Welcome to my sewing book library! These are the sewing books I turn to on the regular for instruction and inspiration. These books feature sewing techniques, fitting advice, time-saving sewing hacks, and sewing patterns. If I have a sewing question, there’s a good chance I can find the answer on these pages, and that’s a good feeling!
I’ve been collecting sewing books for more than a decade, and I thought you might like a peek at my book shelves. About a quarter of these books were bought used. Next time you’re at a thrift store, rummage sale, or second-hand book store, don’t forget to check for sewing books.
Each book includes a sentence description, and they are sorted into the following categories (click to go to each section!):
Click the book photos for price and more details!
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Books About Fitting
Sewing is one skill, and fitting is another! These books help make me-made clothes fit comfortably and beautifully.
Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using Any Pattern: This beloved fitting book gives detailed instruction on getting the best fit on varied bodies.
Fitting Finesse: Nancy Zieman walks us through fine-tuning fit of various garments.
Pants for Any Body: This book gives plain-language, low-key advice on fitting pants.
Pattern Fitting With Confidence: My favorite fitting book includes “pivot and slide” method of paper pattern piece adjustment.
The Perfect Fit (Singer Sewing Reference Library): It’s a fully photographed guide to fitting sewing patterns.
Sewing Guidebooks with Patterns
These books have a reference quality to them in that they provide garment-making instruction. The difference is they include patterns or projects. I love books like these because they’re a good value. 👍
Boundless Style: A Mix-and-Match Sewing Pattern Workbook: From Victory Patterns, this book contains different sleeves, bodices, and skirts for mix-and-match dresses.
Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets: The Sew U Guide to Making Outerwear Easy: Learn how to sew — and hack — three different coat patterns.
Built by Wendy Dresses: The Sew U Guide to Making a Girl’s Best Frock: Learn how to stitch — and hack — three different dress patterns.
Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s: Sew rad mid-century casual clothes — think weekend looks from “Mad Men.”
Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing: A Modern Guide to Couture-Style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques: Gertie demonstrates how sewists of yore did their stitching; this book includes 10 patterns!
Liberty Book of Home Sewing: Liberty of London decor for your home = SWOON.
No Patterns Needed: DIY Couture from Simple Shapes: Create a garment from a triangle, circle, or rectangle; these methods are size agnostic!
One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Projects; Look How Much You Can Make with Just One Yard of Fabric!: A fun book to have around when you’d like to stitch a little somethin’ somethin’; the projects make great gifts.
Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics: Hack your heart out with patterns for a raglan top, a crewneck top, and a dress/skirt.
Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe: Sew three wardrobe building blocks: a button-up shirt, an A-line skirt, and fly-front pants.
Skirt-a-Day Sewing: Create 28 Skirts for a Unique Look Every Day: Start with basic skirt patterns, then hack them 28 different ways.
The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress: Remember Colette’s vintage-inspired aesthetic? It’s here in this lovely book.
Getting a sewing magazine in the post is a delight! These mags provide instruction and inspiration.
Sew News Print Magazine: This mag has more of a fashion-y feel and is targeted at younger sewists.
Threads Print Magazine: This mag has THE BEST SEWING TECHNIQUE INSTRUCTION, period.
Books About Pattern Making
Take that sewing pattern bouncing around your brain from dream to reality. Pattern making is an exciting addition to your sewing practice.
Draping: Techniques for Beginners: Learn how to drape on a dress form with step-by-step photographed instructions; it’s part of the University of Fashion book series.
Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear: This is the book I’ve used most on my pattern-making journey; it’s not the most reader friendly tome, but it’s thorough.
Pattern Making: Techniques for Beginners: Also part of the University of Fashion book series, this book teaches you how to draft sleeves, skirts, bodices, collars, and pants.
Sewing Reference Books
These books are the backbone of any stitching library. Turn to them for tried-and-true views on sewing techniques, sewing terms, and fabrics.
High-Fashion Sewing Secrets from the World’s Best Designers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Sewing Stylish Seams, Buttonholes, Pockets, Collars, Hems, and More: This book shows how different fashion designers — Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Calvin Klein, and more — execute pattern elements (e.g., cuffs, facings, etc.).
Home Decor Sewing Technique Bible: It’s a good idea to have a little book on hand about making fancy pillows and whatnot.
New Complete Guide to Sewing: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories: My favorite reference book and the one I always return to. (The link goes to the latest edition of this book.)
Sewing Activewear: How to make your own professional-looking athletic wear: Learn how to sew strong, stretchy activewear seams, choose the right fabrics, and more.
Sewing for Plus Sizes: Creating Clothes that Fit and Flatter: This book shows how to make pattern adjustments for plus-sized bodies and which elements (e.g., gussets) make plus-sized clothing more comfortable; it’s useful for humans of all body volumes!
Sewing for Style (Singer Sewing Reference Library): This book provides instruction on how to level up your selection of fabric and notions, sewing techniques, shortcut tailoring, and design decisions.
Sewing Jeans: The complete step-by-step guide: Here are all the (photographed) steps to sew a pair of jeans.
Sewing Secrets from the Fashion Industry: Proven Methods To Help You Sew Like the Pros: Discover how you can use sewing techniques from ready-to-wear in your home sewing practice.
Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing: It’s EVERYTHING you’d ever want to know about making a woven shirt.
The Dressmaker’s Technique Bible: A complete guide to fashion sewing: This book features to-the-point instruction on just about every sewing technique.
The Fashion Designer’s Textile Directory: A Guide to Fabrics’ Properties, Characteristics, and Garment-Design Potential: It’s thorough and will help you better understand the fabrics you work with and how they’re made (and their impact on the environment).
Books with Sewing Tricks, Tips, and Encouragement
These books feel like Grandma’s sewing secrets. They’re collections of sewing wisdom that only comes from years of stitching.
501 Sewing Hints: Viewers of Nancy Zieman’s sewing TV show share their best tips.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear: While not a sewing book, “Big Magic,” with its powerful message about the creative process, rocks me to my core.
Power Sewing Step-by-Step: Sewing educator Sandra Betzina shares fashion-industry tips for streamlined home sewing.
SEW … The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge: Real-Life Lessons from a Serial Sewist: Maybe my overall favorite sewing book? It’s instructional, with tips you haven’t seen anywhere else, but the writing is almost narrative.
Sewing Express: Nancy Zieman shares time-saving hacks for the construction of different types of garments (e.g., blouses, pants, etc.).
Timesaving Sewing (Singer Sewing Reference Library): This book compares conventional and speedy sewing techniques.
The Busy Woman’s Sewing Book: First published in 1988 (it’s a bit dated), this book takes a higher-level look at sewing and focuses on how you can better organize your life and sewing practice for max sewing time.
Shop Amazon’s Sewing Best Sellers
P.S. If you like this article, you might like this one, too: Favorite Sewing Supplies: An Epic List from an Advanced Sewist.