When I joined a sewing forum, a popular topic was; ‘What books are good for beginners?’
The answer does of course will depend on what you would like to create, but for general sewing, things like home-wares, gifts and to get you started with sewing with a machine, here are several excellent books that I use a lot and are ideal for newbies. There are links at the end of the article for the full reviews that I wrote about the titles mentioned, in earlier posts.
Me and my sewing Machine by Kate Haxell.
Kate’s book is for those who know they want to sew using a sewing machine, but need a good guide to what a machine can help you do and how to do it. This book holds your hand and shows you round the machine, it tells you about the different feet and what they each do and is also a good no-nonsense guide to essential techniques, for basic sewing. How to create different seams, and how to finish them create a really professional look for your projects. Zip insertion is also covered well is this book.
Check out the link below for my earlier review. This is also a good book to look at, before you buy your first sewing machine.
Sew What Bags by Lexie Barnes
This one is perfect for newbies as it expects no prior knowledge. If you want to make a PE bag for the kids its in here, gifts suitable for friends family and little projects perfect for fetes are also included here. There are totes, tissue holders, little purses etc. Nice small achievable confidence building project for the new sewer.
Sew What Skirts by Denhartog & Camp
Another nice straight forward and inspiring book, also expecting little or no prior knowledge of sewing. As the intro to the book says ‘If you can thread your sewing machine and find the straight and zig zag stitches you can create the projects in this book.
Sew What Skirts shows you how to take your own body measurements, to create a range of different skirts. Classic styles to get you going but when you have more experience, you can mix n match ideas from the various styles for different waist bands and fastenings, add pockets and trims to your heart’s content so you can really personalise the designs to your own look.
If the thought of a commercial pattern confuses you and frightens you, (me too by the way!) This book is for you.
I have just made a trial skirt from this books instructions and it came out great. If you have to do a lot of altering on a commercial pattern, why not start with this book instead. Since YOUR measurements are used not that of some fictional ‘standard’ person
The Sewing Book by Alison Smith
THE must have sewing book. A wonderfully clear reference book of visual instructions for so many sewing techniques. Not the chatty style of the earlier books but definitely one to have on your bookshelf as it walks you through many techniques.
I did buy a commercial pattern and couldn’t follow what I was meant to be doing. When I looked the technique up in Alison’s book, there were photos of the technique which made it much easier to see what I was meant to be doing. Not overly wordy, but definitely a keeper and excellent for visual learners. If you are trying to fathom the markings on commercial patterns they are covered here as are some basic alterations for patterns too.
Home-made Vintage by Christina Strutt
If you are more into home-wares and would like to make something timeless and elegant try this book. Its kind of Anna Griffin meets Tilda If you walk through John Lewis and the like and think ‘Ooh so nice’, but the prices are beyond your pocket try this book. From cushion covers to table decoration. You could take the ideas found in here in many different directions. For example there is an envelope shoe bag that with some alteration to the size and the addition of padding, would make a great e-reader/tablet cover/cozy.
Lots of things in here for all ages and some would also make great gifts. Take the ideas as a starting point and add your own imagination, with different style fabrics you could change the look and feel to any style you like. The picture in the photo was from a library book with hard cover, when I bought the book it was a paperback and had a different cover but essentially all the same content.
My other favorite sewing book is The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam. I love it but perhaps it doesn’t belong on books for beginners as although it covers many aspects of making bags, the techniques are for those with more experience. For complete newbies go with Sew what bags, if you have passed that stage and want to explore different fastenings, add pockets and zippers then Lisa’s book is a real must have.
Hope you will check out the links below for my full reviews of the books I’ve mentioned. These books have been so helpful in my sewing journey. I was scared of sewing for so long, but with the help and encouragement of these books, and some help from forum buddies, my sewing is improving with every project.
The following links take you to my full reviews of these books and to where you can buy them.
- Me & My Sewing Machine
- Sew What Bags
- Sew What Skirts
- The Sewing Book
- Home-made Vintage by Christina Strutt
My best advice is to grab some cheap fabric or old sheets that you can practice with before you try to make something in particular. Work out what stitches you like and how techniques work before making a finished project, that way you won’t have so much pressure and when you do make a project, have much better chance of making something you love and will use.
Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon