When you first start learning the basics of sewing and quilting, attempting to find tutorials or info online can feel a bit overwhelming.
I’ve been there.
Sometimes you just want a physical copy of a book with all the necessary information.
In this post, we will take a look at some of the best sewing books for beginners and talk about what they offer and what makes them unique.
- What Should I Learn First When Sewing?
- 13 Best Sewing Books for Beginners
- 1. First Time Sewing: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide
- 2. The Sewing Book
- 3. Sew Your Own Wardrobe
- 4. Sewing For Dummies
- 5. More Weekend Sewing
- 6. Sew Cute Quilts and Gifts
- 7. It Takes Two!
- 8. First-Time Quiltmaking
- 9. Sewing Machine Basics
- 10. A Beginner’s Guide To Machine Sewing
- 11. School of Sewing
- 12. Sewing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing
- 13. Sew-It-Yourself Home Accessories
What Should I Learn First When Sewing?
Contrary to what you may think, you do NOT have to know “everything” before you start sewing. Yes, it is good to know the basic terms and how to use your sewing machine, but you don’t have to know all the terms and spend hours watching tutorials or reading information.
I have found the best way to learn about sewing is to sew. It is good to do research and to understand the basics, just don’t get lost in the information and let the excitement of actually sewing fade away.
Here are some basics terms to know for sewing for beginners:
- Seam allowance: The fabric to the right of the stitch that goes on the inside of the quilt or garment. The seam allowance will depend on the project you are working on. Generally, for a quilt, the seam allowance is always ¼”.
- Selvage: The side edges of the fabric are tightly woven so that the fabric won’t unravel.
- Feed dogs: The mechanism in the body of the sewing machine that feeds the fabric under the needle.
- Topstitch: A straight line sewn over a seam to keep the seam in place and to give the item a more finished look.
- Backstitch: To hold the beginning and ending stitches in place, you will reverse stitch 3-4 stitches. There is usually a backstitch button or lever on the sewing machine.
- Basting: A temporary way to hold the fabric together. You can do so with glue, pins, or wide stitches.
- Finger press: If you need a temporary crease in the fabric, you can simply fold the fabric and press with your fingers to give a temporary mark.
- Notions: This describes accessories and “doo-dads” used in sewing, such as buttons, zippers, scissors, seam rippers, etc.
- Stitch length: Refers to the length of the stitches. There will be a knob on your sewing machine where you can adjust the length of your stitches depending on what you are sewing.
- Thread tension: In many sewing machines, you can adjust the thread tension of the top thread and bobbin thread. Check the manual from your sewing machine to troubleshoot any thread tension issues.
- Bobbin: The small spool that holds the bottom thread.
- Right side/ wrong side of the fabric: The “right side” of the fabric refers to the side that has the pattern on it. The “wrong side” refers to the back of the fabric that will not be visible when the piece is finished.
This is an extremely short list, but all these terms are necessary to understand for beginner sewists and quilters to know before they dive into patterns or sewing books.
13 Best Sewing Books for Beginners
Now let’s take a look at this compilation of excellent beginner sewing books and see what they have to offer. Don’t be intimidated by projects that you may see in these books. They all offer well-written instructions for each project.
1. First Time Sewing: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide
As the title states, this book is for “the absolute beginner.” This book is packed full of fun, simple projects, but it also goes over everything you will need to know, from sewing machine parts to types of fabrics. Some of the projects included in this book are rectangular tablecloths, zipper enclosures, elastic waists, skirts and pants, baby blankets, and so much more.
This 128-page learn to sew book is the best choice if you are truly a beginner who wants to learn all of the basics from one reliable source.
2. The Sewing Book
If you are on the hunt for a book that goes through many different techniques, then look no further. The Sewing Book covers over 300 different techniques in step-by-step instructions.
The techniques described in this book will help you create and alter garments, create home decor, and sew a wide variety of projects. The book also includes a large glossary of sewing terms, tools, and fabrics. It will also help you learn to machine sew and hand sew, depending on your preference and the project you are working on.
3. Sew Your Own Wardrobe
This book by Alison Smith is perfect for the people who want to be able to create their clothing either from scratch or who want to learn the skills to alter ready-made garments. It has step-by-step instructions accompanied by full-color photography and illustrations to show detailed steps.
Sew Your Own Wardrobe has everything you need to learn how to make and alter clothing, including reading and cutting out a pattern, machine stitching techniques, and hand sewing instructions. The book also provides 13 downloadable patterns that you can use to create 31 different garments.
