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sewing book

debnowell | Posted in General Discussion on

Can anyone recommend a general sewing book to me? I see several online such as simplicity, readers digest, singer. I used to sew a lot on a singer touch and sew that I bought in 1973. I have 5 children aged 22 to 33 now but used to sew clothes, costumes, placemats etc.
Haven’t sewn for years since my old machine quit on me and life just got too busy. I just bought a janome 4030 QDC and plan to get back to sewing again. I have time now and want to sew mostly for my home.


  1. CarolSewsAZ | | #1


    Congratulations on getting back into sewing!   My favorite book is 'Readers' Digest Complete Guide to Sewing' because there are good instructions and many, many pictures.  You can probably find a used copy at Amazon.com or half priced books.  If you have been to a fabric store lately you will find there are some great new aids to sewing.  My suggestion would be to start with something basic to refresh your memory.  I hope to see some pictures of a completed project soon.  If you need help, you will find this discussion group has many experienced members that are willing to offer advice.  Welcome back


    1. User avater
      debnowell | | #2

      Thankyou Carol and I am looking forward to playing with fabric again!Deb

  2. sewelegant | | #3

    I was just in my sewing room yesterday and pulled out Sandra Betzina's Fabric Savvy book that I bought several years ago and enjoyed thumbing through it.  It has a wealth of information on all the new (and old) fabrics out there; what they work best in; which needle to use to sew it; other hints and information I find useful and, in the back, there are several pages of sewing techniques that will jog your memory.  The pictures are clear and descriptive.  Sandra is a straight forward seamstress who uses classic techniques to sew that are timeless as well as streamlined to interest the modern "quick" sewer.  If I were you I would go to the local bookstore and peruse the sewing, craft section and look through the books available and if you don't have access to that go to Amazon.com and check out their sewing books.  You usually get a pretty good preview of what they offer.  I will leave it to someone else to suggest a basic book as mine are all very old.

  3. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #4

    I own several older sewing books. The Vogue and the Simplicity ones. I find that most basic technique books are pretty much the same, it is the difference in how it is written that counts. You only need to read a bit to find one that speaks more clearly to you. Most of the information in the newer volumes is the same, but much updated in style. Any basic technique book will give you a good refresher. There are some past discussions on favorite books that you might check out under the search here. Welcome to Gatherings, and enjoy! :) Cathy

    1. Cityoflostsouls | | #6

      Ron Clark (CNN) said today there is a price war going on now on books.  A lot of books at $10.00.  Anyone buying  should check it out now!

  4. Ceeayche | | #5

    I agree with Cathy, there are bunch of alternatives out there.  I'm not sure where you live, but you may want to try your local library out and check out the various sewing manuals available.  You may find that the style and illustrations in one speak to you better than the others.  Then you can go to Amazon or the local second hand store to get your own. 

    Or then there's the guilty pleasure of buying several!

  5. Ceeayche | | #7

    Hey Deb,

    Gotta thank you for your question.  Lask night I relocated a bunch of my sewing books.  Did I have a good time last night going through them!  And I am proud to report they have made it into a newly erected bookcase. 

    Does anybody remember the series that Singer used to publish?  Those were great step by step books! 

    1. User avater
      debnowell | | #8

      Good for you getting all your books organized! Sometimes we just need a little spark to get us going. I am going into Belleville next week and look at some knitting books in Chapters book store.
      Thanks again to everyone for their advice. Deb

    2. mandyahc | | #11

      Yes, CHL, I remember those Singer books so well, (even all the way out here in South Africa!)  Am lucky to also still have some on my dressmaking shelf.  I think some of the Singer "classics" have been  re-published by Apple Press (UK) and also by Creative Publishing International (USA).  

      But what a big difference between some of those techniques and the "Power Sewing" methods of today.  I find that change in mindset quite challenging.   

      1. gailete | | #12

        Yes, those Singer books are being republished with the cover looking different so don't be fooled into buying a book you already have!

        I like reading the different books on how to make something. The Bishop book on sewing is the one closest to how I was taught to sew years ago, but there were so many things I never knew and didn't have any reference books to helps me out. I was talking to my hubby about it last night. I would cut out a pattern and make it exactly as it said to, no alterations at all. They usually fit and I wore them as they turned out, but deep inside I knew I wasn't doing the best job possible. Now I have plenty of reference books (just picked up another Singer book at a library sale) and don't have the energy to sew. At least now when I do sew I know what I'm supposed to do!

