Everyone has to start somewhere and I've listed here my favourite essential tools that every new designer or seamstress should have, that are for other tasks, not just sewing.
2. Croquis Templates
An Illustration template or croquis is a great way to practice your drawing ability and speed up your design process! These ones from Fashionary are my go-to.
3. Pattern Drafting Rulers
Clear Grid Ruler, french curve, hip curve/sleeve ruler, square (metal ones are the standard)
4. Tracing Paper or Grid Paper
5. Steel Head Pins
6. Paper and Fabric Scissors
7. A Tape Measure
8. Marking Pencils or Pens
9. Commercial Sewing Patterns
10. Reference Books on Fashion Design
It's always a good idea to start collecting fashion design books. My favourites include (list here).
And there's more...
Fashionary.org is the place to get sketchbooks, templates and more. Their latest release is the designer bag, perfect to hold most of the tools above while you work on patterns or have fittings. It keeps your tools close in order to grab them easily. Use my code THREADORA10 for 10% off your purchase.
Practice with Half-Scale Patterns
Now you have the tools, all that's left is for you to start designing. With a good pattern drafting book, you can whip up a 1:2 scale bodice of your own and start slashing, spreading and designing new pieces. For sewing methods, I would recommend taking one of my half-scale dress courses! They are made to cover the complicated techniques of dressmaking more easily on a smaller scale.