Over the years, I’ve accumulated lots of tools and equipment that I use for pattern making, sewing and craft projects. You could say one of my guilty pleasures is shopping for fashion design and sewing tools, I know it may sound strange but I’m not the only one that does this… my fellow creative friends can relate to this. When I was a student my siblings and I use to let’s say disagree when it came to my scissor and its usage. It’s funny when you say to someone they can’t use your fabric shears to cut random things it becomes a heated debate. I’ve invested a lot of dollars in my tools from the get-go because I wanted to get good mileage out of them before they become collector’s items.
OK, let’s dive in; these are the 13 fashion pattern cutting and sewing tools and equipment I can’t live without, even if I tried. Just having the correct tools and equipment makes my job even more of a pleasure to do. I’ve always advised my students to keep their tools in a tool bag or box to preserve them. I remember my first week at fashion college we made a sewing tool bag in our pattern cutting lesson and yes I’ve kept the tool bag but I no longer use it as its worn out. It’s now become a collector’s item. I’ve since updated to this one.
1. Nothing beats having a comfortable pair of scissors to cut fabric especially when you’re cutting all day. I use my card scissors to cut manila card, it’s heavy with a short blade and a long handle. When you cut along a pencil line on the card using the length of the blade you end up with a smooth cut line whilst resting the scissor on the table, the main reason why I like to use a mechanical pencil with a 0.3mm lead.
I like using these lightweight scissors when I’m cutting lining, silks and fusible interfacing. It has long blades and what’s good about this type of scissor is the scissors rest on the table as you cut the fabric.
This type of fabric shears is heavy like the card scissors, I have a collection of scissors that I use for varies types of fabrics wool, silk, net, linen and cotton with the size ranging from small to large.
2. When I’m collaborating with a designer, company or fashion house I always have a set of block patterns or customised block patterns that are made to the client’s specifications, this enables me to crank out flat patterns effectively.
3. I’ve got a thing about mechanical pencils. I like to use a 2h or 4h 0.5mm lead pencil when I’m drafting and creating patterns on pattern paper. When I’m teaching online I sometimes use an HB or coloured pencils with a 0.5mm lead so it’s visible on the screen.
4. Over the years I’ve used a pattern maker, fashion curve and a set square. These can be used to create patterns, draw straight lines, add seam allowances, mark in hip-lines, grain-lines, establish 45 and 90-degree angles, neckline curves, shape armholes, measure around curves, use as a compass and grade patterns. One of my students gave me a beautiful set of see through grading rulers from China and I’ve been attached to these bad boys ever since. Their very light, compact and it also has 0.5mm and 0.7mm markings.
5. Omg, I couldn’t leave home without Alice and Co. I was first introduced to Alice and Co when I started Fashion College. It just made so much sense to invest in a professional dress stand of my own; frankly, it’s a pain to do fittings in the mirror. You can make the dress stand larger by making covers in larger sizes to fit on your size 10 dress stand, just like they do at the Dior fashion house. And co is the half-scale dress stand I use when I’m demonstrating making patterns to students or when I collaborating with a designer or fashion house to create couture collections using expensive fabrics.
6. My tape measure usually spends the day around my neck. I don’t like tape measures that have a 2cm metal tip on the end because it’s covering a part of the measurements. It has to be fibreglass all the way; the others I find tend to stretch or the markings fade really quickly. I use a narrow tape measure when I’m working on a small scale, this allows me to measure in the smallest places on the pattern on whilst measuring on the stand.
7. Whenever I need to create style lines on a 3d design (on the stand) I use either adhesive styling tape or cotton stay tape with pins. I don’t use the adhesive styling tape directly on the stand because it makes the stand become sticky after a while, so I create a duplicate body and place it on the stand and then use adhesive styling tape.
8. I’m a stickler when it comes to sewing pins; I use the colour headed long pins for the majority of projects i.e. silk, lace, jersey etc. I don’t like machining over my pins as they become blunt and it also ruins my sewing machine.
9. This is my faithful friend my pattern notcher, this particular one I love because the notch is 0.3mm wide. Others I’ve used in the past have a 0.5mm notch. Can you imagine a pattern without notches?
10. This professional spot and cross pattern paper is widely used in the industry by pattern makers to create paper patterns, it’s available in various widths on a large roll or you can purchase small quantities. I also use plain pattern paper to sandwich fluid fabrics like crepe satin or Georgette in between then I place my pattern on the top with weights sometimes with clamps before cutting out, you have much more control and this stabilises the fabric. The manilla card is used for block patterns.
11. You’ll be amazed at the amount of scotch magic tape you use each season. I prefer to use the magic tape because it does what it says on the tin (whenever I write, draw and erase pencil lines its like magic).
12. I use different size pattern weights to hold fabric and paper in place they are a god sends especially when I’m working on a large bridal or red carpet gown. Pinning and cutting volumes of fabrics can be very time-consuming.
13. Last but not least is (drum roll please) my industrial sewing machine. Whenever I sit at my machine I cruise off into another world… I have wonderful memories of when I first started sewing with my mum at the age of seven. This bad boy is a must if you’re doing lots of sewing or you could use a good quality and sturdy domestic sewing machine. Just make sure you test out various domestic or industrial sewing machines before you purchase the chosen one.
In a nutshell, when you invest or have the correct tools and equipment for any job, boy does it make your life a whole lot easier. Are you new to fashion pattern cutting, sewing or crafts? Check out my list of tools and equipment here.