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Book Review: Reader’s Digest Complete Guide To Sewing

Book Review: Reader’s Digest Complete Guide To Sewing

I feel like I am always confessing about my nerdiness around here, but friends? I have a confession to make. I am the person that the manual writers write for. I will read a manual all the way through from front to back and then maybe touch on a few concepts once more. I have taken the time on at least one occasion to write a love letter to manual writers of the world, so you know that I am speaking the truth here.

Whether or not you like a good manual, the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing is for you. It has everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING you could ever wish to know about sewing. You don’t have to read this book from cover to cover as I have, it’s a great reference tool to keep by your machine to look up how to sew a buttonhole or how to install a zipper. There are over 500 pages of awesome instruction here, people! If you read the reviews for newer edition of the books, people seem to say that they have left out important information. My edition was published in 1976 and is packed with helpful instructions and illustrations. You can find copies on amazon with the link I provided, or look on ebay or etsy or even your local thrift shop.

The book itself advises that

The Complete Sewing Guide is designed to be useful not only for many years but, in several unusual ways, from the very first day.”

I’m not sure exactly what unusual ways they were imagining, but it is incredibly useful. There are sections on sewing tools and how a sewing machine actually works (as seen above). While it is over 30 years old, the information is still completely pertinent and helpful.

The information on how to measure yourself or how to fit a pattern to your body is amazingly detailed. There are pages and pages about how to modify a pattern if it puckers or pulls in certain places. This book touches on  how to alter patterns for your body shape and even for your posture. The Complete Guide shows you how to finish a seam in just about every way possible! Also included in the garment section are instructions for every alteration you can think of, how to add collars, sleeves, waistbands and darts! The pictures are very detailed and the instructions are pretty clear. More so than any information you get from tissue paper patterns, that’s for sure! There is even a special section in the book on how to sew clothing for men and another for sewing for children.

There is also a huge amount of information about how to sew for the home. There are complete instructions for measuring a couch to make a slipcover, and how to make a pillow cover for any shaped pillow. There are general instructions for how to make all kinds of curtains and bedspreads too.

In the back of the book is a selection of projects to put your new found knowledge to work!

I could have shared them all, they are so amazing. As a woman who loves vintage style, I salivate looking at any of these pictures

The fact that you can make similar projects in your own style is the whole reason that sewing is the greatest thing ever!

As I’ve said before, sewing can be daunting, but with the right tools and armed with books like this, you will have the information to make projects you are proud of! But, in the words of the great and wise Levar Burton, you don’t have to take MY word for it:

“I always recommend the Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing. It’s very comprehensive and very user-friendly” -Tim Gunn, “Spring Forward: Expert Fashion Advice,” The Washington Post

You can find this book at your local library or bookseller, I’m Melissa, and I hiiiiighly recommend it! (cue Reading Rainbow outro music) Da dun DUN!

Melissa (158 Posts)

Melissa, known to the world as the foremost Glitter Technician, is the mother of two beautiful children and has two beautiful buckteeth. She currently spends her time making all kinds of quirky items and selling them in her Etsy shop. You can find more of her writing & her wares on her self titled site Melissa Nelson-Stippich.


1 Comment

  • […] time for another installment of your guide to beginning sewing! Last time I reviewed one of my favorite vintage sewing books, Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. Today I […]

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