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Tools & Supplies

Great Sewing Books

The finest reading material available on sewing.
The finest reading material available on sewing.

This helpful list was published in 2013 and has been updated regularly at our Our Favorite Great Sewing Books page, which has been regularly updated with the latest and greatest sewing books.

Use this helpful list, excerpted from “Great Books” by Threads Executive Editor Judith Neukam in issue 171 (February/March 2014), to find the best references for you and your sewing needs. We’ve listed them by topic: General Sewing, fabric, fitting, specialty, couture, and patternmaking. Click on any section to jump directly to the collection you’re most interested in.

General SewingFabricFittingSpecialtyCouturePatternmaking

General Sewing

Dressmaking for Real Women
by Lorna Knight
(Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 2012)

Dressmaking:The Complete Step-by-step Guide to Making Your Own Clothes
by Alison Smith
(DK Publishing, 2012)

A Guide to Fashion Sewing, 5th edition
by Connie Amaden-Crawford
(Fairchild Publications, 2010)

Me and My Sewing Machine: A Beginner’s Guide
by Kate Haxell
(Breslich & Foss Ltd, 2010)

THE NEW COMPLETE GUIDE TO SEWING : Step-by-step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories
by Reader’s Digest
(Readers Digest, 2010)

PatternReview.com 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips: Top-Rated Favorites from Sewing Fans and Master Teachers
compiled by Deepika Prakash
(Creative Publishing international, 2010)

The Sewing Answer Book
by Barbara Weiland Talbert
(Storey Publishing, 2010)

Singer New Sewing Essentials
by the Editors of Creative Publishing
(Creative Publishing international, 2008)

Singer Sewing Book
by Mary Brooks Picken
(Singer Manufacturing Company, 1949)

Threads Sewing Guide: A Complete Reference from America’s Best-Loved Sewing Magazine
by Threads magazine
(The Taunton Press, 2011)

Vogue Sewing
by The Editors of Vogue/Butterick
(Sixth&Spring Books, 2006)


General SewingFabricFittingSpecialtyCouturePatternmaking



Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide
by Claire B. Shaeffer
(Krause Publications, 2008)

Fabric, Form and Flat Pattern Cutting, 2nd edition
by Winifred Aldrich
(Wiley-Blackwell, 2007)

Fabric Savvy: The Essential Guide for Every Sewer
by Sandra Betzina
(The Taunton Press, 1999)

Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles
by Phyllis G. Tortora, Robert S. Merkel
(Fairchild Publications, 1996)

Fit and Fabric
by Threads magazine
(The Taunton Press, 1991)


General SewingFabricFittingSpecialtyCouturePatternmaking



The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting
by Sarah Veblen
(Creative Publishing international, 2012)

Fit and Fabric
by Threads magazine
(The Taunton Press, 1991)

Fitting & Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach
by Elizabeth L. Liechty, Della N. Pottberg, Judith A. Rasband
(Fairchild Fashion & Merchandising Group, 1992)

The Vogue Sewing Book of Fitting, Adjustments, and Alterations
by Patricia Perry
(Butterick Fashion Marketing Company, 1972)

General SewingFabricFittingSpecialtyCouturePatternmaking


Chanel: Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications
by Harold Koda, Andrew Bolton
(Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005)

Christian Dior
by Richard Martin, Harold Koda
(Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013)

Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism
by Kohle Yohannan
(Harry N. Abrams, 1998)

The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion
by Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta, Phyllis G. Tortora, Bina Abling
(Fairchild Publications, 2003)

Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century (Collection from the Kyoto Costume Institute)
by Akiko Fukai
(Taschen/Barnes & Noble, 2006)

The New Creative Serging Illustrated: The Complete Guide to Decorative Overlock Sewing
by Pati Palmer, Sue Green, Gail Brown
(Chilton Book Company, 1995)

The New Sewing with a Serger
by the Editors of Creative Publishing international, Singer
(Creative Publishing international 1999)

Priscilla Smocking Book
by Louise Flynn
(The Priscilla Publishing Co., 1925)

Professional Sewing Made Easy
by Helen Metrakos
(H. Metrakos, 2003)

Sewing for the Apparel Industry
by Claire B. Shaeffer
(Prentice-Hall, 2001)

Théâtre de la Mode: Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture
by Edmond Charles-Roux, Herbert R. Lottman, Stanley Garfinkel, Nadine Gasc, Colleen Schafroth, Betty Long-
Schleif, and David Seidner
(Palmer/Pletsch Publishing, 2002)

The Workman’s Guide to Tailoring Stitches and Techniques
by Fritz Kannik
(Kannik’s Korner, 2003)

General SewingFabricFittingSpecialtyCouturePatternmaking


Couture Sewing Techniques
by Claire B. Shaeffer
(The Taunton Press, 2011)

Couture Sewing: Tailoring Techniques
by Claire B. Shaeffer
(The Taunton Press, 2013)

The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques: Essential Step-by-step Techniques for Professional Results
by Lynda Maynard
(Interweave, 2010)

High Fashion Sewing Secrets from the World’s Best Designers: A Step-by-step Guide to Sewing Stylish Seams, Buttonholes, Pockets, Collars, Hems, and More
by Claire B. Shaeffer
(Rodale Books, 2001)

General SewingFabricFittingSpecialtyCouturePatternmaking


Draping Basics
by Sally DiMarco
(Fairchild Books, 2009)

Draping for Apparel Design
by Helen Joseph Armstrong
(Fairchild Publications, 2013)

Dress Design: Draping and Flat Pattern Making
by Marion S. Hillhouse, Evelyn A. Mansfield
(Houghton Mifflin Company, 1948)

Fitting & Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach
by Elizabeth L. Liechty, Della N. Pottberg, Judith A. Rasband
(Fairchild Fashion & Merchandising Group, 1992)

Modern Pattern Design: The Complete Guide to the Creation of Patterns as a Means of Designing Smart Wearing Apparel
by Harriet Pepin
(Funk & Wagnalls, 1942)

Pattern Drafting for Fit and Fashion
by Vivian Katherine Cizeski
(D & J Books, 2010)

Pattern Making by the Flat- Pattern Method, 8th Edition
by Norma R. Hollen, Carolyn J. Kundel
(Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1999)

Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit
by Steffani Lincecum
(Watson-Guptill Publications, 2010)

Patternmaking for Fashion Design
by Helen Joseph Armstrong
(Harper & Row, 1987)

Patternmaking Made Easy
by Connie Amaden-Crawford
(Amaden-Crawford Inc., 2007)

Do you own any of the books mentioned? If so, what is your favorite? Add your own recommendations in the comments section below.


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  1. User avater
    chelosunny | | #1

    Just wondering which ones should my local library have. I am planning to donate four. Thx

  2. User avater
    zeromind | | #2

    Couture Sewing Techniques by Ms. Shaeffer is definitely the best book of the world!
    Although this list would be missing two great books:
    Bridal Couture by Susan Khalje and
    Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing by Roberta Carr.

    They are essential!

    Kind regards!

  3. User avater
    ChiquitaEmilita | | #3

    I wish I could find a good book on pressing and ironing. A guide for when to press seams open or to what side, along with other areas of importance. I know that pressing and ironing between sewing can greatly impact the outcome of a project.

  4. jewelea | | #4

    I would certainly include Design Your Own Dress Patterns and How to Make Clothes that Fit and Flatter by Adele P. Margolis.

  5. User avater
    sewold | | #5

    I have the Reader's Digest sewing guide and have found it to be a real help on basics. Also have one of the Singer sewing books but I'm not sure which title. Both are really good reference books, for beginners or experienced (when I forget a technique).

  6. User avater
    MaRoseBear | | #6

    High Fashion Sewing Secrets
    Vintage Couture Sewing

  7. jfpetutti | | #7

    There are so many wonderful books on sewing out there, but the two I use most are the Vogue Sewing book and the Fabric Sewing Guide by Claire Shaeffer. They are my "go to" books when I run into a question about a certain technique or fabric.
    I have many,many others when I need something specific but the two above are essential!

  8. tynalemoore | | #8

    Many sewing books for beginners include sewing machine parts and accessories like screws, embroidery needles, and rubber bands that you can use for sewing projects. Some books will give you detailed instructions on how to use the sewing machine and sewing fabrics.

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