In this blog post we go over the 7 essentials for a standard DIYer’s kit. These are merely a template for tools that most people will want to have at their disposal when sewing and making gear. Preferences vary as much as people themselves.
For those of you that have your kit dialed, let us know what you use and what you recommend!
1. Cutting Device
We’re going to assume that everyone knows why you need a cutting device.
But something many people overlook is the importance of fabric specific scissors or rotary cutters. Having a blade that is well-sharpened and used just for projects will help you cut finer lines and keep your measurements more precise.
The two most popular options for a cutting device are scissors and rotary cutters. Both tools have strengths and weaknesses and are often used together for a killer duo!
2. Thread Snips
When I was first learning to sew I didn’t believe thread snips were needed. Why add another tool when my full sized scissors cut thread just fine. Well, I did that for a time, until one day I accidentally cut a corner off the bag I was making. No bueno.
Unlike scissors, thread snips are optimal for working in small spaces - hence the small nose and small blades. The scaled-down element of thread snips mitigates the “oh crap” moments.
Lastly, your scissors will dull if you use them for miscellaneous cutting. It's best practice to use them for fabric cutting only.
3. Seam Ripper
I hate to admit it, but seam ripping is a part of many of my DIY projects.
The primary reason is that I like to take on challenges. Inevitably, I’ll make mistakes, but the seam ripper is my secret "undo" button. Since I’m able to seam rip and try again, I actually end up learning a lot more.
If you don’t need this in your kit, then please let us know. You are likely a DIY god and we should like to meet you.
For us mortals, just know that mistakes are totally normal! Seam rippers are cheap, so you might as well snag one and keep learning.
4. Marking Devices
I keep three marking tools in my kit at all times - a white pencil, black pen, and black sharpie.
When you’re working with a variety of fabric colors, textures, materials, and prints, you find yourself struggling to make markings that are noticeable. I have found that these three tools deliver the range of marking ability I need to measure, cut, and fold accurately.
Some people use silver sharpies, colored pencils, chalk, and other marking tools to accomplish the same job.
You may not be sold on the idea of clips, but I cannot overstate their value in the DIYer's tool kit.
Clips replace the job of pins in traditional sewing. Many of the technical fabrics that we carry don’t respond well to being pinned. For example, on some fabrics, each hole is permanent and then needs to be sealed afterwards.
By and large, clips have become the standard for makers to eliminate fabric harm while accomplishing the task of keeping fabric where it should be.
Connecting pack panels, sewing the ridgeline of your tarp, and getting a good felled seam will be much easier with proper clipping. Use clips. You won't regret it.
6. Burning Device
A quick burn is a crucial finishing step for all MYOG projects. Whether that’s running a lighter along the edge of fraying fabrics, melting thread bits down, or whipping the end of a cord, a clean edge is always more professional looking.
Many people use standard lighters for this requirement. They are arguably the easiest, cheapest, and most consistent way to burn ends. Other options include plasma lighters, candles, hot knives, and other burning devices.
Disclaimer: Please be careful with fire around your fabrics. All materials have different melting temperatures and will react differently. Make sure you practice on scrap materials first and never hold the flame too long or too close to the product.
7. Measuring Device
Even the simplest tool comes in many forms.
Makers use rulers, yard sticks, measuring tapes, speed squares, measuring mats, and other hacks to make sure their dimensions are perfect.
The ruler is the unsung hero of makers everywhere. It’s rarely the coolest or flashiest tool in your kit, but it's VERY important. Can you imagine making a pack without having exact measurements? Yikes.
Honorable Mention: Bodkin
What is a bodkin? If you don’t know, then fear not. I’ll let you in on this little secret right now.
A bodkin is a long, thin, and slightly flexible tool with a grasp on one end that helps you easily feed the cord through a channel and continue pushing that cord all the way through to the other end.
I'll go ahead and say it - bodkins are life changing. In fact, you are scientifically guaranteed to be ~40% less angry when making a cinch-top bag. Scout's honor.
And there you have it! These are 7+ tools that make up my personal MYOG tool kit.
Keep in mind that having a different kit doesn’t make you any less of a DIYer. Every maker is on their own journey, so enjoy where you are and learn as you're able.
Let us know what you use or if you have any hacks!