Favourite books – sewing
Chosen your style and lovingly crafted your pattern ? Now on to making the garment.
Here are some favourite books on sewing technique.
Several limitations on my sewing book list :
– Many beginners sewing books have a lot on home dec. Square shapes, simple to sew and fit – easy cushions/ pillows and curtains/ drapes. But except for patchwork that doesn’t much interest me, so I don’t notice those books.
– I like learning by being guided through a specific sequence of projects, carefully chosen to introduce new skills. I know many people don’t like that. You have to be willing to make things that aren’t your ideal choice !
– I love wardrobe pattern books. But there are many with patterns for dresses, which I don’t wear. So I haven’t got those books.
– Books on tailoring – none of those either as I don’t wear structured clothes.
– There also are many more advanced books on embellishing clothes, sorry I’m not expert on them.
– And I’m no help when it comes to the best guidance on specialist techniques like sewing lingerie, or advanced and couture technique.
So this sewing booklist is like my other lists – very affected by personal preferences. There are many books which are much loved by other people and have good instructions, but which I don’t mention.
As we all have different styles of sewing and learning, there’s no guarantee these will work well for you too !
I like project based books for learning, though I also really like videos demos for the practical aspects of sewing, to feel secure that I know what to do (see right hand menu). I can learn from good books, and like to keep them by me for a speedy easy-access reminder.
There are several other books I like, but these are the ones I return to more often.
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Little Course in Sewing
Gentle lead-in with project sequence for hand then machine sewing (not much on clothes)
Kate Haxell Me and My Sewing Machine
Basic sewing machine processes, For reference, not project based.
Jane Eayre Fryer The Mary Frances Sewing Book
This is the 100th anniversary edition with patterns included for 18 inch dolls – hand sew a sequence of early 20c styles.
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Advanced beginner, project based instructions
Kerstin Martensson Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way
Simple basic wardrobe – full size traceable patterns included for tee, dartless blouse, 2 skirts and pants with elastic waist, with simple instructions for pattern alterations.
Kay Whitt Sew Serendipity
3 basic full-size tissue patterns included. Variations with ideas for fabric combinations and added trims. Instructions have hand drawings in the style of this illustration. A bit more advanced than the Kwik Sew book (includes zips, trims).
The next book is full of embellishment ideas. There must be hundreds of books with little crafty projects, most of which don’t appeal. This town has good libraries and bookstores so I can check out many of them (sadly no full-scope fabric shop !). So I know only a very small number of these books are to my taste. This must be a very individual matter, so there’s no guarantee the ones I like will suit other people.
For some reason I do return to Get the most from your sewing machine by Marion Elliot, inspires me to have fun with my sewing. Being inconsistent, I don’t actually use the projects in this book. But there are so many suggestions for other things to do with the techniques.
out of print
Garments for beginners
An alternative to the Kwik Sew book. Project sequence of similar garments, though no patterns included (and these days there’s no simple wardrobe pattern for wovens). Simple jacket and vest but no basic blouse. A bit easier than the Kwik Sew book as it doesn’t include collars or pattern alterations. The advantage is this has photos of technique, which I prefer.
Patricia Moyes Sewing Basics
A technique book but organised by type of garment, e.g. all the techniques you can choose between to make pants. No jacket linings or notch collars. More advanced than the Kwik Sew and Kay Whitt books, photos and line drawings.
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Intermediate – wardrobe pattern books
Alison Smith Dressmaking
12 basic patterns supplied for classic styles, with 19 simple pattern variations, excellent detailed technique photos. Could be used as a project sequence. Patterns have to be enlarged from squared diagrams, or downloaded.
(P.S. There can probably never be one sewing book that’s ideal for everyone, as we all have different clothing and learning styles.
The patterns in The Great British Sewing Bee book by Tessa Eveleigh are prettier, and it includes beginner projects and home dec.
But the technical instruction in Alison Smith’s Dressmaking book is very much better. And it goes 3 sizes bigger.)
I also enjoy the style of Japanese sewing books, available from Simply Pretty.
Slouchy crafter casual.
Very visual presentation of technique. Full size traceable patterns included, though usually only small sizes (Extra Large has 38 in. hips !) I have several of these but none stands out as ‘the’ one. Several have been translated into English but none of my favourites.
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Intermediate – Pockets
A specialist little group. Apart from changing fabric or trim, changing pockets is the easiest way to make the same pattern again and make it look different. There are several out-of-print books on sewing them.
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Intermediate – reference books on general technique
Cole & Czachor Professional sewing techniques for designers
High-end RTW boutique sewing. Mainly written instructions, so not for beginners.
Sandra Betzina More Fabric Savvy
Practical details of needle sizes, stitches, threads, technique. for sewing many fabrics.
out of print
Threads magazine Easy Guides (Sewing Companion Library)
Full of information and inspiration.
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Other media for advice on sewing ?
There are a lot of suggestions for on-line videos and DVDs in my posts on learning, if you prefer demos to books (see Index page 8). And many links in the right-hand menu.
I also collect 19C sewing books so yes, I’ve got many sewing books I like !
Hope you find pleasure, supportive guidance, inspiration that is right for you 😀
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Links available June 2013
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