Best Sewing Books For Beginners

By Tracy Colby | Family

Apr 15

Learning to sew can be daunting at first. Dressmaking for beginners books can be a helpful resource that will guide any beginner through the ins and outs. Even confident seamstress return time and and time again to the information printed on these pages.

We can help you with your search for the best sewing book for beginners. Depending on what your sewing interests are, our list has got you covered. You may want to get to grips with the basics of a how a sewing machine works first, before flicking through to find your first sewing project. We cover these needs, plus introduces you to dressmaking, shows you the basics of quilting, as well as teaches you how to pick the right fabric for your projects.

We’ve compiled the most popular books that beginner sewists have recommended in one conclusive list. Our article also includes a comparison table for you to quickly gloss over what each book contains, plus we’ve rated each book out of 5 stars (5 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest). Just be aware that it’s likely that your sewing library will expand very quickly!

1. The Sewing Machine Classroom- Demystify Your Sewing Machine

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This is the book to have with your sewing machine at all times. It will guide you through how to fix frustrating problems with simple tricks – invaluable for any sewist, whether they’re a beginner or an expert. This is a strong contender for the best beginner sewing book!

You’ll learn:

  1. How to troubleshoot machine problems e.g. broken needles, tension problems and skipped stitches
  2. How to perform basic maintenance on your machine to keep it running smoothly
  3. How to recognize and use the appropriate sewing machine feet to achieve the desired results
  4. To perfect basic techniques like buttonholes and zippers
  5. Simple embellishment tricks like rushing and pintucks

Pros:

  • Excellent tool for any skill level
  • Clearly written information paired with eye-catching illustrations and photographs
  • Includes tables at the back of the book to help select the correct thread, needle, tension, stitch length etc.

Cons:

  • This book focuses more on demystifying your sewing machine so if you want sewing inspiration you’ll have to look elsewhere

2. School of Sewing: Learn it, Teach it, Sew Together – Simple Sewing Projects

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Shea Henderson has cleverly planned out 12 three-hour lesson projects for beginners – one for each month of the year. This beautifully laid out book will guide you through the essential sewing techniques through simple projects like a pillowcase, zippered pouch, and a quilt. Keep an eye out for additional details for some extra credit. A great example of a sewing book written for beginners.

You’ll learn:

  1. What to look out for when shopping for a sewing machine
  2. How to select fabric types and combine colours
  3. What essential sewing supplies will set you up for sewing 101
  4. How to trouble shoot common problems
  5. Professional finishing techniques e.g. hems
  6. Common sewing skills e.g. zippers, buttonholes, pleats, binding etc.
  7. How to apply these skills through 12 beginner projects

Pros:

  • The projects included lean towards a modern aesthetic
  • Project difficulty increases over the 12 months
  • Range of projects included – from fashion accessories to home decor
  • Beautiful layout with beautiful photographs

Cons:

  • Some readers felt they needed a little more instructions in a few places

3. Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects

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The international designer, Lotta Jansdotter is well-known for her printmaking and this book shows you how to combine colour and pattern in a simple but striking way.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to improve your sewing skills with 24 easy projects
  2. How to use sewing patterns (this book provides reusable pattern sheets)
  3. Simple ways to make a sewing project look sophisticated, inspired by Lotta’s clear design talent

Pros:

  • Lay this book down flat with it’s spiral binding
  • Sewing patterns are included and are stored in a folder at the back of the book.
  • The range of sewing projects included will surely inspire you

Cons:

  • Some readers have found that the written instructions a little brief and that more diagrams would be hugely beneficial
  • Some people have noted problems with the hat pattern not fitting together

4. Fabrics A-to-Z: The Essential Guide to Choosing and Using Fabric for Sewing

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This book is the  Encyclopaedia of Fabrics! “Fabrics A to Z” is an invaluable resource, guiding sewists through more than 100 different types of fabrics. This will help any beginner sort their way through a fabric shop with confidence and ease – a welcome addition to a sewing library, whatever the skill level!

