It might all seem like a bit of a minefield but don’t worry as the equipment you need to get started isn’t that extensive. A sewing machine is an essential but these don’t have to cost the earth. Apart from that, you’ll just need access to an iron, a table and somewhere to keep all your bits and bobs. Here are a few things to get you started:

  • Pins –  steel pins which need to be long and thin.
  • Tape measure – ideally with cm and inches.
  • Sewing needles
  • Dressmaking scissors or shears – you will want a good quality pair but until you know whether you’ll be taking up dressmaking long-term then an adequate pair will suffice in the beginning.
  • Chalk pencils – these are great for marking fabric easily. Go for one dark and one light for different coloured fabrics.

The following items aren’t compulsory but very handy:

  • Pincushion – helpful for keeping your pins and needles in one place.
  • Small sharp scissors – for snipping loose thread.
  • Seam ripper –  handy for fixing mistakes.
  • Pressing cloth – this stops any shine appearing on fabric when you iron but you don’t have to buy anything special as a tea towel will suffice.

Where can I buy dressmaking equipment?

Everything needed for a beginner can be found in local sewing shops or larger department stores. Craft stores, like Hobbycraft are also a good place to look for basic sewing materials. For Dress Fabric Online, visit

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How to choose a sewing machine:

A lot will depend on your budget and your experience level. Opting for a more expensive machine will get you more bells and whistles but do you really need them? The benefit of a top of the range machine is that you don’t even need to know how to sew!

Occasional sewing – a mechanical machine might be the best options for those who don’t intend to sew very often or are on a budget. You would need to work everything by hand and be able to complete basic repairs, hems and simple clothing patterns. Even a basic machine should handle a variety of fabric without damage to the fabric or loose stitching.

Frequent sewing – Having a larger budget or an intention to use the machine frequently means that an electronic machine might be your best option. You’ll find touchpad controls, various presser feet for more challenging stitching and tons of different settings.

Features to consider:

You’ll want a machine that is nicely responsive on the foot pedal with controls that are easy to reach and easy to position. Lighting should be effective and symbols should be very clear and visible. When thinking about storage, if you will be putting the machine away after use, you want to choose one that is lightweight and has a good handle. You’ll also want to check the machine’s maximum stitch width and length. A machine with a top-loading bobbin is much easier than older brands and check for a clear panel which allows you to see when thread is running low.