Christmas is coming up, and so I thought I’d offer a helping hand to all the friends, relatives, and significant others of the sewing obsessed looking for sewing gifts this holiday season. I’ve tried to roughly break this down into “beginners” and “everyone else”, but it helps if you can snoop around their sewing area first to have an idea of what they’ve already got before buying something off this list.
And if you’re reading this and are feeling truly overwhelmed, then:
- Print this page.
- Google for your nearest sewing or fabric store
- Give this page to a store clerk with a smile and “Can you help me please?” and let them show you what some of this stuff is…
If you know someone who’s very new to sewing or is getting their first machine this Christmas, it’s a great idea to create a little bundle of all the necessary tools for someone just starting out. You can often find these pre-packaged at sewing shops, or to create your own for a new sewer, I’d recommend placing the following in a zippered pouch, box, or (if you yourself are a sewer) a sewn case:
- Dedicated sewing scissors (write “fabric only” on the blades with a marker!)
- Glass-headed pins (plastic-headed pins melt on contact with an iron!)
- Clear ruler or hem gauge
- A pack of standard sewing machine needles
- A pack of hand sewing needles
- A seam ripper
- Spools of Sew All (polyester or cotton-coated polyester) thread in black and white (and also grey, beige, red, and navy if you’re feeling flush)
- A tomato pin cushion
These are the big ticket items! Expect to spend at least a hundred dollars/pounds on the machines and big tools below, but you can do a bit of research before buying by reading the user submitted machine reviews at Pattern Review first…
- Beginner sewing machine – Have a look at the Best budget sewing machines article, or if you’re in the UK, Argos have a very good Toyota machine for half price until Christmas…
- Overlocker/Serger – I love my Bernina overlocker, but I’ve also heard wonderful things about Babylock’s Jet air threaded machines if you can afford them!
- Embroidery machine
- Coverstitch Machine – the unanimously praised Janome Coverpro is on my list this Christmas!
- Dressmaker’s dummy – make sure to get one that either fits her measurements, or is slightly smaller than her (you can always pad up, but you can’t pad it down!)
- Steam generating iron
- Pinking shears (the ones that cut zigzag, which stop fabric from fraying so much)
- Rotary cutter and self-healing mat
- French curves
- Bias tape makers
- Dritz bound buttonhole maker (the vintage holy grail!)
- Pressing ham and sleeve roll
- Loop turner
- Pin cushion (wrist ones are nice!)
- Thread / Wooly nylon – Polyester or Cotton-coated Polyester is the best multipurpose thread for sewing machines, but if the recipient owns a serger or coverstitch machine, buying pairs of wooly nylon thread is always appreciated!
- Pretty trim/elastic/FOE
- Buttons (big bags of vintage buttons from flea markets and eBay are like crack to most garment sewers!)
- Coloured chalk and washaway markers
- Brown kraft paper (if they trace patterns like me)
- Books – The Reader’s Digest guide to sewing books are great for beginners, as are vintage books like The Complete Book Of Sewing. Otherwise, specialised sewing topic books like Fabric Savvy, Couture Sewing Techniques, Shirtmaking, or Fit for Real People are great for intermediate or advanced sewers.
- Magazine subscription – Pattern magazines like Burda World of Fashion, KnipMode, or Ottobre would be appreciated by most garment sewers, or the excellent and highly educational Threads magazine is nearly a must-read for every sewer!
- Patterns – if you don’t know exactly what they already own or have on their wishlist, it might be a better idea to buy a gift certificate to a local or online shop that sells patterns, or give them a membership to a discount buying club like Club BMV
Fabric is a really personal thing, so if you’re not sure about their tastes in style, weight, and fiber content, you’d probably be safest buying gift certificates or handmade “IOU £xx and big strong arms to carry fabric from a local store” rather than cut fabric (which oftentimes cannot be exchanged unless faulty).
And at ours…
At Chez FehrTrade, we’ve already decorated our tree and have our outdoor lights up! I’ve added to all the hand sewn ornaments I made last Christmas by sewing a tree topper this year that looks like our cat, Bosco!
The teeshirt material stretched a bit as I stuffed him, and the tail’s a bit lumpy, but everyone can tell it’s him from the big yellow eyes, so I think it’s been a success.
Anyone have anything to add to this list, or want to share what sewing things are on their Christmas list this year?