Considering Making a Dress? Here’s What You Need

Dressmaking for the novice or beginner – the basic equipment you need to begin sewing

For the novice or beginner dressmaker, it doesn’t take much to get started, with only minimal equipment necessary – mainly a sewing machine and an iron.

The Basic Necessities

sewing tools

  • Tape Measure – in cm and inches. The standard 150cm/60” length is ideal
  • Pins – thin and long dressmakers steel pins. Mine are 34 x .06mm with flat heads
  • Sewing Needles – a package of mixed hand sewing needles
  • Sharp Dressmaking Scissors – a sharp pair of dressmaking scissors are expensive but worth the investment. The sharper the better so you can cut fabric without blunting.
  • Tailor’s Chalk – chalk pencils in dark colors (blue or pink) and a light one (white) are perfect to mark fabric
  • Ruler, Rubber, and Pencil – to make alterations to patterns
  • Iron and Ironing Board – dressmaking involves a lot of ironing and you will have to iron patterns and fabric often. A steam iron is preferred
  • Sewing Machine – unless you prefer to sew everything by hand, a sewing machine is quicker and saves a lot of time

Other Useful Items for Beginners


  • Pincushion and Magnet – make your own or buy a small one to keep ppins in one convenient place
  • Seam Ripper – inexpensive and ideal for fixing mistakes
  • Small Sharp Shears – to cut thread
  • Cheap Scissors – to cut patterns
  • Large Bristle Paint brush – sizes 10-14 are perfect to clean fluff from your sewing machine
  • Extra Bobbins – keep several colors of thread available with a pack of plastic bobbins that fit over your machine
  • Pressing Cloth – prevents shine on fabric when ironing


Buying Dressmaking Equipment

For the most basic dressmaking equipment, a local sewing shop may have everything you need. General arts and crafts stores may also carry sewing items. There are several websites that provide sales on everything from an easy-to-use sewing machine to guidebooks, with Amazon providing an extensive list of retailers selling their merchandise. Online dressmaking suppliers also offer an extensive range of products, with many of these accessories considerations to buy when you need them. Some items to consider later on include:

Dressmakers Dummy

  • Dressmakers Dummy – ideal for fitting shirts and blouses, a dressmakers dummy is an expensive investment but it is possible to work without one
  • Extra Feet – your sewing machine should come with additional feet, with zipper feet and concealed zips particularly useful
  • Storage – containers for fabric, haberdashery, embellishments; purchase plastic boxes from a local DIY store
  • Specialized Ironing Equipment – tailor’s ham, pressing cloth, and a sleeve board
  • Pattern Making Items – pattern paper, and bendy curves for pattern making and also a metre rule
  • Assorted Extras – strap turner, stiletto, pinking shears, et cetera, et cetera. These are items for more specialized projects that are nice to have around, but not absolutely necessary when first starting.


Where to Store Dressmaking Equipment


Your dressmaking area will need a workstation stable with an ironing board set up nearby for convenience. Ideally, there should be a corner of your house to place a table and store all of your dressmaking items. A lot of time can be saved if you don’t have to waste time looking for your equipment every time you want to get started. It helps to be able to leave projects out between breaks.