric. Markings then wash out or can be brushed off. £1.80 for Hemline Tailor Chalk at Hobbycraft.
9. Fabric measuring tape.
A measuring tape is a must. You need to be able to measure yourself to determine what pattern size to use and for the future when you move onto drafting your own patterns. Nothing fancy needed. An inch is an inch. Value Crafts Tape Measure at Hobbycraft for £1. Korbond Tape Measure from Tesco is £1.75. Haber at Asda for £1.25.
With the items above you’ll be able to start experimenting and creating, once you’ve picked up your fabric/old clothing and the right thread. As you learn techniques you will find yourself picking up additional kit, but at this stage, don’t get more than you need.
What would you class as essential for a beginner dressmaker? Share your suggestions below!
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Hobbycraft, Tesco or Asda. I have not received any payment for this post. My opinions are purely my own and based on items I have purchased privately. Prices and availability of items were correct at time of posting.