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What sewing book do you turn to most often?

My sewing bible, "Singer Sewing Book"

When I was young and a beginning, passionate sewer, I could always count on my mother to guide me through any sewing stumbling block. She adeptly used every obstacle as a teaching moment. I learned so much from her!

Once I was on my own, married with children, there was no one nearby to turn to. My difficulties were much less frequent, but when they did occur, I had to rely on other sources to find answers or to steer my sewing to the next level. The only general sewing book I owned was “Singer Sewing Book.” It had been my mother’s, and is quite well-worn, but it has answered all of my niggling questions since my mother’s death many years ago.

Of course, once I joined the Threads staff 12 years ago, I gained access to the best resource ever- Threads-(OK, so maybe I’m a little predudiced!), and the wonderful sewing colleagues I work with are equally as wonderful. But, just as I can’t seem to part with my issues of Threads despite having the Threads DVD Archive, I also can’t part with that copy of the “Singer Sewing Book.” I guess it has become the warm fuzzy reference on my book shlef. I rarely use it anymore, but it’s a staple in my sewing room nevertheless.

As you might expect, the staff at Threads is hopeful that our most recent special issue, Teach Yourself to Sew, and companion DVD series will become the new sewing go-to resources for anyone who is just starting out or even someone who simply wants to brush up on rusty sewing skills. 

What do you most frequently turn to in a desperate sewing moment? Please tell us about your most faithful resources.


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  1. Cherlyn | | #1

    When I became more passionate about sewing, I purchased a Vogue Sewing book becasue I was so interested in tailoring. It was difficult to locate many of the items mentioned in the book for taloring in my small city. Even though, we have grown over the years, quilting has serged since we have a hugh quilt show in the area every spring. Our beloved fabric store gradually switched all fabrics and notions over for quilters.

    The book taught me skills that were missing and I found that I often prefer to use Vogue patterns over others because of their great care in details for construction. I have depended on "Threads" magazine for ideas to update old patterns and spark creative ideas. I enjoy the articles that discuss fabric stores in larger cities so that when I go visit these cities I already have my list ready!

  2. Fredwb | | #2

    The manual that came with my Singer CE250
    It has alot of info in it! Stitches, how to make them and where to use them, along with needle sizes and types and when and where to use them.

  3. Fredwb | | #3

    The manual that came with my Singer CE250
    It has alot of info in it! Stitches, how to make them and where to use them, along with needle sizes and types and when and where to use them.

  4. ladysewsew | | #4

    My absolute favorite book is my "Couture Sewing Techniques" by Claire Shaffer. I ordered it when I was making my daughter's wedding gown this year. It was indispensable and I wish I had had it years ago. I love how well organized and illustrated it is. The 1993 and before fashion photos may be a little dated, but the techniques are still relevant when assembling a garment. I love this book. I have several other reference books, but I always start with this one.

  5. User avater
    ajohn075 | | #5

    I am fortunate to have not one, but several reference resources at my fingertips. My favorite (and what seems to be my "go to") is my Singer Sewing Reference Library collection. I think I own approximately 20 or so volumes, each covering a specific sewing topic. I recently relied upon the "Sewing for Special Occassions" volume to self-educate on construction techniques while sewing a prom dress for my daughter this past Spring. Although these books were published during the eighties, I have found the information contained in each invaluable and I highly recommend adding this library to your collection of sewing reference material.

  6. jennielee226 | | #6

    I love the sewing answer book. I have read it from cover to cover. Every question I have had so far has been answered in that book along with questions I didn't think to ask.

  7. User avater
    LLaMona | | #7

    My go to book is really related to fitting which of course is necessary for a well sewn garment. The book is "Fit for Real People". For help with sewing, I have quite a few, but seem to go to Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing book.

  8. AmyGail | | #8

    I have a lot of books but, at the risk of sounding like a brown noser, I find myself looking through past issues of Threads for knowledge, instruction, and inspiration. This habit really annoys my husband because of the mountain of magazines at my feet but I always find what I am looking for when I have a problem or question. (And I eventually put the
    magazines back in their place.) There are two magazines lying open in my sewing room right now, one by the machine and one on the cutting table.

  9. User avater
    Thimblefingers | | #9

    My sewing library fills an entire bookcase with the extension to the ceiling (PLUS almost all issues of Threads and all issues of Vogue Patterns from 1975). When I was young and learning to sew, I used the Vogue Sewing Book and Reader's Digest Sewing Book often. Now that I am older, with many years of sewing behind me, I don't use them often but highly recommend them to inexperienced sewers. It seems that each of my many books has strong points that the others don't so what book I use really depends on what I'm sewing. I also have the Singer Sewing Reference Library and it is not only a beautiful series, it is excellently written and easy to understand. It is well-used. I even have the pictured book. I purchased it from a used book store. I love it's introduction and often read it in my sewing classes - how the act of sewing has changed over the years! It also has drawings with wonderful creative ideas that I still peruse when I hit a creative block.

