Saturday, August 23, 2008

"The Complete Book of Sewing"

I love sewing books...vintage or newly published...especially if they have some interesting information to share that will increase my knowledge of my craft. But I especially love vintage sewing books! Like vintage pattern instruction sheets these books manage to cram so much more information into a couple of hundred pages than newly published ones do.

I stumbled upon "The Complete Book of Sewing by Constance Talbot" discussion on PR and of course had to run right over to Abe Books to see what all the fuss was about. As an aside...I love Abe is great for finding any book that is out of print. I can choose my price point and where I want the book to come no waiting for a book from Oshkosh, Wisconsin when one is available in Bristol, Massachusetts.

My copy of this book showed up last week and every night I have been pouring over it. It covers garment to home dec sewing with chapters like this for garment sewing:

Choosing the Right Clothes

How to Choose the Right Fabrics

Save and Sew

Darts, Tucks and Pleats

Hems, Facings, Bindings

The Science of Cutting

Underwear for all the Family

and like this for home dec:

Fabrics for the Home


Curtain Rods to Suit the Curtains

How to Make Formal Draperies

Quilting Spreads and accessories

Now that is just some of the Chapter titles...there are 45 covering various subjects regarding sewing. And all of this amazing information alongwith a very thorough index is contained in 320 pages! So if you want a copy for your personal sewing library...Abe Books has quite a few left ranging in price from $1.30 to $53! I heartily encourage you to get a copy of this is a treasure trove of sewing knowledge!


  1. It sounds like a fabulous book (and it reminds me of my other addiction, LOL)!

  2. Vintage Sewing Books-----gimme one of those and a glass of wine on a lazy Saturday afternoon won't see me again for a WHILE.

  3. Oooo~! I saw that thread on PR and bought one of these on ebay about the same time (only my cover is blue-ha! )

    Your's *so* right... this is a fantastic resource. Don't you just love that chapter on Choosing the Right Clothes?

    Love your blog-- check it everyday :-)

    Connie (onnykay on PR)

  4. Thanks for the tip on Abe's Books...the prices are beating good ol' Amazon! Mary

  5. I love Abe Books too thats where I found my Decorative Dressmaking book that you also suggested. I've now got to look for this this suggested book. Thanks

  6. I saw the same subject on PR and also had to buy the book. So if it isn't vintage patterns, it's vintage books!

  7. I just ordered one! $1.50 plus $4.00 shipping. I did notice that the original version was published in 1943. A second revised edition was published in 1955; there was a second printing of this edition in 1968. I think the second edition might be most useful for those vintage 1950s pattern techniques. Thank you Carolyn!! Linda

  8. OMG! I just checked out the PR link to the ebay page which offers quite an extensive peek into the book. I.MUST.HAVE.THIS.BOOK! What a find! Thank you so much, Carolyn, for pointing us to this gem. I do, however, wonder what the difference is between the original 1943 edition and the one released in 1955. Which one do you have? Does anybody have more information whether there is a big difference? Thank you.

  9. I read that discussion too and went looking for the book, but for some reason got sidetracked and never ordered it. Thanks for the reminder. If you endorse it, I'm even more determined to add this to my library.

  10. Oddly, I found a copy of this same book on Amazon, just before the PR frenzy hit. I paid about $3 + $4 Shipping (not sure exactly, but it wasn't much). LOVE IT. You name it, it's in there. And they go into some detail on how to use my 201 accessories and/or use the fancy stuff machines now come with. Enjoy.

  11. Which year edition did you purchase? - I am thinking I need one from each year (bg)

  12. I just received my copy of this in the mail yesterday, and the sewing machine was ignored while I spent some quality time with this book. I got the 1943 edition, and it's just full of amazing stuff. Plus it's worth it for the vintage photography and drawings, which even got my non-sewing but graphic design-intrigued man looking at at the book when I put it down.

    This one's definitely a keeper.

  13. Just wanted to let you know I gave you an award on my blog today. I love reading about what you're sewing! - wish I had time to sew for myself!!

    :) Jaime

  14. Just checked out Abe's.... great site!
    I was looking for info on how to test fabric... remember that you can burn test stuff? Well I went to Barnes & Knoble and found this book (not a vintage, but great!)"More Fabric Savvy" by Sandra Betzina... it's great really! Everything you want to know about every (almost every) type of fabric! She breaks down all the fabric's by types.... o.k. for example.... " Silk Shantung".... Fabric Fact; a description of it.Suitable For;types of things that are good to make with this type of fab. Sewing Tips (what the difficulties are to sew this type of fab. if there is any) Preshink; how too's Layout; the best method Making; Interfacing; type to use and what happens with using different types; Thread; Needle; Stitch Length; Presser Food; Seam Finish; Pressing; Topstitching; Closures; Hems;
    Sorry, guess I just got excited! But I would highly recommend you check it out! Oh, and it has an entire page of Determining Fabric Content! Plus loads of other fantastic info... good to add to the list of gotta haves!

  15. Fantastic find, Carolyn. Thank you for the review. I just ordered my copy.

  16. I hear you on the sewingbooks. I just bought one thanks to your recomendation. ;o) I too love Abe Books and I've used their site frequently.

  17. Bought this book a few years back at my local Planned Parenthood Booksale on half-price Sunday. It was fifty-cents. I love it. I'll have to trip over to PR and check out that thread.

  18. One of my favorite sewing instruction and technique books is the Vogue Sewing Book. It is very old. To be honest, I'm not even certain that it's still available. I got mine back in the 1970s. Although it's about 40 years old, I continue to refer to it from time to time. A wonderful resource. If they aren't still publishing it, you might be able to find your own copy on ebay or


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