Sewing is an amazing skill to have.  If you really want to save money through DIY home decor, then you must learn at least basic sewing.

Most home decor sewing projects only require the ability to sew a straight line.  This is the case for pillow covers, curtains, even bed linens.  With one easy to learn skill, you can start making these items on your own.

As is the case with any DIY project, you have to evaluate time vs. cost to figure value.  The markup on home textiles is high.  If you have basic sewing skills and a little time to invest, you can save a lot of money.  Simple envelope style pillow covers can be made in under 15 minutes.  Curtains take a bit more time, but you are less likely to change them out as often as pillows.

Once you hone your skills you can move onto even more advanced projects.  Some I have tackled around the house include dining chair slipcovers, piped euro pillows, and a bench cushion.  When you consider the cost to buy or have these items custom-made, I saved a lot by doing it myself.

If I had all the time in the world, I would probably sew everything for my home.  Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited time.  So I choose my sewing projects wisely, where they will give me the most value.  I almost always sew pillow covers…especially important if you like new covers each season.  Otherwise, I reserve my sewing time for custom projects where I stand to save a lot of money.  These might be bits of sewing required for an upholstery project or making my floor to ceiling drapes.  Other than in the nursery, all of our bed linens and comforters are store-bought.  Those are just too time-consuming to make to be worth it.

Whether you are just starting to sew or more experienced, I thought I would share with you a roundup of my favorite sewing tools.  I own every item pictured here and use them regularly for projects around my house.  They range from the basics like handing sewing needles to the advanced like my serger.  The source links are below and I will briefly describe what I use each item for or why I love it.

DIY Sewing Tools

1.  Brother PC-210 Sewing Machine – My hubby got this as a present for me about 5 years ago.  I love this machine.  Some key features I adore are the push button start/stop (no foot pedal), the thread cover on top, and sewing speed selector.  This machine is my work horse and was worth every penny.  It is a bit pricey, but I would argue this machine is great for beginners.  A foot pedal is tricky to operate.  This machine does not have a foot pedal.  You set the speed and press the start button and it goes, nice and steady.  Then you can focus on guiding the fabric.

2.  7-Piece Sewing Foot Set – The Brother sewing machine comes with a bunch of presser feet, but if you already have a machine you may consider buying some special presser feet.  The presser foot guides the fabric as you sew.  There are all different kinds for different jobs, like sewing ruffles, cording, and zippers.  I think an invisible zipper foot is a must have for home decor sewing.

3.  Tomato Pin Cushion – The iconic pin cushion.  I think the one I have was handed down from my mom.  It is missing the strawberry, but I think it is the same one I used when learning to sew as a child.  If the tomato is not your thing, once you learn to sew, then you can make your own cute pincushion.

4.  Seam Ruler – This little guy is handy.  It is a little clear ruler that is 1/2″ wide one way and 1/4″ wide the other.  It is used for measuring and marking seam allowances.  It is probably more commonly used for garments, but I just like to have this handy in my sewing box for quick measurements.  I also use it as a guide when I am ironing a seam allowance.

5.  Seam Ripper – Love it or hate it…someday you will have to rip out a seam you just sewed.  This will make it much easier.  I actually used this little guy to seam rip an entire dining room chair slipcover to make my own pattern.

6.  Spring Action Scissors – I own three of these!  I bought one and got a couple as gifts.  They are my go to scissors for cutting fabric.

7.  Spring Action Pinking Shears – I have two of these!  If you have ever used regular pinking shears, you know how much they can hurt your hand.  This spring action ones make pinking so much easier.  If you are a beginner, pinking shears are the scissors that cut the zig zag…great for preventing fabric from fraying.

8.  Hand Sewing Needles – Sometimes you just need a needle…to sew on a button, to quickly fix a ripped seam, or to sew googly eyes on a spider costume.  Always keep a set of needles handy.  If you prefer your pillow covers stitched shut, you will need these for the hand-sewing to finish your pillows.

9.  Water Soluble Marker – Blue magic!  You can mark on fabric with this marker and then erase it with water.  The marks can either be erased when you wash the fabric or buy patting the marks with a damp paper towel.  The blue lines just disappear.  I prefer this marker to using chalk.

