25 Essential Sewing Books for Beginners

sewing books for a beginner sewist

When learning to sew, you naturally want to gather as much information as possible. YouTube tutorials and in-person classes are great, but books are your best bet when you need a quick reference guide you can consult at your own pace and in the comfort of your home.

Arrow Sewing’s List of Books that Will Unleash Your Sewin Talent

In this guide, we’ve curated our favorite books for beginner sewists. These books range from omnibus guides to every aspect of sewing to shorter manuscripts that deep-dive into a single topic, so no matter what you’re looking for, we’ve got the right book for you here. Whether you want to learn to sew to make your own clothes or create thoughtful gifts for your family, the right book will set you up for success.

First Time Sewing: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide

By Editors of Creative Publishing International

As the title says, “First Time Sewing” is the best book for beginners. The book begins by explaining everything you need to know about the tools you’ll use so that you’re entirely familiar with your equipment before you even put a needle to fabric. Then, the authors guide you through a few simple projects in which you will learn the basics and build on your skills as you go.

Creative Publishing International publishes a myriad of instructional guides for various crafts and regularly updates its books as methodologies improve and change. The team at CPI has mastered the art of explaining complicated processes to total beginners, so you are in good hands if learning from this book. the book here.

Sewing for Dummies

By Jan Saunders Maresh

The prolific “For Dummies” series has become a bit of a joke, but their books are excellent resources and can serve as an encyclopedia on the chosen topic. All concepts within their books are explained in plain language, making them excellent for amateurs and beginners. Sewing for Dummies is no exception.

Jan Saunders Maresh is a professional instructional book author who has consistently updated Sewing for Dummies since 1999. She is an expert sewist and gifted at explaining highly technical concepts in easy-to-understand ways. This book is sprinkled with patterns and exercises to practice the skills you’re reading about as you go. Even if you’re an advanced beginner sewist, this book is a fantastic reference piece, almost an almanac of sewing basics.

The Sewing Book: An Encyclopedic Resource of Step-by-Step Techniques

By Alison Smith

If you only purchase one sewing book, make it this one. “The Sewing Book”‘s veritable tome contains an incredibly thorough guide to sewing tools and notions – including ones you may never see or use but should know all the same. It also walks you through several advanced techniques for garment-making and dissects patterns so you can reverse-engineer and eventually design your own. You may learn new things from its pages long after you’ve stopped being a beginner.

Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing: A Modern Guide to Couture-Style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques

By Gretchen Hirsch

Gretchen Hirsch, known online as Gertie, created her “New Book for Better Sewing” after running Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing for many years. The title is a nod to Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing, a guide from the 1950s that Gertie worked through on her blog. This book is fun and informative, and you feel almost as if you’re being guided by a good friend rather than just a book.

Gertie focuses mainly on concepts relevant to garment-making, especially garments inspired by the fashion of the 50s and 60s. If you’re interested in making your own retro clothes instead of hunting them down at thrift shops and estate sales, this is the book for you.

Sewing enthusiast learning to improve her creative skillset

Sewing in a Straight Line: Quick and Crafty Projects You Can Make by Simply Sewing Straight

By Brett Bara

When learning to sew, the very first thing you learn to do is sew a straight line. This opens up more possibilities than you may assume. “Sewing in a Straight Line” is more of a project book than a guide, but it’s a great way to put your earliest sewing skills into practice. Brett Bara is a notable crafting content creator and book author and has even worked with Martha Stewart! Her patterns are timeless and classy, and there’s sure to be a project you love in this collection.

The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress

By Sarai Mitnick

If you learn by doing, “The Coletter Sewing Handbook” may be best for you. Sarai Mitnick, the visionary behind Colette Patterns, introduces timeless, elegant, approachable, and educational designs. Sarai designs her patterns with the intention of teaching you a new skill or technique during the process. This book is pattern-focused, so it works best as a supplement to heftier reference books.

School of Sewing: Learn It. Teach It. Sew Together.

By Shea Henderson

One of the most significant advantages of in-person sewing classes is learning alongside other new sewists. But if you’re not able to attend in-person classes but still want to feel that camaraderie as you learn, “School of Sewing” is the book for you.

This book is a sewing class in your hands, with easy-to-follow instructions and detailed tutorials that make learning and teaching a breeze. This book is divided into “lessons” you can follow to recreate a sewing course inside your home. With a focus on creating practical and stylish projects, it’s an ideal resource for those looking to master the art of sewing and inspire others to join in. It even won the 2015 IBPA Ben Franklin Gold Award for the crafts & hobbies category!

Sew Everything Workshop

by Diana Rupp

This is another book that’s best for those who learn by doing but still want to own a large reference book for their projects. In “Sew Everything Workshop”, Diana Rupp guides you through the basics of sewing and then sets you loose on the ten included patterns. Each pattern is designed to help you hone a new skill and is designed with modern sewists in mind. Diana’s voice is comfortable and personable – it feels like having a sewing mentor by your side through every stitch.

Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking

by Tilly Walnes

“Love at First Sight” is the ultimate guide for anyone with a passion for fashion and a desire to delve into the world of dressmaking. Authored by Tilly Walnes, the creative force behind Tilly and the Buttons, this book is a down-to-earth, accessible resource for sewists of all levels. With clear, step-by-step instructions and a range of stylish projects, it’s a great starting point for advanced beginners and a valuable tool for those looking to hone their sewing skills. Whether you’re new to dressmaking or seeking to enhance your abilities, this guide is a reliable companion on your sewing journey, helping you explore the satisfaction of creating your wardrobe.

Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics

by Francesca DenHartog

First of all, “Sew What! Skirts” is spiral-bound, meaning you can lay it flat while you work. That’s a massive bonus to us! With Francesca DenHartog of Valley Fabrics as your guide, this book makes sewing your stylish skirts a breeze. With sixteen unique and stylish patterns, you’re sure to find one you love.

All sixteen skirts are aimed at beginner sewists, so you won’t be in the weeds while making them. That said, this book is best if you already understand the basics of sewing – it’s a collection of patterns rather than an instructional guide.

The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing

by Singer

Visual learners, this one’s for you. “The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing” by Singer (yes, the sewing machine makers!) is your visual roadmap to mastering the art of sewing. Aimed at total beginners and novices alike, the clear, step-by-step instructions and detailed photographs simplify the learning process. This is an excellent first book for beginners, and you will likely continue turning to it for years to come.

following sewing instructions in a tidy sewing workspace

The Sewing Bible: A Modern Manual of Practical and Decorative Sewing Techniques

by Ruth Singer

With over 300 pages of detailed instructions and definitions, this book has earned the “Sewing Bible” title. It offers clear, practical guidance, making it an indispensable resource for sewing enthusiasts. Ruth Singer’s meticulous approach, whether explaining basic stitches or delving into advanced techniques, shines. The Sewing Bible perfectly balances accessibility and thoroughness, emphasizing that the key to successful sewing lies in mastering the finer details.

Simple Sewing: 30 Fast and Easy Projects for Beginners

by Katie Lewis

Once you’ve mastered the basics, turn to for project inspiration. “Simple Sewing”, authored by the creative minds at Cedar Fort Publishing, is a practical and user-friendly guide designed for those with little to no sewing experience. With straightforward instructions and a collection of quick and enjoyable projects, it’s an ideal resource for beginners who want to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Whether you want to make a bib for your new baby or rustic Christmas decorations, Simple Sewing has something for you.

Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew One Project at a Time

by Deborah Moebes

Another spiralbound book that lays flat – we love it! “Stitch by Stitch” is a practical sewing companion that gives you the satisfaction of a completed project with each new skill you learn. Authored by Deborah Moebes, this book is a step-by-step guide to sewing proficiency. With clear, accessible instructions and eleven engaging projects, it’s an ideal resource for those just starting their sewing journey.

Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well

by Sanae Ishida

We love “Sewing Happiness” because it’s more than just a sewing book; it’s an inspiring journey towards a happier, more fulfilling life. With a focus on simplicity and creativity, it offers a year’s worth of delightful projects that enrich your everyday life. Mindfully working through these twenty projects could become a form of meditation on its own.

Tilly and the Buttons: Stretch! Make Yourself Comfortable Sewing with Knit Fabrics

by Tilly Walnes

Another volume from Tilly Walnes focuses on using a knit fabric in your garments. Knit fabrics can be intimidating even to experienced sewists, but learning to work well with them opens up a world of possibilities. Tilly addresses the unique difficulties of working on knit fabrics in “Tilly and the Buttons”, making it an essential resource for those who want to sew comfortable and soft garments.

Sewing MODKID Style: Modern Threads for the Cool Girl

by Patty Young

If you have daughters, granddaughters, or nieces, you know how hard it is to find girl’s clothes that are cute, unique, and comfortable. “Sewing MODKID Style” is your ticket to creating contemporary, fashionable pieces that blend style and comfort effortlessly. The patterns in this book are straightforward and accessible to advanced beginners and range in size from 2T to a kid’s 10. It’s a go-to resource for sewing enthusiasts eager to craft a kid’s wardrobe that embodies the latest fashion trends while maintaining a sense of individuality.

The Sewing Workshop: Learn to Sew with 30+ Easy, Pattern-Free Projects

by Linda Lee

If the idea of having to learn how to sew and how to read a pattern at the same time intimidates you, check out this book. Created by Linda Lee, “The Sewing Workshop” offers a refreshing and hands-on approach to sewing. With 30 engaging projects and expert guidance, it’s perfect for those who want to embrace a more freestyle, intuitive approach to sewing. The projects are unique and stylish – you’ll make more than just potholders and pillows while working through this book.

