7 Best Sewing Books for Beginners Learning to Sew

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I learn better through reading than video and thus have a humongous home library filled with more sewing books than any one person needs. 

I’ve learned many neat techniques from these books, and it’s so fun to be inspired by the project options.

However, if you’re just learning to sew, finding a good beginner sewing book (not just your sewing machine’s user manual) can be difficult if you need to start with just the basics. 

Check out my list of the best sewing books for beginners that I made after raiding my home and local library!

best beginner sewing books

The Best Sewing Books for Beginners (Reviews)

There are three broad types of sewing books for absolute novice sewists, although most books cover a little of each topic. 

  1. Books that teach you how to use your sewing machine–how to set it up, thread it, and sew with it. 
  2. Project-based books that teach you how to sew simple projects, teaching as you go through a series of projects. 
  3. Reference books that cover the technical aspects of sewing–like how to create garments, sew buttonholes, pleats, gathers, and waistbands, and how to fit and alter patterns. 

If you are a true sewing beginner and don’t know where to start with a sewing machine, I recommend a sewing book that first teaches you how to use your machine.

Then, once you master setup and basic stitching, you’ll be ready for books that cover more complicated sewing tasks. 

However, if you already know how to use a sewing machine but not how to sew garments, for instance, you should choose a more advanced beginner sewing book that skips straight to teaching you advanced techniques of dressmaking and couture sewing techniques.

all my sewing books i own

I’ve read a lot of books on how to sew over the years to learn more about my craft, and I have so many on my shelf that I’ve bought. 

However, I’ve also used my local library (and their interlibrary loan) process to read even more. If you have a library nearby, that’s a great way to check out a basic techniques book you’ll soon outgrow without spending money. 

Then, you can stock your home library with more advanced options that you’ll continually refer back to as a resource. 

Now, onto the list of my favorite sewing books!

1. First Time Sewing: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide

first time sewing: the absolute beginner's guide

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This is the best and most basic book that walks you through starting and using your machine in great detail. 

For beginners who’ve never touched a sewing machine and know nothing of the fancy words used in the sewing community, you’ll learn about different sewing accessories and tools, how to use patterns, and maintenance and troubleshooting for your machine.

The content includes learning how to thread your sewing machine and sew a stitch. There’s also a section on hand-sewing stitches so readers can complete tasks like sewing on buttons. 

At the end of the book, there are 8 easy sewing projects (making a pillowcase, apron, skirt, etc.) where you can use your newfound sewing skills and follow the detailed instructions. 

I love how the photos are in color and large enough!

If you already know how to set up your machine and sew a basic stitch, the book is too basic, as it will not grow as much with you once you start sewing more complicated projects and garments. 

2. The Sewing Book: Over 300 Step-by-Step Techniques

the sewing book - a great book for beginners!

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The Sewing Book is geared toward confident beginner sewists who can already set up, thread, and sew a basic straight stitch on their machine. 

This book starts with information about sewing tools and then follows with explaining specific sewing techniques–like creating darts, pleats, and collars to applying interfacings and sewing hems and seams. 

There are also projects throughout the book that will help readers master the sewing skills described in the book.

I will say it’s geared more toward sewists looking to sew their own clothes or mend clothes–there’s extensive information about how to sew collars, facings, waistlines, belts, pockets, sleeves, and cuffs.

However, many of the skills required in creating garments also translate to home decor and DIY projects.

What I love the most about this book is the colored pictures and detailed accompanying descriptions. I’m a visual learner, so seeing the processes in pictures step-by-step is SO helpful.

It’s over 400 pages, so it would take forever to read front-to-back. I basically use mine as a reference when I come across a sewing skill I need more help with.

sew your own wardrobe

Also, the same author and publisher have a newer sewing book, Sew Your Own Wardrobe, which significantly overlaps with the Sewing Book but includes more skills and projects geared toward dressmakers. 

3. Singer: The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing

singer the complete photo guide to sewing

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This photo guide includes lots of pictures and will teach readers about setting up, using, and even troubleshooting a sewing machine.

In its 300+ pages, you’ll learn about using a pattern, selecting fabrics, cutting fabrics, applying interfacing, and sewing different seams and garment parts such as sleeves, cuffs, collars, and much more! 

And if you’re not interested in learning to sew clothing, an entire portion of the book is dedicated to home decor and upholstery. There’s even a section dedicated to sewers new to using a serger.

