Sewing may not be a skill easily acquired by many, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be learned. By using the right sewing guide, you can bring your apparel fashion ideas to life and even add a spark to your existing wardrobe with the help of illustrations, photos, equipment, and fabric guides, as well as tips and tricks for patterns.
We’ve examined 46 best sewing books on the market and opted for Vogue Sewing, Revised and Updated, as the best guide. Why do we love it? Simply because it’s tailored to every skill level, covering in-depth details and instructions with clear examples and a variety of techniques – all in a beautifully laid out format. We also picked out 14 other popular books on sewing to facilitate you in picking out the one best suited to your needs.
After extensive hours of research, using various book sites, magazines, and videos, our team compiled a comprehensive guide on the best sewing books. Before we begin, it’s essential to understand how we picked them. First thing’s first: the target audience. Books are written in various styles, depending on the type of people, their age, skill level, and interests. So always look out for a book that targets your specific needs. The next consideration is the number of pages and content. For instance, if you’re short on time and need a quick reference, a small and simple guide is the best way to go. Other features to weigh in are cover type, the publisher (remember – the best brands tend to attract the best authors), and of course – the price. We’ve summarised all this research in a table, alongside detailed reviews for the best sewing books. After that, we included the information for beginner sewers to help you make sure you have got everything you might need.
More features: contains comprehensive instructions, charts and photos to master couture techniques
This is perhaps the most comprehensive fashion sewing guide you’ll find, whether you’re a novice, an intermediate, or a master sewer. Published first in 1970 by Vogue, this book has been updated several times to match the ever-evolving couture techniques. In fact, this guide is considered the Holy Grail of couture sewing books. It encompasses the basics of figure types, proportions, fabric, texture, color, cuts, construction techniques, and more. It even includes a separate section dedicated to pattern alterations and a glossary of sewing and couture terminologies.
The book does lack a little of harmonization between the large amounts of text and the accompanying illustrations here and there. However, with the help of charts, illustrations, and examples, it creates a holistic, step-by-step guide towards making your own fashion pieces, which more than makes up for this picture to text ratio.
More features: full of details, includes projects, lots of pictures and diagrams
This book takes the cake for the best modern sewing books category. Why? Because it enables you to level up your sewing skills, no matter what expertise you may (or may not) have. It is extremely easy to navigate through and brush up on basic techniques for stitches and seams.
The book contains plenty of diagrams and application projects relating to patterns, tools, measurements, and constructions. Therefore, whatever you find there can be immediately applied to practice, whether you’re learning to stitch a garment or some home accessory. Additionally, there’s an entire section on alterations. And if you’re not ready for a sewing machine yet, don’t fret – this book also includes a chapter on the basics of hand stitching. Remember, though: it only outlines briefly on hand stitching and preps you with the basics, rather than taking you through with step-by-step instructions.
More features: focuses on laces, stripes, different fabrics, includes how-to instructions and illustrations
Enter the world of couture with Clair B. Shaeffer’s exclusive guide to the best couture sewing techniques. Now revised and updated, this book unravels the many secrets of the couture world for the common man, highlighting a number of techniques not just for intermediate sewers, but experienced artists as well. From hand stitching to garment constructions with classic closures and finishes, this book is indeed the bible of couture books, laced with the best insider tips, blurbs, pull-out boxes, fabric specific designs, and vibrant text colors.
One concern you might face as a learner is that the book skimps on step-by-step guides. As an experienced sewing artist, this book is a complete delight with master-level couture techniques. However, replicating the results in real life might be a bit difficult because of a lack of adequate photos and illustrations.
More features: covers useful information for dressmakers, a lot of photos, tips and tricks
Does the thought of stitching stretchy fabrics make you sweat? Fear no more, because Tilly Walnes, an industry icon with her own award-winning pattern company, is here to help you. With her outstanding techniques, such as knit manipulation and pattern hacking, Tilly assures you that knit fabric sewing can be a breeze.
