9 Must-Have Sewing Books Reviewed

sewing books
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Online sewing tutorials and downloadable patterns are fantastic, but nothing quite beats a great sewing book. The best sewing books teach you new techniques, have sewing patterns for unique projects, and provide endless inspiration.

Our Top 9 Sewing Books

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite sewing books and below you’ll find a mini-review of each. 

These books make our top nine not just because they’re Amazon best-sellers, but also because they feature amazing projects, stunning photography, and easy-to-follow tutorials for beginners to more advanced sewists.

1. Joyful Stitching: Transform Fabric with Improvisational Embroidery

In this book, celebrated embroiderer and fabric artist Laura Wasilowski explores the joy of free-form embroidery. Laura shares her passion for, and knowledge of, this type of embroidery, inviting you to explore your creativity with her loose, relaxed, and cozy style of stitching.

It includes six projects specifically designed to allow you to develop your improvisational embroidery skills. Each project is based on simple shapes that you can embellish with your free-form stitches to your heart’s content.

Along with walking you through these projects with detailed instructions and inspiring descriptions, a total of 21 different embroidery stitches are broken down step-by-step. The book also covers the materials and tools you need to create your designs, with detailed discussions on the various fabrics, threads, needles and hoops you can use for free-form embroidery.

Throughout the book you’ll find plenty of handy tips and tricks for hassle-free stitching and the best results. Finally, it details how to transfer designs for embroidery, and gives you more ideas for free-form embroidery projects of your own.  

This book will inspire you to explore free form embroideries for the pleasure of stitching, allowing you the freedom to explore different stitch, thread and fabric combinations.

2. New Complete Guide to Sewing: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories

This guide is a comprehensive reference book from Reader’s Digest. This updated edition is packed with useful information, tips and tutorials for sewists of all levels.

The book covers every stage of the sewing process, from selecting the right tools and fabric, to perfectly finishing garments and other projects. Each element is clearly explained and backed up with thousands of illustrations and diagrams.

There are also a large number of projects – 20 in total – with Simplicity® patterns and photographs. These modern projects include garments such as dress pants and a summer dress, and homewares such as a beach towel, curtains, and a patchwork bag.

This guide will help to set you up for success before you launch into your projects by explaining how to find the correct pattern size, how to identify the correct technique for each project, and how to pick and choose the design details you want for the most flattering results.

For beginners, this book is a great starting point for learning the basic skills and tricks you need to know, as well as getting started with your first projects. More advanced sewists will find this guide useful too, enabling them to explore specific techniques, refine their skills, and create exciting new projects.

3. Sewing School: 21 Projects Kids Will Love to Make

Any sewist with children has a proud moment when their kids pick up a needle and thread for the first time. Kids love to sew, but it is much more fun if they have cool, kid-friendly projects to make.

This book features 21 fun projects that are suitable for young sewists five years and over. Designed specifically for small hands, these projects include colorful pillows, potholders, blankets, and dolls.

The book is full of stunning photographs to inspire young sewists and each project is explained with clear instructions, extra tips, and plenty of illustrations, complete with cut-out patterns. The projects have all been tested by children, and are designed to be made with hand stitches only, with no sewing machine necessary.

Most of the projects are simple enough that even young children can complete them essentially on their own, affording that sense of achievement when they’ve made something by themselves.

This is a great book for letting young, ambitious sewists develop their skills while having plenty of fun and making their own awesome creations. Another nice touch is that the book is aimed equally at boys and girls, recognizing that all children love to sew.

4. Sew Classic Clothes for Girls: 20 Girls’ Dresses, Outfits and Accessories from the Cottage Mama

Blogger and sewist Lindsay Wilkes delivers this book full of beautiful patterns and projects for clothes for girls. You can use these patterns to create a whole closet full of unique, personalized garments for your little girl, from dresses to tops and coats.

Before launching into a collection of projects, this book goes over what you should know before sewing clothes for girls. It covers which tools to use, how to choose and pair fabrics, and essential techniques for garment making.

The book features over 20 different vintage-inspired, classic-style garments which can be mixed and matched to make a huge number of outfits. Along with the patterns, the book details fabric requirements, cutting instructions and sewing advice, and the patterns can be adapted to sizes from 1 to 10 year olds.

The book also comes with a CD with patterns and cutting layout diagrams that you can print at home. Keep in mind that the patterns are in PDF format so you’ll need a computer with a CD-ROM drive and Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the files.

5. First Time Sewing: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide

There are many guides out there that are aimed at sewists of all levels, starting with the basics and working up to advanced techniques. However, this book is designed to be a thorough guide for absolute beginners, meaning that it really delves into everything first-time sewists need to know.

The book starts with a comprehensive guide to sewing basics, covering all the essential elements of sewing, from the sewing machine and sewing supplies to fabrics and preparing to sew. Each section goes into fine detail on the subject and includes color photos, illustrations and diagrams to teach you everything you need to know.

