What's the best sewing reference book?
September 21, 2012 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I would like to buy a good book on how to sew. I don't mean a beginner's instructional book, since I can already sew quite well, but a comprehensive reference book that covers everything from the basics to advanced tailoring and couture techniques. I want a sewing book that is the equivalent of Vogue Knitting, which is revered among knitters as the knitter's Bible. I've come across Vogue Sewing, and Power Sewing by Sandra Betzina. Would you recommend either one of these as the best choice, or do you know of another book you think is better?
posted by orange swan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I really like Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, though according to some of the reviews, the tailoring info has been excluded from the recent edition.
posted by dtp at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Vogue Sewing book is really good. I also like the Readers Digest Sewing book. Both of my copies are older editions. I use them more as reference guides for techniques when I need refresher.

I also like the Fit for Real People series (and the Palmer Pletch classes are great!) for fitting issues. I've done a full bust adjustment a million times, but I still open up my book to guide me through the steps.
posted by vespabelle at 12:02 PM on September 21, 2012

I have an older edition of the Vogue Sewing Book (the title of mine) and it's really the one I keep coming back to. Definitely worth it.

If you do ever want to get into more couture sewing, Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Schaeffer is all sorts of wonderful. I love it. I don't do major couture projects, much more modest ones, but it's still an inspiration and very well done.
posted by fraula at 12:06 PM on September 21, 2012

I just bought Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing and am delighted with all the new tailoring tricks I get to master now. I find it really well written and photographed, and I like that it's aimed at a modern sewist (sometimes I find that vintage sewing manuals expect me to have skills I've never learned, much like a vintage cookbook will just say "cook until done" and never tell you how to cook it or what temperature or for how long).
posted by padraigin at 12:09 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing as well, but like The Joy of Cooking, you need to get the right version. I wrote the following when I was trying to find the right edition:
The 2002 edition lacks instructions on how to sew invisible zippers, despite 5 references to them in the index. A glaring omission for a basic sewing book.

(The 1976 edition does have diagrams and instructions for invisible zippers; not sure about other editions between 1976-2002.)
For tailoring and making patterns from scratch, Building Patterns: The Architecture of Women's Clothing by Suzy Furrer is killer. So comprehensive. Both of my sewing teachers strongly recommended this book, and it's a required text for many professional sewing classes.
posted by homodachi at 12:14 PM on September 21, 2012

Yes to the Vogue Sewing book - we used to use it in undergrad in the theatre department to teach about sewing, as well.

I also purchased Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, but haven't had a chance to really dig into it yet.
posted by needlegrrl at 2:24 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also have an older edition of the Reader's Digest Guide and find it to be a great reference.
posted by lawhound at 3:03 PM on September 21, 2012

Yes, the Reader's Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing.
posted by bendy at 7:29 PM on September 21, 2012

I have Power Sewing, and it's very helpful when I remember to use it. Much better instructions for most things than the pattern instructions. You're welcome to borrow it if you want to take a look at it.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:08 PM on September 23, 2012

Response by poster: I've ordered Vogue Sewing, and I'm going to put Couture Sewing Techniques and Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing on my Christmas list so my family can buy them for me.;-) Thanks all!
posted by orange swan at 12:03 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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