12 Gifts for Sewing Beginners

Looking for gift ideas for someone who has said “I want to learn how to sew”? Here are suggestions for 12 perfect gifts for the sewing beginner – or anyone you know who sews.

♥ in this post, I am using “beginner” as someone with no experience at all in sewing.

12 Gift Ideas for the Sewing Beginner

What NOT to do to the Sewing Beginner

As a sewing instructor, I have had so many students come to the first class with a sewing machine still in the box. Untouched. “I got this machine as a gift, but I’ve never used it”, is what they say. Every. Time. You know why? The machine is gorgeous, (usually) expensive and a perfectly fine machine – but it’s too complicated for a sewing beginner!

All those buttons, dials and wiggly symbols are scary things for someone who has never used a sewing machine. And what you don’t want to do is scare the crap out of a sewing beginner, because if you do, it will be hard to get them enthused again about learn how to sew. For some of my students, it took more than 10 years for them to finally decide to try sewing after the initial shock of the Big Scary Sewing Machine gift.

A guide to help you select a machine that will do everything you need it to do, without making a huge investment | www.donnaberlanda.com | Stitch selection on a computerized machine
Stitch selection on a computerized machine

Above is a photo of the front panel on one of my computerized sewing machines to show all those squiggles and numbers that are so intimidating to someone who has never touched a sewing machine before. You know what? I’ve been sewing for most of my life, and even *I* hardly use any of those options. And I sew almost every day. (A beginner with a little bit of sewing experience may not be as intimidated by a machine like this one, which is the Singer Stylist. For a detailed explanation of the difference between a simple machine and a computerized machine, read A Guide to Buying Your First Sewing Machine.)

Best machine for the absolute sewing beginner

Juki sewing machine that is perfect for the beginning seamstress

1. The ultimate gift – the best sewing machine EVAR!!!

What you want to get the beginner is a simple sewing machine that will be able to handle a huge range of projects over the long term. No bells or whistles. Preferably not computerized. No buttons to push (well, maybe one – the reverse button).

My daily go-to sewing machine is very, very simple and is probably the best sewing machine I have ever used. It’s not super expensive either! You probably won’t be able to find it in the store, but you can buy it on Amazon – which is where I got mine. It’s the Juki HZL-29Z. Mine is the Juki HZL-27Z, which is the older version. Juki makes industrial sewing machines for the trade, and this is their home sewing version. It’s durable and sews through just about anything.

Sewing projects the beginner can make with this machine: 

  • clothes for adults and kids – with buttonholes & zippers!
  • costumes
  • curtains
  • pillows
  • hemming projects
  • basic quilting projects
  • stuffed toys
  • handbags & accessories

Pretty much anything! (but without decorative stitches or fancy-shaped buttonholes)

More gift ideas for the sewing beginner

If a sewing machine isn’t appropriate or within your budget, here are some suggestions for other gifts that a beginner (or any sewing enthusiast) will appreciate. * All photos here are ones I took of my own machines, supplies and tools. These are things I use on a daily basis, and some tools I have had since I was in 7th grade!

2.  Bobbins

You MUST get the correct size bobbins for the sewing machine the recipient owns! (The wrong size is like putting diesel into a car that uses unleaded, which means disaster!) The Juki machine that I have uses Class 15J bobbins. A pack of 12 bobbins should keep the beginner busy for a while, but here’s a link for a 50-pack that they will definitely make good use of once they get going with their sewing. Other machines use Class 66 bobbins (which are slightly dome-shaped on each side) or Class 15 bobbins.

3.  An assortment of different colours of thread 

This pack would be a welcome gift by anyone who sews! Sometimes, the sewing beginner will forget to buy this one crucial “ingredient” for their sewing project, and this huge assortment will save the day. Coats & Clark has been making thread for ages, and it’s my go-to brand.

4. Good dressmaking shears  

Fiskars shears are perfect for the beginner

A pair of good dressmaking shears make all the difference when cutting fabric. All my shears are Fiskars brand, and I’ve had them for over 20 years. Just don’t cut paper with them!!! (that will dull the blade)

5. Thread Snips

Thread snips

These little thread snips are such a timesaver! When sewing, you are constantly trimming off thread from the machine to the fabric, and large shears can be really cumbersome for this task. Thread snips make it a breeze to snip and get back to sewing.

6. Bodkin

A bodkin that is used for threading elastic through a casing

This weird looking thingie is a bodkin – a tool that is used to pull elastic through a narrow channel on the fabric (usually for a waistband). For years, I used a huge safety pin. Which ALWAYS decided to open ohhhh about 18″ into the channel. Do you know how hard it is to pull out an OPEN safety pin that is lodged inside of a 1″ space and pull it for 18″ without getting jammed (and stuck in the finger a bazillion times)? Oh. And since it’s inside the fabric, you can’t see what you are doing. The solution? A bodkin. For under $5, fingers and sanity will be saved! (Not to mention a huge reduction in swear word usage.)

7. Bamboo Point Turner

A bamboo point turner that is used in sewing

A point turner makes all the difference in making crisp, sharp corners on pillows, pockets, collars, cuffs…and anything else with a corner. The bamboo turner pictured above is one I have had since I started sewing (over *ahem* 40 years ago.) It’s durable and so much cooler than a crappy plastic one. The sides of the point turner can also be used to make a quick crease in fabric – without having to run over to the ironing board.

8. And speaking of ironing…

A good iron is a MUST for sewing. I just got this Hamilton Beach Durathon iron and I love it! It has a retractable cord, and automatically shuts off (with a beeper to warn you) – but resumes heating once you pick the iron up again. That comes in handy, because sewing involves a lot of going back and forth from the sewing machine to the ironing board, and it’s easy to forget that the iron is on. It also has a self-cleaning feature!

9.  Tailor’s chalk pencils

Tailor's chalk pencils that are something every beginning seamstress needs

Tailor’s chalk is necessary to mark pattern markings onto the fabric. Get the pencil kind rather than the chunky rectangles of chalk – those are a pain in the ass. An assortment of tailor’s chalk colours will work on just about any colour fabric, and they last a long time.

10. Sewing machine oil

12 gifts for the sewing beginner - or anyone who sews! | www.donnaberlanda.com

It may not be glamourous, but sewing machine oil is critical for keeping a sewing machine going for years (and years.) It makes a great stocking stuffer!

11. Sewing Basket  

A sewing beginner is going to appreciate a pretty sewing basket to keep all their tools and supplies handy. Heh. We all started with a small sewing basket. Then a bigger one. Next, we take over the dining room table, and then the dining room. And basement. And half the kitchen. Oh. Wait. That’s me. Warning – sewing is addictive!

12. Rolling Sewing Machine Case  

Most of my sewing students use these rolling sewing machine cases to bring their machine to class. It’s also great for keeping a sewing machine clean and stored, since most machines do not come with cases. The one I linked to comes in 5 different colours!

If you need more ideas, there are a few more basic supplies that make great gifts listed here: 15 Essential Sewing Supplies

If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I will do my best to help you out in finding the best gifts!

My recommendations:

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