The Holiday Season is upon us! Giving is EVERYWHERE and the modern cosplayer (be they new or veteran) is out seeking only the BEST deals for their supplies aka plunder. So just WHERE do those of us who revel in sewing, patterning, sewing some more and seamlessly ironing shop? Allow me to enlighten you and offer a warning: there is no going back from this knowledge. You will forever want to shop for supplies from the following locations…if you’re still reading then you accept the shopping risk so let’s sally forth!
Sewing…where for art thou sewing machine? All kidding aside sewing is serious business. When I first started I really did not understand just WHAT I was doing and I DID NOT have all the supplies required. Let’s help you get a step ahead of yourself with this fantastic sewing supplies and tools list! Here is what you will need to get started…
- A Sewing Machine: I would like to recommend the machine below for beginners and advanced users looking to buy their first or replace and existing sewing machine: Brother CS6000i.
- Sewing Machine Needles
- Hand Sewing Needles: You WILL need these for small items such as embroidery, beads, patches and/or buttons.
- Pin Tomato
- Straight Pins: These are necessary to help you tailor items, line up fabric or pin together a mockup.
- Tailor’s Chalk and/or Fabric Pens: Every seamstress/tailor needs to draw on fabric at some point (especially with purchased patterns being so fragile) so make sure you grab one or both of these. They are project savers!
- Bobbins: I like to buy pre-made ones but any will do so long as they match your sewing machine model.
- Thread: Buying basic colors (black, white, blue, red, green and yellow) will help A LOT. There are different weights to thread so if you have questions please don’t be afraid to consult people online OR check with the staff at your local fabric store.
- A Sewing 101 book: PLEASE grab a book, join a sewing club OR find SOME place where you can learn the basics of your machine, how to use it and common sewing practices (this will save you TIME and MONEY). I would like to recommend THIS book.
- Miscellaneous/Optional Supplies:
- Folding Board
- Ironing Board
- Sewing Table
- Sewing Ruler
- No Fray Fabric Chemical
- Fabric Glue
Now that you have the tools it’s time to consider fabric. Most pre-made patterns (like Kwik-Sew or McCalls) suggest fabric on the back of the pattern break down. For those who want to ignore that information and/or those making there own patterns here is a really basic guide for common fabrics and what they are typically used to create…
- Cotton: This is one of the MOST common fabric types. It’s mid weight, hardy, ages well and is used in the following types of clothing: Jeans, Shirts, Underwear, Upholstery, SOME jackets, etc. It’s easy for beginner sewers however; it does not have much give so your measurements MUST include seam allowance.
- Polyester/Terylene: Strong, cheap, doesn’t wrinkle and is GREAT for loose clothing.
- Poly-Cotton Blends: The best of both worlds. It doesn’t wrinkle easy, is light weight, hardy, inexpensive, ages well and is very easy to work with. It has a bit more give but still requires seam allowance when patterning.
- Spandex/Lycra: VERY strethcy, tends to avoid wrinkling, is good for form fitting garments however; it’s prone to rippling if the tension is off on your sewing machine or the fabric is pulled too tight during sewing. It also ages faster than other fabrics due to constant pulling on the fibers.
- Silk: Typically dry clean only, wrinkles easy, incredibly light weight; this is best for dresses or undergarments that are expected to flow. It’s difficult to work with and often expensive.
- Leather: Strong, absorbent, durable, ages well when treated with care, easy to wash (NOT machine washable) and easy to change the color of. This is great for corsets, bracers, armor or pieces of clothing that require a great deal of support. It can be difficult to work depending on the animal it came from (example: doe skin is easier than a boar’s skin).
You’re starting to get the hang of sewing or you’re feeling more confident when someone hits you with a phrase you’ve never heard of. To help prepare you for you sewing lifestyle, here is some terminology you should be familiar with…
- Selvage: This is the finished edge on a fabric that keeps it from fraying/unraveling.
- Fabric Grain: This is the direction of the fabric’s fibers, cutting with the fabrics reduces fraying while cutting against increases it.
- Bias: A bias is the diagonal between the grain and selvage; often the bias is at a 45 degree angle of the selvage.
- Right/Wrong Sides of Fabric: Most Fabric will have a matte back to help you determine which side is the side that is meant to be displayed and which should be on the inside.
- Stitch vs. Seam: A stitch is a single loop of thread and a seam is a series of stitches that keep two pieces of fabric together and/or add as a decorative additive to a garment.
- Back Stitch: Back stitching is done when you reverse your stitch and sew back over where you have already sewn; this is a good way to keep your seam strong at the start and finish.
- Basting Stitch: A basting stitch is a temporary long loop that can run along a seam; it’s meant for temporary tests such as costume mock ups or to tailor a fit to someone before placing a more permanent seam.
- Top Stitch: This is when you create visible seams on top of the right side of the fabric.
- Seam Allowance: This is when you add additional distance between the fabric and it’s sewn line (often used to allow additional space should you cut a pattern too close).
- Hem: This is a technique where you take a fabric’s raw edge and fold it up underneath itself to create a seamless look.
- Interfacing: This is used to stabilize and/or enhance a weaker fabric.
- Applique: This is when you sew one piece of fabric on top of the right side of another.
- Fusing: There are products that, when heat is applied to them, will act as glue to hold your seams together instead of using thread.
- Gathering: This is when you take a piece of fabric pull thread through it so it bunches together; often this is used in skirts and shirts to create loose pleats.
There are many other terms, tools, supplies and fabrics to explore out in the world. Now that you have some ammunition, get on out there are tackle the sewing world to your heart’s content! Happy sewing to you all!