Which are the best sewing books when you are a beginner sewer?

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Hi creative mamas! I get asked this question all the time by my students. There are so many books out there that it’s hard to know which ones are worth spending money on and which are just nice to have but not really necessary.  In this post I will personally recommend the best sewing books for beginners.  I have been using these books for the last few years and I feel they are a necessary investment if you are a beginner sewer and you are serious about learning.

sewing books


Complete Guide to Sewing, Readers Digest

I love this sewing book for all beginners. It has been my go to resource book every time I am sewing a zip or making a fly etc. I bought it 20 years ago and I still refer to it like I did back then. The book is divided into sections, from basic techniques to more elaborate ones. It starts with basic sewing materials, basic concepts around pattern, fabrics and cutting. There is a section about pattern alterations which can be super handy at times! It goes through all sewing techniques in great details and has very good illustrations that clearly show the different sewing steps. It also has a section for sewing for the home and for children.


The Complete Book of Sewing, DK

This book is great for people who prefer photos rather than illustrations. I personally like having both so it’s a great complement to the Complete Guide to Sewing from Readers Digest. Its a fantastic resource sewing book for beginners because it goes from basic skills and knowledge all the way up to more complex techniques. It gives great  advice on sewing tools, supplies, and fabrics. It has a great fabric gallery and hundreds of specially commissioned full-color step-by-step photographs which are super handy when you are following instructions 🙂


The Complete Guide to Needlework, Readers Digest

OK, so this is my definitely go to resource book for all my creative hand sewing. It’s divided into different needlework techniques such as Embroidery, Canvas work, rugmaking, Applique, Knitting, Patchwork, Macrame, Quilting, Lacemaking and Crochet. Its mainly illustrated with some color photos. What I love about this book is that it gives a really good grounding knowledge of each of the techniques. Each technique has an overview explanation of the basic characteristic and then it teaches different projects with different levels of complexity. By far my favorite hand sewing book ever!!!


The Art of Manipulating Fabric, by Colette Wolff

I discovered this book exactly 18 years ago and has been used by myself and by my students in two different countries. It’s a great way to get creative by using techniques such as gathering, shirring, ruffles, flounces, godets, tucking, cording, stuffing and quilting. It’s a discovery book. It shows you the basic of each technique and then it invites you to get creative by providing you with a lot of inspirational photos. This book is great for the beginner sewer who has an artistic edge and want to create very one of a kind surface designs.


Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich

Fantastic womenswear pattern making book for beginners if you work with the metric system. It has detailed explanations of how to make your own blocks for standard measurements or custom made ones. It takes you from blocks to patterns with basic adaptations. It covers both woven and jersey blocks and patterns.


Patternmaking for Fashion Design (5th Edition) by Helen Armstrong

For those of you who work in inches this is a fantastic patternmaking book for beginners. It’s a comprehensive and robust book full of information with exceptional illustrations and clear instructions. It provides you with detailed yet easy-to-understand explanations of the essence of patternmaking. Its a great book to keep referring as you grow in your pattern making skills.  There are also editions in both inches and cms as well. Highly recommend this book if you are interested in making your own patterns 🙂


How to use you sewing books for beginners?

So, here are some pictures of how I have used these books in the past for myself and for my students. As I mentioned before these books are a go to resource for me as a teacher but also to remind myself of how to do certain techniques. If I haven’t done a fly for two years I will need a refresher, or a particular pocket style, or a fabric manipulations for a specific effect 🙂 So these books have been in my workroom and have grown older with me while I got wiser and wiser (I like to put it like this). Please note that my books are quite old so the different editions may vary in design and appearance.




surface design

sewing books


sewing kit



I hope you now feel confident about what books to get. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or if you need advice about any of my recommended readings. Get started right now by subscribing to my FREE Resource Library where you can go and choose a creative sewing project to get started 🙂