The Complete Book of Sewing

I’ve got a lot of sewing books in my collection. I probably don’t use them enough, but they are really great for times when I get stuck.

When I’m looking to buy a new sewing reference book I usually turn to the internet and probably the blogasphere first and foremost. I find it really helpful when sewists review books and it’s even better when they provide pictures of the best bits of the book. I’ve definitely been swayed by a great book review blog post to buy a book to two.

I’m kicking off with The Complete Book of Sewing by Alison Smith*. It’s the first sewing book that I ever bought. I’ve neglected this book for awhile, but as I was going through the book to write this post I rediscovered how great it was.

Book Cover

The table of contents gives you a peek into the sections of the book…

Table of Contents

…but the real gems for an insight into the content of each section are the ‘section opener’ pages with a comprehensive list of what is to be found in each section.

Section contents

I had forgotten how comprehensive this book was and have earmarked a few pages for quick reference (I’m not a ‘dog ear‘er, I prefer to use mini post-its with a scribble with the page peeking out the top.)
The machine feet directory is fantastic to remind me of the machine feet available to use for different purposes.

Machine Feet Directory

There is a really great section dedicated to the comparison of body measurements and where they are on sewing patterns. Really great visual reference for those interested in getting a better fit on their garments.

Body Measurement and Pattern comparisons

Here is a close up of the bust point measurement and pattern comparison. The book then goes into how to make flat pattern adjustments.

Bust Point Measurement and Pattern comparisons

The section on fabrics is good, but not comprehensive. It is still a good reference for common fabrics and what they are commonly used for.

Fabric Descriptions

One of the gems of the fabric section is this Fabric Care table. A good starting point when looking into how to care for particular fabrics with a few great tips.

Fabric Care Table

Instructions for techniques are clearly described and there are colour photos to help understand what to do.

Instructions for a slashed pocket with a flap.

Peppered throughout the book are these ‘Tip boxes’. This is a great one about seam guides. I really like the tip about a Corner guide there on the far right.

Seam Guide Tip Box

Where relevant in each section of the book there is a directory of various styles and types of what is being covered in that section. For example, there is a directory of the types of darts outlined in the ‘Forming Darts’ section. I find the directories inspiring and if you’re a more advanced sewing it might give you ideas for how to change a TNT pattern.

Directory of Darts

The book does have a section on ‘Professional Techniques’ which goes over some tailoring and dressmaking techniques. This would be a great source of information for a sewist who is wanting to explore this area of sewing.

Professional Techniques Section

I really like the glossary as well. It would come in very handy to a sewing newbie who wanted to look up sewing terms they weren’t familiar with. There is also a comprehensive index at the back of the book for quick reference.

Glossary

Overall I think this is a fantastic general reference book for sewists of all levels. There are comprehensive instructions and pictures throughout the book. For the new sewist it is a fantastic guide and for the experienced sewist it is a great reference and source of inspiration for new ‘professional’ techniques to learn.

The Complete Book of Sewing* is available on Book Depository (free worldwide shipping).

Do you have this book? Do you like it?
Do you dog-ear your books or is that a big no-no?
Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Until next time,

*Affiliate Link. I bought this book using my own money or with gift certificates from friends or family. All opinions are my own. More information regarding affiliate links in this post.

The photos used in this post were taken by me of the book ‘The Complete Book of Sewing’ by Alison Smith. All images remain the property of their original owners.