Sewing is one of the oldest professions in the world. These days there are many reasons to become interested in sewing: because you want to make new creations, because you want to make clothes that are unique and that fit you, or because you want to learn a useful skill that can extend the life of your existing possessions. Whatever your reason, sewing in its many forms can be an incredibly fulfilling hobby.
First, make sure to check out Creativebug, our completely free online resource for learning all things crafty. Creativebug has projects, lessons, and month-long practice exercises, as well as video series on topics like inspiration for projects. It's perfect for any kind of learner, and there are several free projects from prominent designers and artisans, so it's good for beginners as well as full-fledged sewists.
But that's not all! We have all sorts of eBooks, eMagazines, books, and DVDs that can help you learn the many and varied arts of the needle. All of these items are available through the library; click on the title to be brought to the item's listing in the catalog.
When you're starting out it's good to start with a basic guide, and we're a big fan of photo-friendly guides like this one, so we'd recommend it. That said, there are a ton of beginner guides to sewing. Some are structured around increasingly difficult projects, and some offer a wide range of beginner-friendly projects with easy instruction, while others will explain the process of sewing without projects. Pick a book based on your own learning style and have at it!
Do you know how to fold under? What stitching in the ditch is? Or how to interface a back yoke?
Sewing has a lot of unique terms that can be confusing at first. While you can always Google these terms, we find it very helpful to have an A to Z reference at your table. It makes it really easy to double-check the definition of a term and see instructions on how it's meant to be done. These references will often explain things that a sewing pattern won't, so they're especially good if you're teaching yourself.
A similar book in our collection is A to Z of Sewing by Search Press Classics.
Once you start sewing, you come to an interesting revelation: sewing is everywhere, from the chairs we sit in, to shoes and hospital equipment. Fabric, textiles, and the production of fabric goods all involve sewing. If you're interested in the practical or charitable sides of sewing, this book will give you a number of projects to follow for making fabric objects that could come in handy.
If you're not a healthcare worker or the caregiver for an ill person, you can also use this book as a guide to creating donatable items; local hospitals will often accept donations, though you should always check what your recipient will accept before donating.
Japanese needlecraft techniques have exploded in popularity in recent years. This book, translated from Japanese, gives you an insight into Japanese embroidery methods for creating 25 different beautiful animals.
Embroidery can both be a decoration for a larger project, as well as an art object in and of itself, so if you're a maximalist, give this book a try! If you're more into minimalist or geometric designs, you could try sashiko, a Japanese embroidery technique that creates repeating patterns on cloth. We have the Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook by Susan Briscoe, as well as sashiko classes available through Creativebug.
Fabric can get expensive. The Half Yard...series of books focuses on projects that can be completed with only half a yard of fabric. This makes them economical as well as a good way to use up leftover fabric from other projects.
The Ultimate Illustrated Guide to Sewing Clothes: A Complete Course on Making Clothing for Fit and Fashion
This book is so brand new that we actually don't have any copies available yet, but we're adding it to our holds lists. We're a big fan of any particularly good giant how-to guide books. Similar to the Sewtionary, it can be helpful to keep by your sewing table as you embark on a self-taught journey.
The Auntie Sewing Squad is a real life group of women of color who banded together at the beginning of the pandemic to sew masks for immigrants, incarcerated persons, and other vulnerable groups who badly needed them. The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Social Justice is a book where a series of contributors share essays, poems, recipes and art explaining the history of sewing in their communities, their reasons for sewing, and addressing other issues within their communities. If you're interested in the why of sewing, and how the long and storied history of sewing has impacted diverse communities, this is a great book to add some reflection to your sewing journey.
Many people gravitate towards sewing their own clothes because their own bodies do not fit neatly into the "standard" clothing sizes provided by the grand majority of the fashion industry. The ability to create whatever clothes you want, that fits you correctly, is a powerful and alluring tool. Ahead of the Curve is a guide for curvy and plus-sized sewists, with size-friendly sewing patterns and tons of advice for achieving the perfect fit for every curve of your body.