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My favourite must-have sewing tools

Did you see the #greatbritishquilter event that happened over on Instagram during September? It runs for the whole month and is organised by Sarah Ashford Studio and Very Kerry Berry. It’s a great way of getting to know/find other quilters, and there are prompts for what to post each day to help everyone get to know one another. By the end of the month, you will most likely have a longer wish-list of fabrics/patterns and projects than you started out with, and more friends too!

My favourite 5 must have sewing tools by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

The prompt for one of the days’ was ‘flatlay‘ – making an arrangement of items to tell a story and taking a picture from above. I chose some of my favourite quilting and sewing tools, and thought you guys might be interested in seeing them too?!

Although not an exhaustive list by any means, these have become my go-to’s over the years! If you are looking for a list of all the must-have quilting supplies then check out my Essential Tools post.

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Needles, Pins and Clips!


It probably goes without saying that, as a Sewist, a needle is one of the most important tools that you can have! In my humble opinion, I think needles are very much a personal choice dependant on your own sewing technique and preferred ‘feel’ of a needle.

For hand-sewing, after trial and error, my weapon of choice is an Applique Needle No. 10. I have packs of gold-eye and black gold needles, but will normally pick the gold-eye needles as I find them a good length to work with and they glide nicely through the fabric.

Sometimes, if I’m doing very fine applique work I will use shorter applique needle as it makes me feel more in control of the sewing (why, I don’t know, but there you go!). I’ve heard great things about Tulip Needles but haven’t yet tried them, I’ll let you know if I do!

My 5 must have sewing tools - Clip'n'pincushion by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence


Although I have some decorative pins which are useful when I want to be able to see them on the fabric (or take pretty pictures!) I mostly use dress-maker pins: they are made of stainless steel and quite fine so don’t tend to mark the fabric too much.

One benefit of this is that you can leave the pins in until the last minute when machine sewing to keep the seams together. The one downside is that they don’t have a glass head on them so you do have to keep an eye on them so that none go missing! They are also good value for money in comparison to some of the prettier pins that you can get. Mine are by Prym but I found some similar ones here.

My 5 must have sewing tools by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Wonder Clips

These clips have so many uses! I first got them when I started bag-making as they’re brilliant for holding thick layers of fabric together, or fabrics that you don’t want to mark with pin-pricks such as laminate, or waxed cotton.

They’re also handy for holding all the pieces of a block together, keeping pattern pieces together……..You can read about how these little clips inspired the Clip’n’Pincushion here.

Seam Ripper

A good seam ripper is essential in my sewing room as it gets a lot of use…..at least it does in my space!!!!

After years of using the standard version, I picked up a Seam Fix seam ripper at a quilt show and was amazed at what a difference it makes! The bigger handle is ergonomic making it really comfortable to use, the blade is sharper and – my favourite bit! – you run the rubber end over the stitch line that you’ve just ripped and it pulls out all the stray ends of cotton that are left behind and makes the needle holes virtually disappear. It’s magic I tell you!!!

My favourite 5 must have sewing tools by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I also find a seam ripper very useful for holding fabric together when sewing them on a machine as the point means that you can grip the fabric right up to the last minute!

Small Ruler

I have lots of rulers – mostly acrylic for quilting – and I picked up this little 6″ metal Stanley ruler when I was making curtains to help with pressing accurate seams.

I’ve always had a seam gauge ruler but to be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of them: the little orange marker tends to move quite easily and the rulers are quite flimsy and seem to bend easily.

I wanted something that would be robust, and this little ruler really does the trick. And being solid it doesn’t matter if you catch it with the iron. It’s fine enough that if I’m checking a seam allowance whilst sewing on the machine I can get this right in where I need to.

As an added bonus, it can also be used as a pressing tool for folding a crease into fabric if there’s nothing else to hand! I picked mine up at a DIY store.


It goes without saying that these are pretty important in a sewing room!

A small pair of sharp scissors/snips are essential for trimming all the threads as you go, but not necessary right from the get-go.

Fabric cutting scissors are also a must, but quite a personal choice I think in terms of what feels right. I have a pair of Ernst & Wright stainless steel scissors which are beautiful and cut really well. But. I find them really heavy, so if I’m cutting out a big project my hands end up aching.

A few years ago now, I was given these Ring-lock scissors as a Christmas present. They look a bit strange with the holes in the blades but I. Love. Them!

The holes apparently reduce the weight of the scissors overall, and I have to say that they have never made my hand ache whilst cutting out large projects. They are brilliantly sharp and so comfortable to use……they have been going strong for maybe seven years now?!

My 5 must have sewing tools by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

There are lots of different types of scissors on the market – Kerry has a great review here of spring-loaded scissors which is another option if you find your hands struggle with heavy scissors. 

I have to confess, that last year I managed to cut a pin with my beloved scissors and dented the blade. I was devastated and they just wouldn’t cut properly after that. Disaster. Someone recommended I try a mini scissor sharpener – I wasn’t sure if it would do anything (I was getting ready to buy a new pair of scissors!) but thought it was worth a try. It totally revived my scissors so I would definitely recommend giving it a go if you have a favourite pair of scissors that need rejuvenating!


For quilting, I always use Aurifil thread. I mostly use a 50wt thread as I find it great for hand and machine piecing. I did get a spool of the 80wt thread which is really fine to try for hand-piecing and I have to say it does make the stitches almost invisible. Mostly though, I stick with the Aurifil 50wt (orange spool!) in grey, white and a pale yellow. I was quite surprised by just how handy the pale yellow is, as it blends with a lot of colours really well.

My 5 must have sewing tools by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

For dress-making and bag making though, I always use a poly-cotton. The thread is stronger and has a little bit of stretch to it, which is very helpful on seams that can be under pressure/being stretched. 

I hope you’ve found this useful – are there any tools that you think I’ve missed off? What are your must haves? 

If you have any questions then please do drop me a line and if you’ve found this post useful and would like to keep in touch, please sign up to my newsletter to keep up to date with news, tutorials and patterns.



S x

Today’s sky::: some blue, but quite a lot of grey today!

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