Sewing tools run the gamut from the ancient, such as thimbles, to cutting-edge, such as embroidery and lace-making machines. Some sewing tools are used for both hand-sewing and machine-sewing projects, such as pins and scissors. Most sewing projects begin with patterns and wrap up with hand-sewn finishing touches applied with a simple needle and thread.
Patterns are integral sewing tools and can be purchased online and at sewing shops, or they can be made at home. Patterns are typically made from a thin paper and are marked with outlines of the various pieces of the item or garment being made. The pattern is pinned to the fabric, and the fabric is then cut out using the outside edges of the pattern pieces as a guide. The pieces of the fabric are then sewn together to complete the project.
Metal sewing pins come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are used to attach patterns to fabric, as well as temporarily join pieces of fabric together. Round-headed pins are easy to grab, while sharp pins glide into the fabric easier and thin pins fare better when sewn over with a sewing machine. Pin cushions come in various shapes and sizes and are typically fabric-covered. Sewing pins can easily be stuck into and removed from the cushion, making them easily accessible during the sewing process.
Scissors and rotary cutters are integral sewing tools. A sharp pair of scissors with a cushioned handle is best suited for fabric cutting. A rotary cutting wheel may be used by placing the fabric on top of a rotary mat and pressing the wheel firmly downward while tracing around a pattern. Pinking shears are scissors with saw-toothed blades, which create a zig-zag-style cut. These sewing tools are used to create decorative edges and to limit damage from fraying on woven fabrics.
Seam rippers are sewing tools used to remove unwanted or misplaced stitches. A seam ripper has a U-shaped end with razor-sharp prongs on one end and a handle on the other. The prongs are inserted between the stitches and pulled slightly to rip the thread, thereby breaking the stitch.
Thimbles are sewing tools which have been in use for centuries. Thimbles are cup-shaped and fit over individual fingertips or thumbs. They protect the fingers while pushing a needle into fabric during the hand-sewing process. Thimbles come in different sizes and are made from a variety of materials, such as silver, brass and porcelain.
Sewing machines, sergers and embroidery machines are other popular sewing tools. Sewing machine tools also include zipper and button attachments and bobbins to hold the sewing machine thread. Sewing mannequins can be adjusted to match specific body sizes and are used to make alterations and to ensure the final garment will fit properly.