Colette

Top 9 sewing books for beginners (according to you)

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top-books-beginner

A long time ago, I asked for your recommendations on books for true beginners.

I thought it was high time I rounded up the top choices. I’m going to start with the standouts, the books that by far got the most mentions from you all. Then I’ll list some of the other books people feel are a good fit for the beginner.

If you’re brand new to sewing, check these out at your local library and see which you find most helpful. Everyone has different learning styles, so you may find some of these books appeal to you in a different way than others.

I left out recommendations for my book because, well, it seemed like a biased sample. I’m hoping there are some in here that are new to you, or to a beginner friend.

Most Prized

“It has a variety of projects and answers a lot of REALLY basic questions about using sewing machines (I used her explanations to figure out how to thread my 1971 Kenmore), hand stitches, zipper installation, and more. I think it’s a great resource if you really don’t know where to begin, and 3 years after starting to sew I still look at it from time to time for a clear explanation how to do something.” – [Kristina](ornamentalconfectionery.blogspot.com)

  • Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing: Perhaps the most popular choice, this book is a true timeless reference for many of us. Danielle reminds us that newer versions actually have less information, so you should look for an older one (hers is from 1993).

“It is easily my most used sewing reference guide. The simple explanatory prose and clear illustrations are so helpful when I’m stuck! It is also quite well-indexed, so if you’re reading through your pattern and you get stuck on a certain step, you can easily look up “sleeves” or whatever, and it will give you lots of options.” – [Thimbledore](thimbledore.tumblr.com)

“I think it is a brilliant book because its simple to understand which helps beginners, but it is so comprehensive in what it covers, it is great for more advanced people. I think it is a book that I will keep referring to forever because it is so good. It is a book that will last, so probably a great choice for a beginner.” -emma

Other Well-Loved Books

“The series is aimed at beginners and provides modern seeing advice–by that I mean they refer to up to date inventions like the serger and other tools ” -JP

“Again great step-by-step instructions for different methods – specific to sewing clothes, as well as good explanations of why you might choose a specific technique or method or what garments commonly use them.” -Brandy

“I found the Vogue Sewing really useful when I was starting out sewing, it has such clear descriptions in it for pretty much every technique I’ve ever used and probably ever will. It’s always at hand when I’m working on anything.” -Hazel

“I like how it tells you what you learn making something, then build upon that with something else.” -zebazga

“I would buy Claire Shaeffer’s book because she is a true master. The book is a bible, there is a wealth of information in this book that every sewist, beginner to advanced, should know.”

“My all-time favorite beginner book is Sewing Basics by Patricia Moyes. I was lucky enough to take her classes at San Francisco’s Sewing Workshop, and her book reflects her super-clear, very accessible teaching style. I still use it!” -Lianne

For all the recommendations, check out the comments on the original post.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 18

ConnieOI

The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing is my fav as well! It has way more information than I think I’ll ever need, but you never know…

Nickey Robo fashionration.wordpress.com

This is a great round up! Love at First Stitch came out earlier this year and has been my go-to suggestion for anyone new to sewing. The projects are sweet and simple and the instructions are really clear. I also love Sewing in a Straight Line for the same reason.

Nancy K blogspot.com

In 1975 we bought our first house and my neighbor was a wonderful sewist and became my sewing mentor. I’d been sewing since junior high but still had a lot to learn (don’t we all). She gave me a copy of the Vogue Sewing Book that I still have. I don’t use it much anymore but I’d never get rid of it; it was my first sewing book.
This is a great idea. I think that while the internet provides lots of help a good book provides the answers a whole lot faster. I have a very nice sewing library that I use all the time.

Crystal

Dear Sarai- biased or not your book was really revolutionary for me and my close sewing friend!! It really got us going in the “right direction”. My MIL had given me readers digest but I would find myself grabbing for yours. Thank you I really value all you are doing in this community.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I’m glad to hear that! I think it’s nice to have a few different styles of books, some project-based and some that work well as a reference.

Laura Lee

Thank you for the insightful, personal, educated recommendation, & entertaining blog! Your blog is what has kept me coming back to your website to buy all these years. { I’m not sure if I should say thank you on this or not?…… } “What do you want to give to get” ? Well, with all you have done over the past several years, you should have a truck load by now. Thanks again everyone; I will pass this info on to my class :)

Isabel acraftyscientist.wordpress.com

The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing is my favourite. I borrowed my Mum’s 80’s copy (in portuguese) until I could find a UK 80’s copy. I just love their illustrations, so detailed!

Cherie

The books that are listed are great resources but I feel ready to move beyond the books for beginners. What books would you suggest for assists ready for more of a challenge?

Sarai colettepatterns.com

It depends on what you want to learn. It seems to me that once you move on the basics, books are either used as references (like some of these are), or they’re more topic specific (fitting, tailoring, linings, etc).

However, I do have a favorite reference for the advanced/intermediate sewist, and that’s Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers. It’s a huge textbook and quite pricey, but extremely comprehensive.

Eleanor gingerthreads.co.za

I found Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing to be very inspiring for taking my sewing to the next level. There’s a lot of hand sewing and more advanced techniques like gussets and tailoring.

Cherie

Thank you!

miss agnes readytoknit.com

This is so perfectly timely, I am just starting sewing from absolute zero, meaning I spent about one hour looking at the Instructions CD for my machine, learned how to fill the small bobbins and tried out a few stitches, not straight. It is so great to have a list of resources for absolute beginners, thank you. Now to choose one book to really get started on a project.

Eleanor gingerthreads.co.za

I was in your shoes a few years ago. Once I got the hang of using the sewing machine, the Colette Handbook was a HUGE help. It made so many techniques look so doable. It took the fear out of zippers and french seams and sleeves.
And if you work through the whole book you don’t just end up with a great set of skills, you’ll also have a few lovely additions to your wardrobe!

miss agnes readytoknit.com

Thanks, it ‘s good to have a satisfied user perspective. I am definitely checking the Colette Handbook as my first sewing book among the other listed. For now I will keep on practicing stitches so that they come out straight. ;-)

SJ Kurtz erniekdesigns.blogspot.com

Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques was the real step up for me from beginner to intermediate. I don’t follow it all the time, but I do more than I don’t. I still read through it for inspiration. Doesn’t matter which edition you get, most libraries have a copy.

I didn’t read Vogue Sewing until a couple of years ago, and even as someone who is pretty sewing smart, I learned a thing or two, and was reminded of a few better habits to follow. I check out and read every sewing book that comes to my library system, even the beginning ones. There’s always something to learn.

And lucky Sarai, who can go hang out at Powell’s, which has one of the best and biggest sections for sewing books anywhere.

emilie94410 lesfilsdemilie.net

For me, this is your book! It sits on my bedside table and I am pleased to read it regularly before going to sleep :)

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