        I think one of the things you need to keep in mind when deciding on reference books to buy is what kind of sewing do you want to do? If you have a bunch of kids to sew for and you want to do it quick and easy then you need a book on sewing knits and one on speed sewing techniques. But if you want that couture touch in your own personal garments, then you need some books on couture sewing and on the sewing basics like the Vogue sewing book and a couple of Clair Shaffer's books. Of course, if you only want to sew quilts then that is a whole different batch of books and if you do it all you need even more books! I will admit to using any excuse to buy or bring home a book! I love to read.

        1. Ceeayche | | #13

          Now Gailete,

          I have to laugh at myself.  I've got each of those types of sewing covered and more in my personal sewing library!   Everytime I try something new, quilting, making curtains, designing a wedding dress, etc. I buy a new book!  Bad habit I suppose.  Maybe I shoud limit to the type of sewing I do most of the time....  then I wouldn't be trying to assemble a second bookcase to hold them!

          By the way, thank you for the tip on the "new" Singer books.  You know me well, I would have picked the series up a second time.  I do have a couple of duplicate Singer books! 

          Edited 11/18/2009 12:48 am ET by CHL

          1. gailete | | #14

            I accidently picked up a 'second' singer book that I already had at the library sale too. I love to read and I especially love to reading about any aspect of sewing. Sometimes I get so involved in reading project directions I discover mistakes in the directions even without making the item. Things don't seem to be as edited as well. When I have a really bad day, I go through my old sewing magazines. It is a wonder what a couple years and a bit different focus will do to make a project that didn't even raise my attention before, sound an alarm of interest the 2nd, 3rd or 4th, etc. time through. Looking at my magazines is the equivalent of giving a sick child a stack of picture books to look through. I can never understand how anyone can give up a single book, but I am running out of space. I'm clearing off shelf space by reading my regular fiction books and if there is no pressing reason to keep the book, I donate it and free up room for the books I want to keep. The first 10-15 years of my sewing I was so 'dumb'. I didn't know anything about easing in some areas like armholes and inseams on pants. I didn't know a thing about finishing seams, pressing as you go, etc. Glad I have more knowledge know and I am getting real proud of the things I actually can make and most of the learning has been self taught. My sewing machine dealer has classes that I could go to all the time, but physically just not up to it, so I make do on my own.

            I just got a new book thanks to a birthday card to Amazon of The Complete Sewing Machine Handbook. It is a pretty simple guide and would be good especially for newbies to sewing and I even learned a thing or two. The one thing I really liked was seeing how many of the illustration photos used a Janome 9000 which is a machine I have. With birthday money from my boys I got a circular attachment. Something I doubt I will use often, but rather nice to have when you want to do decorative circles. Best part was the box was munched so my dealer gave it to me for half off! I also got a book on Machine Embroidery from Kirsten Dibbs (can't remember the exact name) that uses decorative machine stitches to enhance border prints, etc. in quilts. I really like getting ideas for using all the decorative stitches and functions of my machine. They come so loaded now and I want to take full advantage of their capabilities. The first machine I ever bought cost $75 back in the 70's and could do a straight stitch and a zig zag, nothing else. I thought I hit the big time when it broke and I got one that had FIVE different stitches and a buttonholer stitch in 4 parts! I realize that is all some people have but what fun I can have now with my machines that have lots of different stitches and the ability to elongate, mirror stitches, set precisely what size stitch you want, etc. I have learned to love the triple zig zag as it is great for mending men's holey clothes!


  6. gailete | | #9

    I think if possible you should head off to your library and see what they have. Most sewing books can still be purchased through Amazon, so after you see which one you like you can buy it/them! If there are books you are interested in that your local library doesn't have, ask them to get them on inter library loan. I have lots of different sewing books, many that I would recommend, but depending on if you like seeing step-by-step photos or step-by-step text, etc. makes a big difference in what you would find most useful. I have many of the Singer specialty books and they are full of photographs so you can see each step of the way. Some of my books get to stay on their shelves just because of one bit of information that they have. I have been fortunate to find many of them at yard sales and library sales so got them cheap. I'm a book hound so to have a couple hundred sewing books is just par for the course for me.

    If you have been out of sewing for as long as you mentioned you may find a book on fabrics essential as fabrics have changed drastically in the last 20-30 years. Sandra Betzina's book or Claire Schaffer's book on fabrics are both very helpful guides to fabric and what kind of needles, presser feet, etc. to use when sewing them.

    Congrats on getting the Janome. I have several Janome machines and love them all! If you stop in on my website, I have done some book reviews of various sewing books that you might find helpful also.

  7. MarieCurie | | #10

    I recommend Vogue Sewing, available in a revised or reprinted edition, Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing Step by Step, and Claire Shaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques.   All have taken my sewing to new levels of wonderful.

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