20 of the best sewing books to buy in 2023
Sewing books can be an invaluable source of advice, practical guides and patterns, whether you're a beginner or an experienced sewer. Explore our pick of the best sewing books to buy in 2023
We love getting our hands on a new sewing book and there are loads of brilliant ones out there right now. Whether you're learning how to sew or looking for a good source of new patterns, you're bound to find a new favourite in our best sewing book guide.
If you're new to sewing, finding the right sewing book can really help you to improve your stitching skills and help you to troubleshoot when things go wrong. It's always useful to have sewing books on hand for those times when you can't remember how to do a particular technique, or to guide you through trickier sewing projects.
There's a wealth of sewing books out there, so how do you know which one to pick? We've asked the experts from the Simply Sewing magazine team to share some of their top sewing books with us, from sewing books for beginners to ones for more advanced sewers. Our list contains books by past Great British Sewing Bee contestants as well as experienced designers and crafters. We've included some great sewing pattern books too!
New to sewing? Before you start your next sewing project, you might find it useful to check out our handy how-to guides to the best sewing machines for beginners, sewing for beginners and how to use a sewing machine. If you're keen to get sewing, take a look at our pick of the best sewing kits for beginners.
Read on to discover the best sewing books to buy in 2021…
15 best sewing books 2023
1. Sewing for the Soul by Jules Fallon
Simply Sewing's acting editor Cath Dean says: "Sewing for the Soul is carefully curated collection of mindful, wearable makes arranged by season. It includes a few delicious cake recipes to see in each new season too, so we can combine our passions for sewing and baking!"
2. Ahead of the Curve by Jenny Rushmore
Curvy sewists rejoice! Jenny Rushmore, founder of plus-sized pattern brand Cashmerette, is releasing her first book and it’s a must-have for sewists making garments in a size 16 and above. "It contains five beautiful, versatile patterns that you’ll use time and time again, plus is packed full of dressmaking tips and alterations guides to get the perfect fit and finish," Cath says. This book isn't out until 14th October 2021, but it's available to pre-order now.
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3. Quilting by Hand by Rian Elise
"Creative crafters will love the intricate patterns and beautiful projects contained in this new book," Cath says. "It’s a lovely way to get into hand quilting, with some smaller projects such as cushions and wall hangings to build up your confidence before attempting a full-sized quilt." This book is released on 23rd September 2021 and is available to pre-order now.
4. Make it Simple by Tilly Walnes
Simply Sewing's production editor is a big fan of Make it Simple by Tilly Walnes. "I strongly believe a copy of this book should be mandatory with every new sewing machine purchase!" she says. "Nothing seems too daunting or complicated with this easy-to-follow book that’s all about making your sewing as straightforward and enjoyable as possible. Make It Simple comes with patterns for a pair of trousers, a T-shirt, two dresses, a cardigan and PJs, and with variations for each you can fill pretty much any gap in my wardrobe with these.
"There’s really nothing Tilly hasn’t thought about in this book. Every project comes with a section showing ways to personalise your make; a shortcut tick list for if you’ve made the project before and just need some gentle prompts; and tip boxes throughout that tell you when to slow down and take extra care or something or try your garment on and make sure it’s fitting as it should.
"Clear illustrations and instructions and a friendly voice throughout make this book an absolutely must-have in my eyes! Every dressmaker needs to read the ‘How to take a compliment’ chapter, too!"
5.Bags for Life by Stuart Hilliard
Former Sewing Bee Stuart Hilliard has a new collection of bag projects, containing everything from overnight bags and beach bags to craft project caddys, shopping trolley bags and picnic carriers. This is a great choice if you're looking for sewing books for beginners. "There’s also a comprehensive guide to techniques involved, so it’s great for beginners just getting into bag making and looking to learn the basics before getting stuck in," Cath says. Out on 2nd September 2021.
6. Freehand Fashion by Chinelo Bally
Chinelo Bally is another former Sewing Bee contestant who loves sharing her sewing tips and designs. When she appeared on the show, she wowed the judges with her patternless outfits, which were inspired by traditional Nigerian sewing techniques. In this book, Chinelo explains how you can master this versatile sewing technique for yourself – and make every garment in your wardrobe! This is a good guide to pattern making for beginners.
7. Building the Pattern by Saara and Laura Huuta
This fantastic sewing pattern book is another of Cath's favourites! Saara and Laura of pattern company Named Clothing have launched a buildable collection of contemporary patterns that modern sewists won’t be able to resist. Each pattern comes with multiple variations so you can create a truly customised wardrobe.
8. Sewing with African Wax Print Fabric by Adaku Parker
African wax print fabric is beautiful cotton material made using wax resist techniques. It can be used to create vibrant outfits that will make stunning additions to your wardrobe. This fabulous book by Adaku Parker contains 25 patterns to make including a shirt dress, A-line skirt, culottes and an array of accessories.
