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  • Writer's pictureNelliumCrafts

Sewing Kit Essentials for Beginners – Part 1 – The Sewing Machine

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive commission if you buy the items I recommended from the linked websites, this is at no additional cost to you, just helps support me and my little business!

I’ve always loved sewing, and like every cliché story begins, I learnt to sew from my mum. I remember trips to the fabric store, that was more like a Tardis of rolls upon rolls, in rooms upon rooms of every fabric you’ve ever wanted. All my teddies had their own shapeless, tunic style outfits, created by me, sewing very, VERY slowly on the sewing machine under Mum’s anxious, watchful eyes!

But we’ve all got to start somewhere, right? I’m no expert seamstress now, but I can throw together items, and love experimenting with clothing and dress patterns. My latest launch for my shop were these large canvas tote bags. They are all sewn together by me, from scratch.

These became my latest obsession after I decided to make the first one from spare fabric I had from re-covering my dining room chairs. Since then, I’ve loved finding new fabric patterns and designs to create new bags. This little obsession has caused my (already slightly overflowing) sewing kit to explode with my new “must-have” sewing kit items. So, I want to share with you what these items are, to hopefully inspire, or at least help any other budding sew obsessed crafters out there!

There are so many items, I may have to split them into separate blog posts, so keep an eye on new blogs coming soon.

Of course, every item I recommend is not “essential” to begin sewing. You only really need a needle, some thread and something to sew together, and that's it – that’s the essentials to sewing! But these items are things I found make my sewing experience easier, more efficient, and more satisfying!

Sewing Machines - What to look for

So, without further ado! Let’s start at the beginning. If you’re looking for the next step from sewing your items by hand, you’re probably going to be looking for a sewing machine. Searching for “sewing machine” on the internet, you can be overwhelmed with the options. But as a beginner, even the most basic of machines can be all you need. I started with this beginners machine that cost me under £30.

I hemmed curtains, made sofa cushions, a summer dress, repaired dog toys and a lot more. This machine had all the functions I needed - a few different stitching types! It was a perfect beginners machine, able to do most basic projects I needed! When you are looking for a machine, don’t get overwhelmed by the various gadgets and fancy stitching patterns if you aren’t going to use them!

Types of sewing machines

You may also come across specialised sewing machines, such as embroidery machines, overlockers, sergers etc. These each have their own uses and for more advanced sewing projects may be required to achieve the higher quality finishes. But for now, let’s still stick with the standard domestic sewing machines!


You may also want to consider the types of fabric you want to sew with your machine. If you are only sewing basic and relatively thin materials (eg cotton, linen, silk, fleece etc) basic machines are more than capable of handling them. If you are thinking of sewing more heavy-duty materials, such as thick upholstery fabrics, multiple layers of denim, quilted materials, faux fur etc, you may want to invest in a heavy-duty sewing machine. I would recommend doing further research into these machines if this is the case. But for majority of sewing projects, a domestic machine works perfectly well.


The basic stitching you'll need for your first machine, is straight stitch and the zigzag stitch. Ask the majority of people with a sewing machine, and these will be the only stitches they use on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean the other stitches available on beginner machines are useless, they are just less commonly required.

Straight stitches are the most common stitch, machines will usually come with a set of pre-set length straight stitches, some more advanced machines may have adjustable lengths. As a general rule, length 2.0 to 3.0 are for you basic stitching, length 4.0 is used for gathering as the gaps between stitches are longer and easier to manipulate! The smaller the length the tighter the stitch, giving generally a more secure hold.

Zig zag stitches can be used to finish raw edges to stop material fraying if you don't own an overlocker, or for attaching elastic. They are also often used just for a more decorative stitch, among many other uses you may find with your projects in the future.

My current machine is the Brother XN1700 Sewing Machine, I purchased this back at the beginning of 2021, and I’m happy I made the upgrade! Although my old machine was perfectly usable for small projects, for any larger items, or using thicker materials, it sometimes struggled. The new machine felt a lot sturdier and feels like it could handle a lot more! This machine is still perfect for beginners and as you get more confident and try out more exciting projects, this machine is one I think will be able to keep up. I originally bought this machine as it had the buttonhole stitching as a pre-set stitch, which I was hoping to use to help create myself a whole new wardrobe. Admittedly I have only started to make one dress this year, which is still sat on my dress form, yet to be finished! I have used a variety of common fabrics with this machine and have yet to been held back.

So, although I can’t give you a definitive list of the “top sewing machines to buy for beginners” as I have only personally tried and tested the two mentioned, I can say for a beginner, you don’t need the biggest, fanciest machine. Have a shop around, look for machines that can handle the materials you need (which for most people, will be most machines!) and has at least a couple of straight stitch and zig zag stitch pre-sets. Anything more is up to your specific uses; you can go as basic or as high tech as you’d like!

Now you have your machine, get sewing! In the next few blogs I hope to give you some more resources and recommendations of products to get your projects stitched up nicely! :)

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