Sew Everything Workshop – Diana Rupp
When I first bought my sewing machine this was the book I bought to teach me how to make pretty things on it. It really is an excellent beginners’ book – Diana has a relaxed yet enthusiastic style and she explains everything really clearly. The book takes you through all the basics – from threading your machine (her advice about pulling up the thread from the bobbin was invaluable for using my machine) to notes on different types of fabric, to inserting a zip, this book is a beginner’s bible.
There are some great patterns to help you get some practice in too – some which you have to draft yourself as well as some real tissue paper patterns. This book gave me my first project – a lined tote bag – and I’d go back and make some of the other designs too. I wouldn’t be without this book, and neither should you.
The Colette Sewing Handbook – Sarai Mitnick
I really do quite like Colette Patterns. Their designs are have a vintage, timeless feel so you know that their classic styles aren’t going to go out of fashion any time soon. They also have super-clear instructions so they teach you as you go along. The Colette Sewing Handbook is an extension of their paper patterns. It takes you through the basics of dress making, and teaches you new skills as you work through the book – everything from inserting an invisible zip, to pattern matching, to adjusting patterns to fit. It also gives some good advice about working out what will suit you – so important when you’re taking the time to make your own clothes.
The book comes with five paper patterns, working from a simple skirt through to a much more complex dress so you can pick up those new skills on real life, wearable projects. No pencil cases and cushion covers here. The writing is a bit more serious than Diana Rupp (one of the things I like about her is that she makes sewing seem fun) but there’s so much useful advice in here, it really is an indispensable book.