Which Sewing Book to Buy?

sewing booksA cull of books I had last year at a MIY Workshop sale!  Yes you can have too many craft books.

So, the Great British Sewing Bee is back for its second series and the production company are already scouring the country for potential contestants for series three.  It looks like the sewing bug is a stayer.  Obviously that’s a good thing in my book.

Talking of books….(!) as I’m writing a sewing book at the moment (see previous post), the subject of sewing books has been pre-occupying me now for quite some time and I’ve also been thinking a lot recently about craft book authors.

Lots of my students ask me if I can recommend a sewing book.  Here are my tips to finding a good sewing book.

The most important starting point is to be honest about the skills you’re starting with.  Have you had a go on a sewing machine and now feel ready to tackle some dressmaking, have you been sewing for years and now looking for some new ideas or does the sight of a sewing machine bring you out in a cold sweat?!

If you’re right at the beginning of your sewing adventures, you need a sewing book that will have really well explained techniques and easy but inspiring  projects that you will actually want to make and can work your way through step-by-step.  If inspiration is what you’re after, have a look at some of the Japanese sewing books – beautifully designed, inspiring patterns, but usually needing some good existing skills.

What kind of things do you want to make with your new found sewing skills?  Do you want to do mainly patchwork, do you want to make bags and cushions and accessories or do you want do make clothes?  Choose the book that contains the kind of projects that you actually want to make!

Just like novels, the author of the craft book will make a huge difference to the content.

Here in Brighton there is a little hub of expert craft book authors; the lovely Liz of Quilty Pleasures had her first patchwork and quilting book published last spring:

beginners guide to quilting

Julia Hincks, a colleague who teaches at the Friends Centre in Brighton has written a book all about using your overlocker:

overlocker techniques

Wendy Dolan is another Brighton based tutor who is an expert at machine embroidery and has been teaching for many years.  She is currently writing a book all about her style of machine embroidery.  Last but not least, Fiona Pullen of the Sewing Directory (OK she’s not in Brighton, but is everywhere in the world of sewing!) is in the process of writing a book about how to build a craft business. (Have a read of Fiona’s fascinating blog posts about her book writing process.)

The common thread linking all of these authors is that we are professionals and experts in our particular field.

What are the benefits of choosing books written by experts?  

A book written by an expert, an experienced teacher or someone with years of experience working in an industry means that you will benefit from that experience, they will share hints and tips with you that they have picked up along their travels, or unique techniques that they have devised for themselves.  You will also find practical how-to books written by these authors will contain instructions that are pitched at exactly the right level because they know their audience – they have been working with people just like you for years.

The way I look at it is this……would you want to learn to drive a car from someone that had just passed their driving test?  No, me neither!

Incidentally, one of my trusty old favourite sewing books that I’m always recommending to students is the “Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing”.  You can read my review of it here.

Happy sewing!  And safe driving….!!!

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