Hand Sewing

Equipment to Use

Hand sewing is one of those things that you tend to either love or hate. It is, however, necessary to be able to hand sew in order to produce high quality items

Having the right equipment makes it a lot easier. A comfortable chair which allows you to sit upright is the first thing to acquire. A small table beside the chair allows you to keep yourequipment  and a lamp to illuminate your work near by.

The lamp is most useful if it uses a natural light bulb. I once asked my doctor about getting stronger glasses in order to see my sewing better at night. His answer was to illuminate my work better, as my eyes were corrected properly and the problem was, no doubt, the lack of sufficient lighting.

An attractive sewing box adds a decorative note, but a plain shoebox works well to collect thenecessary items. Among these items, I would include the following:

Image showing several basic sewing needs for beginners including pin cushion, measuring tape, scissors


  • A pin cushion with an emery -- the old fashioned tomato pincushion with the strawberry emery works well, or you can make your own. I'll write how to do that later. The pincushion stores your needles and pins, and the emery sharpens them when you insert and withdraw a needle or pin several times.
  • A folder of various types and sizes of handsewing needles -- John James of England is an excellent brand.
  • Good quality dressmaking scissors -- Of those brands often available, Fiskars is a well-known brand, although I prefer the Gingher brand, since it fits better in my hand. Be sure to get a pair that works for your dominant hand.
  • Thread -- Please buy a name brand of good thread; a couple of brand names that come to mind are JP Coats and Guterman Thread. It comes in various fibers (cotton, polyester-cotton, rayon, and silk, for example), but for most sewing a good spool of polyester-cotton thread suffices.
  • Needle threader -- These are very convenient to use, allowing quick and easy needle threading. Before using, put a drop of glue where the fine wire is connected to the handle and allow to dry thoroughly. This gives strength to the weakest part of the threader.
  • Thread snips -- These little snips are u-shaped, with sharp blades on the upper points of the u. One quick snick with them and stray threads are trimmed away.
  • Straight pins -- I prefer Dritz glass head straight pins, because I can iron over them without melting a plastic head into my fabric. If you're careful when ironing and don't iron over the heads, Dritz Color Ball or Extra Long Color Ball pins are good for general sewing.
  • A good quality sewing tape measure -- favorites are the Dritz Lifetime Tape Measure and the Clover "Shiro"  Tape Measure (which is retractable). These differ from the builders' tape measure, because the sewing tape measure is much more flexible. Whatever you choose, try to find one that does not stretch, since this causes the length measurements to be wrong.
  • Beeswax in a little container -- Slide your thread through the slots in the container to coat it with wax. This makes it stronger and less likely to knot or tangle up.
  • Hemming gauge -- These little six inch rulers with the sliding part are very handy and not just for hems. Just be careful not to bend it, because you simply cannot straighten it without distorting the size and shape of the ruler.
  • Thimble -- I know these are not really popular with a lot of sewists, but the new leather thimbles are much easier to wear and are truly helpful when handsewing.
  • Seam ripper -- This is something I use a lot. If the seam does not look right, if the stitching is crooked, if I've sewn the wrong pieces together (again!), this little tool saves the day!
  • Small container for the buttons that invariably accumulate -- they will!