Preparing For Classes


I recently received my SAGA News with the announcement of the upcoming fall convention, which got me thinking dreaming about upcoming classes and what I could attend.  (If you’re not a current member of SAGA, you are missing out – SAGA has a lot to offer members, both in local guilds as well as with retreats and conventions.)  I’ve been both a student as well as a teacher, so have a pretty good idea about preparing to take a class and thought I’d share what I’ve learned over the years.  I hope to be a student at some of the sewing events this year.

SAGA includes a list of “basic sewing supplies” for students to take to classes, as does Sewing At The Beach and as did the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion when they had their schools in Huntsville.  I combined the lists, since the things on the list would be helpful necessary to have at any/all sewing schools.  Of course, understand that these things are for schools that cater to heirloom sewing, which is what I love to do.  A quilting school would have a different set of required supplies.  🙂

Basic Sewing Supplies to Take to Classes:

Scissors (fabric, paper and embroidery), glass head or fine silk pins, fine line and ultra-fine line water soluble-blue marking pens, #2 pencil and sharpener, tape measure, rulers, white sewing thread, assorted hand sewing needles, seam ripper, pen/paper for taking notes, task lighting and magnification with extension cord and power strip.  If a machine is required, bring machine, power cord, foot petal, manual, extra bobbins and assorted pressure feet as well as a variety of machine needles/sizes.

Heirloom class supplies should also include a lace shaping board and corresponding scissors.  For air travel, I prefer this smaller board, but if I’m driving to a class, I definitely would include the larger lace shaping board.


Hand sewing/embroidery class supplies should include 4″, 6″ & 8″ embroidery hoops.  I have a handy carrying case with zip pockets that hold just about anything I’d need for a hand sewing class.  It keeps everything in one place and has been a great organizer for these things.

IMG_9761 IMG_9759

Suggested machine needles should include #60, 65, 70, 75 & 80, twin needles 1.6/70, 2.0/80, #100 Jeans needle and wing needle.


Suggested threads are white in 60 wt. Mettler, 50 wt. Coats and Clark, 50 wt. DMC, 80 wt. Madeira Tanne cotona, 70 or 100 wt. YLI Heirloom thread.


Suggested pressure feet are 5 groove pintuck foot, open toed foot, edge stitching foot, lace joining foot, piping foot & 1/4″ foot.

Refer to specific classes for additional supplies needed.

This list is the combined list from all these schools.  I realize that it is a long list, but if for the student that is a smocker and does heirloom sewing many of these supplies will already be in the “stash”.  If the student is new to heirloom sewing and hopes to advance their skills, these will be things that will be needed for future projects, so definitely things that should be in the “stash”.

As a student, I always have all of these things (in multiples) with my traveling supplies to the school as well as everything that the teacher has on the list for the specific classes being taken.  I want to get the most out of class and so I prepare well ahead of time in order to acquire all the needed supplies.  With no heirloom shops in the area, most things have to be ordered online.  Like most students, I want my project to look as much like the teacher’s sample as possible, so using the same supplies that she used makes sense to me.

As a teacher, it is my hope that all the students will have the required supplies for the classes.  Students that come unprepared bring unnecessary challenges to the classroom/teacher.  When compiling the list of supplies required for a class, every supply listed IS required and used.  Sometimes there are supplies that are listed as “optional”.  I can assure that I would ALWAYS opt to have these supplies, however, there are “work arounds” if you opt not to bring that supply.

Once you’ve secured all the necessary supplies, it’s nice to have a plan for organizing these supplies so that they are readily visible and on hand when you need them.  I have a great little holder for my supplies.  What I particularly love about this organizer is that it swivels around for easy access to the tools.

IMG_9763 IMG_9764

There’s still a few more things on my “wish” list for class supplies.  One of those things is a rolling tote for my sewing machine.  It sure would make toting a machine to class easier!

I hope that this post is helpful to anyone that plans to take classes at upcoming sewing venues, local SAGA guilds or shops where heirloom classes are being taught.  I also hope that many of the blog readers will have the opportunity to take classes this year.  While it is possible to learn many things online or from books, nothing is quite the same as being able to take a class in person.  In person, you will get little tips/technique demonstrations that aren’t necessarily in the books as well as have the opportunity to have the teacher make suggestions to fine tune your skills/techniques.  Consider one of the many sewing venues available for heirloom sewists this year – you’ll be glad that you did!

