Books to help you sew with a straight stitch sewing machine
These are helpful books when you are working out how to sew things. I bought two of these books new and one in a commercial secondhand book shop. The rest came from charity shops and are out of print, at least in the edition shown here. Try abebooks if random charity shop pickings are too slow for you.
Singer book from 1954 Singer published this sewing manual in the USA in 1948. The second edition shown here was published in the UK in 1954, the year rationing finally ended. The New Look has swept through this book, everything has an extra frill, flounce or tassel.

In some respects this book is risible, the opening chapter states that all sewing should be done in your best dress, full make up and hair-do. Never mind lipstick transferring to your cloth from all those pins in your mouth. Its saving grace is its age. Everything in this book is sewn on a straight stitch machine, zig-zag machines were a long way from the mass market when this book was written. Ignore the style and use the techniques.

The book is written by Mary Brooks Picken. Facsimiles of some of her other books are still available on Amazon and today she has lingering fame as the author of sewing books like this one. In her day, she was a pioneering career woman who taught at Columbia University and with many "First female to..." credits to her name. See her wikipedia page here.
This is an altogether more modern book, with a new edition in the shops now. Published in 1976, this version has clear photographs and illustrations, ambitious expectations of what a home sewer can achieve and a good, detailed section on the sewing machine. It even contains some projects you might actually want to make.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-32106
Readers' Digest sewing book from 1976
Sewing machine attachments book The sewing machine attachment handbook by Charlene Phillips, Published by Krause Publications in 2009, ISBN 978-0-89689-923-0

I was going to include a page of attachments and how to use them on this website, then this book came along and did the job for me. Mrs Phillips' attachments tend to be newer than mine but not much newer so the book is very helpful. Mrs Phillips has a website selling obscure feet; www.sewingattachments.com but it is US-based and I've never bought anything from them.
Machine Embroidery by Christine Risley, published by Vista Books in 1961, this book is too old for an ISBN number.

I found it in an Oxfam shop at a time when I wanted to have a go at machine embroidery but thought you had to have a computer controlled machine costing around £1000. I was liberated by a £2.99 book which features pictures of a 15k machine. Ms Risley tells you how to hoop up your work, how to sit at the machine and how to produce embroidery using hand-eye-brain coordination. She does recommend using a treadle or electric machine so you have both hands free to guide the work but this is a guide to cheap machine embroidery! It takes practice to produce slick, professional results but I've been doing this for a while now and I've got better.
Machine Embroidery dust jacket
How to make shirts Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin, The Taunton Press, 1998 Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin ISBN 1-56158-264-6

Mr Coffin is waspish, opinionated and writes sensible, clear instructional English. I love this book. It came along with perfect timing, just after I had worked out how to make shirts that stay tucked in when I wave my arms in the air, an essential job requirement for me. It changed just about everything else about the way I make shirts and now my shirt wardrobe divides into Before-DPC and After-DPC. The After-DPC shirts are the ones that see the most action because they are by far the nicer ones to wear. This book is still in print, 12 years after publication and widely available.
Old Sewing Machines by Carol Head Published by Shire Publications 2004 ISBN: 0-85263-591-5

A slim paperback with many black and white pictures. If you only read one book on the history of sewing machines, make it this one.
Sewing machine history from Shire Publications

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