Not only can you learn to create different sizes of clothes with knit patterns, but also personalize your garments based on multiple variations and ideas provided in the book. The best part – no fancy overlocks required. You can easily manipulate with knit fabrics with your regular sewing machine using Tilly’s handy tips on knit types, along with the knowledge on the types of stitches to use, as well as the types of needles and stabilizers required (and when to use them).
More features: includes patterns for 23 dresses that can be mixed and customized
Add a modern twist to vintage dressmaking by using Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book with 23 lovely dress patterns and designs suited for different occasions. One of the best sewing books with patterns, it’s and complete guide for dressmaking that also includes all the essential techniques. The introduction covers tutorials on how to choose fabrics along with the basics of checking the grainline that influences the construction of your dress. What’s more, you can create customized patterns by mixing and matching various elements from the book, to fully unleash your inner, vintage-loving nature.
A potential downside could be a fitting mismatch, since Gertie uses her own figure as a model for the entire book, which could mean that the charts may not be accurate for your own body dimensions.
More features: includes 12 sewing projects, information about choosing sewing machine, materials, color theory, techniques
Looking for the best sewing books for beginners? Well, your search can be officially over, because this little book covers all the basics you need to develop machine sewing techniques. With engaging content, tips and guidelines from the author, this book is an absolute delight, whether you’re learning alone or as a group.
Apart from the pieces of advice on fabric, machines, and sewing techniques, this guide offers a well-balanced mix of craft projects, such as tote bags, clutches, and pillowcases. It also acts as a guide to troubleshooting problems you might face when you start out. No wonder it has won the 2015 IBPA Ben Franklin Gold Award for crafts and hobbies – a feat that is not easily accomplished by beginner guide books. Be warned, though – this guide solely focuses on building your confidence as a newbie and does not cover garment making or over the top, advanced sewing techniques.
More features: a collection of 10 garments, patterns for different US sizes from 4 to 16, focuses on dressmaking
The first of its kind Scandinavian dressmaking book, this guide is perfect for creating your own wardrobe collection. The authors walk you towards developing sewing skills as you work on different pieces, with quirky variations allowing for customization. The book also comes with full-sized pattern sheets and added guidelines on measuring yourself to find the best fit. Plus, the patterns are adjustable to every body size, which makes it the best bang for your buck.
As the title suggests, the patterns can also be manipulated easily into other styles, providing a wider array of cuts. One slight disappointment though, is that this book is not for beginners, as working with the patterns can be a bit daunting unless you’re well experienced.
More features: covers many sewing techniques, how to choose equipment and fabrics
With a beautiful format, this book showcases step-by-step guidelines for a variety of sewing techniques. Each section of this book contains introductory remarks, sewing terminology and definitions, as well as a sidebar highlighting various techniques. It also includes tips on sewing tools, latest equipment, fabrics, cuts and patterns. Everyone will find something new with this book and get the explanations they need. It can speed the learning process up, but also will be useful for the advanced sewers.
The best part about this sewing guide is its directories section, covering illustrations for various items. For instance, there’s a separate directory for seams, collars, tools and patterns, and so on. However, despite the detailed instructions and visuals, there is a lack of clarity in a few techniques, which could leave a beginner somewhat confused.
More features: over 400 illustrations, step-by-step guide to altering clothes, hints and tips
As evident from the name, this book is the ultimate guide to altering your own clothes in a professional manner, without the additional baggage of the ‘homemade’ look. After a brief introduction, this book builds up gradually on various alteration techniques by providing a user guide, tools instructions and little tips and tricks to up your sizing game. What we love about this book is that the author’s sole focus lies on alteration, and alteration alone, without trying to cram in every other topic related to sewing.
Although this book may not be the ideal guide to learning sewing from the ground up, it does provide a fantastic, elaborate guideline for those who’ve had some sewing experience. While containing simple techniques, as well as more challenging ones, this book is an indispensable resource that you can keep coming back to.
