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What Are Sewing Notions? The Complete Guide

Sewing notions are the smallest instruments and accessories used on the last leg of a sewing project. Notions are used to finish clothing articles such as snaps, buttons, and collar stays.

The term notions is mostly American and was used extensively during the constructions of the Yankee notions.

Notions encompass a whole range of materials, embellishments, and tools. Needles, pins, thread, measuring, marking, cutting, and pressing tools are regarded as sewing notions.

Further; accessories such as trims, tapes, and fasteners that are attached to the sewing project for function or decoration are categorized as sewing notions.

Sewing notions can further be divided into four smaller groupings to distinguish each instrument/tool for the role it plays. Below, we look at these groups to get a sense of what activity every instrument and accessory undertakes…

You can also check out my recommended list of sewing supplies.

Basic Sewing Notions

These are essential tools that are included in any simple/professional/traveling sewing kit. They come in handy for all levels of sewing projects from the beginner to expert. They include;

Needles: Slim metallic pieces that have a hole in one end. The purpose of these tools is to pull the thread through the fabric to hold pieces together.

Pins: small, slim metal pieces that have a bulb attached on one side. These instruments come in handy when holding fabrics in place for measurements before the material is attached permanently.

Pincushions: these are tiny pillows created to safely hold pins when not in use and avoiding accidentally getting pricked by unsafely stored pins.

Thread: this is a long and thin fiber strand that is made from wool or cotton. The fiber is used together with the needle to hold together garments/materials permanently. I wrote an in-depth article on stitches you can use in your sewing project.

Thimble: Either a plastic or metal piece placed over a finger to keep it from being pricked continuously by a needle while pressing it (the needle) into the fabric.

Fasteners And Closures

For sewing projects that you need to open and close, there is another set of notions that you need to incorporate. Whether you’re working on a jumper, skirt, or a purse; fasteners, and closures will help your project get a secure opening and closing feature.

The most relevant notions for this type of project include:

Zippers: fastening tools that work like a train on a track where two rows of interlocking metal parts come together to form a solid bond.

Buttons: disk-shaped plastic, metal, or wood pieces that are sewn on a single fabric piece which then hooks into slightly smaller holes in the opposite fabric piece.

Swivel hooks: metal clasps that come with opening and closing mechanisms similar to a mini-lever.

Snaps: these are metal pieces that get attached to two fabric pieces, to fasten them, you have to press one piece into the other.

D-hooks: these are curved metal rings that either suspend or holds other pieces.

Cutting Tools

For projects that involve cutting sheets of fabric, shearing off superfluous trim, or snipping runaway thread, you have to use sharp tools to do a professional job. Different cutting tools form part of notions.

The tools come in a  bunch of sizes, and styles to undertake different cutting projects, thus delivering a sound clip each time. These must have notions include;

Shears: although likened to scissors, shears is a different tool altogether. Its handles are two different sizes that are built to accommodate different numbers of fingers, and its use is for cutting a specific material or for a particular purpose.

Scissors: One of the most versatile notions tool that features two blades operated by using some finger force to cut either the fabric or hanging thread. Fingers are inserted in handles for ease of use.

Thread Clippers: small notions tools that are made purposely for snipping off extra thread. These tools come with two blades, and some have a single hole for a thumb insert.

Embroidery Scissors: small scissors that feature two circular finger handles and their blades have pointed edges.

Pinking Shears: shears that come with a serrated blade. These are tools used to cut zig-zag patterns on fabric to protect it from fraying.

Rotary Cutter and Mat: this is a sharp disk that attaches to a handle and rolls over with both the fabric and cutting mat. Its purpose is to cut out straight lines in the fabric.

Seam Rippers: These are notions used for ripping stitches. It’s a long thin tool that is held in a single hand, and it features a forked end.

Trims and Tapes

These are notions whose purpose is to ensure that your sewing project edges remain clean and aesthetically pleasing. For the most part, the notions feature decorative designs that make it possible to add textured flair to the sewing project.

Elastic: a strip of fabric that stretches beyond its natural length after pulling. It retracts back to its original size when let go. The elastic is mainly used in waistband clothing.

Ric-rac: it’s a flat trim that often is zig-zagged and braided. It’s mainly used for finishing the pattern’s edges.

Cording: plain, braided material that resembles poping. The material is used in adding embellishments in sewing designs.

Hem Tape: sew-on or iron strips used in cleanly hemming sewing pieces.

Bias Tape: fabric strips that are used for adding trim in a sewing project.

Ribbon: thin strips of fabric used for decorative purposes. They also come in handy when tying pieces together.

Marking Tools

These are special notions tools that come in handy when you need to set the exact spot on the material to snip, sew, and also for securing your sewing project.

The marking tools have been made to stay on the fabric temporarily as they wash off. You use the notions to mark the spots on which you want buttons, cuts, or folds to appear on the pattern. The most common marking tool notions include;

Liquid Marking Pen: an ink-based marking tool that is washable

Tailor’s Chalk: washable Chalk that is used in marking fabric

Tracing Wheels: comes with a serrated blade that attaches to a handle. The notions tool comes in handy when transferring pattern markings on a piece of fabric.

Here is a breakdown of the marking tools you should use on different types of fabric.

Measuring Tools

For sewing projects that demand a snug fit (Bed sheet or a dress), you need to know where to cut the fabric, sew the hems, and attach embellishments. Measuring tools help you take the precise dimensions of the pattern.

Some of the measuring tools notions that are necessary for your arsenal include:

Sewing Gauge: a small 6-inch ruler that is fitted with a moveable marking device

Tape Measure: a thin, flexible tape that features measurement markings

Rulers: often come as hard marked material strips that have measurements

Pressing Tools

For sewing projects that have you press an open seam, or have to work out crinkles off the fabric for accurate measuring, pressing tools play an essential role in your sewing life.

These are notions tools that make you use heat to get rid of the unwanted texture in the fabrics you’re working on. Some of the prominent pressing tools include:

Ironing board: a flat surface that is used for holding the material as you pass the iron on it. Ironing boards come covered or treated, leaving it protected against heat.

Iron: this is a handheld instrument that features a flat, heated bottom. The ironing instrument is made from steel and connects to a power source to heat the element inside which in turn heats the flat metal surface and gets rid of wrinkles on the fabric.

Pressing Cloth: a fabric piece that you place between the sewing project and the hot iron. Using this Cloth ensures that your fabric remains intact and doesn’t get burnt.

Seam Roll: A rounded surface that comes in handy by pressing seams open when you’re ironing your sewing project.

Tailor’s Ham: this is an oblong, curved, and stuffed pillow whose purpose is aiding in achieving iron contoured fabric patterns.

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