Bookworm Wednesday – Sewing Guides : Part 1

What? Another multi-part post? I know, I’m getting sick of them too, but I promise this one will be helpful, and also the last for quite awhile. So please just humor me!


I was thinking the other day…”What is the best advice that you can give to someone who is new to sewing?”

– Get a great sewing machine?
– Clean your machine?
– Only use your fabric scissors on FABRIC?
– Pre-wash your fabrics?
– Change your machine needle more than once a year? (Oh wait, you should tell ME that one ; )
– Just be creative?

I think the best advice I could give would be to…

find a really good sewing book!
Sure, you could goggle everything you wanted to know, but when you are first starting out – You don’t know what you don’t know! I love that phrase, but it’s so true. I kept telling my husband that when I started designing this blog. He would ask me why I didn’t do “yada, yada, something computery…” and all I had to say was “I didn’t even KNOW I could do that!”
Sewing is the same way. You know bits and pieces from just wearing clothes for most of your lives. (I hope ; ) It’s hard not to know by now what a ruffle is, or what kind of fabric denim is, but do you know that there is a special presser foot that only makes ruffles? or what kind of seam holds those jeans together? (I didn’t know about the ruffle foot until a few months ago, and I’ve sewn my whole life!) Here is where the book comes in. You might not learn everything there is to know, but you will at least know the basics, and have a place where you can look up the new terms and techniques you hear about while trolling the interwebs.
The biggest problem is actually finding the right book, so I have checked out every sewing guide I could find at my local library, and graded them for you. This way you’ll know right away if THAT book is really stuffy and dry or THIS one has super great photos. I know it won’t cover all the sewing guides out there, but at least it’s a start!

There were so many books to look through that I actually had to break them down into groups by how I rated them. Today we’ll cover all the one star books, and why I didn’t care for them. Then tomorrow will be the 2 stars… (You get the idea.) Here we go!

☆☆☆star Sewing Guides

Get the Most out of Your Sewing Machine
by Marion Elliot – © 2010

I wasn’t sure whether or not to include this one, but I figured if the title fooled me, I’d better warn you just in case. This looked like a how to book at first glance, but is more of a cross between a sewing guide, a refashion book, and a regular sewing projects book. While it covers things like types of stitches, needle sizes and a few presser feet, there isn’t enough basic information to really get you started.

Fabric Sewing Guide
by Claire Shaffer – © 2008

This was a comprehensive book with neat little “Claire’s hints” scattered throughout it’s pages. Unfortunately there were virtually no pictures to help you understand the techniques being described.

Sewing Techniques & Patterns
by Marie Noelle Bayard – © 2006

Another sewing guide that is very comprehensive, but lacking in pictures to help you understand. I feel that pictures are a must to help new sewers follow along more easily. There is no need to get frustrated with a technique if a simple picture would clear everything up.

Encyclopedia of Sewing
by Donna Kooler – © 2009

I was expecting this to be a very helpful book since I already own the Encyclopedia of Knitting, and use that one all the time. Instead this book contains lots of “extra” information to sift through, and is very dry and boring. It covered what you would need to know for basic home sewing, but just seem dated for such a recent publication. I was a bit disappointed.

Have you come across any sewing guides that really weren’t worth your time that you think should be added to this list? Do you own any of the books above, and have they been helpful? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what helps/helped you learn how to sew.

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