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The best-selling comprehensive, practical, and inspiring sewing reference, now fully revised and updated. This is a big, thick, heavy book, and not exactly something you can tuck in a corner while you work.
I wished I'd have bought this book first instead of Singer's complete photo guide to sewing. I read reviews and did my research before putting money into this book and it was by far the most informative and reasonably priced out there.
Clear, simple instructions by sewing experts, and thousands of illustrations and diagrams show each stage of the sewing process. It's large and wide, though, and lies flat fairly easily, which helps to make it easier to look at while working. I checked out a copy from my library and realized that it was probably the best beginning sewing boook out there. This guide is the standard stitch-and-seam reference book for both beginner and seasoned sewers. It includes an absolutely amazing amount of detail meant to get you from rank beginner through finely tailored clothing, and honestly I expect this book to still be useful to me in ten years from now. Like all the Reader's Digest books I own, this one gives clear directions that a beginner can understand. We deliver the joy of reading in 100% recycled packaging with free standard shipping on U.S.
It's jam-packed with diagrams, color photos, and plenty of highly-detailed and very clear instructions. Both have their strengths and are very easy to follow but I thought Reader's was a little more thorough.

It covers patterns, fabrics, fitting, contruction, finishing, tailoring and much, much more!
Hand-sewing tips are included, as well as instructions for using the 'essential' hand stitches. As for the reviewer who was disappointed that the book didn't cover the machine well enough, I've learned that an author could fill an entire book covering the subject and still not tell you how to use the machine you own or intend to buy. Each diagram comes with both an easy-to-understand explanation and a set of step-by-step detailed instructions. Perhaps you may lean toward haute couture techniques and want to know more about hand stitching, which this book does happen to cover.
Essential stitches include everything from tailor's tacks to basting, backstitching, hemming & joining (slipstitch, cross-stitch, overhand, whipstitch, etc.), finishing stitches, decorative stitches, and so on. If you're looking for a 'complete' guide in sewing you have to make editorial choices because the subject is too vast for any single book. However, it also moves toward the kind of general and abstract information that you need to have later, in order to be able to be more creative.
In particular I appreciate that the explanation included with each stitch details exactly what that stitch tends to be used for and why. That said, my expectation of a good beginner book is one that covers the most important sewing topics with enough depth to enable the beginner to actually create garments, which this book does. Things like how to recognize different types of fabric, different ways to finish seams, different ways to hem garments, how to modify fit, how to modify a pattern, etc. In addition, this book points the new sewer toward making well-fitting garments (tailoring techniques) which makes it a very good buy. For example, the page that details and diagrams overedge seams provides page references to the overlock machine on page 15, zigzag stitching on page 83, and overlock stitching on p.

In all, the topic choices are logical with better coverage than most without being too vague (like Vogue Sewing at times), outdated, too shallow or disjointed (like the Singer books). Again, the only other beginning book I've found worthwhile is DK's Complete Book of Sewing, but even in it you'll find that some areas could be fuller, as you should expect with a general sewing book. In addition, there's a side-bar at the beginning of the 'stitches and seams' section that provides a quick-reference to all provided hand stitches and their page locations. It covers everything from basic stitches to fabric types to advanced tailoring techniques, in a ton of detail with precise directions and diagrams. If you don't have a machine you may consider Fine Machine Sewing by Carol Laflin Ahles or All About Machine Arts.
Both are great books to help get acquainted with your machine before you start tackling fabric, seams, etc.
That said, these beginner books will get you started but you'll find there is so much more to understanding how to make a well-fitting garment- which is good and bad. It's bad because all the topics can make your head spin and you might get quite frustrated before you ever make anything that suits your taste or even fits your body. The myriad of choices are good, however, because they allow quite a bit of choices, expression and individuality to the sewer.

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