Embellishments · Embroidery · Hems · Overcasting

The book that will change you forever

…or at least your sewing. One of my all-time favourite books on sewing technique and embroidery, no sewing machine required:

Margaret Rowan, “The Complete Guide to Hand Sewing & Embellishing”, Search Press, 2013

The subtitle reads: “The creative guide for dressmakers and needlecrafters that takes your work to a new level.” True! All true. This is a sewing guide where all the sewing is done by hand. However, not all that is in this book, is strictly about working with the needle: there is information on measuring, pressing, zips, buttons, etc. – all useful to know also if you do use a sewing machine. Although the majority of techniques are undoubtedly for hand-sewing, once you know how some things are made, it is sometimes easy to figure out how you could do it with a sewing machine (for example, quilting).

Here is the gallery of techniques that the book covers (click to enlarge):

And here a few pages on measuring, reading patterns and other stuff – there is more in the book!

Not just the bust-waist-hips then, eh? 😉

The left page helps you to estimate how much fabric is needed for a whole garment or just a part of a garment, in two common widths: 45″ and 60″. Parts are good to know if you are combining different fabrics in one garment. The right page is all about hems – there is really more than one type!

Now some examples from inside the book – I hope I am not violating the copyright here, but the best way to convince you how great this book is, is to make your mouth water for more… 🙂

I bet you don’t sew on your hooks and eyes quite like this!

Smocking. Madam Grés, here I come! Smocking and fine pleats done with six different stitches.

Did you know what the shisha stitch was? No? And how do you sew on round mirrors to your clothing?

An introduction to a whole embroidery technique – this one is blackwork, but there’s more in the book. Very concise, yet enough to get you started and do a small project.

There are also pages and pages with motifs ready for you to copy and embroider or applique onto your projects. They can be done in a variety of techniques – it’s all up to you.

Go play! 🙂 

7 thoughts on “The book that will change you forever

    1. I think it is quite a remarkable book, and so unlike others I’ve got. I also really like those short introductions into whole techniques – enough to give you a taster and a finished project so you can then get more detailed books if you want to explore it more.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have so many sewing and craft books: ah! I’d STILL like to include this one in my sewing library, too!! It’s liken to a vintage machine addition… Thank you for posting, Elena!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a book by the same author, Margaret Rowan, titled “Handsewn, The Essential Techniques for Tailoring and Embellishment”. After I read your comments on this post and knowing that I love Handsewn, I decided to try to find that book as well. I found it on alibris and ordered it. It took seven weeks to get to me because it came from England to California. When I received it, it looked very familiar. It is exactly the same book page for page, just with a different title, and different publisher. Handsewn is published by Interweave and The Complete Guide to Hand Sewing is published by Search Press. It might be useful for folks to know this.

    By the way, it is also one of my favorite books. It is very user-friendly and so well laid out.


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