Image by Annie Spratt

Sewing: First Tools You Need

Welcome to learning some of the basic things you may need during your cosplay experience. I hope you enjoy the read as I provide some info on tools and the very basics for crafting sewing projects.

Singer Sew – It – Goes Kit

Sewing Space

This might seem obvious, but the first tool you need is space. It’s especially difficult to sew any kind of project if you don’t have much space. It doesn’t necessarily need to be big, but perhaps a small corner to make your own personal art station. I’m fortunate enough to have a room all to myself so that’s my whole art zone. Sewing, crafting, cutting, drawing and anything in between goes on in my room. Without that space, I wouldn’t know where any of my supplies are let alone have room to lay out patterns and fabric. I also have a design table that folds and rolls so that I can move about the room when I need to with ease. It was one of the best decisions I made. I started out working in the floor, and that was a hot mess.

Sullivan Design Table
Sullivans Quilter’s Design Table – Sewing Supplies – Sewing Furniture at JOANN

Scissors

Surprisingly, there are several types of scissors that could be needed for crafting in general. These range from shears with or without pinking edges, and then standard scissors. Personally, I own a pair of standard cutting scissors, carbon steel serrated shears, pinking shears and sewing thread scissors. Each pair is its own different style, material and size based on the goal. 

  • Standard scissors: made for cutting things like paper
  • Pinking shears: a pair of scissors which have a zigzag edge to prevent fabric edges from fraying
  • Fabric shears: this pair of scissors is used to quickly cut fabric
  • Serrated scissors: these hold delicate fabrics in place with the edge and make it easier to cut said fabric
  • Thread scissors: small scissors designed for cutting thread and small details

As a cosplayer, you’ll grow to eventually remember the best reason for using each pair of scissors with experience.

Rulers

There are numerous types of rulers, and they serve purposes ranging from basic math to sewing. They come in various shapes and sizes depending on the project. They also come as grids if needed. Some of the rulers you might need for sewing include the straight ruler, the L-scale ruler, the French curve ruler, the hip curve ruler, the leg curve ruler, the arm curve ruler, the compass, the protractor, the cutting mat, the measuring tape and much more.

  • Straight ruler: standard ruler used for straight lines
  • L-scale ruler: an L-shaped ruler used for lining up corners
  • French curve: this ruler has several curves and can be used to create various curves with different radiuses
  • Hip curve: a French curve ruler specific for the hip
  • Leg curve: a French curve ruler specific for the leg 
  • Arm curve: a French curve ruler specific for the arm
  • Compass: a ruler that you can use to make large or small circles depending on the angle and radius of the circle
  • Protractor: a ruler that provides you with angles, half-cricles and curves
  • Cutting mat: normally a full, squre grid ruler that’s in the form of a mat so that you can use a rotary cutter to accurately cut fabric
  • Measuring tape: a flexible ruler used for taking body measurements

Muslin

This is a cheap fabric that you can use to make layouts and practice projects before committing to the real deal. You can also do this with any basic cotton fabric, but overall, muslin is the cheaper alternative. It can also be used for more than just practice. You can use it in your project, and it has uses outside of sewing.

It can be purchased by the yard or the bolt in most art and hobby stores as well as online. I provided two links in case you wanted to check it out for yourself and make comparisons.

Sew Essentials Bleached Muslin Fabric 36″

Tailor’s Chalk

Quite a simple but much used tool, this is just chalk. It can come in various shapes and sizes. The form I’m most acquainted with is its thin, triangle shape. It can be found online and at art stores. If you don’t have chalk or don’t want to use it, washable markers are safe, but test your fabric first before placing any official marks. Always, always, always test the fabric. 

Pattern Paper

Pattern paper is just paper that’s used for creating and designing your own patterns. As a cosplayer, this may come in handy when you need to add more to a pattern than what a commercial pattern can provide. If you want to make your entire outfit from scratch, then pattern paper is definitely a must have. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I use tracing paper on the roll and cut out my patterns from that.

Pattern Tracing Wheel

This little tool may not be entirely necessary, but it is extremely helpful. It basically is a way for you to trace your pattern onto fabric. You place down a carbon material with your pattern on top of fabric and then trace the pattern. It transfers over onto the fabric and can be quite useful when adjusting sizes.

