I've read many reviews of books about sewing techniques and dressmaking on other blogs but as yet I have not come across anyone mentioning this little gem. Admittedly I don't have many other books covering similar topics to compare it to but I really think this has all you need. It is a fantastic book for a beginner as it guides you from the very basics, such as which equipment is essential to begin with and what it is useful for. But I think it is going to be equally useful to me over the years as a reference for new (or perhaps coming back to brush up old) stitches and techniques. There's an excellent glossary (very useful for those 'huh?' moments when following an unusually worded pattern!) and a detailed index at the back which makes it easy reference when you just need to confirm a few details about a particular technique.
It makes an interesting and coherent read from the basics and through the following sections of step by step projects; it's divided into basic techniques, dressmaking, advanced tailoring, home furnishings and care and repair so gives a brilliant overview of all things that may be useful to a seamstress in training. The diagrams of products coming together are very clear, simple linear drawings, the only thing which I do find slightly confusing are the diagrams of stitches as although the stages are lettered they can just appear as an undecipherable squiggle. But then has anyone ever managed to do a coherent drawing of all the ins and out of a needle for something like chain stitch?!
Marie Clayton doesn't race off into technical speak a few pages in but explains every project and technique in basic terms so you're not left wondering 'baste?! what's basting?!' if you decide to pick projects at random. So far the book has been invaluable to me in explaining how to lay out a pattern on fabric and how to create your own piping (for a cushion project which there'll be more about later!). During my first dips into sewing I've often found myself bewildered by a technique like this which causes huge problems if done wrong but yet looks like it should be common sense, particularly when there seems to be no explanation of how to do things right out there! This book solves those problems, with step by step guidelines and an explanation of why it needs to be done that way.
All in all I'd very much like to have this book on hand throughout all my future sewing projects, it's very easy to dip in and out of as well as providing a good overall training for a novice sewer if you follow through all the projects in the book.
Do you have a favourite sewing book?