More features: patterns for 26 basic garments with diagrams and instructions
Are you crazy about hues of black? Prepare yourself because the designs in this book will surely catch your heart. Originally a Japanese book with DIY Western-sized patterns, this book was translated in English for a wider audience base as a guide to modern, inexpensive, practical styles. While suiting for every age, size, and occasion, this book showcases a mix of loose and fitted pattern guides that give your garments a professional finish.
Unlike many modern sewing books, this guide is something that even experienced sewing artists can learn from, as it contains some challenging design sets for the reader. On the downside, the instructions aren’t thorough enough for beginner level and the directions tend to get a bit complicated, so you need to have a little know-how about sewing before using this book.
This book is a one-stop solution for anyone who wants to learn sewing with a machine. With the help of step-by-step photographs and finished samples at the end, it calls for easy but stylish sewing projects. The author, Kate Haxell – an accomplished sewing artist – walks you through each step with ridiculously simple guidelines that neither contain overcomplicated design jargon, nor tricky techniques so as to confuse the reader.
A bonus in this book is the abundance of shortcuts for speedy sewing and easy-to-follow patterns. It also touches upon quilting and patchwork basics. The only downside is the tiny font size used, which makes it rather difficult to see through as you’ll be referring back to frequently as a learner.
More features: instructions for women clothes, covers alternative fabrics for each pattern
If you’re an experienced dressmaker looking for classic, stylish ideas, this book is a great choice. Not only does it discuss key shapes and timeless trends, but it also guides users by providing eight clear dressmaking patterns for women of all ages. The author, Frances Toibin, who has worked for reputable industry names such as Gucci and Espirit, takes the readers through an introduction, fabric selection tips and options for each item, and finally, the sample patterns themselves. In fact, she also gives examples of how to wear the items and alter each design further for a unique look.
Although this book is marketed as something that all women can use, it doesn’t really include patterns for plus sizes. Additionally, most patterns focus on loose, boxy cuts, which may not necessarily suit every body type.
More features: has information about how to deal with different types of fabric, a lot of drawings
If you’re looking for an educational book that covers the basics, this book is a must-have in your library. It covers great practical pre-design ideas and is loaded with A-line drawings, which are simplistic and easy to follow. These drawings also highlight the various phases of garment constructions, with little tips and tricks that differentiate a professional garment from an amateur one. So, if you’ve been confused as to why your garment doesn’t have that high-level fine finishing, this book is your go-to solution.
There is a bit of a misalignment between the text and the pictures, giving it a textbook-like feel. Unfortunately, it skimps on industrial level techniques and alteration guides. But the best is reserved for those who’re looking for a comprehensive garment construction guide. Overall, a solid book on sewing.
More features: contains step-by-step instructions, photos, information about pattern selection
Connie Crawford is a name synonymous with pattern making. Being a design consultant, instructor and CEO of his independent pattern company, Crawford wrote this book as a clear guide for garment construction for men, women, as well as children. This book acts as a great refresher for people who want to delve into the world of apparel sewing.
Although it covers a wide array of modern sewing methods, it doesn’t encompass too many techniques for people well above the intermediate sewing level – a feature that would disappoint some, considering the hefty price paid. Nevertheless, it’s a great resource for explanations on various styles of seams, garment construction and finishing. The best part about this book is the easy to follow instructions, accompanied by clear pictures. There’s also a DVD included that some users found really helpful.
More features: multiple sewing techniques, well-illustrated, easy to read
This book focuses on several basic fashion sewing techniques. It also gives you notes on a lot of sewing hacks for various categories. For instance, it highlights the different types of hems, such as the serged and rolled, and then goes on to cover the related sewing tricks. Generally, the directions are very easy to understand. There are some charts that show the reader how to embellish different types of garments. The book itself is also user-friendly due to its spiral binding, allowing it to lie flat open while one works.
