Tips & Advice / Tips & Tutorials

Recommended Reading: Beginner Sewing

I’m so happy you all enjoyed last weeks post on learning to sew! As promised I’ve done some work putting together a list of recommended reading.

I decided to ask my lovely friend Casey to add her recommendations as well, since she is so talented and  knowledgeable. I don’t think there is a sewer out there I respect more than her – so I’m incredibly thrilled that we were able to collaborate on this list! Though since our lists got so large, I’ve decided to break up the recommended reading into two posts – beginner sewing (today), and more advanced sewing & pattern drafting (next week).



Get it here:: Vogue Sewing, Revised and Updated

Get it here:: Singer New Sewing Essentials


Get it here:: Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide


Get it here:: Sew U. (Also, Built by Wendy DressesSew U Home Stretch)

Get it here:: Sewing 101: A Beginners Guide To Sewing


If like me and Casey, you have a love of vintage books, you can really win in the sewing department. I seem to find a tonne in thrift stores, and second hand stores and they’re always very cheap. In my opinion, the detail is often better. It seems that more modern books focus on projects than actual techniques. If you want to buy a vintage book I recommend sticking with well known names. Look for books written by sewing machine brands or pattern companies. Think, Singer, McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue. I personally own 1960’s versions of the McCalls complete guide to sewing, and the Vogue sewing book, and they are two of my favourite books.

I know it can be a little daunting to look at a big list of books when you’re on a budget. But there’s no need to stress out – think about hunting down some second hand books.

The very first technique books I bought were second hand. I actually think this is a good method of buying a beginner book, as often when you start a hobby you don’t know what your level of committment is, so shelling out full price may seem risky. My two favourite books cost me less than a dollar each. Can’t scoff at that! There are lots of places you can look – second hand bookstores of course, I’d also suggest libraries, as most sell off their excess books once in a while, and and don’t forget to keep your eyes open at garage sales, or tell your family you’re interested in sewing. Etsy can be a good source for vintage books if you’re super keen and know what you’re looking for, but watch out, as they can be over priced.

Becoming a Designer series by Megan Nielsen

I really hope you’ve been enjoying my Becoming a Designer series!! Please don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts so far here – and let me know if you have any burning questions!

Also, thank you so much to Casey for helping me write this article – please make sure you visit her over at her amazing blog Elegant Musings! XOXO

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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12 years ago

This is now happily bookmarked so that I can put some of these down on my shopping list. Thank you!

12 years ago

Thanks for these recommendations! I’ve been learning from my mum and after completing my first set of curtains and voiles, I’m ready to try a bit of dress making!

12 years ago

Eeep! I’m blushing from what you said about me at the beginning… Aw, shucks. ;) lol.

Thank you so much for asking me to participate in this! Of course, now that we’ve been chatting about sewing books I’ve added about a dozen more to my Amazon wishlist and am on the hunt when I go thrifting this weekend. ;)

Trudy Callan
12 years ago

Wonderful list. Thanks so much for the recommendations, Ladies.

And, Meg, Casey is one of my favorite sewer’s, too.

12 years ago

Oh, I definitely think you should include S.E.W. by Debra Rupp, it’s a project-based book AND a great sewing reference, it even covers basic information about your sewing machine that other books assume you know.

12 years ago

I am so excited! I just picked up the Vogue Sewing Book at a rummage sale this past weekend for 10 cents! I was amazed at the price and thought even if I can use one or two pieces of info out of the book it is well worth it. Yae!

12 years ago

On a whim I went into my local Goodwill store and browsed around the book section and found an 80s copy of The Vogue Sewing Book. I was really surprised as I rarely see sewing items in thrift stores down here (in South Florida). Of course I bought it…for $1. Sooo thrilled. Fantastic reference book.

the other emily
12 years ago

This is awesome, Megan! Thank you ladies both for putting this together – I’ll be printing this one out, writing BIRTHDAY in big, block letters at the top, and leaving it on boyfriend’s pillow soon. :)

12 years ago

I have the Vogue Sewing Book, but I don’t like it half as much as The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. It is actually more complete than Vogue and the step by step pictures and diagrams are amazing. This is a book that definitely lives on my sewing table. Priceless (not really… $20-$30)!

12 years ago

This is such a great list. I have no grand plans to become a designer but I would love to be able to mend a button hole or even one day maybe make my own dress by following a pattern.

Thanks for the advice on books, for someone who barely knows how to thread a needle it’s invaluable!

Sorcha x
Bonfire Brunette

12 years ago

You started this series at the perfect time! I just ordered my first sewing machine from Amazon yesterday. Although I do not want to be a designer, I do want to be able to make simple alterations to clothing I thrift. Plus possibly same day make simple garments for myself from patterns.


[…] so happy you all enjoyed my last post on beginner sewing books. I hope that if you’re just beginning to sew, or thinking about starting, that you found […]

12 years ago

I purchased all 3 of your first 3 books listed here….love them!


[…] just in case, two resource lists I want to keep on hand: Recommended Reading for Beginner Sewing and Recommended Reading for Advanced Sewing & Pattern-Making In short, Grant realizes he wants […]


[…] could just borrow from your library. If you need some recommendations for beginner sewing books, here is a list of recommendations for beginner sewing books i compiled last year. If you are not the book type, and find it easier to have someone physically […]