Best sewing accessories for confident sewing – cutting, measuring and marking tools

Best sewing Tools for cutting, measuring and marking

With so many sewing accessories, tools and gadgets, which are worth spending your money on?

 

See my guide for best sewing accessories if you are a beginner and need to buy your first sewing kit, or if you are a confident sewer and want to know if there are products that will make your sewing life easier.

 

BEST SEWING ACCESSORIES aka the must haves!

When people ask me which is the part of sewing I enjoy the least I always say THE PREP. The preparation of the fabric, pattern, tracing, cutting and all that goes with it. This is where most of my project time goes into and this is why I have invested in few items that make this part slightly less daunting. I will go through the items I use in every project, as they have been tried and tested many times, they are categorised by their function.

This is part 1 where I cover basic cutting measuring and marking tools. Part 2 with more sewing goodies coming soon.

CUTTING & MEASURING ACCESSORIES

cutting tools, scissors, rotary cutter

Shopping List:

1x SEWING SCISSORS

1 x SMALL ALL PURPOSE SCISSORS

1 x ROTARY CUTTER

1 x CUTTING MAT

1 x QUILTING RULER

If you are just starting out then go for the basics, one pair of sewing scissors/shears that you use for the fabric only and one pair of smaller scissors for all other jobs (cutting thread, cutting out the pattern etc.)

Remember lock up your fabric shears away so that nobody uses them for other jobs in the house, if you use them to only cut the fabric, they will last you a lifetime.

Don’t spend a fortune on it, the good pair of shears should not be over £25. My pair is from the IKEA sewing kit which is about £20 for the entire set (including all other accessories). Don’t be tempted to overspend as you might end up like me, using your rotary cutter for 90% of the cutting .

Since I discovered the rotary cutter, I hardly ever use anything else. It is super sharp, with inexpensive blades and makes 100% perfect cutting lines no matter what fabric. It’s essential for cutting stretch and slippery fabric as they do not get misshapen while cutting, or for quilting to cut those perfect squares or triangles. Most cutters have a 45 mm blade and you can use the blades from other makers to fit your cutter as long as they are 45 mm.

mat, rotary cutter, quilting ruler
Rotary cutter and quilting ruler in action.

In order to use your rotary cutter you need to cut it on the self-healing cutting mat that will not ruin your table or floor. The size that I found best for over three years is 43 cm x 56 cm (17 inch x 23 inch). It is large enough to cut pattern pieces, make your own biased binding and be portable (I did sew a special travel bag for it to make it more handy). Since I’m now making more sewing projects day by day, I have decided to upgrade my cutting mat to a size bigger (60 cm x 90 cm) , but it will stay put on my desk as it will be too big for taking it to classes.

Most if not all cutting mats have one side in metric and the other in imperial measurements with additional handy lines across representing different angles, which you will use later in your sewing when making biased binding etc.

Finally, in the cutting category we have an item that I only got a year after I got my mat, and oh I wish I got it sooner! A humble quilting ruler, also known as Omni Grid. It’s made of see through plastic with imperial markings going both horizontally and vertically. It has so many functions, I could write an entire page only about that, but in short, it helps you cut material on the cutting mat as it hold the material down while you cut it with rotary cutter.

It also helps you positioning the pattern pieces against the grain line (especially important for jeans). I have used it countless times to mark my hem (I would put the unhemmed dress on the dress form and use the quilting ruler to measure distance from the floor to my desired hem length and mark it around the dress to sew perfectly even hem). For avid quilters, it will help you to make sure your quilting pieces are identical and aligned. And 100+ more uses.

This is the only ruler I use nowadays, this plus a tape measure is all you need.

MARKING ACCESSORIES 
fabric chalk pen, chalk liner
Marks left by chalk pen; chaco liner; chalk; multi-colour chalk pen

Shopping List:

1x CLOVER CHACO LINER

1 x FABRIC CHALK PENCIL (e.g. clover or koh-i-noor multicolour one)

optional: 1x ERASABLE FABRIC MARKER

optional but great for darts!: 1x CARBON TRACING SHEETS

When it comes to tracing the markings from the pattern to your fabric, I only ever use a chalk pencil (blue on the picture) or scissors to snip the notches instead of marking them with pencil. I love Clover Chaco Liners (pink on the picture) to make straight lines and mark out things quickly. They have a tiny wheel on the end that distributes the chalk in a perfectly straight line, the downside is that the chalk is very fine and this results in the lines disappearing quite quickly. Mine are pink and white, to allow for all fabric colours and always have a contracting one.

I know a lot of people use the fabric markers, which are water erasable or iron-off (markings disappear with heat), however I have only ever bought one, and by the time I ended up using it, it has dried off. I get all my marking using chalk pencil and chalk liner and if all fails, I turn to old trusted pencil.

tracing wheel and carbon tracing paper One item that I would recommend buying with time, as you sew more and more, would be a tracing wheel to use with carbon tracing paper. It works on the same principle as old typing machines used to: you buy sheets covered with colour carbon, place them between your material and your pattern (colour carbon facing the wrong side of the fabric) and you use a tracing wheel to go over the markings on the pattern sheet you want to trace to your material. It’s particularly great for tracing darts, pleats and other long lines you may need to mark into your fabric. Downside, it sometimes doesn’t wash off completely, so always use it on the wrong side of your fabric.

Whatever you end up using, make sure you have at least two colours, one that will be visible on light fabrics (e.g.  blue, pink) and one that will stand out on the dark fabrics (e.g. white, yellow).

My guide to best sewing tools will continue in the next blog post where I will go over more basic tools like pins but also will include lesser used, but equally useful items like biased binding maker, magnetic seam guide, jean-a-magic and more!

Check our part 2 of my guide to the best sewing tools, right HERE 🙂

GET YOUR SEWING TOOLS

If you fancy getting any of the products described above, find the links below to both UK and Spanish amazon sites. As we don’t have many online choices in Spain, I tend to order from them and top up my sewing box on frequent visits to lovely UK haberdasheries. We only recommend products we have personally used, and by purchasing the products through the links below you support our sewing community, as the profits from the affiliate program are used to pay hosting fees for this website and our blog. Thank you for using the provided links. If there is a particular product you wish to purchase  let us know and we will publish a dedicated link for it.

Please visit dedicated product page with all the items listed. >>> VISIT PRODUCT PAGE 

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