Many students ask me to recommend a good reference sewing book for them and this is one I consider to be my sewing bible: Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. Produced for the home sewer it is still as relevant today as when it was first published in 1978. It’s still in print and you can pick one up in a national chain of newsagents/book stores that grace most UK high streets. However, I urge you to scour the bookshelves of your Mother, Granny,Great Aunt or friendly neighbour or local charity shop to save your pennies to buy beautiful fabrics instead – indeed on one online marketplace the postage was more than the cost of the book itself, so there a plenty of copies out there.
The early editions might well be a little outdated with their list of sewing essentials and fashion photographs, and of course computerised machines or overlockers don’t get a mention, but the easy to read chapters for advice and construction techniques in an intuitive order are a fail safe for a dressmaking guide. Interestingly in Pattern Size Guidelines it states ‘your patterns might not be the same as your ready to wear size. It does not matter; ready to wear and pattern sizes have no necessary relation to one another’!
There is even a chapter at the back of the book with Sewing Projects for the home including alterations and renovations. I would say however that my 1970s edition has out dated pages about Curtain making as curtain notions have somewhat moved on in the last forty years – but this is of little consequence as the quality step by step diagrammatical instructions for dressmaking techniques are superb.
If you are an enthusiastic home dressmaker I suggest you add this to your Christmas list if you don’t already own a copy!