Notions Guide

notions: small useful things (such as pins, thread, buttons) that are used for sewing
– Merriam-Webster Dicitonary


Needles come in many sizes. For sewing by hand you will want something small (Quilting, Sharps, Milliner, Ball-point) that won’t make a big hole in your fabric.

small needles

Embroidery needles have large eyes, which can make threading easier.

embroidery needles

Tapestry, Chenille, Darning, and Craft needles are much larger. They are better for very thick or woven fabrics, and the large eye can accommodate larger string, yarn or ribbon.

tapestry needles


Here’s a full guide for needles:


Needle Threaders

This inexpensive tool will help you quickly thread your needle. You can also use this when threading the sewing machine needle.

needle threader
They all pretty much look like this.



Straight pins are ideal (and highly recommended) for keeping fabric in place temporarily.

straight pins

Safety Pins are ideal for good for temporarily securing your fabric, and you won’t get stabbed if you try it on.

safety pins


Seam Ripper

A seam ripper allows you to remove stitches without ripping your fabric.

seam ripper

Place the lid on the back to extend the handle.

using a seam ripper

Slide the point under the stitches to cut them. Pull out the loose bits of thread.



Thimbles are used to push needles through thick fabric. You can also use needle nose pliers to pull the needle along.


Scissors & Shears

Aside from your everyday craft scissors, there are many types of scissors used in sewing. Here are a few major ones you may want to invest in.

embroidery scissors

Embroidery scissors are very handy if you’re going to be making small, precise cuts or trimming thread. They are very small and often decorative.


Dressmaker Shears or Fabric Scissors should be very sharp to cut fabric easily. Do not let these scissors cut anything else, or they will dull very quickly.

If you’re going to work with fabric, you’ll want your own pair. Gingher and Mundial are both really good brands.

Pro tip: You can magnetize your scissors to pick up loose pins and needles in one swipe.

pinking shears

Pinking Shears cut in a zigzag pattern. They are used to keep woven fabrics from fraying. This is especially important when working with conductive fabrics where fraying could cause shorts.

Here’s a great article about Essential Scissors:


Fabric Marking Tools


Tailor’s chalk is used to draw out patterns on fabric before cutting. You’ll want to buy several colors so your lines always contrasts the fabric.

tailor's chalk


dressmaker pencils

Quilter or Dressmaker pencils have a brush on the back for removing errors.


Rulers & Guides


These rulers are transparent and are gridded to help with drawing and cutting straight lines.

french curve

You can use a curve to draw smooth collars and armholes.