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on January 17, 2003
I borrowed the 1995 edition of this book from the library, and ordered it hoping the latest 2002 edition would resemble the impressive volume of instructions and references that appeared the the earlier versions. I was very disappointed in the 2002 edition. There are 384 pages in the 2002 edition and 431 pages in the 1995 edition. In another library, the pre-1995 editions are even better with 500+ pages. They include everything you'd want to know about sewing. Unfortunately each newer edition is becoming smaller with less reference material. The section on sewing for the home such as draperies, shades, bedcovers has been replaced by a project on how to sew one type of curtain. The section on sewing for Men and Children is replaced by instructions on how to sew a shirt for a boy, and one skirt for a girl. They give details on doing different patterns instead of a reference section for Men and Children's clothing, sewing techniques. The same applied for sewing for the home. If I was interested in doing projects with patterns, I would have bought a pattern from one of many companies with far greater style selections. In a book, I expect references that the pattern cannot detail on many different parts and types of clothing. I expected the 2002 edition to be larger with even more reference on style alterations and sewing methods for different materials, garments, and interior home decor. In this century there is more variety of materials available and styles that a sewer needs to make reference to. I am debating whether I should return the latest edition, since my expectations were much more than what the book provided.
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on February 28, 2010
This book was required for a basic sewing class, and after buying the newest edition, I stumbled upon a 1978 version in the school library--which is FAR SUPERIOR!! Here's why:

LAYOUT--The graphics of the instructions are virtually the same, but the old version has a very simple layout, with instructions beneath each photo. The current version focuses on making the page look cool, which detracts considerably in being able to view the instructions clearly.

CONTENT--The current version has approximately 350 pages, while the older version has approximately 550!!!! For instance, in the old book for TOOLS, there's dedicated sections for various types of tools (scissors, needles, pressing equipment) and their uses. In the new one, all of the tools are laid together (no dedicated sections), which mostly pictures rather than information. Instead of about 7 pages it is now 2 pages. The elimination of a lot of information continues THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE BOOK!!

PROJECTS--In the current version, projects are interspersed throughout the book, assuming you will be making these projects as you go along. WRONG! At least for me, I'm not going to make the specific shirt or pants they provide instructions to. The old version has all the projects listed together at the end of the book, and there's at least double the amount of projects than the current book, most of which are still very modern even though it was written in the 70s! One cool project shows you how to make YOUR OWN PATTERN for a robe!

BOTTOM LINE--This version is like an early rough draft of the older/original edition. The amount of information and projects has been cut by about half, and the book focuses on appearance (in its layout and content) rather than simplicity for usage. BUY AN OLDER EDITION--the current one seriously sucks!! I would honestly pay an extra $20 for the 1978 version! Also, I already have basic sewing skills, but I think if I were new to sewing, the current version would be completely useless in that it's not really a beginner's book, more of a reference book.

**Unfortunately the loss of information is due to the dwindling number of 'traditional' sewers, most people now want an 'easy how-to' with fast projects...most sewing books don't teach skills anymore, which makes me sad. This book's current edition reflects that trend.
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on July 27, 2006
"The book starts off assuming you know how to read and cut patterns, piece together parts, and construct clothing." I just wanted to say that the book does explain how to read and interpret patterns. In fact there are about 8 really good pages dedicated to reading patterns. I really hated how every pattern I bought wouldn't give an explanation of all the symbols they used. I didn't understand the symbols and some of the steps used in patterns until I got this book.
However the previous reveiwer was right about the book not explaining how to use a sewing machine, so I woudln't recommend getting this book if that's what you're after. If you've played with your sewing machine a bit and have figured out how to reasonably use it, then go for it.

Reasons to get the book:
-Great detailed images to follow
-shows how to properly fit a pattern and ways to fix common fitting problems
-index of stitches and how they're used
-has examples of how to sew specific garments
-explains how to execute common construction pieces like placket pockets and lapped zippers