9. Sew Beautiful by Kennis Wong
Discover how to make your own beautiful clothes with designer Kennis Wong. This book explains how to choose the perfect fabric, how to take measurements and much more. This book contains eight patterns with 15 pattern variations for you to make. The patterns range in size from 00 to 20, so you can find a design to suit your shape.
10. How to Start Sewing by Assembil Books
When you're learning to sew, it can be really useful to have a trusty book to refer to. If you're looking for sewing books for beginners, this is a great one to choose. This book explains sewing techniques, starting with the basics and building up to more advanced skills. It explains common pitfalls that you're likely to encounter and will help you to build your sewing confidence. A very useful reference book to keep on your bookshelf!
Buy How to Start Sewing from £19.59
11. Appliqué the Sew Quirky Way by Mandy Murray
Appliqué can be used to make a huge variety of inventive sewing projects. In this book, Mandy Murray guides you through the basic techniques that you'll need to make your own gorgeous appliqué makes, from how to use your sewing machine to how to work with unusual fabrics. This book includes 12 brilliant projects for homewares and wearables, so you can try this addictive technique for yourself. This book is on sale from 12th October 2021, but can be pre-ordered.
12. Sew Chinelo by Chinelo Bally
Learn how to make new clothes in a sustainable way with this excellent book by Chinelo Bally. It includes lots of tips to help you upcycle old clothes and make new garments – without patterns! The book includes eleven projects for women's clothes and three projects for children's clothes.
13. Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh
Sustainable sewing is becoming increasingly popular and this book is packed with inventive ways to mend your clothes. Katrina Rodabaugh reveals clever tips and techniques to add patches to your clothes and repair holes and tears. The aim is to make a feature of your mending techniques, rather than trying to hide them.
14. Embroidery Now by Jennifer Cardenas Riggs
If you want to try embroidery, this beautiful book by Jennifer Cardenas Riggs has plenty of gorgeous modern embroidery designs for you to stitch. Make a boho stitched lampshade, embroidered accent pillow, constellation table runner and much more.
15. Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes
This brilliant book by Tilly Walnes is intended to demystify the dressmaking process – and it certainly achieves that! Tilly shares her dressmaking wisdom in an encouraging way, with lots of tips and advice to teach you how to make your own clothes. This book contains seven versatile patterns for you to make at home.
16. Great British Sewing Bee: The Techniques
Want to learn how to add a pocket or discover the correct way to sew a seam? This brilliant handbook will help you to master all of the techniques you've seen on the show, starting with the basics. This is a great resource for new sewers and would be a useful reference book for more experienced stitchers.
17. Great British Sewing Bee: The Modern Wardrobe
Juliet Uzor, who won the Sewing Bee back in 2019, has written this fabulous new official book for the show. It comes with 27 sewing projects for you to stitch at home, including paper bag shorts, a dance dress, an A-line skirt and much more. All of the patterns are available in UK sizes 8 to 22.
The book comes with clear instructions to help you to get to grips with each sewing project, plus how to adapt the patterns to suit your figure. Juliet's book covers basic sewing techniques as well as tips for more advanced sewers.
18. The Great British Sewing Bee: Sustainable Style
Upcycling old garments has been a big part of the Great British Sewing Bee for a few years now and this book is packed with sustainable sewing ideas for you to try. It also includes a good overview of basic sewing techniques, plus 27 beautiful projects to sew for men and women. You'll learn how to work with sustainable fabrics and pick up plenty of ideas for transforming old clothes too.
19. Behind the Seams: My Life in Creativity, Friendship and Adventure from the star of the Great British Sewing Bee
Want to get to know the real Esme Young? There's no denying that the Sewing Bee star has had a fascinating life and had lots of interesting experiences along the way. In this book, she talks about how she expressed her creativity as a young child and discovered her passion for sewing and designing. It covers her time living in a London squat while she studied at Central St Martins, watching the Notting Hill Carnival with David Bowie, and how she launched her fashion line Swanky Modes with three friends.
The book also explores her time working on costume design for movies such as Trainspotting and The Beach. It's an inspiring read packed with anecdotes about Esme's life – a must-buy for any dedicated Sewing Bee fan!
20. You Will Be Able to Sew Your Own Clothes by the End Of This Book
Julia Uzor is a talented sewing teacher and designer, so this book is a great starting point for anyone who wants to take up sewing as a hobby. You can treat it as your own personal sewing course, as you'll learn how to develop your skills and sewing confidence throughout the book. Once you've got the hang of some basic sewing techniques, you can try 15 straightforward sewing projects designed by Juliet. Happy stitching!
Make sure you have the best lighting for sewing your creations by getting one of these high-quality daylight craft lamps.
Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints
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