At any point, if you find sewing lingo you don’t understand, there’s a helpful glossary at the back of the book.

Just like The Sewing Book, this comprehensive guide caters some to beginner sewers but more to intermediate and advanced sewists looking to brush up on or learn sewing skills.

I’ve used the second edition of this beginner sewing book extensively and still find it contains valuable information.

4. Sew Me! Sewing Basics

Sew Me! Sewing Basics: Simple Techniques and Projects for First-Time Sewers (Design Originals) Beginner-Friendly Easy-to-Follow Directions to Learn as You Sew, from Sewing Seams to Installing Zippers

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This is one of the beginner sewing books geared toward users still navigating how to use their first sewing machine.

Readers will first learn how to choose a good beginner sewing machine (if they don’t already have one!) and then set it up and get started. 

The author also explains common sewing tools and how to prepare a sewing space. 

The book then teaches how to mend, alter, and create garments and also how to cut and use patterns, gather fabrics, install a zipper, sew a seam, and create a buttonhole.

Skills are introduced individually and accompanied by quick projects and exercises so readers can learn by doing. The 15 easy projects include pincushions, napkins, coin pouches, and even a plushie with colored pictures. 

At close to 150 pages, this book covers the basics for beginners and a little bit more for intermediate sewers and is simply laid out. 

5. The Sewing Machine Classroom

The Sewing Machine Classroom: Learn the Ins & Outs of Your Machine

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This true beginner sewing book is focused mostly on learning how to use a sewing machine. 

It covers terminology, how to troubleshoot sewing problems like poorly adjusted tension and choose needles, threads, and fabrics that will work well with specific projects. 

It will teach readers how to choose the correct presser foot (I love how computerized Brother sewing machines already help with this, though!) and even perform basic machine maintenance.

After mastering the ins and outs of their machine, readers then learn how to sew hems, edgings, buttonholes, zippers, embellishments, and more.

6. Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing

reader's digest complete guide to sewing

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I have the early 2000s older version of this book, and it’s an absolute gem of a reference sewing book. There’s a new 2022 release of this book that’s less filled with 90s-esque pictures, projects, and technology. 

However, the bare bones are the same, and this book includes step-by-step guides for sewing home decor and accessories as well as clothes. 

Interspersed through the techniques taught are complete projects you can stitch up quickly. 

7. Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Make My First Quilt

Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Make My First Quilt: A How-to Book for All You Need to Know

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If you’re a beginner sewer looking to learn quilting specifically, Teach Me to Make My First Quilt is a great beginner quilting book. (It’s not so basic that it teaches you step-by-step instructions for machine setup and troubleshooting, though.)

It begins with the basics of a sewing machine as it relates to quilting–for instance, defining the walking foot and 1/4″ piecing foot– and then teaches standard quilting terms and how to read a quilting pattern, cut fabric, sew a straight line, and more.

At the end of the book, there are sewing patterns for basic quilts using the skills the book covers.

Other Books I Love for Specific Sewing Tasks

You And Your Sewing Machine

you and your sewing machine

This book is the troubleshooting manual for those who can’t seem to figure out why sewing machines skip stitches, break threads, and more. 

It also discusses proper machine maintenance and was so worth the purchase for me. 

Little One-Yard Wonders

one yard wonders books

The One-Yard Wonders books is a series focusing on quick and small projects that you can create with your sewing machine. 

I bought three of these books over the last decade, and I love them for sewing inspiration when I want a quick project. 

More Fabric Savvy and Fabric Sewing Guide

More Fabric Savvy and Fabric Sewing Guide

There are newer versions of these books available now. 

However, these are great references if you decide to venture out on your sewing journey to sewing fabrics besides woven cotton. 

For example, sewing charmeuse satin, faux fur, leather, and more are all covered in detail. 

The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting

perfect fitting

If you want to learn to alter patterns to actually fit you, this fitting book is instrumental in teaching you how to change patterns to your size. 

It covers things like taking body measurements and adjusting patterns and is geared toward beginners to pattern alteration who already know how to use their sewing machine. 


Now that you’ve read through all these books, don’t forget to check out the best serger books for beginners, best embroidery books, and best books with doll clothes patterns!

One Comment

  1. I clicked on this post because I thought this was a beginner sewing book or post written by you. Ive read some beginner books but they dont seem to cover what I need but you addressed a few of my problems in the post on the basic brother sewing machine in the section about it getting a low star count from some people. So if you ever right a book….let me know for sure.
    Thanks for the posts.

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