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Your favorite sewing HOW-TO Books?

cloetzu | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Your Favorite HOW-TO Books – If you had to list your 3 favorite, most useful,  garment/clothing sewing books (for adults – fitting, patterns adjustments, alterations, fabric choices etc), which would you list?

I’ve seen several listed on this site for various reasons and plan on heading to the book store this weekend but before I do I’d like to get your opion/preferences?

Please and Thank You!  🙂


  1. victoria0001 | | #1

    Palmer/Pletsch Publications:

    'Fit For Real People' and 'Pants For Real People'

    Both are excellent resources.

  2. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #2

    I have to say The Costume Technicians Handbook is right up there for me.  It has excellent instructions for drafting and draping slopers.  Although I like Donald McCunn's pants instructions.  It also covers Fitting and Alterations, Fabric Dyeing and Painting.  Hats, Leather, Armor, a nice fabric quality section. (Not as expansive as Claire Schaeffers)  However, it is written for the costume shop sewer.  It focuses on sewing wierd things for other people.  I mean how many of us really need a set of armor?  But I absolutely love it and I always use Inghams drafting instructions for tops for both men, women and children. 

    I LOVE Claire Schaeffers books, I have nearly all of them and the top position would be a toss up between "High Fashion Sewing Secrets" and her "Fabric Sewing Guide"

    Finally, what is the point of spending all that time custom  making an outfit that isn't drop dead gorgeous and doesn't fit?  So I would next recommend the Palmer Pletsch  series on Fit for Real People (Fit, Pants, Jackets, and Looking Good).  With this book you can pick up costume books in the local library with hundreds of 1/8" scaled patterns and actually grade them and make something that fits out of them.

    As a fourth, if I can add a fourth,  I really like Colette Wolff's The Art of Manipulating Fabric.  It's stunning!  

    I have ALOT of books, you won't go wrong with Palmer Pletsch, and Schaeffer.  As far as pattern drafting.  Don't spend alot of money.  There's a different technique for every author and it can all be covered in a pamphlet.  The expensive books are filled up with 1/4" scale patterns (which you'ld be doing in a notebook anyway).  I like Dusan Mrak, Rosemary Ingham, and Donald McCunn.  I think if you pair McCunn with Fit for Real People you've got a winner.  (One covers making the pattern, the other covers making a garment that fits out of the pattern)

    Have I confused you?   I like to read all the reviews on Amazon and then hit the library first before buying.   Happy reading  Val.


    1. JGFLO | | #8

      What do you think about Creative Surface Design by Sandy Scrivano?  Flo

  3. solosmocker | | #3

    I have loads of sewing books. But if you pinned me down to three I would say both of Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing books and Nancy Zieman's Fitting Finesse. I find these books give me great results with out a lot of hassle.
    I do study more couture slanted books, tailoring books, etc. but those are 3 basics that I would recommend to intermediate and beginning sewers. Well, there is certainly some more advanced stuff in SB's books.

  4. fabricholic | | #4

    I'm with Solosmocker on Sandra Betzina's and Nancy Zeiman's books. Also, I would like to add Anna Zapp, The Zapp Method Of Couture Sewing.


    1. solosmocker | | #5

      That's one I don't have Marcy. I think I will check that out at the library. Thanks

  5. tmorris1 | | #6

    I have many sewing books, but the one that I always reach for when I have a dilemma is Vogue Sewing published by Harper and Row circa 1980 (I found mine in a used book store for $2.00.) It describes what the different styles of collar, skirt, top, etc are, and which style is most flattering on which body type ie broad shoulders are most flattered by a kimono sleeve and should never wear an empire waist. It has step by step instructions on EVERYTHING you could ever want to know about constructing a garment, from reading the patterns to hints about organizing your workroom.

  6. Lynnelle | | #7

    I echo Victoria's sentiment on "Fit for Real People."  I find myself referring to it often.


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