  10. Sewnknit | | #10

    I also love my Reader's Digest Sewing book. It is the greatest! I have a version that is from the 70's. I also recently acquired an older Better Homes and Gardeng Sewing book. That one is excellent too. And then of course my Vogue Sewing book. I have referred quite often to that book too. I couldn't be without any of these sewing books. I am still learning to sew and look foward to using these books and Threads magazines in the time to come to help me advance in my sewing skills.

  11. LizPf2 | | #11

    My favorite is _The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing_, by Kathleen Fasanella. Though this book has only a few pages of sewing content (most is business and production methods), the information is so good that it's always the first book I turn to.

    Kathleen also has some tutorials on her website that I use when I can.

    For other tasks, I use Sandra Betzina's _Power Sewing_ and my 1970s era Vogue Sewing Book, a.k.a. The Big Fat Sewing Book. Though sometimes the methods in these books aren't the best, they give me a base to start from.

  12. namaskar | | #12

    with out a doubt Sandra Betzina's POWER SEWING.. i have it out with every thing i make. Wish I had a serger book that was that complete.. I do use The Ultimate Serger answer guide /Baker Brown.. but it does not have my serger the 8 thread babylock..

  13. dbtomczak | | #13

    My go-to book is my '70s-something edition of "The Vogue Book of Sewing." It is my source of information on little-used techniques that have leaked out of my head over the years. A couple of years ago, I wanted to make over a damaged vintage suede coat with a beautiful mink collar into a jacket, but I couldn't find anything current about sewing with real fur. The instructions given in that book made the whole project much less scary, and the results were amazing.

  14. asrollins | | #14

    Although I have LOTS of sewing references (as I am sure a lot of you do also) my favorite go-to reference is "Simplicity Sewing Book." The price--$1. It was the required text for a sewing class I took my senior year of college back in 1970.

    I like it so much when I found a copy in an antique mall I purchased it for my daughter to have as a reference. In case you are interested you can recognize it by the price printed on both the cover and the spine. There have been updated versions since then but this older edition is still my favorite. It is a magazine size paperback.

    You know I think I will run over to the local office supply store later today and have it spiral bound. Don't know why I haven't thought of that before!

  15. Liz92B | | #15

    I always turn to my 1969 Singer Sewing Book... I have probably tried just about everything in that book, including the tailoring sections!

  16. TrophyWife | | #16

    I agree with LadySewSew about Clair Shaffer's "Coutour Sewing Techniques".

    In my opinion the most useful sewing book ever written is the Bishop Method of Clothing Construction, by Edna Bryte Bishop. I own 2 different editions, and recommend them highly.

  17. tigerb | | #17

    For fitting, my copy of Nancy Zieman's "Fitting Finesse" is always on hand. I used use "Busy Woman's Sewing Book" a lot, but it has vanished somewhere in the workroom! I really wish I could have found it for my notched lapel problems the other day...

  18. blondielou | | #18

    I have cut out articles from Threads and other sources and put them in a 3 ring binder and then put them in order of use of fit, sewing, serging, embellishment, etc. and when I need something I go directly to what I need. When I buy a new sewing book or get a new sewing magazine, I get out my yellow highlighter, and the "Happy Highlighter" gets busy and goes to work highlighting what she feels is important information.

    I have an extensive library, mostly gotten from Ebay.... I go to Amazon and read up what people say about a book, decide yay or nay and sometimes it is cheaper on Amazon (esp used) and go to Ebay and see if it is available there and also check elsewhere on the internet. Love all the resources available now out there in the cyberworld as you can get things so much more reasonably so you can afford more. Just like fabric and patterns and sewing gadgets and notions and more....

    I am thrilled that patterns are available now ....I am very interested in very specific types of skirts that are meant for ballroom dancing so they are full and longer (30 to 36 inches long) and are often full circle, have gores, godets, irregular hemlines, flounces, ruffles, etc. etc. etc. I can now look up past patterns as well at Ebay, Ecrater, Etsy, Bonanza, etc. I can ask people to make me patterns based on aspects of existing dresses and ideas I have. I have a Vogue sewing cabinet stuffed with patterns that I have collected since I was 12, and I will be 53 on Wednesday! I have gotten rid of many patterns but I keep patterns that have redeeming value and that suit my "theatrical romantic" personality of dress and my size, 5'4", dress size 6-8, pattern size 12, 32D, 35/29/37 (30 years ago I weighed 300 lbs)...so now I am admittedly a real clothes hound!!!

    I bookmark every article that I might want to refer back to.... Aren't we all lucky with all the resources we now have available to us!!!???!!!

