Until recently, I had no idea how rare my sewing skills were, but I should have been clued in by the median age of the women buying fabric at the local craft store! Most are in their 50’s and 60’s. A few days ago, one of my readers, Janice, told me about stocking up sewing supplies and treadle machines. She explained, “Someday if times get really bad, I’ll be able to earn extra money by sewing clothes for people.” I think that’s a brilliant plan.
Even if you have no idea how to sew, you should still begin stocking up on supplies. Hemming a pair of pants and sewing up a rip can be learned in just a few minutes, but if you don’t have the supplies, you’ll be left tracking down a Janet in your neighborhood! To get started, here is a list of essential supplies. Be sure to utilize Craigslist, Freecycle, and garage/estate sales.
- good scissors which will only be used for cutting fabric
- quality sewing machine needles in sizes 10, 12, and at least one set of denim needles
- a rotary cutter and extra blades, useful in quilting
- rotary cutting mat
- quality hand sewing needles
- embroidery scissors
- a variety of zippers, in different sizes and colors. Neutral colors are best.
- a variety of buttons, snaps, and hook & eye closures. Whenever you are throwing out old clothes cut off the buttons and zippers.
- safety pins in various sizes
- straight pins
- iron-on patches
- fusible iron-on fabric, such as Steam-a-Seam or Stitch Witchery
- elastic in different widths
- measuring tape
- fabric glue
- thread: all-purpose and quilting. Quality thread is worth paying a bit extra for. Stock up on mostly neutral colors
- polar fleece by the yard, when it’s on sale. This can be used for blankets and for sewing cold-weather clothing, but be aware that it is flammable and shouldn’t be used for children’s clothing.
- patterns for simple, basic clothing
- batting. Even if you’ve never made a quilt in your life, a supply of batting will allow you to add padding to clothing and other sewing projects.
- other sewing notions not listed here
- at least one good sewing how-to book
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