A sewing basket is essential for any home, apartment or dorm room. It is inevitable that a button will come off, a seam will rip, or a hem will tear out of a garment - usually at the worst possible time. However, a decent array of sewing notions can help solve even the worst problems, at least temporarily.
The first question is, should someone stocking a sewing basket buy one of the kits available? It depends. Someone who doesn't expect to do much sewing except for very basic things, such as replacing a button, might be able to get away with one of these kits. They usually include a pincushion, a tape measure, perhaps a pair of thread scissors and a packet of straight pins, and two or three needles. However, if one expects to do any repair work or other hand sewing, a fully stocked sewing basket is necessary.
Some sort of sewing basket or box to house sewing supplies will be the main purchase. Most stores sell these, but they are usually expensive. A plastic shoebox-sized container with a secure top will do just as well. If one has an old fishing tackle box, this will also make an excellent sewing basket once cleaned and deodorized.
If a sewing kit has a pincushion and measuring tape, go ahead and buy it, rather than buying these items separately. Buy a good pair of fabric scissors also, and forbid household members from cutting paper with them, which will dull them.
Needles and pins are also necessary for a sewing basket. Look for needles labeled as "sharps." These are sharp enough to go cleanly through most fabrics, and a packet usually contains pins in three or four different sizes.
Straight pins can either be the flat-head type or dressmaker's pins with colored ball heads. Either is suitable. Also, purchase a packet of safety pins. These are invaluable for any sewing basket.
Think about thread next. Buy full-size spools of white, beige and black, since these will be used the most. Also get a smaller spool of heavy-duty thread, as well as smaller spools in basic colors such as navy, red, pink and dark green. Any good machine thread is suitable.
Other notions a well-stocked sewing basket might include are a paper of metal snaps in assorted sizes, a packet of hook-and-eye fastenings and a packet of assorted buttons. These can be placed in a sandwich bag to keep them from migrating all over the sewing basket.
Also include a hemming gauge and a seam ripper. A hemming gauge is particularly useful for measuring in small increments without having to pull out a long tape measure. Seam rippers are vital for removing mistakes. Thimbles are optional, as are needle-threaders. A needle-threader will probably see more use than a thimble, since most heavy sewing requiring a thimble is usually done by machine.
These basic items should cover most mending tasks and can be found in any fabric store or discount store that sells sewing supplies. The only item to spend more on is a good pair of fabric shears. These will prove themselves well worth their price.