4. Sewing For Dummies
Here is another fabulous choice for beginners who aren’t sure where to start. This book has 416 pages of knowledge, tips and tricks, and practical application for you to learn from without feeling overwhelmed.
You will learn all about patterns, different fabrics, notions, tools, the sewing machine itself, and techniques to help you along the way. You will also get several unique projects to try out your newly learned skills. An interesting section of this book shows you how to save money by altering and repairing your existing wardrobe.
5. More Weekend Sewing
If you already have some basic sewing skills and want to try your hand on different types of sewing crafts, More Weekend Sewing is an excellent option for you. This book is from the well-known crafting company “Annie’s,” so you can be confident that you will be getting a quality book of projects.
Some of the projects in this book include fabric baskets, quilts, pincushions, and potholders. If you like to make handmade gifts, this book has you covered. There are 25+ quick and easy projects in this 64-page book. The book boasts of being able to make any of the projects over the weekend.
6. Sew Cute Quilts and Gifts
Here is another great option for a confident beginner. Atsuko Matsuyama designed 30 adorable projects featured in the book. Matsuyama is known for her vintage-inspired designs, and this book is loaded with beautiful, timeless designs to create.
There are several quilted bags included in this book as well as quilts and wall hangings. The illustrations will show you step-by-step how to do different kinds of stitches and embroidery. She also gives instructions on how to do different types of beadwork and embellishing.
7. It Takes Two!
Fat quarters are probably the most popular pre-cut fabric for quilters, but what do you do if you have just a couple lying around? This book is filled with simple patterns that use only two fat quarters each.
The projects in this book are perfect for beginners since the projects are small, quick, and fun to make! There are several different types of bags, fabric baskets, and even cute stuffed animals in the project inventory of this book. You can make these projects for yourself or gifts for your friends and family.
8. First-Time Quiltmaking
Have you thought about trying to make a quilt, but you have no idea where to begin or how to finish? First-Time Quiltingmaking might just be the answer to your quilting prayers. This book goes over the entire quiltmaking process from start to finish in 6 easy to understand steps.
You will learn the necessary tools, select fabric, piece a quilt top, make a quilt sandwich, and finish a quilt. This book is full of pictures and illustrations to help you make your first quilt.
9. Sewing Machine Basics
When you are a beginner, the sewing machine can be slightly intimidating (trust me, I know.) With this book, though, you can begin stitching with confidence as you learn all the different parts of the sewing machine and how to use it the right way.
This book teaches you about the sewing machine, but it also has several projects for you to try out your newfound sewing skills. These projects include pillow covers, lampshades, bags, scarves, and clothing items. This book is 160 pages and is worth every penny if you are starting from scratch.
10. A Beginner’s Guide To Machine Sewing
This book will help you take the guesswork out of getting started sewing with a machine, but it also has 15 fun and easy projects to get you started on your handmade sewing journey.
First, you will go through 50 lessons learning everything from the different parts of your sewing machine to how to choose thread and fabric for various projects. The 50 lessons are illustrated, giving you a much better idea of how to do different techniques.
Some of the projects included in this 160-page book are quilts, bags, soft toys, and other home decor items.
11. School of Sewing
If you want to dabble in multiple sewing areas such as quilting and clothes making, this might be the book you are looking for. School of Sewing goes over how to choose the right sewing machine for you, color theory, fabric selection, notions, and many different sewing skills.
This book is a “school” for sewing, diving into every area you will need to know to be a successful sewist. Not only will you be learning, but you will be creating. This book has projects that cover quilts, zipper pouches, tote bags, and pillowcases.
12. Sewing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing
This book is marketed for the novice sewist who knows very little about sewing. It is perfect for those who need to start from the ground up! Sewing 101 includes a huge glossary of need-to-know terms and illustrated step-by-step instructions for different sewing skills.
As I mentioned previously, the best way to learn to sew is to sew!. The book shows you how to implement that new skill into an actual project as you learn new techniques. Some of the projects you will go over are pillows, t-shirts, and baby blankets.
13. Sew-It-Yourself Home Accessories
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If you are looking for a book full of fun, beginner-friendly home decor projects, this book can help you. Packed with 21 quick projects you can make over the weekend (or quicker), Sew-It-Yourself has step-by-step instructions to create items such as aprons, oven mitts, and a laptop case.
This book has over 200 photos showing you detailed steps to make the projects included in its 104 pages. The beginning of the book offers you the tools and techniques you will need to make these cute and practical projects.
I hope this collection of books has helped you figure out what you need to join the exciting sewing community. Whether you are starting regular sewing or quilting, these books should help you learn the basics to start creating works of art in no time.