The Sewing Book by Alison Smith


Watch the video review to see inside the book or read on for an overview of the book along with the pros and cons. The Sewing Book, by Alison Smith, has to be one of the best sewing books for beginners so be sure to check it out.

Watch the video review on YouTube

Overview of The Sewing Book

This book is set out in three main sections being tools, techniques and projects. I will go into a bit of detail about each section so you get a clear idea of what you will find in the book.



under tools you will find great detail about the basic sewing kit you might need for a beginning sewer along with the different types of cutting tools, measuring and marking tools, useful extras (like a dressmakers dummy, pattern paper, etc), different types of needles and pins, different threads, haberdashery items and pressing aids. Who knew there could be so many pressing aids out there!

The book then goes into the different types of sewing machines out there, such as a general sewing machine, overlocker (or serger) and an embroidery machine. Good to see that the sewing machines in the book are Janome. There is also a list of different sewing machine accessories along with different sewing machine feet, although it is a basic list of what’s available.

The book then goes into an extensive list of the different types of fabrics out there in the world along with a detail description, which includes information about how the fabric should be cut out, how you should finish the seams, which type of needle to use and how to press with the iron. This has to be my favourite section because you can quickly reference the book and find the information that you need when using a different fabric.

The next part of the section goes into detail about working with patterns. Now I’m more of a craft sewer, so this section doesn’t interest me much, but it is very clear about how to read a pattern, measure your body, alter a pattern, how to make a toile and how to cut your fabric out.


The techniques you will find in the book include:

  • Stitches for hand sewing
  • Machine stitches and seams
  • Reducing seam bulk
  • How to sew darts, tucks, pleats and gathers
  • How to sew ruffles
  • How to sew facings and necklines
  • How to sew collars
  • How to sew waistlines, belts and tie-backs
  • How to sew sleeves an sleeve finishes
  • How to sew pockets
  • How to sew hems and edges
  • How to sew on zips, buttons and other fasteners
  • Using linings and interfacings
  • Professional techniques such as speed tailoring, boned bodices, appliqué and quilting

There is also a mending section with shows you how to unpick stitches, darn a hole, repair a damaged buttonhole, mend a split seam, patch tears in fabric, replace elastic and repair a broken zip.


This last section has quite a few sewing projects for you to try. Each project tells you the techniques involved and the level of difficulty as well. There are some basic project suitable for a beginning sewer, such as sewing a polar fleece hat and scarf or a placemat some intermediate sewing projects like sewing a baby blanket or a book cover, right up to the more advanced such as sewing a Kimono or roman blinds. The sewing projects do assume some general knowledge with sewing so for the complete beginning sewer out there, you may find yourself flicking between the glossary and the techniques pages when attempting one of the projects. I also found that the projects are more craft based rather than dressmaking based projects. This is fine by me as I’m a craft sewer, but if you are wanting more dressmaking projects, you may be disappointed here.


  • Great explanations of techniques with real and detailed photos
  • Appropriate for the beginning sewer to the more advanced sewer, especially in the tools and techniques sections
  • Good selection of projects for you to try, but probably better suited for a sewer with some experience


  • The book is on the large size, but it is packed full of great sewing stuff!
  • the hand stitches didn’t include how to do a ladder stitch (also know as a blind or hidden stitch). This is a hand stitch I use all the time.
  • The projects could be a bit more step-by-step in the explanations and photos, although, you can find all the answers and how to throughout the book I suppose.

A Little Bit About the Author

Alison Smith definitely has the credentials behind her to write a book like this with having her own fabric shop and sewing school, which is the largest independent sewing school in England. She trained as an Art and Fashion Textile teacher and has been the Head of Textiles at one of the largest schools in Birmingham. Along with this she has had various tutoring roles. Alison also lectures at sewing shows and contributes to the Sewing World magazine. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Should You Buy The Sewing Book?…Yes!

This book is great to have on the book shelf as a quick reference guide for all sewers. You can buy it from various places online and you should be able to find it in good gook stores as well.

You can find this book on Amazon or eBay for my worldwide readers.

If you live in Australia (like me), I recommend buying this book from

Happy…um…reading about sewing!


Posted on

3 April, 2013

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.