10.  Quilter’s Pins – These are the only pins I use for sewing.  They are longer and sharper than normal straight pins.  I also like that they are all yellow heads, which makes them easy to see as you are sewing.

11.  Rowenta Professional Iron – At the beginning of this year we upgraded to this iron.  It is wonderful.  My husband uses it to iron his shirts everyday for work (part of our Home Goals to cut dry cleaning services).  This iron is also been used for a few no-sew drape projects (master bedroom and nursery), but it is as useful for ironing seams flat.  If you are interested, I shared my method for how to iron long curtain panels.

12.  Gridded Cutting Mat – The mat pictured is a single 24 x 36 inch mat.  I actually have a set of three of these that came with clips to attach them together.  All together it creates a 36 x 72 inch cutting surface.  I cover the entire table with my mats when I am doing rotary cutting.  It is also nice to protect the surface from cutting with regular scissors.

13.  Rotary Cutter – If you are cutting straight lines, which you will do often for home decor, a rotary cutter can speed up the job.  These are commonly used for cutting quilt squares, but I love using a rotary cutter and quilt ruler for cutting fabric for pillows too.

14.  Spring Action Snips – More spring action.  These guys are amazing for precision cutting.  They have very sharp little tips.  I have a pair for fabric and a pair for cutting paper.  I do a lot of detailed cutting by hand.  You can see more of my cutting tools here.

15.  Babylock Imagine Serger – My serger makes all my home sewing projects twice as fast.  This guy is a serious investment.  I purchased him when I used to make and sell my own nursery decor and pillows.  This serger can do a variety of overlock stitches to finish seam allowances.  Overlock stitching is like what you see on all the seams inside your t-shirt.  I prefer to serge all my pillow and slipcover seams.  Overlocked seam allowances hold up really well for repeated washings and prevent the seam allowance from fraying.

There are a few other items not pictured that I also wanted to mention:

  • Clear quilt ruler (6 x 24 inches) – I am not a quilter, but I love these rulers.  the 24 inch length is good for measuring out and cutting most decorative pillow sizes.  The clear ruler helps you see and line up your fabric pattern when cutting.
  • Sewing Box – All those little sewing tools need a home.  I have a few sewing boxes I keep my tools in.  Sewing machines have a little storage under the presser foot, which is a great place for bobbins and presser feet.  For the rest of your tools a separate sewing box is accessible even if you are in the middle of sewing something on the machine.
  • Yarn needle – I use a yarn needle to finish all my seams with my serger.  I use the yarn needle to pull the thread tails back through the stitches.  Sergers do not back-stitch like a sewing machine.

Whew!  That was a long one.  There are just so many great tools to make sewing easy and enjoyable.

The opinions in this post are my own.  I was not compensated for writing this post or any of the opinions contained within it.  This post contains affiliate links.   I may receive a commission on purchases made after following an affiliate link.  



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6 Responses to DIY Tools: Sewing

  1. Danielle says:

    Great list.

    I don’t have a serger, but recently I’ve been debating if I should.

  2. Valerie says:

    I have been looking at upgrading my sewing machine and your Brother has good reviews on Amazon. Sewing without a foot pedal would take some getting used to! I need a machine to do mostly home decor projects but some basic quilting as well. Have you used your machine with a walking foot? Just wondering if you feel it has lots of power for handling layers. Thanks!

    • Jackie says:

      Valerie, I promise you won’t miss the foot pedal. I used to stand at my bar height counter and sew with this sewing machine when my son was a baby. He could crawl around my feet all he wanted and not get in the way. I just love the ease of the start/stop button. You set the speed you want and it keeps it nice and steady…adn the speed adjuster is handy if you decide to change while sewing. I totally forgot to mention in the post, that this machine has an auto needle threader too. My old machines never had that. It is so nice if you change threads often…once you get the thread routed, you press a button and it threads the needle.

      I just worked on upholstering two chairs today in a velvet material and had no trouble going through four layers for the cording on the seams. I also used this machine to sew the canopy outdoor fabric for the play ground. I have never used a walking foot, though.

  3. Thanks for the comprehensive list. I put some items on my xmas wish list. The seam ripper is my buddy. I was using the same one since I was 12 up until a year ago when I finally gave it up and bought a new one.

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