Are you searching for the perfect gift for a friend or family member who’s just getting started with sewing or even one who is a seasoned sewist? Look no further! The right tools and accessories can be a game-changer for anyone who sews, and I’ve gathered 12 fantastic gift ideas to help you give them a boost. From basic supplies to more specialized tools, these recommendations will be items that will help them in all of their sewing projects, and they will think of you every time they use one. So, let’s explore these options and make the sewist in your life feel inspired!
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First, what NOT to do to the sewing beginner
As a sewing instructor, I have had so many students come to the first class with a sewing machine still in the box. Untouched. “I got this machine as a gift, but I’ve never used it”, is what they say. Every. Time. You know why? The machine is gorgeous, usually very expensive and a perfectly fine machine – but it’s far too complicated for a sewing beginner!
All those buttons, dials and wiggly symbols are scary things for someone who has never used a sewing machine.
And what you don’t want to do is scare the crap out of a sewing beginner, because if you do, it will be hard to get them enthused again about learn how to sew.
For some of my students, it took more than 10 years for them to finally decide to try sewing after the initial shock of the Big Scary Sewing Machine gift.
Above is a photo of the front panel on one of my computerized sewing machines to show all those squiggles and numbers that are so intimidating to someone who has never touched a sewing machine before.
You know what? I’ve been sewing for most of my life, and even *I* hardly use any of those options. And I sew almost every day.
A beginner with a little bit of sewing experience, or a beginner about to take a sewing class may not be as intimidated by a machine like this one, which is the Singer Stylist. For a detailed explanation of the difference between a simple machine and a computerized machine, read A Guide to Buying Your First Sewing Machine.
Best sewing machine for a sewing beginner:
Something simple like this one pictured above. What you want to get the beginner is a simple sewing machine that will be able to handle a huge range of projects over the long term. No bells or whistles. Preferably not computerized, and very few buttons to push..
My daily go-to sewing machine is very, very simple and is probably the best sewing machine I have ever used. It’s not super expensive either! It’s the Juki HZL-27Z, which unfortunately is no longer available, but there are newer Juki models that are perfect substitutes! Juki makes industrial sewing machines for the trade, and these are their home sewing versions, which are durable and sew through just about anything. There is also a Singer model that is a good choice as well:
What the sewing beginner can make with one of these machines:
- clothes for adults and kids – with buttonholes & zippers!
- hemming projects
- basic quilting projects
- stuffed toys
- handbags & accessories
Pretty much anything! (but without decorative stitches or fancy-shaped buttonholes).
More gift ideas for the sewing beginner
If a sewing machine isn’t appropriate or within your budget, here are some suggestions for other gifts that a beginner (or any sewing enthusiast) will appreciate.
*All photos here are ones I took of my own machines, supplies and tools. These are things I use on a daily basis, and some tools I have had since I was in 7th grade!
You MUST get the correct size bobbins for the sewing machine the recipient owns! The wrong size is like putting diesel into a car that uses unleaded, which means disaster! The Juki machine that I have uses Class 15J bobbins. A pack of 12 bobbins should keep the beginner busy for a while, but here’s a link for a 50-pack that they will definitely make good use of once they get going with their sewing. Other machines use Class 66 bobbins (which are slightly dome-shaped on each side) or Class 15 bobbins. Just a note from my experience: do not buy the “pre-wound” bobbins – the ones with thread already on them. I tried them once, and they were all a tangled, frustrating mess. I ended up taking all the thread off and winding them myself on my machine.
Assorted colors of thread
This pack would be a welcome gift by anyone who sews! Sometimes, the sewing beginner will forget to buy this one crucial “ingredient” for their sewing project, and this huge assortment will save the day. Coats & Clark has been making thread for ages, and it’s my go-to brand.
Good dressmaking shears
A pair of good dressmaking shears make all the difference when cutting fabric. All my shears are Fiskars brand, and I’ve had them for over 20 years. Just don’t cut paper with them!!! (that will dull the blade)
These little thread snips are such a time saver! When sewing, you are constantly trimming off thread from the machine to the fabric, and large shears can be really cumbersome for this task. Thread snips make it a breeze to snip and get back to sewing.
This weird looking thing is a bodkin – a tool that is used to pull elastic through a narrow channel on the fabric – usually for a waistband.
For years, I used a huge safety pin. Which ALWAYS decided to open about 18″ into the channel. Do you know how hard it is to pull out an OPEN safety pin that is lodged inside of a 1″ space and pull it for 18″ without it getting jammed (and getting stuck in the finger a bazillion times)? And since it’s inside the fabric, you can’t see what you are doing. The solution? A bodkin. For under $5, fingers and sanity will be saved! Not to mention a huge reduction in swear word usage.
Bamboo point turner
A point turner makes all the difference in making crisp, sharp corners on pillows, pockets, collars, cuffs…and anything else with a corner. The bamboo turner pictured above is one I have had since I started sewing (over *ahem* 40 years ago.) It’s durable and so much cooler than a crappy plastic one. The sides of the point turner can also be used to make a quick crease in fabric – without having to run over to the ironing board.
And speaking of ironing
A good iron is a MUST for sewing. I just got this Rowenta iron and I love it! It has a retractable cord. It also has a self-cleaning feature! Rowenta is the gold standard when it comes to irons, and every person who sews needs a good, dependable iron.
Tailor’s chalk pencils
Tailor’s chalk is necessary to mark pattern markings onto the fabric. Get the pencil kind rather than the chunky rectanges of chalk – those are a pain in the ass. An assortment of tailor’s chalk colors will work on just about any color of fabric, and they last a long time.
Sewing machine oil
It may not be glamourous, but sewing machine oil is critical for keeping a sewing machine going for years (and years.) It makes a great stocking stuffer!
A sewing beginner is going to appreciate a pretty sewing basket to keep all their tools and supplies handy.
We all started with a small sewing basket. Then a bigger one. Next, we take over the dining room table, and then the dining room. And basement. And half the kitchen. Oh. Wait. That’s me. Warning – sewing is addictive!
Rolling sewing machine case
Most of my sewing students use these rolling sewing machine cases to bring their machine to class. It’s also great for keeping a sewing machine clean and stored, since most machines do not come with cases.
If you need more ideas, there are a few more basic supplies that make great gifts listed here: 15 Essential Sewing Supplies
I hope that this list of gift ideas for the sewing beginner has been helpful. Whether it’s for the holidays, a birthday, or any other occasion, these gift ideas are sure to be well-used and appreciated. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I will do my best to help you out in finding the best gifts!