Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stitch Your Life: Sewing Book Roundup

I'm a book junkie.  I've always loved reading and have a week spot for the smell of a brand new book.  I'm inordinately proud of my bookshelves.  Um, there's even a pile of sewing books I leave out for decoration.

The thing is sewing books really are all that.  The inspiration is endless.  The directions are there.  And, when you borrow them from the library, it's all free!  There's little need for buying patterns, when books like these abound!

Learning to Sew

Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew, One Project at a Time
by Deborah Moebes.   This is the #1 book I'd recommend to you, if you're learning to sew.   Deborah's book is designed for the beginner sewer with projects that teach skills in a practical sequence.  Following her book, you'll complete projects that build upon one another so that you can be encouraged by beautiful finished projects along the way.

Bend-the-Rules Sewing
by Amy Karol.  This is the book that got me started actually sewing.  Very clear directions with Amy's frank and casual vibe.  From sewing a seam to sewing a buttonhole.  Easy projects for the beginner.  Happy pictures.  Slight vintage flare.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

The Modern Quilt Workshop
by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  My favorite overall learn-to-quilt book that was available at the library.  Discussions of technique were very straightforward with lots of "this is why we suggest you do it this way."  I learned a lot!


Sew Liberated
by Meg McElwee.  All the ins and outs of how to applique.  Meg covers many different methods with precision and helpful tips.  Projects are adorable, yet modern and range from beginner to complex.  Popular projects:  soft baby book, art smock, children's animal bag, camera bag, apron.  I made curtains and the Woodland Clock.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Alabama Stitch Book & Alabama Studio Style
by Natalie Chanin.  It's all by hand, but don't let that stop you - you'll love it!  Natalie's unique, earthy style lends itself to gorgeously embellished clothing, tablecloths, bags and book covers.  I refashioned this skirt.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.


I Love Patchwork
by Rashida Coleman-Hale.  Rashida has an amazing sense of style and color.  This book is total eye-candy!  Lots of linen with modern prints.  Projects range from simple to complex.  Nice, clear directions.  Popular projects (um, all of them!):  calendar, travel sewing book, coasters, sewing machine cover.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Patchwork Style
by Suzuko Koseki.  Drool.  This book is not for beginners, as it features minimal directions and projects with lots of small piecing.  However,the projects are amazing!  Modern, Japanese style.  Popular projects:  patchwork rug, pot holders, log cabin blocks/quilts.  I made the patchwork rug. See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration
by Malka Dubrawsky.   Malka is innovative.  That's the truth. This is not your average sewing book.  If you love color or modern shapes, I think you will really enjoy it.  Her work challenges me to embrace color more passionately, to get more gutsy with freemotion quilting and to allow myself to work with more freedom at times.


Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts
by Joelle Hoverson.  Simply gorgeous.  My favorite collection of quilts with clear directions easy enough for the beginner.  Popular projects - quilted coasters, rainbow pencil roll, Color wheel quilt, Peanut the wee elephant, pin cushion.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.

The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking
by Jane Brocket.  Jane shares her quilting process from inspiration to completion in detail, from color selection to borders to binding, on many beautiful quilts.  Her English cottage style is not my own, but I feel I learned a lot about color and scale.  See this review by The Sometimes Crafter.

Block Party--The Modern Quilting Bee
by Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks.   The book chronicles all 12 months of the Block Party quilting bee, sharing inspiration, fabric and color choices behind each quilt's design, specific directions for making each quilt and mini interviews with each bee member.  There's a very comprehensive 30-page section on quilt-making basics.  See my short review with photos!

Quilt Essential:  A Visual Directory of Contemporary Patterns, Fabrics, and Colors
by Erin Burke Harris.  An excellent reference and crash course on quiltmaking for today's emerging quilter.  Covers fabrics, color, design and assembling with a wealth of images.  The Assembling section has practical how-to advice that illustrates multiple options.  See my review with photos!


Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
by Natalie Chanin.  An extremely detailed how-to for creating a wardrobe a la Alabama Chanin.  Gorgious photography of finished items and so many amazing fabric surfaces.  Here's my introduction.

The Colette Sewing Handbook
by Sarai Mitnick.  My favorite general resource for sewing clothes from a highly-respected pattern designer who doesn't assume you already know the basics.  Includes excellent base patterns to jump start your wardrobe.  Here's how it helped me.


The New Crewel
by Katherine Shaughnessy.  I have yet to find an embroidery book to love.  Crewel is much like embroidery, but more "chunky".  This modern interpretation is packed with amazing designs.  Very easy to learn and the perfect way to get inspired for handwork.  I made this pillow and this one too.

Misc. Favorites

Handmade Home
by Amanda Blake Soule.  A warm, eco-friendly book with a wide variety of practical and memory-keeping projects.  Not all sewing.  Directions are light, but the projects are easy enough for someone still new to sewing.  Definitely favors an earthy, homemaking type like myself.  My review here.  I made the word banner.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Seams to Me
by Anna Maria Horner.  Lovely projects in Anna's glowing fabrics.  A good intro-to-sewing section.  Popular projects - caddy pin cushion, hexagon patchwork baby ball, purses and aprons.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby
by Anna Maria Horner.   This is my go-to book for baby gifts.  My pregnant friends have each found something to love in the pages!  I've made the Sixth Times the Charm baby quilt and the Hide & Seek Spectrum baby quilt.  Right now I'm working on some wall art from the book too!  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Note:  This list represents my honest opinions and recommendations.   But, for full disclosure you should know that this page is set up with affiliate links to Amazon.  If you purchase books from these links, I do earn cash which I'll use to enlarge my crafty library.  So, thanks for that!


  1. What a great list! I have a few of these, but will be checking my library for some more. I'd love to get my hands on a copy of Alabama Stitch Book or/and Alabama Studio Style.

  2. Been dying to get Sew Liberated...maybe for Christmas :) Did you get The Modern Quilt Workshop through Richland County?? I couldn't find it through our county. I checked out Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing recently and thought it was really really good.

    Love love Bend the Rules Sewing...and of course Handmade Home. I have Patchwork Style but am not very inspired by it and I think I might sell it.

    I really enjoy taking an afternoon alone to go to Barnes and Noble and sit in the sewing section and read and peruse...lovely, lovely.

  3. Great list! I'm definitely going to check out a few of those!

  4. Yes, I got The Modern Quilt Workshop through Richland county. Yum.... time at the bookstore!

  5. There are few there I haven't seen; thanks!!

  6. lucky you that you have a good library. my library has like 2 sewing books from the 70"s :) cool list- thanks!

  7. Great list Rachel --- I have many of those myself!

    ps : when are you going on your trip to Tennessee?

  8. such great information, thank you! and thanks so much for visiting my blog, i feel so inspired :-)

  9. I love books! Great list and thanks for reviewing. May be able to add some to my collection.

  10. Bend-the-Rules Sewing is the book that really got me sewing. I had made a couple simple skirts before buying it, but, wow, did that book put the sewing bug in me!

    I recently bought a 1961 edition of Better Homes and Gardens Sewing book for 50 cents at a flea market. I'll be posting about it later today, but even though it is old school it has some really great info for sewing clothing. =]

  11. What a great reading list! I also love getting books from the library - lets you scope them out before you commit to the purchase! These are great suggestions for people new to sewing and those more experienced! Thanks!

  12. Thanks for so many good book selections. I'll be searching the library or them tomorrow.

  13. Didn't get to leave my Emil address on last comment.


  14. Nice assortment of ideas to make. Thanks for shaing. Hopes AMA winner



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