-like previous reviewer said it did not give an overview of how to use a sewing machine (pretty bad for a "complete guide")
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on July 15, 2004
I purchased this book when I had a general understanding of sewing and wanted to improve my skills without having to take sewing classes. I refer to this book when I have a slight understanding of what I'm doing and need to see the details about how it's done step by step. This book does just that - no skipped steps, illustrations for every step. There are few photos, but the drawings actually serve you better because you can see the seams more clearly. The book covers a very wide range of assembly techniques, which is quite helpful if you've got a blouse all done but are stuck on sewing the collar. I have bought a lot of sewing books and find that any that include "complete guide to..." in the title try to cover too many topics and lack the detailed content many of us are searching for. If you are really lost on how to do pattern alterations or working with knits etc., you will be much happier with a book that only deals with that topic and has the space to give you in-depth instructions. Overall, it is a very good book to have for reference when the pattern you are working with does not give you the extra help you need.
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on May 3, 2004
The book is too advanced for beginners. The book starts off assuming you know how to read and cut patterns, piece together parts, and construct clothing. It also assumes that you are very comfortable with using a sewing machine. The photographs are beautiful, but it hasn't served as a how-to manual that I had hoped. For the same retail price, you can buy at least two other better books.
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on March 1, 2011
I looked at many books before deciding on this one. It has way more photos and easy to understand directions than the others I looked through.

I mainly wanted a book to use for reference when doing things I don't commonly do and forget how. But, now that I have it I realize I'll use it for way more than just that. It shows many different methods for doing basically the same thing. Some ways for basic and easy, and some ways for a more professional detailed look. Gotta love that.

This hardcover book is very thick and heavy. It's definitely made to last! I do wish it had come spiral bound so it would lay flat while reading, although it is heavy enough that I don't have any trouble keeping it opened to read. It just takes up a bit more space than a spiral bound would have. But, I feel that it's usefulness way surpasses my preference for a spiral bound.

It covers many topics and shows many different ways to do a variety of collars, necklines, waistbands, hems, fastenings, seams, pockets, sleeves, tailoring, and even some quilting and smocking! Tons of information!
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on September 14, 2005
I have the FIRST edition, 1976, of this is actually just as fact-filled as the new edition, and it hasn't the glitz of color through-out, though it has color plates. But, the information is great in both editions, and I urge the sewer to have this book around. I use it still for reference and refreshing the memory of things I do in sewing too seldom to remember! The new one seems devoid of the neat home projects the first edition had, and they are really retro now!!!
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on November 30, 2002
I borrowed an older copy of this book from the library to help me with my curtain-sewing projects (I haven't sewed anything since grade 8 which was a while back and figured I needed some guidance). the book seemed so helpful that I decided to buy my own copy. This updated version is nowhere near as helpful as the old. In the old version, there is information about how to thread a machine, what the different settings are for, a more comprehensive section on curtains etc....
The pictures are decent and the instructions seem easy to follow though.
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on June 23, 2012
I bought this book, as well as the Threads Sewing Guide. I am glad I bought them both. The Reader's Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing is a comprehensive reference book with a lot of detail. I am an intermediate returning sewist. This book is chock full of construction detail with easy to follow to diagrams. It includes details on Fabric Types, How to Correct Fit Issues, and Basic Pattern Alteration. Commercial patterns are so poorly marked and documented, I hardly use them anymore (I use Pattern Master Boutique), and if I do, I frequently abandon the instructions about 1/3 of the way through. With the detailed instructions for different styles and construction methods, this book is going to save me alot of time and frustration. There are detailed instructions in the book for several Simplicity patterns. Even in the patterns that I would never use, such as a little girl's smocked dress, the detailed instructions for smocking (both by hand and by machine) are included in the instructions. This is a great reference book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who sews, whatever your sewing level.

I also bought the Threads Sewing Guide, and I am glad I bought this one also. The Threads Guide contains different information in many places. The Threads book speaks about Design Ease for different types of fit while the Reader's Digest book speaks to Alterations. The Threads Guide contains information on fiber, texture and characteristics such as drape, while the Reader's Digest book has a chapter on Fabrics with a few sentences on what it is made from and what type of project might suit the fabric. The Reader's Digest book contains detailed instructions on sewing waistbands, collars, sleeves, mitering corners, etc., while the Threads Guide contains the order of construction. I'm thinking we can throw out the instructions altogether. Yipee! The Threads Guide contains detailed information on types of pins and machine needles with close up pictures, while the Reader's Digest book does not contain much detail on these.

If you can only buy one Sewing Reference guide, I recommend the Reader's Digest book. In my opinion, if you can buy them both, you will never need another one and you can move on to any specialty books or software that might be on your wish list.
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on December 8, 2003
This book is comprehensive, but I recommend instead "The Complete Book of Sewing," by DK Publishing, August 1996. I found that many things only partly explained in this book were fully explained with better and more detailed pictures in "The Complete Book of Sewing." If I had to do it all over again I would not have purchased this book and bought instead "The Complete Book of Sewing" because "The Complete Book of Sewing" is a much better book that has pushed this book to the back of my bookshelf.
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