  • Dressmaker’s carbon: this is not normal carbon you just buy in the stationery section. It is used and specially designed to help trace patterns with the pattern tracing wheel without the carbon bleeding or ruining your fabric. Always use it on the wrong side of the fabric in case you have sensitive fabric it doesn’t want to wash out on.

Needles

Needles for the machine and hand sewing needles are important. Having plenty of each on deck is essential to having a more successful sewing experience as needles on the machine could break, or you may come across a time when sewing by hand is just easier. 

Sewing Thread

Thread is always important. You need plenty of thread for your machine and to wind your bobbins when you’re ready to start crafting. I have a small collection of bobbins. Make sure they fit your machine’s model or else you may encounter problems with winding or even inserting it into the sewing machine. 

  • Bobbins: these are small, circular objects which hold thread and are essential to sewing with a machine. They provide all the stitches in your work as you sew, and they are typically model specific. Generally, Singer bobbins tend to fit most sewing machines as Singer seems to be the brand everyone looks to.

Pins and Pin Cushion

I have 2 boxes of 500 pins and a nice pin cushion my mother got for my birthday one year. They are a blessing in disguise so don’t skip out on them or the cusihion. They help hold fabric in place for your projects. They can be bought anywhere with an art department. 

Sewing Machine

I sincerely hope this one is more obvious. You can sew by hand of course, but having a machine is pretty beneficial and less time consuming. There are a ton of sewing machines out there with different brands, models and perks. It depends on what you want out of your machine. My own sewing machine is the Singer Stylist Model 7258. It has both sewing and embroidery options for me to work, but it’s also a simple machine to use. 

Final Thoughts

I know that was a lot of information to go through, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. I’ve used all the materials in here at one point or another, and will more than likely use them again. I hope that this brought some info and better understanding for anyone and everyone out there just looking around. As always, leave a comment, and happy crafting!

Eirian Silver

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10 thoughts on “Sewing: First Tools You Need

  1. WOW! You’ve really outlined this very well. I haven’t been able to find an article that is able to so detailedly offer all the information you offer here. The best part is that you actually offer the links to the products on your site and I don’t have to go look for them myself. I wanna go to cosplay here in my hometown soon and I definitely ran into the perfect site to make my outfit for the event! Thank you!

  2. Great list Annie,

    My aunt just retired and I’ve been meaning to get something for her, a sewing set would be just the thing for her. Tracing wheel, carbon paper, man I’ve forgotten a lot about sewing, it’s been a while, lucky I managed to come across your site. Do you happen to have a set or package instead for people interested in getting the whole thing as a gift?

    1. Hi and thank you for the response! Unfortunately, I personally don’t have any go-to products that have everything bundled together in one thing. The closest I can find to a full kit without having to buy so much extra is the first link I posted of the Singer Sew-It-Goes Kit. There’s numerous pieces including thread, scissors, measuring tape, thimbles and so much more. If I knew of anything else, I’d be the first to let someone know because buying everything separately can be quite tedious. If you happen to have any fabric or art stores around like Michael’s or Joann’s Fabrics and Crafts, then they might have products which can be bundled together especially with Black Friday and the holidays around the corner. I do hope you find what you’re looking for, for your aunt. 

  3. This is a very fascinating post really and just learning all this is very interesting because now I understand how to get the things that I need for me to be able to become a good tailor myself. A few of what you listed here is available but I should be able to get the rest for the market. Please rest, I’ll go and get the alone, thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for this interesting an informative read. As a young girl I was determined that it doesnt matter which career I find myself in, I will make sure that I learn to sew, I dreamt of making my kids attires with my own hands. Your article revived that dream and I really think it is doable. Thank you for the reminder and for the simple but helpful tips.

    1. I’m really glad this renewed that dream. Thank you for the comment, and I hope you find success on your endeavours. 

  5. Hello Eirian,

    First off, Great Article, really awesome and informative. I enjoyed reading through every bit of this, but that is what you crank out mate, We can sink our teeth into this and really get to worked. I have bookmarked this. I have a class on sewing once I get back to school, this is a reminder that I should just go get all of these tools and start practicing before time

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