Before choosing your fabric or pattern it’s incredibly important that you have all the tools you need, there’s nothing worse than starting your first dressmaking project and realising that you are missing a crucial piece of equipment.
Fabric Measuring Tools
Tape Measure: Having a tape measure to hand can be indispensable, especially when you’re taking measuring or making alterations. We’d suggest investing in a tape-measure that rolls up rather than retracts into a case to make your life easier.
Tailor’s Chalk: Tailor’s chalk allows you to easily mark your fabric when you’re measuring it and preparing to cut it. It will work on most materials and is easily removed, making it a popular tool in the sewing world.
Pencil, Ruler & Rubber: These three tools are essential to any dressmaker’s sewing kit as they come in handy when you need to make alterations to your patterns.
Dress Cutting Tools
Dressmaker’s Shears: Also referred to as dressmaker’s scissors, these scissors have serrated edges that are ideal for cutting out all types of fabric, including leather and denim. We’d suggest investing in a high-quality pair that come with a sheath to keep them in after every use. It’s also worth knowing that these types of scissors aren’t designed to cut paper or thread, as this will blunt their edge.
Paper Scissors: As dressmaker’s shears shouldn’t be used for cutting paper, its best practise to have an ordinary pair of scissors in your dressmaking kit so you’re able to cut out patterns as and when you need to. Small,
Sharp Scissors: A pair of small, sharp scissors are also useful for cutting thread.
Rotary Cutter: A rotary cutter is a tool that can save you hours of time. As the blade rotates, it makes it easy to cut layers of fabric simultaneously, whilst giving you a clean cutting edge. Cutting Mat: If you’re using a rotary cutter, you’ll also need a cutting mat to protect your work surface. We’d recommended choosing the largest size you can to make sure you can fit all your fabric on at once.
A sewing machine will become your new best friend as you start dress-making. There will be some patterns that require you to hand sew, but for the majority of your sewing you will need a sewing machine. If you don’t own a sewing machine then we would advise investing in a sturdy machine that has multiple stitching options.
With your sewing machine you’ll need to invest in a range of different sewing machine needles depending on what fabric and weight you working with. You can find more information about the different types of sewing machine needles on page?
Especially if you’re just starting out, you’re bound to make mistakes, so you’ll want a seam ripper to un-pick stitches.
Extra Sewing Feet
Having extra sewing feet will not only make your life easier when it comes to sewing trickier stitches, but won’t hinder your project if one snaps mid-sew.
Even though most of your work will be sewn with a sewing machine, you will need some hand-sewing needles for elements such as intricate detailing. Standard hand-sewing needles will do the job perfectly,
Keep your work station tidy with a pin cushion. Most sewing kits will come with a traditional fabric pin cushion, however a handy alternative is a magnetic pin cushion, as it means you no longer need to worry about finding pins lying about on the floor.
Protect your thumb when you’re hand sewing with a thimble. Make sure you purchase one that is non-slip to prevent it from moving about as you sew.
An ironing board isn’t an extravagant tool you’ll need for dressmaking, but you need to make sure that your ironing board is sturdy and the height can be adjusted. It’s also worth ensuring your ironing board is in a good condition; one with a reflective cover gives the best surface for pressing.
The best iron for dressmaking is one that is heavier than you’d choose for your household chores. The plate should have plenty of holes to let out steam and should have a non-stick surface. A narrower tip is also useful for pressing those hard to reach areas.
A pressing cloth is a piece of fabric that is laid between your iron and your garment to help protect them from the iron’s heat. To begin with a cotton muslin pressing cloth will do the job, but as you become more advanced, it’s worth investing in a variety of different pressing cloths made from different fabrics.
Sometimes called a dressmaker’s ham, a tailor’s ham is a solid cushion that makes it easy for pressing curved seams such as collars, princess seams and darts. It’s filled with sawdust which makes it mouldable, and one side is usually covered in cotton and the other in wool.