The Best Sewing Books for Beginners and Experts

Best Sewing Books for 2016

The Internet has been a boon to sewers, but sometimes a Google search just doesn’t cut it. Sewers of any skill level should stock up their bookshelves with material from the masters. Whether you’re new to the craft of have been sewing for years, these sewing books will inspire you and hone your skills with needle and thread.

The Sewing Book: An Encyclopedic Resource of Step-by-Step Techniques
Alison Smith, 2009

If you only buy one sewing book in your life, make it this one. This book walks you through everything there is about sewing, starting with making a basic sewing kit. It also explains fabrics, patterns, and both hand sewing and machine sewing techniques. As you improve your skills, you can go back through and try the more advanced techniques to add extra flair to your work. What makes this book really stand out are the clear photos. You don’t have to squint at black and white illustrations to figure out where to stitch.

School of Sewing: Learn It, Teach It, Sew Together
Shea Henderson, 2014

For beginners, this book is excellent. It’s a yearlong sewing course, broken down into monthly three-hour lessons, each with its own project and “extra credit.” More advanced sewers won’t learn much, but they can still get some use out of it. It’s perfect for developing your own sewing classes for children, grandchildren, and friends. This book is really geared toward social sewing, so grab a few buddies and block off a day each month to learn the craft.

Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well
Sanae Ishida, 2016

This book is a little different than the others on this list because it’s not just reference material. Ishida tells the story of how she rediscovered her passion for sewing after losing her corporate job to a chronic illness. Her memoir is woven throughout descriptions of seasonal sewing projects that are simple enough for beginners but creative enough for experts. It’s more inspiring than informative, but it’s a great read for beginners or experts and something you’ll pick up when you need a boost.

The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible
Wendy Gardiner and Lorna Knight, 2011

The title is misleading–this book doesn’t preach accessories so much as sewing machine feet. Still, mastering that confusing piece of your sewing machine will vastly improve your technique. This hefty book walks you through 30 different feet, what they do, and how to use them. It’s surprising how much of a difference that tiny piece of metal can make. The book also includes a guide to purchasing a sewing machine, needles, thread, and fabric. By the end, you’ll be able to sew the most finicky of fabrics, add fringe or soutache, and add all sorts of details that will make your work stand out.

Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing
Readers’ Digest Association, 2010

No sewing book list would be complete without this book–it’s been a sewing essential for decades–you’ll probably find an earlier edition squeezed into your mother’s bookshelf. This new edition gets a few complaints, namely about the fact that it has less material than the older editions, but this guide still covers nearly everything you need to know. It shows instructions and patterns for a variety of household projects as well as a primer on how to read patterns, so it’s great for newbies and experts alike.