Learning the basic skills of hand sewing and keeping a hand sewing basket should be prerequisites of frugal living.
When you don’t have the money to spend on new clothes, or don’t want to spend it, darning socks, tacking hems and sleeves and changing buttons can go a long way to keeping the clothes you already own wearable and up-to-date.
Without the proper tools though, no job can be done right. This is especially true of sewing.
Try replacing a button with a canvas needle and embroidery thread or threading a milliners needle without a needle threader, to get my meaning.
Below are the 9 essentials I like to keep on hand for most basic household and personal needs.
1 A Hand Sewing Basket
Your sewing basket doesn’t need to be a basket at all. A shoe box, cookie tin, pouch, storage container, Mason jar or anything else you have on hand will work. You want something that can have it’s own place so when you have a sewing emergency everything is close at hand.
There are many different types of hand sewing needles. Each is used for different types of materials and threads. For around the house we keep the following on hand:
- Assortment Card of Sharps – Sharps are your all purpose hand sewing needles. They come in various sizes from 1 (largest size) to 12 (smallest size).
- Blunt Point – Blunt or ball point needles are great to use when you have a sweater or any woolen garment that needs the threads tucked back in.
- Canvas or Upholstery Needle – For school or hiking back packs, tarps or any item made from a heavier fabric. These needles have a sharp point to get through the heavy fabric.
The colours of thread you keep on hand will depend on the majority of the colours you wear. Black, white and beige cover most everyday stuff.
To have a ‘little bit of everything’ the dollar stores have travel sewing kits that include thread cards and/or spools that have many different colours. Handy for things like sewing on a button or tacking a hem.
There are also specialty threads available for things like silk and canvas. What you keep on hand will depend on what you have.
4 Needle Threader
For a little assistance with threading, this is a must. The travel kits from the dollar store usually have one in them. I find these little guys indispensable.
5 Fabric Measuring Tape
I don’t use a measuring tape too often for sewing. But I do use it often for measuring body parts – to keep updated with our sizes.
Also, when the one in your tool box has gone on walk about ,your still covered with this in your hand sewing basket.
6 Scissors or Pocket Knife
A pair of scissors for cutting knots and/or a small pocket knife for trimming threads.
7 Seam Ripper
You can use your tiny scissors or small knife to get through seams, but a seam ripper makes the job easier. They are also easier on the fabric surrounding the seams.
There are different types of pins used for different types of applications. A good general purpose pin is a straight pin with a glass beaded head. A good rule of thumb is to use thinner pins for thinner fabrics.
Safety pins are great to have on hand for keeping thicker layers together. They are indispensable if you need to run a cord back through a hoodie.
If your pushing you’re needle through thick fabric, a thimble on your middle or index finger will help give you a little oomph without the ouch.
+2 Our Family’s Extras
Because each sewing basket is unique for the home it resides in, the extras will vary.
For our home, I like to keep a length of elastic on hand, because we all live in sweat pants during the evenings and winters.
Seam tape is another item I keep on hand. I don’t have a sewing machine, so if the thread comes out in the hem of a skirt or curtain I can fix the length quickly and easily with the seam tape and a warm iron.
A well stocked hand sewing basket is an essential tool for keeping what you have going a little further. For emergency button replacements or mending, being prepared could make the difference between good to go, or just-taking-up-closet-space-because-one-day-I’ll-get-‘a round tuit’.
Sew… what are your essentials and why are they essential? Let me know in the comments.