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Project Series: Sewing Expressions Use: Project Workshops, Club Meetings, Skillathons, Day Camp, Camp Classes, Assemblies, After-school

Project Series: Sewing Expressions


Project Workshops, Club Meetings, Skillathons, Day Camp, Camp Classes, Assemblies, After-school Sessions, Field Day, 4-H Project Awareness Event, 4-H Enrollment Night


Build awareness of and interest in the Sewing curriculum.

Provide youths and adults opportunities to experience hands-on Sewing curriculum activities.

Create an environment where youths and adults interact through hands-on Sewing activities.


30 minutes

Materials: Samples of sewing tools, place cards with tool names and tool descriptions


Tools of the Trade

The best tools produce the best results no matter what the craft. Sewing is no exception. You will save money in the long run when you sew, so it pays to buy the best tools you can afford. Some tools are absolute necessities; others make sewing easier but are not essential. Do not try to own one of every sewing gadget on the market or you will have clutter rather than more efficient sewing equipment. Each person must decide what is essential and what is not, depending on the type and amount of sewing to be done.

Keep all your sewing tools in the same place. Storage containers come in all shapes and sizes these days. One with a combination of drawers and compartments would be ideal. Having everything handy when you need it saves time and energy and makes for more efficient work habits.

Now let’s take a look at some basic sewing tools. Sewing tools can be grouped according to their use:

Cutting tools – Scissors and shears are used to cut fabrics, clip threads, and trim seams. Special shears are scissors are available for left-handed people.


Measuring tools – Accurate measurements are important in sewing. If your measurements are not correct, your finished project will not look or fit as it should.

Marking tools – Pattern markings are like the signs along a highway! Markings provide guides for assembling and sewing a project. These markings must be transferred to your fabric.


Sewing tools – Of the many sewing tools made, some such as needles, pins, seam ripper, and thread are necessities. Others, though not really necessary, are very handy for general sewing—a needle threader and thimble, for example.


Pressing tools – Pressing is an important part of sewing. For a sewing project to look its best, each line of stitching should be pressed as it is completed.


Learning to sew well requires that you use the right tools. This activity will help youths increase hand tool knowledge and learn about the types of cutting, measuring, marking, sewing, and pressing tools available and what functions they serve.

Lay out the sewing tools.

Lay out the name cards of the tools.

Have members place the tool name on the correct tool.

Have youths practice naming the sewing tools until they can recognize and name them on sight. Begin with a few sewing tools and increase the number as the youths’ knowledge base increases.

Activity Discussion Questions:

  • 1. What different sewing tools were you able to identify?

  • 2. Why is it important to know the names of your tools?

  • 3. Why is it important to know how to care for your tools?

  • 4. What might happen if one of your tools was damaged or missing?

  • 5. Why is safety important when using sewing tools?

  • 6. What hand tools have you used?

  • 7. What life skill(s) did you use to identify sewing tools?

Additional Background Information:

The first tape measure was introduced during the War of 1812.

A tailor’s ham and a seam roll have two sides. One half of the pressing surface is wool and the other half is cotton. Use the wool side for woolens, synthetic blends, and fabrics requiring low to medium temperatures. Use the cotton side for cotton, linen, and fabrics requiring medium to high temperatures.

The first sewing needles were handmade out of bone by western Europeans and central Asians.

Some sewing machines include two types of throat plates: a zigzag throat plate and a straight stitch throat plate. The zigzag throat plate has a wide opening for the needle. The straight stitch throat plate has a small round hole for the needle.

Balanced stitching looks the same on both sides of the fabric. A balanced stitch looks good and lasts longer than stitching which is unbalanced. If your stitching looks different on one side, adjust the tension on your sewing machine.

Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Director, Cooperative Extension Service, West Virginia University.