I’m a self taught seamstress. I learned from trial and error and books. I found that older books were more useful than newer ones and so I started collecting. I have an entire shelf of sewing books, including every Gothic Lolita Sewing book made so far. The best thing about learning to sew this way is no one told me my ways were right or wrong. So I was able to experiment and learn my own way. As long as it looks great, there isn’t a right way of doing things. Although many will argue you’re doing it wrong, because some people always need to be right. I was one of those people at one point myself, but I grew up. After watching how toxic some people can be over craftsmanship, it starts to make you feel sick yourself. It’s important to remember we all start somewhere.
Many of my books I’ve never used, but many have been super helpful, so I thought I would share the more helpful books I own. For the beginner I highly recommend The Dressmaker’s Technique Bible by Lorna Knight. It’s very visual and has direct easy directions for so many basic techniques. It comes on a spiral bind so it’s durable and easy to leave open. I like it when I have to remember how to do welt pockets for the 16th time.
They also have a textile book, but I haven’t found that one to be as useful as this one.
If you’re looking for a book with more specific info on pattern altering with commercial patterns I recommend How to Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan. It goes into a lot of detail of how to use commercial patterns, alter them and if you want to start drafting your own.
As I got more into sewing, especially into large dresses and fabric manipulation the book selection gets smaller. In fact I haven’t found a useful book in a current bookstore for years- unless it’s used. For ballgowns you have to go to wedding dress books, it’s really all that’s out there. However I did find an amazing series that is so helpful for creating your own patterns and figuring out how to draft your designs. Available on Amazon, the Fashion Patternmaking Techniques (vol 1-3) by Antonio Donnanno.
It has very thorough info for drafting skirts, trousers and shirts for women AND men. Volume 2 goes into undergarments, dresses and wasitcoats for men. They also have pattern drafting for maternity wear. The 3rd covers women coats, jackets and cloaks for men and women. Mens patterns are pretty hard to find, so this info is invaluable to me.
I hope this info was useful to you. Do you want to hear about more books? Maybe sewing machine accessories or fabric types? Let me know in the comments.