The #1 most important tool in tailoring is a tailor board with clapper. Sadly, it's kind of expensive. But the results it produces are worth the price, and you can usually find these at JoAnn's and use your coupon to take the sting out. Using this for pressing will help you get those nice sharp edges that take the project from home-made to professional-looking. See that pointed end at the right? Press your lapel points on that baby and you will be astounded at how good they look. The one I've been using is Dritz brand with a clapper attached.
Next up is a tailor's ham. I've got two - the one on top is one I made years ago. It's larger, flatter and less curvy. You've probably already got one, but if you don't it's easy enough to make. And you can stuff it with scraps, like I did! The ham is essential for pressing curved areas, like the bust.
Then we've got a sleeve board and/or seam roll. I use my sleeve board constantly; it was a gift from a friend many years ago, so I don't know the brand or where she got it. There are a range of prices on these and you can find them at Amazon, Wawak and the like. A seam roll is a pretty good substitute. I just got mine a few weeks ago, so I haven't used it much.
And a press cloth is necessary, especially if you're using wool. Pressing on the right side through a press cloth will keep you from getting a shine on the fabric. Mine is silk organza. My local fabric shop sells it for $10 a yard; I bought a half yard, cut it in two, and serged around the edges. I've been using this one for about 4 years!
Now on to some materials. You will need shoulder pads and sleeve heads. The ones below were purchased from Wawak. I don't always use these; these shoulder pads are 1/4" foam and they're a little stiff. But they're inexpensive, so a while ago I bought several pairs to have on hand. The sleeve heads are fleece with soft muslin on the outside. I bought a few of these too, but don't always use them. It's easy enough to make sleeve heads out of leftover cotton batting or even fleece, or lambswool if you can find it.
I also got a 100-yard roll of 3" wigan. (Website says 1,000 yards but it's really 100 yards.) Wigan is a bias sew-in interfacing. It's nice and crisp and lovely to work with. It's used at hems to give them some extra body. It's not completely necessary, and sew-in interfacing cut on the bias is a good substitute if you want to use it at the hems. But if you choose to use wigan, you'd need 2 - 3 yards.
And finally - hair canvas and muslin. Plain muslin you can get anywhere - you'll want a yard or two. You may have to order hair canvas though. I got mine at Vogue Fabrics here in Chicago. I checked their website but the one I bought isn't listed there. However, Fashion Sewing Supply carries it, and theirs looks to be good quality. It's expensive, but you should only need a yard - you'll be using it on the fronts, the shoulder and the under collar. No matter where you buy yours though, make sure it's the kind with wool and goat hair, not polyester. You'll be putting it under a lot of steam for shaping.
That wraps up the preparation posts. If you're sewing along, take the next few weeks to choose your pattern and fabrics and assemble your materials and tools. I'll be back at the beginning of October ready to get started!