Whereas it covers basic techniques, which means that it’s a good reference for beginners or returning sewing artists, the book doesn’t provide in-depth information or a whole lot of picture guides. On the other hand, it does cover a wide range of topics as independent sections, including clothes for different body types, embroidery, and other decorative ideas.
As a beginner, you can be confused about what your sewing kit should include. To help you get started, we’ve prepared a list of the most important sewing items that a beginner sewer needs.
If you’re dealing with heavy fabrics, it’s important to have a sewing machine at hand, as it adds accuracy to your stitching, while saving you loads of time. Sewing machines use double threads that result in stronger, viable stitches without putting too much strain on your eyes and hands. It’s impossible to imagine creating some items without a sewing machine.
A sharp pair of scissors not only helps with easy cutting (especially for thicker materials and layers), but also prevents over-frayed edges. While investing in the sharp fabric scissors, one should also consider a pair for embroidery cutting to get into all those nooks and crannies with a clean cut.
Iron is a very important ingredient for your sewing projects. Why? Because ironing your fabric before starting sewing ensures a flat surface for accurate measurements, alignment and cutting. This is an important pre-step, especially for quilting projects.
The first and foremost requirement for any type of sewing project is a thread. Generally, you’ll need to match your thread to the color of your fabric. However, as a rule of thumb, always have cream and black thread in stock.
Remember – using high-quality thread results in higher durability and prevents potential garments issues.
Sewing machine needles are designed such that they generally work for every machine. The bigger needles can be used on heavier fabric and vice versa. It is recommended that you change your needle after using at least three full bobbins, as it tends to dull the needle, especially if you use heavy fabrics.
This is perhaps the most useful tool to have, especially from a beginner’s point of view. Having a seam ripper on hand can quickly help you undo stitching mistakes by unpicking the threads – simple, yet effective.
This is a must-have item for your sewing box, whether you’re a novice, an intermediate or an expert.
Accurate measuring of your fabrics is the first step towards a fine finish, top-notch stitched garment.
Let’s face it – you’ll have to mark your fabric for cutting and sewing at some point or another. Since you can’t use your regular pens and markers (at the risk of leaving permanent ink marks), invest in a washable marker or chalk so that your fabric doesn’t get ruined.
Lastly, you’ll need a sewing basket with all the necessary tools and equipment for your sewing projects. Having a designated sewing box or basket not only makes it easy to find things but also prevents your workplace from turning messy.
However, books that heavily text laden and meant to act as a complete step-by-step course for fashion design tend to be costlier. For example, A Guide to Fashion Sewing carries a hefty price tag of $96.70, but it also includes a DVD disc.
Advanced level guides, on the other hand, focus more on sharpening your skills and diving deep into complex fashion techniques used by industry experts to achieve that heavenly luxurious feel. Most advanced level books also contain challenging projects, such as using knit or heavy fabrics, mixing and manipulating the patterns.
However, there are some guides out there that are holistic and have something for people with all skill levels.
Now then, which of these 15 best sewing books should you opt for? To make it easier for you, we’ll pick out the top 3 from this review.
First, let’s talk about the Editor’s Choice, the Vogue Sewing, Revised and Updated. We love this book as it covers the basics of sewing, alongside advanced couture techniques with plenty of charts, illustrations and examples. It’s well formatted and beautifully written for people with different skill levels. Another advantage of this book is the detailed chapters that also have step-by-step instructions.
Our next choice is the New Complete Guide to Step by Step sewing: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories. This book is chock-full of diagrams, pictures and illustrations, providing visual aided learning (which really is the best form of learning for any and every subject). Like any other good book, it has something for everyone, not to forget a complete glossary guide for easier navigation while you work on your projects.
Last but not least – the Couture Sewing Techniques. An all-time favorite in the fashion world, this book is an icon for couture style dress constructions. Even for beginners, you will enjoy reading this book because of the examples of immaculately constructed timeless garments, and secrets of the couture world. The layout, content, images, techniques – everything has been perfected to a tee in this book – all for a price of $19.64.