What Are Sewing Notions?

What Are Sewing Notions?

In sewing, the term “notion” refers to the small and basic sewing accessories. Sewing notions encapsulate a wide variety of items like needles, pins, thimbles, shears, etc.

These sewing notions make your job easier and allow you to provide a professional finish to your craft. There are various sewing notions available, so we compile a list of some of the basic sewing notions that every sewing enthusiast should have. Having the right notions can make your sewing much more productive and enjoyable.

What are the different kinds of sewing notions?

Needle with red thread on red background.


Needles are probably the most essential sewing notions. It’s impossible not to find a needle in every sewing kit. The needle does the actual job of stitching, whether by hand or as part of a sewing machine.  For sewing machines, there are specific needles that are needed in order for the machines to work efficiently. For more info on sewing machines and how to find the best ones, check out the Guide to Selecting a Sewing Machine.

A length of thread is fed through the eye of the needle. The needle’s other tip, called a point, is then passed in and out of the fabric at hand, pulling the thread with it and creating stitches.

Even though needles are a no-brainer notion, they come in different variants, and you have to choose a type according to your skill level and the sewing project on hand. It would be best to purchase a comprehensive set of needles as you will have every needle for just about any job.

If you’re new to sewing, you will find out that there is not just one type of needle. And if you’re already a sewing geek, you may have already been familiar with most of these types below:

  • Universal – The point of this type of needle is typically slightly rounded. Universal needles are ideal for woven textiles, such as cotton. For knitted fabrics, universal needles may be sharp.
  • Ballpoint – The point of this type of needle is typically rounded, which allows the needle to pass through any fabric ends easily instead of piercing them. Ballpoint needles are ideal for knitted fabrics.
  • Quilting – Quilting needles are typically short, have a round eye, and feature a tapered point, allowing them to sew easily through intersecting seams and thick quilt layers. They are ideal for machine quilting and can also be used for piercing.
  • Sharp – Sharps are all-purpose needles used for everyday purposes. They usually have long shafts with a sharp point to pierce woven fabrics. These needles are used in dressmaking to make certain stitches, such as French knots and bullion knots in counted work, smocking, and applique.
  • Leather – Leather needles typically have a sharp tip shaped like a triangle for piercing into any non-woven fabric, such as leather of every type (genuine and faux) and vinyl.
  • Denim – Denim needles typically feature a string shaft and a sharp point. They are used for heavy and tightly woven fabrics such as denim, duck, and canvas.
  • Topstitching – Topstitching needles feature a sharp point, a large groove, and an enormous eye. 
  • Stretch – They are used for lightweight knits such as silk jerseys, lycra, and other fabrics with high elasticity.
  • Serger – Serger needles are specifically used for overlock machines. They typically have a sharp point and can be used on all fabrics.
  • Embroidery or crewel – These needles are used for machine embroidery with long narrow eyes and a very sharp point. Specialty threads like rayon and acrylic require these types of needles.
  • Metallic – Metallic needles feature a sharp point, a large groove scarf, and a very large eye. Metallic and monofilament threads need these types of needles.
  • Wing – These needles feature flared “wings” on both sides of the shaft. They are used for stitching heirlooms and ornamental stitches on linen and Batiste fabric.
  • Twin – These needles have a single shaft connecting two needles together. They are used to achieve perfectly parallel stitches. You can see parallel stitching in jeans and other clothing with decorative stitches.
  • Triple – These needles are similar to the twin needle, except that it has a single shaft connecting three needles together. Triple needles require a compatible sewing machine to work successfully.

colorful thread


Now, how can you make functional and decorative stitches without a thread? The polyester thread is the most familiar and versatile as it is used for most projects, that’s why it’s sometimes called “all purpose.”

Other types of thread include: cotton, elastic, embroidery, upholstery, metallic, denim, nylon, rayon, silk, and a lot more. 

No matter which type you’ll use, choose threads that are of good quality as you will save yourself from the frustration of threads snapping. Sometimes, your project may call for a specialized thread such embroidery thread, upholstery thread, or metallic thread.

Colorful Round pins dipped in the needle pad


Pins are also indispensable to most sewing projects. They look like needles, except that they have heads but do not have eyes. They are generally used to hold two pieces of fabric before these pieces have been joined by stitches, ensuring that the seams are placed accurately. Then the pins are removed in stages as the stitching continues.

Thimble Cropped


When your fingers need protection, you will need a thimble. Thimbles are used to push the needle through the fabric as often as you need without ending up with a sore finger. Thimbles are made from different materials such as metal, plastic, leather, wood, rubber, and even glass or china. 


Tailor cutting fabric

Scissors and shears

Of course, you will need scissors and shears to cut your fabrics into desired shapes. Shears are the modified variant of regular scissors, as they’re designed for fabrics. Unlike your usual scissors, shears are sharper, larger, and fancier. You may need larger shears if the fabric is thicker, whereas you may use your regular scissors for less complicated projects.

closeup on seamstress unthread

Seam ripper

Seam rippers are a must-have in every seamstress’ toolkit, and you would not judge them for their simple appearance or size. Seam rippers are excellent for fixing significant sewing mistakes without having to ruin the fabric or any part of an unfinished sewing project. They are also useful in releasing a hem that must be re-adjusted. There is also no need to spend a hefty sum on them. As long they are sharp, they’re good to go.

Yellow measuring tape isolated on white background

Measuring tape

A measuring tape is also one of the essentials in every sewing kit – and you must have this item. Without a measuring tape, you will find yourself grappling with your project. In buying a measuring tape, choose one that’s extra long and flexible to measure any length of fabric. The key is to find a measuring tape that does not stretch. If a measuring tape tends to stretch, it will result in inaccurate and inconsistent measurements. 

Metallic tracing wheel with wooden handle on white background.

Tracing wheel

A tracing wheel is a pattern-making tool featuring a wheel attached to a handle. The wheel may be toothed or serrated. As the name suggests, a tracing wheel is used to transfer markings from sewing patterns onto fabric with or without requiring the tracing paper. Tracing wheels are also used to create slotted perforations. Tracing wheels can be single or double, so choose one according to your needs.

Mark cloth with special white pen

Erasable pencils, markers, or pens

As you’re filling your sewing kit, you should include erasable pencils, markers, or pens, as you will need them to mark your fabric whenever you cut or stitch it. As they’re erasable, these are designed to be removed easily by simply brushing or cleaning with a damp cloth.

Sewing pins and pin cushion

Pin cushions

You will need something to hold all your pins and needles. Conventional pin cushions are pads that are like tiny pillows – they’re inexpensive and available in different sizes and colors. Or, you can make your own from small fabric scraps. There are also magnetic pin cushions which sweeps up all your pins and needles from a short distance and stacks them up into an organized pile.

Whether it is about cutting fabrics, sewing, or ripping threads, the abovementioned sewing notions are must-haves in your sewing toolkit. Start by getting familiar with the basics and then move on to bigger projects that will direct you towards more specialized tools, further enhancing your skillset.