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Need Sewing Book Recommendation

ShellyV | Posted in General Sewing Info on


I’m looking to purchase one (or more) basic sewing books.  My level of experience is zero, so I need something that’s appropriate for beginners.  Any titles that folks would recommend?



  1. rekha | | #1

    I would recommend Sandra Betzina's Fabric Savvy to recognise which methods to use for each fabric type, Fast Fit to obtain details of what changes to make in patterns for specific fitting, and Power Sewing for details of wonderful techniques to get a professional look. I use all these books as a reference.

  2. KarenW | | #2

    Welcome to sewing Shelly!

    I'd say my two favorites for good basic handbooks that cover the biggest range of sewing topics for someone completely unfamiliar as well as someone who needs to go back and review are the Reader's Digest Sewing Book (sorry, don't know exact title!) and Vogue Sewing Book.  Simplicity's Simply the Best Sewing Book is also supposed to be excellent.  All of these are pretty comprehensive. 

    Singer Sewing Reference Library's books are also excellent - clear explanations and large color photos - they are each on different topics though so you'd probably want several.
    Good luck!

    P.S.  And of course in addition to all the above, you'll want Threads! 

  3. SewNancy | | #3

    My first sewing book was Vogue's sewing book back about 25 years ago!  But , today I'd probably go with Betzina's books and then I'd collect the series Taunton press puts out, their easy guides to tops, skirts, jackets, etc.  I'd also reccomend the Palmer and Alto books on fitting.  Pants for Real People and Fit for Real People.  Even simple sewing will be more rewarding if you can fit well. 


  4. arp | | #4

    I've just started to learn sewing myself. I got several of the books other mentioned at first and went 'Huh?' Just too complicated. I've gone through almost every book in the public library. The ones I liked were "Complete Idiot's Guide to Sewing" and "Sew Fast, Sew Easy". The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sewing has lots of simple instructions for the different techniques you need to sew. Sew Fast, Sew Easy includes a few simple patterns and has directions on how to make the items, much clearer directions than you find in patterns. Neither has photographs, only sketches so if you're a photo person you might want to look at "Sewing 101". It has lots of photographs and includes directions on how to make several basic items. As I got going I found the Tautons Easy Guide to Sewing ... books helpful. But in the end, I signed up for a sewing class at my local fabric store. That was more help than any of the books I read. I'm now to the point where I understand the Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing that I bought years ago.

    1. SewNancy | | #5

      A class is really the best first course.  Most sewing machine dealers offer classes for beginners. 


  5. melanie | | #6

    My recommendation would be Dorling Kindersley's "The Complete Book of Sewing". It covers everything from how to knot the thread right up to some couture and soft furnishing techniques, but the beauty of it is that every little thing is shown in photograph. It's £25 sterling but worth every penny. Although an experienced sewer, I still find I will go back to it to find the best way to solve a problem - a great investment!

    1. ablakemo | | #7

      Another idea to add to the mix, have you tried any sewing videos from your library? I was amazed to see how many different "how to" videos our library had in it's collection.
      Most were old, but very helpful and so much easier to understand when you see someone demonstrating the technique. My schedule doesn't allow for me to take traditional classes so I'm a book and video learner myself. Good luck!

  6. user-227714 | | #8

    My suggestion is to decide what it is you want to sew.  Childrens clothes, adutls , etc.  Then you can go from there to find references.

    Sew Cute


  7. mem1 | | #9

    Hello Shelley , Do persist . Its one of those things that rewards persistance bountifully.I would suggest that you go to classes . Here in Australia we have adult education programs which are fantastic at teaching the basics . I went to a year of classes many years ago and by going every week and making sure that I was always challenging myself with new learning opportunities I learnt so much.I have a whole library of books and magazines including Threads  which are my bed time reading and I have learnt alot doing that too .  Good luck

  8. mariadelicia | | #10

    I do recomend all the Singer sewing reference library  books.I have used them for many years and they are great.If you are new on sewing the best one is  The ABC of sewing.Another good book is Step by step guide to sewing techniques of Vogue/Butterick,similar to the Readers Digest one.The complete book of sewing shortcuts by Claire B. Shaeffer is also a good one.And the books  by Nancy  Zieman like Sewing express!

  9. ktc | | #11

    Once you get past the very basics and you find that patterns don't always fit you right, don't despair.

    Some kind of alterations are USUALLY necessary for most people!

    It's not you: it's the pattern.

    A great book for fixing patterns to fit YOUR body perfectly is Sandra Betzina's "Fast Fit." Like an encyclopedia, there are loads of entries--and well-explained and illustrated solutions.

    You'll be terrified to try it at first, but I am astonished at how well it works!

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