Remember when you were young and you play so hard that you ended up ripping a hole in your clothes? Then your mom was able to patch it up good as new for you. She always seemed to have the right tools around to make repairs.

As grown adults, we should all have the essential sewing repair tools around for everything from emergency repairs to sewing projects. Just like you have your basic toolbox with your hammer, screwdriver, tape measure, screws, and wrenches around for making home repairs and household projects as needed, it’s useful to have a basic sewing kit around too.

So what are the basic sewing kit tools and where can you find them?

1.  Scissors

Scissors may seem like a given for a sewing kit, but only one pair of regular old scissors just won’t do for all of your sewing needs. With fabrics and threads, regular scissors just aren’t going to cut it (pun intended).

For maximum utility of your sewing kit, you’ll need three pairs.

  • Shears – A quality pair of dressmaker shears are a must-have for any sewing kit because regular scissors aren’t good enough for cutting through fabric.

    The rule of thumb is if you have to work hard at cutting fabric, your shears aren’t good enough. Make sure to invest in a good pair and only use them for fabric.

    When shopping for shears, it’s important to note that hairdressers also refer to their clippers as “shears.” So if you are searching online for a pair, make sure you’re looking for fabric shears rather than hairdresser shears.

    Quality shears run anywhere from $20 to $80. You can find decent pairs of shears on Amazon. Fiskars is a highly recommended brand by many sewists.
  • Sewing ScissorsSometimes referred to as thread nippers, these scissors are often only two to five inches long. This pair is for all your thread snipping needs. Your shears and even regular scissors, are too big for cutting threads and clipping close to seam lines, so sewing scissors are necessary.

    You can find a good pair for cheap at any craft store, fabric store, Amazon, or any other online store. There are sharp, quality ones made by Westcott for less than $4.
  • Utility/Paper ScissorsThese are just your classic pair of scissors that you already probably have in your office drawer. You use these scissors for everything but fabric and thread. It’s always good to have these handy.

    Of course, you can walk into just about any craft and office supplies store and find these for cheap. The classic orange-handled Fiskars pair will do you just fine. And they’re only $4!

2. Measuring Tools

    • Ruler – Like your utility scissors, you probably already have a 12” ruler lying around somewhere. That’s good, but what you need is a see-through ruler so that you can see what you’re measuring while making sure your lines are straight. You can easily find these at any craft or office store for cheap, but a decent one with horizontal and vertical lines runs at about $10.

      Just make sure it’s not one of those bendy rulers because you need one that’s going to keep its shape.
  • Tape Measure – You need a tape measure to take body measurements. Do yourself a favor and get a pair that’s labeled on both sides. It just makes measurements way easier to make.

          These run at around $5.

  • Seam GaugeThis is just a small ruler with a sliding plastic piece in the center making it easy to mark seams. It’s good for those small measurements.

    Dritz makes a 6” seam gauge for $4.

3. Thread

Thread, glorious thread. You don’t have to worry about having a big collection to start, but it is nice to have a broad spectrum of colors in your kit. Just make sure you at least have the black and the white thread.

For the basic kit, you want to get the all-purpose thread. There are many different types of thread for various projects, but most essential repairs don’t call for anything more than all-purpose thread.
You can get a 30 color set of 50-yard thread spools for as little as $14.

4. Needle

  • Sewing Machine Needles – It’s best to start each new sewing machine project with a new sewing needle. Sewing machine needles move fast and quickly get dull. All you need for a basic kit is a pack of universal sewing machine needles. You use these needles on woven fabrics. Stick to the size 80/12.

    You can get a Singer brand pack of 10 for $5.
  • Hand Sewing NeedlesAn assorted pack of hand sewing needles with various eye sizes and point styles is essential for any basic sewing kit. Plus, they’re super cheap!

    Dritz does a 50 pack of needles for $3.50.  

5. Needle Threaders

There’s nothing more endlessly frustrating than trying to put the end of the thread through the tiny eye of the needle. The needle threader saves you time and sanity. It may be a little tricky to use at first, but once you got it, you got it.

The wire loop of the needle threader goes through the eye of the needle, the thread passes through the loop of the threader, pull the threader out of the needle eye and voila— the deed is done.

This a fundamental tool and extremely inexpensive. It’s even less expensive if you buy it in a pack with either needles or threads, so try to avoid buying them on their own unless you’re dead set on building a stock of them.

You can get 100 of them for less than $2.

6. Seam Rippers

Sometimes you get into a groove with the sewing machine, or even with your hand needle, and you mess up some stitches. Chances are you got one with your sewing machine, but invest in a good sharp one. They’re only about $4.

7. Pins and Pincushion

Pins come in handy for various reasons during sewing projects. But you don’t want to lose them on the floor and take a pin to the foot, so make sure you get pins with colored balls on the top, so they’re easier to spot.
Metal or glass pins are best because they don’t melt as plastic ones do under the heat of an iron. Whatever you do, make sure you use a pin cushion. Pins do not belong in your mouth. It only takes one sharp inhale from a cough or sneeze to take a pin in the lung.

You can get a set of 150 glass head pins with a pin cushion for as little as $10.

8. Steam Iron and Ironing Board

Well-pressed seams make even the most basic sewing projects look professional. For this, it’s nice to have a quality steam iron and an ironing board. You preferably want an iron that lets you control the amount of steam. Those irons run as little as $15.

Ironing boards come in all kinds of sizes. Choose whatever size and height work for you, just be sure it’s well-padded with cotton material and is sturdy. One like this works just fine and only costs $30.

9. Marking Tools

You’ll want to get at least one of the following tools to help you mark measurements on your fabrics without leaving a permanent mark.

  • Pen – Not a ballpoint pen, a water soluble marking pen. This tool allows you to draw on the fabric without leaving a stain. You just have to wipe it away with a damp cloth or wash it out later. These pens come as cheap as $3.50.
  • Fabric pencilAgain, not your average pencil. These pencils make markings that easily wash out. There are both white and darker pencils, depending on the color of your fabric. Soapstone fabric pencils are good and only cost about $4 a piece.
  • Chalk Nope, not sidewalk chalk. Fabric chalk. It’s a good option for softer fabrics like fleece or some wools. They come as either tailor’s chalk (which create thick lines) or in a chalk wheel (thin lines). Tailor’s chalk runs as low as $4.


A basic sewing kit is a must-have that’s easy to put together. If you were keeping score throughout this guide, (and assuming you don’t already have any of these items in your home), you could put together a stellar basic sewing kit for around $145 on Amazon!

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