flatlay of helpful sewing tools

11 helpful sewing tools you can’t live without

Tools for marking

There’s so many ways to mark your fabric and prep a pattern for sewing. These ones you should always have on hand.

8. Quilting rulers

quilting ruler
I’ve used this one so much some of the lines have worn off!

Quilting rulers are incredibly helpful sewing tools. They come in so many widths and lengths.

They have extra markings for cutting fabric on the bias.

You can use them in place of a T-square.

They’re sturdy.

Shoot, you can hang them on a wall.

I have several quilting rulers, but the one I can’t live without is this 3″x18″ one from O’lipfa. 3″x18″ is a great all-purpose size. I use it to make bias tape, cut waistbands and neckband. In my ruler collection, I have a larger 8.5″x24″ beast. The bigger ruler is more practical for checking grainlines and making big pattern pieces. For most things, it’s almost too much ruler.

Whatever size, find a ruler you like and stick with it.

9. French curve ruler

French curve ruler

If you sew garments at all, a French curve ruler is a must. It can help you draw pretty curves akin to your own body’s curves for your arms and hips.

And they can be a shortcut to drawing a nice curve when you’re fitting a pattern. And if you draft your own patterns, a French curve will be invaluable.

I love the little graph paper-like 1/8″ squares that can help you add seam allowances quickly.

Want to change a neckline quick? Fix a hip curve? Change up a sleeve?Yup, your French curve has your back.

You + French curve =pattern hacking magic

10. Chalk wheel

chalk wheel for marking fabric
My favorite all-around marking tool

You can fabric for your sewing projects with so many different types of pens. But the one marking tool I will always turn to is a chalk wheel.

They’re small and they make razor sharp lines without damaging fabric. It’s my favorite universal marking tool. I get my chalk wheels and extra chalk locally at Colorado Fabrics. This Dritz chalk wheel is similar. And here is some refill chalk. I’ve heard really good things about the Chakoner too.

11. Simflex

Helpful sewing tools: Simflex button gauge

The Simflex easily wins the competition for the coolest looking sewing gadget.

It’s an expandable gauge that you use to help mark where buttonholes go.

If you’ve ever tried to mark where buttonholes go from a paper pattern, you know that the paper can shift unless you’re really careful. What you can end up with is a hot mess of unevenly spaced buttonholes. Not so cute.

The Simflex works so well because you only need to know where your top buttonhole and the bottom buttonhole go. When you have those two anchors, expand the gauge and use the slots to mark the rest.

The max distance between buttonholes is 3.5″ for 8 buttons. If you need more space vertically between holes, you can simply measure between 2 holes and skip every other marking slot.

So those are the 11 helpful sewing tools I personally can’t live without. What about you? Tell me in the comments: which is your favorite sewing tool? Did your favorite make the list? Dish!!

More awesome sewing tools to try and compare

Rotary cutter vs. scissors

Why each is an essential tool and when to use each one.

Sewing tools to keep you accurate

Rulers, the best measuring tapes, hemming gadgets, and things to help you measure curves more accurately

Transfer pattern markings the right way

Marking tools that work for every kind of fabric + some vintage tried and tested methods to help you transfer marks like a pro

13 thoughts on “11 helpful sewing tools you can’t live without”

  1. I love everything on your list! There are some things that I would like to get from your list. I didn’t know the Gingher embroidery scissors doubled as a seam ripper. I would like a clapper (Love the name!), because one day I would like more crisp collars. I think the buttonhole marking tool looks very cool and is must have. I love the idea of the glass pins, because melted pins are not my friend. So many get stuck to my iron. My favorite tools are my Clover chalk rollers. I have tried marking pencils, which weren’t helpful for me at all. I love that the chalk only comes off when I need it to. Kudos to whom ever came up with that idea! Loved this article!!!

    1. Thanks Capresha! A clapper will change all your collars and denim sewing forever! I have a few of those melted pins too, LOL! The Clover chalk gadgets are great too–love that ultra fine line!

  2. Those Kai scissors sound interesting. I’ve been using those springy Fiskars ones for years because it’s easy on my carpal tunnel, but I feel like they only last a year or two and then I have to relegate them to paper scissors. And somehow, I’ve ended up never getting a tailor’s ham, though I have some variation of every other tool you mentioned, if not the same thing.

    1. My Mom always had the springy Fiskars–they are pretty nice on your hands, but I had the same experience as you of them losing their edge. Kais were an investment but definitely have helped with my own repetitive motion issues. Hams are the best! Such pretty curves with them!

  3. I pretty much have everything on this list! The only thing I don’t have is a clapper/press thing – instead I just use a scrap of wood. I would like my husband to make me a real one though. I recently switched from Ginghers to Kai after my Ginghers got loose and I found basic Kai’s on Amazon and Wawak for under $20. I love them so much more than my Ginghers!

    1. Scrap wood is really smart for a clapper! I think the one I have is maple so it seems a lot denser than the 2×4 scraps we have in the garage–but no matter. It’s always a good thing to use what you have! That’s an awesome deal on your Kais! I love mine so much more too!

  4. I started using a clapper when I decided to fuse lightweight interfacing on the back of a really scrappy quilt block. I hate the little bubbles and waves that sometimes appear with fusibles, but the clapper did its magic and no bubbles.
    I don’t know if it cools it off or holds the heat, but it works.
    And I love the idea of wearing your embroidery scissors. I’m always mislaying my favorite pair.

    1. You’re so right Jan; clappers are so useful for so many things. That’s a great idea with interfacing! And forgetting where I put my embroidery scissors is exactly why the ribbon happened. As long as you’re careful with them, it’s so handy to have them right there at all times!

  5. Hi
    Where did you get your ironing board cover in the gadget video with the of fashion pattens in it ? Love it
    Thank you

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