  19. LouiseCnote | | #19

    First sewing lessons were on doll clothes made by HAND! My aunt's high school classes turned her into an impeccable seamstress, & real lessons came from her. I graduated in '56 w/Home Ec Ed degree,& still have the original Simplicity soft cover guide that was required along with the textbooks! Over the years, Threads is the go-to-source--still use years of boxed issues.Tho many more projects than I can ever finish, still the best source of techniques & ideas--grand-daughters use them for tried & true ideas. I have most of the Singer series, Betzina & Zieman bboks, which my daughters used as they developed basic skills--4 girls & 1 boy who can wield a sewing machine like a race car! Donated early years of Sew News binder to local Extension Service. i have a library that gets borrowed often--but I really keep track of who takes the Threads!

  20. BettyKnitter | | #20

    McCall's Sewing in Colour has been my go-to book since I was a teenager, and was used as a textbook for 'O' and 'A' level studies. I'm also fond of the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, and I recently found its companion volume Guide to Needlecraft in a charity shop. I'm on the lookout for the Knitting volume to complete the set.

  21. User avater
    cilly68 | | #21

    Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing 1976.
    Illustrations are great.

  22. pamcakes | | #22

    The Readers Digest sewing book was recommended to me by a website that sells Civil War reproduction patterns. I have begun to build a Civil War era dress and the required underpinnings. I have 3 old sewing machines, one of which I have no instructions for. The RD sewing book has been invaluable in making adjustments on my old machines that have never sewn knits or more modern fabrics. Plus it has great illustrations for some of the types of sewing techniques I need for my Civil War gown.

  23. brindlebasenji | | #23

    I have a great many sewing books, but my oldest and sentimental favorite is the very same Mary Brook Picken, SINGER SEWING BOOK that April Mohr loves. My copy also first belonged to my mother, and looks to be in about the same shape.

  24. Susalein | | #24

    Whenever I need help I turn to Sandra Betzina's POWER SEWING. It is wonderful. I do lots of different kinds of sewing so it is very helpful when I need instruction or just some reminders.

  25. sewquilter | | #25

    My reference book is th4e Simplicity Sewing book, I have a revised edition and the one from the 70s era which is like a magazine book. My mother gave me her Vogue Sewing Book (Revised Edition) that she used for my many years. I have gone to that sewing book for when I want a to do a certain technique, but I still like the Simplicity Sewing book as my main sewing reference. I also like the ABC of Serging for my serger. It is an old serger book, but very good in instructions for my serger.

  26. Iluvcats | | #26

    How did you get a job in journalism? You can't spell.
    Predudiced? Did you mean prejudiced?

  27. Jenerator | | #27

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Wednesday! I turn 46 on the same day, and also am interested in dance type costume patterns, although I tend mostly towards the lycra type ones. I also lost a lot of weight (only in the past two years, in my case) and no longer have to make my own leotards for dance class, but costuming is still a passion for me.
    I often buy old patterns on eBay and at local op-shops and recently tried to de-stash, advertising more than 80 of them on eBay, but only about a dozen of them went :-( Must find other places to sell them, I guess, or end up giving them away...
    anyway, have a great day tomorrow,

    Jen in Oz

  28. Jenerator | | #28

    My favourite go-to for instructions book would have to be the Reader's Digest one (mine has a yellow cover; my sister has the one with the dark-blue cover). I also have my mother's McCalls Easy Sewing Book and my sister's Simplicity Sewing Book, but I don't refer to them nearly as often.

  29. Sandra51 | | #29

    I have a copy of the 'simplicity sewing book' that I have used so much it's falling apart. I now use the new 'singer sewing book' that my family gave me for Christmas about two or three years ago. Both are the greatest resources I've had the priviledge of owning.

  30. User avater
    charbroiled | | #30

    I also love the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1976 edition). I purchased this last year at an antique mall as a CLhristmas gift to myself and think it was a great investment.

  31. doodess | | #31

    Fast Fit by Sandra Betzini gets my vote as the book I reference most often. This well organized book covers a comprehensive mix of fitting problems. The "fit fixes" are clearly illustrated and explained. Good index too.

  32. tricone | | #32

    I love all Sandra Betzina books, she makes practical sense and takes the fear and anxiety out of simple or complicated problems.
    I usually read Fast Fit and Fabric Savvy.
    I then follow up with Clare Shaffer, Coutour Sewing Techniques.

  33. carpinska | | #33

    I go back to my back issues of threads magazine.

  34. MaggieBob | | #34

    If it is a book, it is Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing (both books). My most used non "book" resource is Threads, which I have from No. 2 forward. Now that all back issues are available on disk, I go to the search feature to look for information sources on Threads and pull the magazines from my trove of back issues.

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