Wednesday, September 28, 2016

From the beginning...

page from The Pattern Cookbook, 1890

Can you imagine stocking a kitchen from scratch in the 1890's?  So many expectations to fulfill, so many procedures to learn!  With a book like the one from which this page was copied, you could set a budget, complete the list to the best of your ability, and then, follow the recipes confidently.

Something like this list should be made for sewing supplies.  While I'm sure there are some somewhere... (Think Vogue Sewing, or the US Government Sewing Book from 1969), there are so many other options and alternatives nowadays, that even making decisions is daunting.

Stocking your sewing supplies as a newbie is not an easy task, and is made even more complicated by the insane barrage of new-fangled products available to us.  I've collected many old sewing and home-making books over the years, and noticed how they all seek to help people organize their priorities and tasks in the most efficient manner possible. But if you look to newer publications, they all seem to be "selling" something.  And, I suppose, it is because most of them in fact, are trying to sell you something. 

Inspired by the newbies who participated in my recent garment district tours, I offer some of the following ideas to get started.  These resources are all located in the district, but you can, of course branch out to whatever suits you as you gain confidence.

First off, let's make sure you have the right marking and cutting tools:

Fabric scissors (quality varies, so let your own budget and quality requirement be your guide)

Anywhere from $24 and up 

Marking pencils

White is always safe, but get whatever colors work for your project. ($2 - up)

Carbon Paper

assortment - $6 - up


Variety of options - $4 - up

Tracing wheel

$2 - up

Hand sewing needles

$4.00 - up

$2 - up

If beginner, start with woven, sew-in - rather than fusible.

$2.50 yd - up

Pin cushion

$4.00 - up

Sewing table

Fancy or not - must be right height and strength for the job $70- up

Sewing chair

Anything will do, but be sure to consider comfort and ergonomoics

Sewing machine
Free, used, new, fancy - $35 and up, likely

Measuring tape

$1 - up


$21 - up

Seam ripper

$3 - up

A reference book, with definitions

Example - $20 - up

I'd also suggest a subscription to a quality sewing publication or social networking group for encouragement and information.

Where do you find the things pictured above?  Manhattan Wardrobe Supply, Pacific Trimming, Steinlauf & Stoller, Around the World Books, and SIL, to start.

Everything else is optional, or to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

So, if you had NONE of the above items, you would expect to spend at least $250 on the low end, if you are not buying a new machine.  However, the value in the adoption of this new pursuit/craft/art/hobby is priceless.

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