There are several sections on sewing patterns, including selecting a pattern, inside the pattern, and pattern layout. This guide also explains the various hand stitches a beginner should know, as well as how to sew a seam and hem garments on a sewing machine.

The book then moves to beginner-friendly sewing projects that you can use to practice your new sewing skills. There are nine projects in total, from simple table cloths and pillows to elastic waist skirts and pants and an unlined jacket.

This detailed and comprehensive book is perfect for first-time sewists, and makes a useful companion that is like having an instructor by your side as you learn to sew.

6. The Sewing Book: Over 300 Step-by-Step Techniques

This sewing reference book is a comprehensive guide to sewing just about everything, from garments to home décor. The book begins with a detailed introduction to the basics of sewing, covering sewing equipment, fabrics, and patterns in exquisite detail.

As promised in the title, it then breaks down more than 300 sewing techniques, including darts, pleats, collars, facings, belts, sleeves, pockets, fasteners, and linings. Each technique is described step by step, with detailed instructions that are easy to understand even for beginners.

There are also 10 distinct projects for garments, accessories, and décor items, each with a full pattern and instructions.

Throughout, “The Sewing Book” is packed with beautiful photographs to illustrate the sewing tools and equipment as well as the sewing techniques. As a nice touch, they use thread and fabrics in contrasting colors so that you can clearly see the stitching.

The book grades each technique by difficulty using a five star system: the more stars a technique has, the more difficult it is! “The Sewing Book” is an excellent guide for novice sewists, and would also make a handy reference for sewists of all levels to brush up on unfamiliar sewing techniques.

7. Little Things to Sew: 20 Classic Accessories and Toys for Children

Who doesn’t love sewing little things? This sewing book features 20 small projects for sewists, with a range of children’s accessories, garments, and toys.

Author Liesel Gibson is the founder of the pattern company Oliver + S, famous for their classic and contemporary designs for kids.

Here she shares a large number of projects, including cute hats, scarves, a tutu, an art smock, a quilt, a vest, and a backpack, for you to make for your little ones. All of the projects apply Liesel’s approach of using patterns to teach sewists new sewing techniques.

Each project is explained with pattern layouts, clear, easy-to-follow instructions, and accompanied with stunning photographs. There are also two full-sized pattern sheets included with the book, as well as a section on sewing techniques to help you execute each pattern perfectly.

Aside from the adorable projects, we love this book because the projects cover a range of difficulties. This means the book is suitable for sewists of all levels, from beginner to advanced.

Although the projects in “Little Things to Sew” are designed to be made by adult sewists, there is an extra bonus for your little ones included with the book: two paper dolls that can be dressed using the cut-out outfits on the book’s jacket.

8. My First Sewing Machine Book

Another great volume for budding young sewist, “My First Sewing Machine Book” is designed to help children learn to sew on a machine. It teaches them the essentials of using a sewing machine and then provides plenty of projects for your kids to practice their new-found skills.

This is the latest volume from stylist and designer Emma Hardy, who is known for her contributions to leading magazines as well as a range of popular sewing and quilting books. Emma was supported by series consultant Susan Akass, a full-time elementary school teacher and expert in producing accessible and inspiring books for children.

There are 35 projects in the book, ranging from garments and accessories to home décor and practical items like a wall tidy and a case for an MP3 player. Little ones will particularly love making their own rag doll and then creating a cute outfit for their doll to wear.

Every project is clearly explained in “kidspeak”, with photos and illustrations to demonstrate each step of the process. The projects are also graded according to difficulty, so your child can choose a pattern that is appropriate to their level of expertise.

This book is suitable for kids aged seven years and over, and there is enough scope to keep older children interested. Of course, young children should always be supervised when using a sewing machine, but this book will certainly sew the seeds for a passion for sewing.

9. BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

This book comes from BurdaStyle, one of the world’s largest online communities for sewists and fashion designers. Its aim is to help you to sew your own fashion that fits you like a glove.

The handbook includes five complete sewing patterns, for a skirt, a blouse, a dress, a coat, and a bag. The sewing patterns are designed to be easily adaptable to a range of body shapes so you can achieve the perfect fit.

This is great news for anyone who struggles to find clothing off the rack that fits them and flatters their shape. Before you dive into the patterns, you’ll also find a handy section that explains everything you need to know about setting up your sewing space, buying the right tools, and finding the perfect fit.

There are also 15 sewing tutorials with step-by-step instructions to make a range of projects. This book is suitable for beginners to advanced sewists, because it equips you with the basics of sewing, and then helps you to develop your skills as you move through the projects.

Experienced sewists will also love the special tips for mastering techniques, and loads of design inspiration from BurdaStyle members.

Summing Up

These sewing books represent the best of the best. From comprehensive reference volumes to unique sewing techniques and introductory guides for child sewists, these books will have you making magic with a needle and thread in no time.                                                   

If you know your friends and family will also love these amazing sewing books, be sure to share this list with them!