Vogue Book Review – The Vogue “Sewing Bible”

When I was in high school, I remember learning about “the canon“.  No, not those things that go bang and kill people, (that would be a “cannon”) but rather the list of historical and important books in the English language that has pretty much defined Western Civilization.  The list contained great and ancient works like Beowulf as well as more relatively modern tomes like “To Kill a Mocking Bird” and “The Catcher in the Rye”.

The list was originally mostly dominated by male authors, but in recent years, more female authors have been included with works like “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen and “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf .  Like me, I'm sure many of you read these back in high school too, but I'm not really sure if they still teach these classics today.

In any case, while I don't think it has yet been done, if sewing books were to have a “canon”, Vogue Sewing would be at or certainly near the top of the list.

Vogue Sewing
Vogue Sewing, Revised and Updated paperback 2006

Vogue Sewing – Revised & Updated Edition 2006

Vogue Sewing is the ultimate go-to guide for sewing enthusiasts, like me, who are eager to explore their creativity through the use of new techniques and incredible couture ideas. This is the revised edition of an absolute classic which was originally published in hardcover in 1970 and has been an institution in sewing since then.  New editions of the book were released several times since then with the most recent update put out in paperback in 2006 which is what we will be reviewing in this article.

Now, the 3rd edition published in 1975 edition has been a staple in my bookshelf since it was passed on to me by my aunt back in the day, not at all gathering dust, I referred to it on so many of my special occasion and couture projects that it was actually becoming a little doggy eared. Needless to say I was super-excited when I ordered the revised edition, with its updated project ideas and time saving tips.

book review
The Vogue Sewing Book, Hardcover 1975 by Patricia Perry

This all-encompassing how-to guide focuses solely on fashion sewing, aimed at allowing you to create clothes you can both wear yourself and sell. Covering beginner, intermediate and advanced techniques, you’ll find yourself referring back to it no matter how well versed you are. Owners of the seventies editions have reported their delight at the newer editions, while maintaining that to this day they still make use of their originals.

With comprehensive multi-step instructions and great updated illustrations, this masterpiece is jam packed full of information.  Everything you’ll need to know, from choosing your machine and determining your figure type and pattern size, to advanced couture techniques and interesting creative touches. To be honest, it’s something of a sewing bible and considering it’s unquestionable value as a sewing reference, the price is extremely reasonable!

The Vogue Sewing book will teach you all about hand and machine techniques, setting up mannequins, introductions to different kinds of fabrics, collars, sleeves, bodices and skirts.  Comprehensive construction basics covered in the 450-page book include darts, pleats, tucks, binding, collars, cuffs and pockets, just to name a few, even a full section on color, prints, textures, proportion and balance.

Vogue Sewing
Vogue Sewing, Original 1970 Hardcover Edition

Chapter 8 is all about Advanced Pattern Alterations, not just an overview but a full 30 page section covering tailoring of dresses, skirts, bodices, pants and fitting as you sew, there’s also a detailed section on mending. This has been a fantastic resource for me with prom and wedding dress alterations, any project that’s finicky and might require a little extra know-how.  There’s even an invaluable chapter on fabrics which require special handling. By the end of this read you’ll be familiar with every type of fabric and design you need to become a successful home seamstress.

What sets this book apart from other sewing guides is its focus on sewing as an art form. It will get you past the basics to the point where you can begin to really express yourself through your designs. How many beginners buy a sewing guide in the hope of being able to make clothes that truly express their sense of style, only to find that they need to buy an extra 3 books to really get the hang of more advanced couture techniques?

vogue sewing
Vogue Sewing Quick Reference

Vogue Sewing is a must-have reference book for any seamstress, regardless of her skill level and as such, comes highly recommended.  The publishers have even produced a handy quick reference that is spiral bound and covers all the essential topics in one small and less expensive package.

If you're interested in getting this book, some used hardcovers with the original slipcase almost being given away on Amazon.  Keep in mind the book focuses on women’s fashion, but with a level of detail that will make it a staple in your fashion sewing library.  Honestly, I can't see how any aspiring sewist would not want to have one of these foundational books and I'm sure many of you already have it.

If you do, let me know if you have anything to add to this book review in the comments below.  Also, check out our other book reviews to beef up your sewing library!


The internet archive has a free digital scan of Vogue Sewing. It is a slightly older addition, and you do have to sign up for an account, but it is a great resource if you want to read an original edition without having to buy. Once you make an account you can click “Borrow for 1 hour” for as long as you want to read.

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Linda Fraser
Linda Fraser

When studying Fashion Design at college this book was a prerequisite textbook we had to buy. That was 40 years ago (yikes!!) and I’ve been sewing ever since (although not as a career, switched to graphic design so I could make a living!). I must say I’ve rarely used it. It sits on a shelf in my sewing room and it’s in perfect condition as a result 😉 HOWEVER, now that I’m older and my body has changed I’ve gone back to it as a reference for altering store-bought patterns and am finding it very useful.

Mayra Cecilia
Noble Member
Reply to  Linda Fraser

The book is full of valuable information and will never be whipped off the internet—a huge plus. I love books!


interesting post. I own the 1970 and 1975 edition of Vogue sewing.