Our Top 10 sewing books
We often get asked which sewing books as best to buy, frequently those asking are new to sewing. So below we’ve compiled a list of our favourite sewing books, mainly aimed at beginners but several of them have useful advice for intermediate stitchers too. Most of the books are focused on basic sewing techniques and dressmaking but most have projects or patterns too.
These sewing books are not ranked in any particular order which is why I haven’t numbered them, have a read through and think which one(s) best suit your needs. With books this good it’s too hard to pick a favourite!
Complete Dressmaking Skills by Lorna Knight
This book is a step by step technique guide covering not only all the basic sewing techniques but also some couture techniques too. It’s easy to follow and has lots of useful information for beginners and intermediate stitchers alike. It’s one to keep next to your machine to regularly refer to.
Sew It Up by Ruth Singer
A guide to machine and hand sewing practical and decorative sewing techniques. You’ll find over 200 techniques covered in the book pus 20 projects too. It also has a strong focus on recycling and Make Do and Mend. It also has a lot of decorative techniques including fabric manipulation, decorative pleating and much more.
Fashion With Fabric by Claire-Louise Hardie
The book which accompanies the third series of The Great British Sewing Bee, it is very heavy on content with lots of useful techniques covered as well as over 20 patterns/projects. It comes with full size patterns and the garments are fashionable, there are likely to be several patterns in the book you’d want to make.
Improv Sewing by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut
I really liked the way this book encourages a laid back style of sewing concentrating on getting you sewing without worrying about following rules. It teaches you to make items without patterns and puts the fun back into sewing. The projects are knit based so you don’t have to worry too much about hem techniques (knits don’t fray easily).
Sew Useful by Debbie Shore
If you are looking for some beginner projects to get you started this affordable book is packed with good projects, useful things to make for your home. I’d recommend any of Debbie’s books as being a good place to start for projects, this one is my personal favourite of hers.
I’ve been told by many people that this is the ultimate reference guide for stitchers. Apparently the older versions (from the 70s and 80s) are better than the more modern version. The older versions can still be found on Amazon or e-bay as well as the modern version.
Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking By Wendy Ward
I particularly like this book because not only does it cover the basic techniques for making garments but the full size patterns that come with it are for comfy every day clothes. I find a lot of books have more formal garments or loads of dresses and skirts, Wendy’s clothing is every day clothing which is much more useful.
Dressmaking by Alison Smith
This well known favourite doesn’t just cover basic techniques but shows you step by step (with photos and/or diagrams for every stage) how to construct several different garments. The patterns are in the back of the book but need scaling up or you can download the patterns as pdfs from the publisher’s site. They do cover a big size range, from 6-24.
Fabric For Fashion by Clive Hallett and Amanda Johnston
If you plan to be doing a lot of dressmaking, or you want to get into fashion design this book is ideal. It has 125 fabric swatches in it so you can actually feel the fabric and see how it drapes. It also has a lot of information about the fabric composition and uses too. It is expensive, but if you think what it would cost to get all those swatches it’s a good deal.
Haynes Sewing Manual by Laura Strutt
Written by the former editor of Sew Magazine this book is ideal for beginners. It gives you a basic introduction to machine sewing, hand sewing, dressmaking, soft furnishings, quilting, applique and embroidery. It has well photographed technique guides plus a few simple projects to get you started.
What are your favourite sewing books for beginners? Do feel free to share your recommendations on our social media accounts, the links are on the top right of the website.