You’ll learn:

  1. The characteristics, strengths and limitations of 100+ fabrics
  2. How to care for each fabric type
  3. Which tools and notions should be used with particular fabrics
  4. How to read sewing patterns

Pros:

  • Small in size – great for taking with you to the local fabric store!
  • Detailed explanations on each fabric type with colourful pictures
  • Great resource for variety of sewing projects e.g. quilting, dress making, home decor
  • Excellent book to have as your sewing skill level grows

Cons:

  • Some readers have suggested that this book isn’t as comprehensive as other books – but this is a great alternative for less money
  • Doesn’t come with fabric samples – just photograph swatches

5. A Kid’s Guide to Sewing: Learn to Sew with Sophie & Her Friends • 16 Fun Projects You’ll Love to Make & Use

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This guide is written by well-known modern quilters, Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr with their 11-year old daughter Sophie. Sophie offers great advice from a child’s perspective and each project becomes more complex to grow with the reader’s skills. “A Kid’s Guide to Sewing” makes an excellent sewing for beginners book.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to navigate a sewing machine
  2. How to make smart fabric decisions
  3. How to use basic sewing tools
  4. How to sew clothes, bags and accessories through clear step-by-step instructions

Pros:

  • Excellent guide written by the authors with their 11-year old daughter, Sophie
  • Features age appropriate sewing projects for younger beginner sewists
  • The projects grow in difficultly, allowing the book to grow with the sewist as their skills develop
  • Perfect present for an experienced sewist hoping to pass on sewing skills to the younger generation
  • Clear photographs are supplied alongside step-by-step instructions

Cons:

  • No pattern pieces are included for the projects in the book
  • Some readers suggest that this book doesn’t provide information on the basics of sewing – so this book would better serve as inspiration for sewing projects

6. Growing Up Modern: 16 Quilt Projects for Babies & Kids

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Allison Harris provides both inspiration and guidance for beginner sewists when it comes to quilt making. Her book “Growing Up Modern” features 16 different designs for big projects like quilts or smaller project e.g. cushions – ideal for learning the basics of quilting.

You’ll learn:

  1. The quilt making basics
  2. How to find time to be creative (and keep it fun) when you have children

Pros:

  • Comprehensive instructions to quilt making basics with photographs
  • Features 16 quilting projects some of which have instructions for adapting to a crib or twin sized quilt
  • Appeals to a modern aesthetic
  • Suits both a sewing newbie and a sewing expert
  • Written by a stay-at-home mom who knows a thing or two about making time for creative pursuits – a unique selling point of this book

Cons:

  • If you’re looking for traditional designs, this book only includes straightforward, bold quilting patterns

7. The Sewing Book: An Encyclopedic Resource of Step-by-Step Techniques

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This is the book for you if you’re looking for a definitive resource on all the techniques you’ll ever need to sew anything and everything. For beginner sewists wanting to know how to make home accessories or clothing, this book will walk you through the techniques with thorough explanations and clear photography.

You’ll learn:

  1. What your basic toolkit should include and why e.g. cutting tools and machine feet
  2. How to use patterns correctly and how to adjust them as need be
  3. How to sew closures e.g. zips, buttonholes

Pros:

  • Perfect resource you’ll refer to time and time again
  • Also includes 25 sewing projects in the back of the book – an excellent way to put your sewing skills into practice

Cons:

  • The book also contains an index of fabric – some reader’s have said that this section could be more detailed
  • Bear in mind that this book leans more towards dressmaking. But many techniques can still be applied to quilting or home furnishings

8. Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking

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This Tilly & The Buttons book is aimed at those who find dressmaking intimidating. “Love At First Stitch” provides a modern, yet simple approach to sewing clothes for yourself. You’ll find this book both informative and inspirational. Just watch your sewing confidence grow with this perfect example of a dressmaking for beginners book.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to build your skills and confidence one project at a time
  2. How to make sewing part of your lifestyle
  3. How to add your own special touch to any sewing project
  4. How to polish your signature style

Pros:

  • New techniques are introduced as and when you need them
  • Provides both inspiration and information on dress making 101
  • Includes paper patterns for 7 versatile garments
  • Learn how to adapt these patterns to suit your personal taste

Cons:

  • The patterns are printed on top of one another on one big piece of paper. This means more time and effort tracing each pattern piece.

9. Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified

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This book is aimed at those inspired by Project Runway and being able to design clothing to match your own style. Cal Patch offers a modern take on pattern making with walks you through the basic steps; you can either design something from scratch or copy the pattern from existing clothing.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to design a perfect fitting dress
  2. How to design a t-shirt
  3. How to design an A-line skirt
  4. How to design pants
  5. How to to take your own measurements
  6. How to create patterns from existing clothing

Pros:

  • Teaches you how to draft wardrobe staples
  • Variations on each pattern are included, providing more style options
  • The author previous experience at Urban Outfitters and Free People help provide youthful, modern designs

Cons:

  • Instructions on how to fit clothing on curvier figures is limited

10. The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits: Professional Techniques for Beautiful Everyday Garments

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Colette Patterns have put together the ultimate guide on how to sew stretchy fabrics. T-shirts are a wardrobe staple and this is the best sewing book to walk you through the process, from selecting fabric to finishing raw edges. This is a great book is you have a little sewing experience already and want to try making garments that you’ll wear day in day out.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to construct and finish stretchy garments, both on sewing machine and a serger
  2. What techniques are used to mass manufacture knit clothing
  3. What to look for when shopping for stretchy fabric
  4. Basic fitting and quick-fit techniques for knit patterns
  5. A variety of methods for finishing the edges of necklines, armholes, and hems.
  6. Get creative with fun embellishments that work particularly well with knits.

Pros:

  • Learn how to make wearable garments – not just party dresses
  • Learn how to sew knits on a regular sewing machine – no fancy equipment is necessary!
  • Excellent resource for both dress making beginners and experts
  • Includes a table of different stitches you may need – including where to use it, needle type, stitch length, tension etc.

Cons:

  • Some readers would have preferred less information on using sergers and more on using a regular sewing machine

Best Beginner Sewing Book: Buyer’s Guide

Sewing books are a great way to learn the basics – they’re a tool that you can refer back to over and over again. Our suggestions come highly recommended by beginners and expert sewists, so we know that they’ll be a welcome addition to your sewing library. Before you make any purchases, it’s always a good idea to think through what you need most. Our buyer’s guide will give you some food for thought:

Information or Inspiration?

Think about whether a book jam packed with sewing information is what you’re in need of, or perhaps suggestions for pretty sewing projects would be better. Some of our recommended books even provide both!

Project Type

Our list covers a range of sewing projects. Are you looking to pick up some dressmaking skills or quilting skills? Some books like “School of Sewing: Learn it, Teach it, Sew Together” provide a range of sewing projects to help you grow your sewing skills and confidence. Other books like “Growing Up Modern: 16 Quilt Projects for Babies & Kids” are more specific and give more detailed advice on just one topic.

Personal Style

This is an example of when you should never just a book by it’s cover. Have a good look at the projects included in the books – look past the colours, prints and photography styling. You may find that you can apply the same techniques and make something exact to your taste – just one of the reasons why so many people want to take up “Sewing 101”

Learning Style

Some books provide instructions through written text, illustrative diagrams or clear photographs. A few of our recommended books even combine several of these explanation methods! You may want to consider which of these methods best suits you before making a purchase.

Are The Patterns Include?

Many beginner sewing projects are made from surprising simple shapes – tote bags and gathered skirts are just rectangles of fabric! If you want to kick it up gear with a fitted dress or pyjamas pants – some books include paper patterns for these garments at the back. It’s not uncommon for all the pattern pieces to be printed on top of each other on one giant piece of paper. Whilst this requires an extra step of tracing off the pattern pieces, it does cut the cost of the book down.

Sewing For Beginners Book: My Top Picks!

Sewing is a life skill that isn’t always handed down from generation to generation. Thankfully, books help provide that missing link. With so many sewing books on the market, it can be hard to know which ones to pick. We’ve compiled our list of sewing books for beginners based on popular recommendations so we’re confident that all your sewing needs can be answered with the titles mentioned above.

Depending on what exactly you’re looking for, our ultimate top 3 picks for the best beginner sewing books are as follows:

School of Sewing: Learn it, Teach it, Sew Together is a compilation of lesson plans that take you from absolute beginner to confident sewist. Shea Henderson has also thought about some of the other questions that beginners may have, such as how to select the right fabric type, how to troubleshoot common sewing machine problems and what the essential things to have your sewing toolkit are.

Growing Up Modern: 16 Quilt Projects for Babies & Kids showcases simple ways to explore the craft of quilt making in a bold, modern style. If you’re not quite ready to delve into the world of fitting clothing, quilting is an excellent way to practice sewing in straight lines.

Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking is an essential guide for beginner dressmakers. This is such a beautiful book offering simple yet striking ways to make your own clothes. So many paper patterns included in the book, making this excellent value for money. There’s no need to explain why this is so popular with beginner sewists.

Sewing is a useful skill and a wonderful way to get those creative juices flowing. We’re confident that any one of these beginner sewing books will set you on your way, informing and inspiring you for many years to come.