Sew Step by Step: More than 200 Essential Techniques for Beginners

by Alison Smith

From the author of “The Sewing Book” comes a comprehensive guide to nearly every sewing technique you need to know. With over 200 essential techniques, “Sew Step by Step” is the perfect companion for novices and advanced beginners looking to advance their skills. Clear, step-by-step instructions and detailed illustrations provide an accessible and informative learning experience. You’ll turn to this tome again and again through your sewing journey.

Sewing School Basics: A Step-by-Step Course for First-Time Stitchers

by Jane Bolsover

“Sewing School Basics” is aimed at total beginners: those who have never turned on a sewing machine or cut fabric before. Authored by Jane Bolsover, this book provides an approachable, step-by-step course designed to help first-time stitchers gain confidence with their sewing machines.

The book is divided into two parts: the first guides you through the materials you need to get started, and the second is structured as a sewing class, with twelve workshops that guide you through a pattern and teach you new skills. If you want a happy medium between a reference book and a pattern guide, get this one.

The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

by Nora Abousteit and Alison Kelly

Nora and Alison of BurdaStyle, a website and print magazine dedicated to sewing high-fashion garments, published this book to encourage beginner sewists to try and design their pieces. Their piece “The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook” features five basic patterns, but you learn how to make much more than that; Nora and Alison also teach you how to scale your pieces, adjust the fit, adjust the fabric, and more. If you’re moving into the intermediate phase of your sewing journey and want to start creating pieces that are all your own, this handbook will serve you well.

starting a sewing career with a guide.

The Complete Guide to Machine Quilting: How to Use Your Home Sewing Machine to Achieve Hand-Quilting Effects

by Joanie Zeier Poole

If quilts and blankets drew you to sewing in the first place, “The Complete Guide to Machine Quilting” is for you. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to create stunning quilted masterpieces, whether you’re an intermediate quilter or just starting. With detailed instructions and a wealth of techniques, this book provides the knowledge and inspiration to elevate your quilting skills. Joanie Zeier Poole’s expertise will empower you to create beautiful, heirloom-quality quilts that are bound to be treasured for generations.

Simple Tailoring & Alterations: Hems – Waistbands – Seams – Sleeves – Pockets – Cuffs – Darts – Tucks – Fastenings – Necklines – Linings

by J. François-Campbell

Learning to sew and tailor clothes are two different skill sets, but it’s not too hard to master both. Learning to alter clothing and tailor pieces for people can lead you to a lucrative sewing career – but first, you must master the basics.

“Simple Tailoring & Alterations” provides step-by-step instructions for achieving well-fitting clothing. With a focus on waistbands and fastenings, it’s a valuable resource for those looking to enhance the comfort and style of their wardrobe. Campbell’s expertise ensures that you can master the art of tailoring and alterations, allowing you to create perfectly fitting garments that flatter your unique shape.

Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time: The Ultimate Dressmaking Guide

By Tanya Whelan

This fun, lighthearted book is your passport to a world of limitless style and creativity. Authored by Tanya Whelan of Tanya Whelan Fabrics, this book is invaluable for sewists eager to craft their unique dresses. Tanya not only provides patterns for new dresses but also includes guides for alteration and customization, allowing you to create up to 219 unique pieces using her instructions. “The Ultimate Dressmaking Guide” offers a DIY mindset to dressmaking and encourages you to get creative.

Sew It Yourself with DIY Daisy: 20 Pattern-Free Projects (and Infinite Variations) To Make Your Dream Wardrobe

By Daisy Braid

“Sew It Yourself” is a creative and empowering guide for modern sewists. Written by Daisy of DIY Daisy, this book offers a collection of 20 inspiring projects that don’t rely on traditional sewing patterns. Daisy’s projects are size-inclusive and considerate of plus-sized sewists, and she focuses on ways to adapt patterns to best suit your size and preferences. With step-by-step instructions, handy tips, and vibrant illustrations, DIY Daisy will help you embark on a sewing journey that’s as unique as you are.

Take Your Sewing Skills Further

Knowledge is your most valuable asset in the sewing world, and these 25 essential sewing books for beginners are your trusted companions in mastering this timeless craft. While YouTube tutorials and in-person classes have their merits, books offer the convenience of a quick reference guide you can consult at your own pace, all from the comfort of your home.

These sewing books are more than instructional guides; they’re your mentors, taking you through mastering every stitch, pattern, and technique. With clear, step-by-step instructions, insightful tips, and many projects, these books provide the knowledge and inspiration to become a confident and skilled sewist. So, embrace the world of sewing, unlock your creativity, and embark on a fulfilling journey of self-expression with these invaluable sewing companions.

If you want to sew in style and set up a sewing space for working through the projects in these books, look to Arrow Sewing. Whether you need fabric storage, a sewing table with lots of storage, or an ergonomic sewing chair, we’ve got what you need to succeed. Check out our catalog here!