Saturday, 6 September 2014

Book Review: Reader's Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing

Reader's Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing Step-by-Step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories
Published by Reader's Digest Association, Inc.
Consulting Editor: Susan Huxley  
ISBN:  978-1-60652-208-0
Retail:  $39.95 (Cdn)

I was quite curious about the 2011 edition of the Reader's Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing. I have the 1978 edition in my personal sewing library which has been a valuable resource over the years. I was curious to see what makes this latest edition "new" and when I came across it at the public library a couple of weeks ago, it was my chance to see what I was missing.  

The most noticeable difference is that the 2011 edition is smaller. Significantly smaller with 144 pages less than the original edition. It is more streamline with glossy pages and update photographs. 

The updated version boasts "all-new projects from Simplicity patterns" on the front cover. Simplicity 2652 is used to illustrate French seams.  Simplicity 3565 is highlighted for dress pants with a waist binding and darts. Basically, these examples are eye candy promoting the pattern company but it is nice to see techniques matched up with a pattern. I do like the example of the little girl's smocked dress where Simplicity 2767 was modified to for the smocking on the bodice front. The Simplicity patterns that are matched up with sewing techniques date this book as the examples listed here are now out-of-print patterns.  

In the 1978 edition, the patterns shown as examples can easily be made today as they are mapped out on grids and include cutting measurements where the new book guides you to a pattern that you need to purchase.  

The line drawings for the most part are exactly the same as in the original version. The original  edition credits The Singer Company with technical assistance in the preparation of book and the latest version does not. I found this to be interesting because the line drawings for the most part (exception is colour shading) are exactly the same as in the original.  

I was sad to find the two pages dedicated to the invisible zipper omitted from the newer version. Why the editors would decide on this I don't understand.   

Another noticeable difference is the "Sewing for the Home" chapter in the original version has been replaced with a chapter on "Patchwork and Quilting." It includes a page dedicated to the history and revival of quilting since the 1970s to the emergence of art quilts that find their way into museums. Instead of a chapter on "Sewing for the Home," curtains were a featured as one of the projects without a dedicated Simplicity pattern example.  


If you were to ask me which book I prefer, I would have to say the original. I prefer the detail in the 1978 edition over the glossy pages and colour photographs that are forefront in the later version. That said, it is a highly recommended reference book. I just prefer the original. Why mess with a good thing?

Happy Sewing!


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