First of all, if you haven't already, get over your fear of the sewing machine. It's next to impossible to sew your fingers. If you are old enough to drive a car, you'll find an amazing similarity in operability. The foot pedal makes it go fast. You steer with your hands. Some models even cost about the same. Get some sheets of lined paper and practice steering it through the machine, with no thread, along the lines. Get used to a pace that makes you comfortable. You don't have to go super fast when you are sewing.
Take the time to read through the manual, if you have one, and learn how to change the needle and clean and oil the machine. This will save you hours of frustration and possibly ruined work. Spend the extra couple of bucks for new needles and decent thread. Clean the feed dogs and thread case, and oil between bobbins. It's worth it. If you have a machine and hesitate to use it because it's a clunker and it makes big wads of thread that jam every time you try to sew, consider dropping the $50 on a tune-up and cleaning. It's cheaper than a new machine, and is usually what they need to sew like new again.
Whatever kind of machine you have, you'll probably only ever use the basic straight stitch. So, if you are considering buying one to do your garb with, you won't need the zillion fancy embroidery stitches to make clothing. (Not that they aren't nice for adding decorative edging to hems...)
If you don't have a sewing machine and can't get to one you are faced with doing seams by hand. This is not a bad thing, it will give you some better control over the fabric at times, but it will be time consuming. Consider working during TV commercial breaks, during long train rides, or those boring lectures you don't take notes for.
Other things you will need
scissors, good heavy fabric cutting scissors, used for nothing else and considered sacred for this purpose.
paper scissors, for cutting paper patterns and other stuff that isn't fabric. These can be kiddie safety scissors even.
pins, either plain steel or with glass or plastic heads, as suits you. The plain or glass heads have the advantage of surviving a hot iron.
assorted needles, for hand finishing, buttons, hooks, etc. Get the smallest you can handle.
thread, it's worth the extra buck to get good cotton or cotton-covered-poly thread and skip the bin of 10/$1 crap. Plain white or black will do you fine, unless you feel the burning need to match the fabric.
seam ripper, this little do-dad comes in handy for a few other things. You might consider a tiny pair of snipping scissors as well.
tape measure, the fabric or plastic kind. A ruler won't do on body curves. Make sure your measure is accurate and not made from somthing that stretches. You can quickly go wrong by marking and cutting a measurement inaccurately.
chalk, blackboard chalk is fine if you can't find tailor's chalk. Sometimes white soap works well enough.
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All text and artwork copyright 1990, 1997, 1998, 2000 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
Last modified on February 29, 2000
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