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20 Basic Sewing Tools for Garment Making

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

We are often asked what notions and tools work best for garment making. So we have compiled this list of our favorite basic garment-making tools to get you started. It also includes some basic notions and tools that we use when we do leatherwork. Keep in mind that this list is based on our personal likes of what we have used and know to work well.

1. Sewing Machine

A basic machine (such as a Singer or Brother) is good for simple smaller projects and light leatherwork. If you are able to make an investment in a long-term machine that can handle a lot of leatherwork, you will want to invest in a heavier-duty machine (such as a Husqvarna or Janome).

2. Sewing Machine Lights

This one is definitely a luxury buy as it is not necessary to get the job done but it does make life feel so much brighter! Just stick these to your machine and it gives you better lighting as you sew.

3. Sewing Machine Needles

Your machine will come with needles, ideally, you would want to keep with the brand of needles that match your machine, however, most machines can use any brand of needles. We like Schmetz sewing machine needles. For most fabric sewing you will need a universal 80/12 needle, for leather work you will want to use the leather 18/110 needle.

4. Thread

Polyester, or 100% cotton, threads work fine.

5. Bobbins

You will want a pack of bobbins so that you can have them in many colors. Every machine uses a different type-some metal and some plastic. So double-check your user's manual to know which kind you need.

6. Seam Ripper

A tool mainly used to open seams, remove stitches, and open buttonholes

7. Pins/Clips

You will want to get both. For fabrics, pins will work fine. For leatherwork, you will need clips.

8. Fabric Marking Pen or Chalk

Occasionally you will need to make a mark on your fabric or leather where you will need to cut or show where other features will be placed. Both fabric pens and chalk pens both work well.

9. Scissors

You will need a good pair of scissors that are dedicated to cutting fabric/leather only. These must be kept separate from all other scissors because they will quickly become dull if they are used to cut anything else.

10. Exacto Knife

These knives are designed for cutting intricate designs and can even dub as a seam ripper.

11. Rotary Cutter

This makes cutting most long strip projects and fringing leather easier.

12. Self-Healing Cutting Mat

You will want a small size (around 8"x 6") for your studding projects and a larger size (18" x 24") to be able to cut your projects on.

13. Ruler

A see-through ruler will come in handy to measure and cut fabric and leather. We usually get the 24” x 6" ruler.

14. Glue

For simple fabrics, the Fabric Fusion glue works well. For leather work, the Tandy's Leathercraft or Leather Weld works best.

15. Lighter

When working with bullion fringes or other materials that do tend to fray easily, a quick burn of the ends is a great way to prevent fraying.

16. Organizer Box

This is a must as you will have much to store, there are so many different types of boxes that can be used that you could not go wrong with whatever you choose. Here are a few of our personal favorites, the tackle box, the stackable box, and the three drawer box.

17. Fringing Ruler (for leatherwork)

This amazing ruler will make fringing your leather and headbands super easy and quick!

18. Studding Tools (for leatherwork)

When it comes to studding your leather there are 2 main types of studding tools, diamond chisel, and lacing chisel. They come in different sizes (2mm, 3mm, 4mm), the size you will need will depend on the size of studs you will be using. They also come in different prong options, anywhere from 1 prong to 8 prongs, we mainly use the 1 and 2 prong options.

19. Hammer (for leatherwork)

A hammer is necessary for use with the studding tools.

20. Granite/Quartz Slab (for leatherwork)

To protect your tabletop when studding, you will want to invest in a stone slab. For the ultimate studding experience, you will put the stone slab on your tabletop, then a small self-healing mat on top of the slab, by putting the mat as a buffer between your slab and your tools helps to protect and keep your tools sharp.


I love you all and pray the Most High keeps you diligent in all the work you put your hands to.

- Shalamahya

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