Have I missed a necessary supply???  I do bring other supplies that aren’t listed here, but I thought that might be a bit overwhelming to add more things to the list!  LOL!


Edited to add – Don’t forget the bandaides!!!  Am I the only one that needs those?  LOL!

14 thoughts on “Preparing For Classes

  1. Bunny

    I love your bag. Who wouldn’t want to fill it up with lots of goodies for heirloom sewing? I am amazed at the lack of prep on the part of the students. You wonder why they didn’t “get it”. It’s common sense. It’s one thing to have some sort of interrupting incident that incites forgetfulness but to just show unprepared really astounds me. These classes are not inexpensive and I would think someone would follow directions to get the most out of their investment of time and money.

    This is a good post, Kathy. It’s just unfortunate that this lack of prep exists. I would be these are the same people that don’t send back RSVPs.

    1. Kathy Post author

      I’m with you Bunny. The most common response is “I couldn’t find it”. What that says to me is that they waited until the last minute and then went to the chain stores, which don’t carry heirloom supplies or specialty threads/needles.

      There certainly are those that have “oops” moments – where the power cord or foot petal to the machine didn’t make it to class, or something similar. But, the other supplies – well, I just don’t get it either. As you’ve stated – classes aren’t inexpensive and I want to get the most of any class that I’m taking! Having the right supplies is the only way that this is possible. For me, that means gathering supplies early because I have to order online and account for shipping times, etc.

  2. Kathleen

    I agree. However, of the 8-10 Martha Pullen classes I attended there were two teachers who continuously included things in their supply lists that we never touched. I resented the time (and money spent) accumulating these items that were never used. Other students I know also expressed their displeasure. After a few incidents, I just stopped signing up for these teachers’ classes.

    1. Kathy Post author

      That would frustrate me as well Kathleen. I’d be so irritated at purchasing supplies that then weren’t used. I’ve heard others tell me the same thing. The classes and kits are too expensive to waste money on unneeded supplies. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced that.

  3. Ellen

    Great list, Kathy! I’ve got most of these, and will use your list to fill in. i use a foldable luggage rolling cart for my machine, and it’s big enough to stack another bag on top with most of my supplies.

    1. Kathy Post author

      I’ll have to remember to take our luggage cart the next time. It’s my husband’s, so I forget that we have that. Great idea!

    1. Kathy Post author

      The aqua organizer is made by Tote-ally Cool and the zipper case is made by Bluefig. I’ve had both for several years, so not sure if they is still available. If not, you can search for craft organizers and/or craft totes on Google and there are many out there.

  4. Beth Sartori

    Great post, Kathy! People should understand that, the better prepared they are when they arrive to class, the more they will get out of it. I bring a travel mug to class. It keeps me in morning caffeine and afternoon water without the chance of spilling on my neighbor’s project or machine. Some of my favorite classes involve drawn thread work. I take a used machine needle to these classes. The shaft is easy to grip when you need to lift a thread out of your base fabric. If you are lucky enough to attend a SAGA convention there are a couple additions- return address labels for raffle tickets and anything else you need to keep up with and an envelope for each class with exact change for kit fees. It’s frustrating to be in class when the unfortunate teacher is scrambling to make change for kit fees that were announced with more than enough notice for students to be prepared.

    1. Kathy Post author

      How could I have forgotten the return address labels? Those are also a must. They come in handy for labeling your class handouts as well as pattern pieces if you’re in a construction class. The pattern pieces tend to get temporarily “lost” and if you have yours labeled, there’s no question who they belong to. Great suggestions!

  5. donna kazia

    I keep a bag with most of the sewing supplies I would need for any sewing class. Then I add just the unusual ones a teacher would ask for. I save my coupons from the stores and buy the scissors, needles etc. with my 40 or 50% coupon and the costs are not that expensive. It is much easier to pick up your bag with everything in it and not have to go hunting through the house for your supplies.

    1. Kathy Post author

      Yes, you’re so right. I also use my coupons to buy the supplies that I can at the chain stores and then order the heirloom supplies online if there’s other things that I need. The savings with the coupons really add up. Keeping the bag ready is a nice way to stay prepared. 🙂

  6. Lisa Hawkes

    Thank you Kathy for promoting the SAGA Hampton Virginia Convention, September 20-25, 2016. I hope to welcome many of your readers. Thank you also for the thorough supply list!

    Lisa Hawkes
    President, Smocking Arts Guild of America


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *