Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Most recomended sewing

Michelle | Posted in General Discussion on

I’ve been lurking in this forum for some time already and would like to thank all you wonderful people who contribute to this forum – Since i don’t come into contact with many sewers -I find this forum truely a source of inspiration.

At present, I’m trying (as I presume most of us do) to improve my sewing skills, and was wondering if there is any consensus as to which book on sewing comes the most highly recommended.  Anyone have any views on this?

TIA, shelly

Jerusalem, ISRAEL


  1. Bettefan | | #1

    Shalom, Shelly! I'd suggest "Power Sewing Step By Step" by Sandra Betzina. Chapters on making basic garments and all the stuff you need to know about various ways of styling them.  She's pretty thorough, and I refer to this book quite frequently.

    1. JInteriors | | #2


      I like Sandra's books too. If you are really serious about sewing, you might want to buy her videos along with the book.

      She has various videos that demonstrate the various techniques she uses.

      She also hosts a sewing show on HGTV here. If you do a search on the HGTV, you might find more about it and maybe they show what she taught.

      Another author I like very much is Margaret Islander. She has a website. She has books and

      videos too. She has a unique approach to sewing. The result is beautiful.



      1. Michelle | | #3

        Thanks very much for those suggestions, unfortunately there is not much available over here in the way of sewing books, that's why I'm completely dependent on recommendations from those who have seen and used them before I choose which to order.

        I at present completing a course on pattern making and design - (something that I truly recommend for any serious sewer) however I feel that I would like to develop  the more practical side of sewing.

        Todah Rabba (thank's very much) and Shalom from Jerusalem!


        1. mem1 | | #34

          Hello, I actually often refer to the Vogue book of swing too. I have an old cpy from the late 70s and its very thorough and a good source of doing things properly . The new addition which came out a few years ago would have alot more on using fusables  .

      2. stitchmd | | #4


        Sandra Betzina's show was cancelled by HGTV a year and a half ago, to be replaced by a mediocre one which was cancelled after one season. Info from her shows is still archived on their site but doesn't compare to watching her and listening to her explanations.

        Her site sandrabetzinaonline has some tips and offers a paid subscription for more. Her videos there are $16 each.

        Of all the sewing shows and sewing books I've watched and read hers are absolutely the best.

      3. joress | | #5

        When is Sandra's show on HGTV? We get HGTV on Dish Network--satellite TV. I had thought the schedule was the same across the country, which means it will probably be at 5 in the morning for us!

        1. stitchmd | | #6

          Hi Joan, that was me explaining it above. Do you get DYI? I've heard rumors the show is in reruns there. If it's true I am coming over with a case of blank videotapes for you to record it on. If not I do have a few shows taped from HGTV. If I'd known about the show I would have agreed to getting cable sooner.


          1. JInteriors | | #7

            Hi Shelly and Judy!

            I am in the USA. Some of my suggestions might not be practical where you are. I suggested

            getting her videos because they show some of the concepts she explains in her books.

            I tend to learn before with a visual to help me.

            I don't watch much TV so I am not up to date on what is running on which chanel. I am sorry to hear

            her show has been cancelled. It ran for many years on HGTV.

            Another author I like is Nancy ziemman. She is online at Nancynotions.com I believe.

            She has a show that runs every week day on Public TV chanels in the USA. She has a simplified way of sewing. I mean she has figured out various short cuts to doing things. She has oodles of books and videos too. You don't get the same depth of knowledge you get from Sandra but simplified ways of performing particular tasks.


  2. Judygoeson | | #8

    Shalom, Shelly...

    I have a lot of sewing books but the one I referred to the most over the years was the Vogue Sewing Book, published by the Vogue Pattern Company and updated about every 15 years.  It covered all the basic techniques and was most helpful. 

    Then I discovered Sandra Betzina and POWER SEWING and a whole new sewing life opened up!  Sandra goes beyond the basics in that she anticipates your questions and gives a short but very thorough discussion of a particular technique. 

    My granddaughter uses the Vogue book but when she has a specific question she calls me and asks what Sandra suggests.  As her sewing expands, she will probably get her own Power Sewing books and refer to them more often.

    Although I have been sewing for years, I find that as my body changes with age, I need new fitting techniques.  The books are fine, but I think that someday soon I will take a "hands on" fitting class.  How was the one you took?  Maybe sometime you could tell us about it.

    I hope this helped.  Best wishes to you and Happy Sewing


    Judy (who does go on)

    1. Michelle | | #9

      Judy, Shalom u'bracha!

      Thank you for responding to my queary.  As it happens, you actually succeeded in answering another question that I had in mind but didn't ask, relating to the Vogue book.  However, since the Sandra Betzina seems to come so highly recommended, I decieded to place an order. (So now I'm awaiting it's arrival with great anticipation and bated breath :)  )

      The course I have been taking in pattern drafting (or pattern making) is the classical approach that includes measuring and dart manipulation and all other aspects of creating a usable pattern.  Although I found my way into this course by accident (I was actually looking for a course to improve my sewing skills,) I have found this course to be so fascinating, that it has changed my whole approach to sewing entirely!  For me, it's become a much more creative process.  However, this is not a course for beginner sewers, (as I see that in our group, they appear a bit lost.)

      By-the-way, I did purchase a wonderful book on the subject called "Patternmaking for Fashion Design" by Helen Joseph-Armstrong, which possibly you might be able to browse in a public library (unfortunately not in the Jerusalem libraries!) which really gives one some insight and understanding of what goes into the pattern making process.

      Warmest Greetings from Jerusalem,


      1. Judygoeson | | #10

        Shalom u'bracha to you too, Shelly!

        I am glad that you have made your choice of Sandra Betzina.  I took one of her classes at GStreet Fabrics in Washington, DC several years ago and I must say that in addition to being an excellent sewer she is also a wonderful teacher and communicator. And so enthusiastic!  She feels it is most important to keep the interest in sewing alive and has devoted her own life to it, it seems.  Near the end of the class she urged us to "...Please!  Teach someone to sew before you die!"  After we roared with laughter, we looked around at each other and nodded.

        To return to the subject, though, Sandra constantly stressed the importance of good fitting.  That appears to be Aleph with her.  And that is why I am searching for a good fitting class.  I think you are well on your way to good sewing, Shelly.  The techniques are not that difficult to learn once you know there will be a great result at the end.

        By the way, I looked over the sewing books and articles I've collected and I must say that the Taunton Press (publishers of THREADS!) have a top notch line of books on just about every facet of sewing, knitting and other needlework as well.  So many books, so little time!  Oh, well.

        Caught your comments in the Kippah Discussion.  What an interesting thing to read!  Althought I wear hats myself, there are times that I just need to pull out an embellished pillbox and wear it .  For now, though...I wonder where that old iron is?

        Take care and l'hitraot,


      2. TheSloperLad | | #15

        Regarding personal patternmaking, an alternative or perhaps a follow-up resource to H. J. Armstrong is author Winnifred Aldrich of Great Britain.  I love her illustrations and instructions.  Getting rather 'long in the tooth', I can't remember if backgroud with details provided by H.J.A. are necessary to understand the concise style of W.A., but I for one would recommmend them - womenswear, childrenswear and menswear.  I found the cost effectiveness to be much greater.  (I have used H.J.A. as a library resourse but purchased the W.A. books.)


        1. Michelle | | #16

           I am not (as yet) acquainted with Winnifred Aldrich's books but I look forward to checking them out.  (Perhaps there are others in this forum who are acquainted with this author and would care to voice their opinions? )

          Thanks for taking the trouble to pass on this information.

          Shalom from Jerusalem,


          Edited 3/23/2003 8:43:04 AM ET by shelly

        2. mem1 | | #35

          I love Winifred too. I find Helen rather hard to understand and very verbose!

      3. meitarlaurie | | #17

        Dear Shelly,
        I've just joined. What is the pattern drafting course that you took a few years ago? I live near Beer Sheva.

        1. Michelle | | #18

          Hi Laurie,

          Welcome to this really wonderful group :)

          The course that I took in flat pattern making is no longer available, however, I think that there are a few commercial studios that teach pattern drafting in Jerusalem - you might want to find out from 'Studio A' if they offer any courses.

          It's very nice to meet other sewers from this part to the world, if you come to Jerusalem, feel free to contact me.

          Drishat Shalom,

          shelly in Jerusalem

          1. meitarlaurie | | #21

            Dear Shelly,
            Thank you for your reply and Shavua Tov. Do you have an address or phone number for Studio A? I completed a sewing course in Beer Sheva under the auspices of Machon Yael, which is for all levels. I can continue on by travelling to Jerusalem. I want to know what's available before I decide. It is probably less expensive, transportation wise, to travel to Tel Aviv, since the bus fare is less than half the cost. Do you know anything about sewing courses there? Thanks for your help!

          2. Michelle | | #22

            Shavua Tov to you too,

            I'm afraid I'm not really a terribly good source for this type of info - Personally, I would look into Shenkar in Tel Aviv.  They're supposed to have excellent courses.


            shelly in Jerusalem

          3. meitarlaurie | | #23

            Thanks for your suggestion.  Are there any fabric stores in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you recommend?


          4. Michelle | | #24

            In TA there's a whole fabric district in Nachalat Binyamin - one of my favorite stores over there is 'Femina.'

            Another store on Rechov Allenby is Chanel (I stand to be corrected, but I think it's no 57) they have a whole floor of white fabrics - (bridal) and above that they have another floor of other fabrics - mostly for evening wear.

            In Jerusalem there are a couple of stores on Rechov King George (not far from Rechov Yaffo intersection) that have fabrics at very good prices - perhaps worth checking out and in the same area one floor up is a very expensive store with very nice things called 'Bad Be Bad' but one the whole, I think that TA has a much greater selection as well as better prices.


            shelly in Jerusalem

          5. meitarlaurie | | #28

            Dear Shelly,

            Thanks again for your suggestions.  Now I'll need to pull myself away from the computer and start to sew!




          6. rsolish | | #25

            the place to look is for sure tel aviv, a whole street of fabric stores i also liked Femina amd near it is a store called "goldstian" lots of pretty flower prints among others.
            if your looking for bridal fabrics, satin tulle... there is a store that has wonderfull prices -let me know.
            may we all have a good week, safe and sound.
            Raya from Netanya Israel

          7. meitarlaurie | | #27

            Dear Raya,

            Thanks for your letter!  I'm so provincial that I rarely leave the Beer Sheva area, plus up until now my two youngest children were too young for me to want to leave them alone while I travelled.  The time has come for me to spread my wings and go to the big city.


          8. Michelle | | #29

            may we all have a good week, safe and sound


            I don't know too many people who live in Netanya, but my thoughts were with you last week. I hope that you weren't anywhere near the 'piguah'

            Drishat Shalom,

            Shelly in Jerusalem

          9. KathleenFasanella | | #26

            One of the best pattern makers alive today lives in Israel. That's Gerry Cooklin; I don't remember which university he teaches at. Interestingly enough, M.Rohr's grandson also lives there but he's a hebrew translator. We're working on a deal to get his grandfather's books republished.

          10. Michelle | | #30

            Thats amazing!

            Such a tiny sliver of a country and I've never even heard of him (I'm ashamed to admit :(  )

            Has he published any books?


            shelly in Jerusalem

          11. KathleenFasanella | | #31

            Oh my heavens, well yes! The experts in our business aren't known in homesewing and vice versa is true too -contrary to everything you've been led to believe! Let me grab some links for you:Pattern Cutting for Women's Outerwear
            http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=fashionincuba-20&creative=9325&path=tg/detail/-/0632037970/qid=1121864569/sr=8-9/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i9_xgl14/103-0444816-7408667?v=glance&s=books&n=507846Master Patterns and Grading for Women's Outsizes: Pattern Sizing Technology
            http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=fashionincuba-20&creative=9325&path=tg/detail/-/0632039159/qid=1121864569/sr=8-8/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i8_xgl14/103-0444816-7408667?v=glance&s=books&n=507846Pattern Grading for Men's Clothes: The Technology of Sizing
            http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=fashionincuba-20&creative=9325&path=tg/detail/-/0632033053/qid=1121864569/sr=8-7/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i7_xgl14/103-0444816-7408667?v=glance&s=books&n=507846Pattern Grading for Childrens Clothing
            http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=fashionincuba-20&creative=9325&path=tg/detail/-/063202612X/qid=1121864569/sr=8-13/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i13_xgl14/103-0444816-7408667?v=glance&s=books&n=507846Now, when you load these pages, Amazon will tell you these are a special order and you can expect to receive them just nigh of the second coming if at all but that's not true. Blackwell Science and Batsford Ltd -the best publishers of technical apparel books IN ENGLISH (the very finest books are in German) bar none- ships these to Amazon every week. I know because I called and asked because I need to refer many designers to these books. The format of the drafts is entirely different. The drafts are clean, I like that. People should also know these drafts are metric; not imperial measures.Hope this helps.

          12. KathleenFasanella | | #32

            oops...I see Amazon isn't selling these just now; as someone who also sells to Amazon, I can tell you it's a very long reason why. Therefore, I recommend going to Blackwell Science direct. http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/Wading through their site is kind of a pain in the butt. Try using their search feature to locate the aforementioned titles. They do sell consumer direct but that is rarely evident. Good luck

          13. Michelle | | #33

            Thanks for your help!

            I just emailed Blackwells - am waiting to hear from them.


            shelly in Jerusalem


  3. user-222038 | | #11

    Shalom Shelly,

    I've gotten lots of help from Simplicity's Simply the Best.  It helped me move from beginner to intermediate sewer.  It has instructions for everything from measuring to selecting a pattern and fabric to tailoring.  Also, Nancy Zimmerman has about a zillion books on all kinds of sewing topics, but one of my favorites is 501 Sewing Hints.  I have Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing and like it, also, but since I've not yet gotten up my nerve to do tailor/couture-type sewing, I haven't used it much.  My favorite videos are Margaret Islander's; she is amazing with a sewing machine (and uses no pins)!

    Hope this helps. 

  4. carolfresia | | #12

    Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing Step by Step is full of really useful techniques. For general reference, I also like the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. It's not as fashion-oriented, but it has an answer for almost any question you might come up with. Taunton Press's "Easy Guide to..." series (there are books on pants, blouses, jackets, tops and t-shirts, linings, skirts, serging, and I might have forgotten something else) are terrific resources, too.  And I say that having bought most of them long before I was a Taunton/Threads employee!


    1. Michelle | | #13

      Thanks so much for you helpful information - this is _exactly_ what I've been searching for.

      (Just wanted to let you know that the outfit that you are modeling on the 'Threads' site looks absolutely fantastic - I love it! :)  )

      Warm greetings from Jerusalem,


      1. carolfresia | | #14

        Thanks! I like that outfit too. The pants are the most luscious baby camel hair, and the belt (which was drafted using the bodice from my top sloper) turns out to be more versatile than I would have guessed, since I don't usually wear stuff like that. The muslin photo, though...the best I can say about it is that it's nice and SMALL!


  5. SewNancy | | #19

    I am going to agree with everyone else about Sandra's books. There used to be a store that rented out her videos and they are definitely worth seeing. For more advanced techniques I think that Claire Schaeffer is worth a look., I don't have her couture book, but her HIGH Fashion Sewing secrets is the place I go when I need something that is not inSandra's book.


    1. Michelle | | #20

      I'm not sure if you noticed, but this thread was active 3 yrs ago - Since then, I have acquired a wealth of sewing literature (which includes all of Claire Shaeffer's books) and is constantly expanding :)

      I love reading sewing books!


      shelly in Jerusalem


  6. user-350489 | | #36

    Aside for "Threads", my favorite of all time is the READER'S DIGEST Complete Guide to Sewing.   It's diagrams are the very best.  The book includes just about every technique known.

    I've been teaching sewing for 20 years and always recommend this book. 

    If you prefer photos, the Singer books are great (if you can find them).

  7. mimi | | #37

    Shelly:  I have a copy of the Vogue Sewing book from the early '80s that is my first response book.  I recently bought a copy of it at a flea market for my daughter  [Do you have flea markets over there?].  Another author I can recommend is Susan Khalje, Sewing Cotton and Linen.  She also wrote a wonderful book on wedding dresses;  both Susan Khalje books are available from Amazon.com.  She gives invaluable advice on the little dressmaker details that really make a dress couture`!  She is based in Baltimore, Maryland but learned her craft in boutique sewing in NYC.


    1. Michelle | | #38

      Thanks for your response - as I mentioned previously, I'm not sure if you noticed, but this thread is already 3years old!

      I have subsequently built up a really wonderful librabry of sewing books which I and many of my sewing friends enjoy .

      Regards from very sunny Jerusalem,


This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All