June 12th, 2016

These are three books which I refer to pretty much every single thing I sew. There are thousands of books on sewing and pattern making, many a lot more specialised – but these are my personal big three. The good thing about sewing books is (apart from fashion) they don’t date – 1956 or 2016 you still sew a dart the same way so it’s east to amass a collection cheaply if you keep your eye out in 2nd hand stores.

Pattern Making for Fashion Design

Originally published: 1987
Author: Helen Joseph Armstrong

Me: How do I make a sleeve puff like that? – Like a bell sleeve but less 70s? , with pleats here, here and there?
Pattern Making for Fashion Design: Like this friend, and here are 9304 pages on puffy sleeve variations

This  is like a recipe book for garments – all you need is a ruler, set square, paper and a pen and you got yourself a pattern baby!

So many Pants, who knew?


It’s on Amazon here

Couture Sewing Techniques

Originally published: 1993
Claire B. Shaeffer


Don’t be put off by the word “couture” in the title, or the frothy dresses and ladies who lunch suits, there are many advanced techniques in here, but it’s a fantastic toolbox of knowledge that can be used by every level of dressmaker.

It focuses on techniques that are useful for making a unusual garment by hand, and making it look and sit perfectly, even when you are walking in wind, dancing or standing in halfway up a rocky outcrop during a photoshoot. My favourite part is when they show you sneaky peeks into the skeleton of how these fantastic confections are constructed – great for working out those “how on earth can I make my coat stick out that???” problems.



It’s on Amazon here

Power Sewing : New Ways to Make Fine Clothes Fast

Everyone who sews has one of these kind of books – an old battered tome, maybe inserted or gifted from an older relative.  yours might be the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing or The Vogue Sewing Book. This one is a lo-fi Black and white spiral bound book of tips and hints – the kind I consult when I come up with a random question – How do I Iron Leather?, What’s the pattern adjustment for thick thighs, how do I do this kind of zip again???


I love all of Sandra’s books – she has a friendly engaging writing style and a great understanding of how to explain sometimes complex techniques and concepts and make them seem easy.  Sandra also understands sometimes you just need to run up something quick in a weekend  and other times your want a couture masterpiece – probably why she has been so successful.

You can buy it (updated and expanded) here

Here you have it- my top three! – What are yours?

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