Setting up (or upgrading) a sewing space

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After being spoiled by working in a fully equipped sewing studio for many years, I finally decided to set up a small sewing nook at home.

Although I don’t have much space, and the sewing area is going to be relegated to a small corner of a dark and cold basement, it’ll be nice to have a bare bones sewing area for those times I don’t feel like commuting to sew on the weekends.

For this space, I needed all new tools and equipment, but I wanted to keep the budget low. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few different options for setting up a new sewing space, or upgrading the one you have.

Option 1: The minimalist space

If you don’t have much room or don’t want to spend too much money, this is a good place to start. You can really build onto this foundation, but this is enough for you to get going on your first project, adding tools as you find a need for them. That’s my approach.

Links to the tools are below. Some are in our shop right now, others are amazon affiliate links, but you can also find many of these tools in your local sewing store.


  1. An inexpensive sewing machine. For this, I went with a vintage workhorse, a classic Necchi I bought on eBay. The image is a different model, but you get the point. A good vintage machine can be quite inexpensive if you hunt! [Cost: $100 plus maintenance to get it spruced up.]
  2. Rotary cutter and mat. This isn’t strictly necessary, depending on your preference, but I always use a rotary to cut. I have an A1 size (36×24) and fiskars 45mm rotary cutter. I also bought extra blades. [Cost: for mat $38.99, cutter $11.18, extra blades $14.38]
  3. Marking pencils. My favorite are the Clover Chacopel pencils [Cost: $4.74 for 3]
  4. Dressmaking shears. I always go with gingher! Mine are 8 inch knife-edge dressmaking shears. [Cost: $23.91]
  5. Ruler. Clear rulers are a valuable tool! This is a big 6×24 inch ruler, great for quilting! You could also go with a smaller 18″ ruler for everyday sewing. [Cost: $10.19]
  6. Pins and needles. I always prefer glasshead pins, because they won’t melt. Also, a variety pack of machine needles and hand sewing needles will serve you for a long time. [Cost: About $12]
  7. Pin cushion. The classic tomato, you can’t beat it! [Cost: $3.51]
    8. Tape measure. I actually already had this at home, but didn’t want to leave it out! A tape measure is a must-have. [Cost: $4.99]
  8. Seam ripper. You will inevitably need this tool. I like the scalpel seam rippers best of all. [Cost: $5]

Total cost: About $229, including the $100 I paid for my machine (excluding maintenance).

This doesn’t include supplies for individual projects (like thread), and it does assume you have a few basics at home, like a functioning iron and and ironing board and a table.

This is a very, very basic set up that can get you through at least a few projects before you start itching for more.

Option 2: The upgraded space

These are some common tools and equipment you might add over time, as you uncover new needs or interests. These are the ones I plan to add as space and needs arise.


  1. A sewing cart. For stashing all that stuff away when I’m done. This one looks small and functional, but I feel like I could rig up something cheaper and better looking via Ikea. [Cost: $255.98]
    2. [Tailor’s ham]( and seam roll. Two of my favorite pressing tools, these are at the top of my list. [Cost: $20.44]
  2. Clapper and point presser. I consider the clapper/point presser a necessity for any sort of tailoring, so when I get around to making a coat or jacket at home, I’ll snag one of these. [Cost: $38.99]
  3. Curved rulers (French curves, hip curves, etc). I use my curves frequently for modifying patterns and making adjustments. [Cost: $18.79]
  4. Serger. A little more of an investment, but invaluable for sewing knits or creating quick finishes. The Brother 1034D is an inexpensive, easy to use, tough little machine. [Cost: $207.66]
    6. Bias tape makers. I love these little guys! [Cost: $4.73]

Total cost: $546.59

Of course, you wouldn’t need all of this at once, and some things you could find cheaper solutions for, or ignore all together (like a sewing cart).

Option 3: The fully equipped space

Over time, you find more and more handy tools. The options here are endless, but here are some of the ones we get the most use out of in the ColetteHQ sewing room that you might not have yet. Some require a fair bit of space, others are more specialty tools that still come in handy.


  1. Custom cutting table. We just had one of these guys made for our studio by a man who makes workbenches. [Cost: $300 and a lot of space]
  2. Thread holders. You can mount these on the wall or stand them up on a table or shelf. Alternately, I also like thread caddies. [Cost: holder $26.85, caddy $15.31]
  3. Thread nippers. Snips for those little tails that you can keep close by as you sew and cut. [Cost: $15]
  4. Seam gauge. Not an absolute necessity when you’re starting, but the seam gauge is a tool you will definitely appreciate the more you measure small areas like seam allowances. [Cost: $5.49]
  5. Tweezers. Sewing machine tweezers are very helpful for threading, especially when it comes to the serger. [Cost: $5.79]
  6. Dress form. This is an important piece of equipment, but one that takes up quite a bit of space. I do like the PGM forms, but there are many options. [Cost: About $499]

Total cost: $852.13, including $499 for a dress form.

Again, cheaper options are available!

Of course, there are many, many, many other tools you can add to your sewing kit as you need them, but these are the ones I’d say I use most frequently. The three options build on one another, so you can upgrade slowly over time.

What would you add to the list?

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