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For other authors named Alison Smith, see the disambiguation page.

12 Works 558 Members 5 Reviews

About the Author

Alison Smith is a curator at Tate Britain. She lives in London, England.

Works by Alison Smith


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Common Knowledge




As someone just learning how to sew, this book is a great reference to have on your shelf. It's basically a picture tutorial of and I found it great to learn some of the basics and to have as a reference in the future.

I found the section regarding fabrics the most useful and since I haven't gotten to patterns, yet, I cannot review that portion but it seems helpful.
sunshine608 | 3 other reviews | Feb 2, 2021 |
Pandemic (I bought a sewing machine because of lockdown)

Best for:
People who already know how to use a sewing machine (despite the title)

In a nutshell:
Author Smith shares some great detailed information regarding making garments and other items, assuming you know how to use a sewing machine.

Worth quoting:

Why I chose it:
I’m trying to teach myself machine sewing and this book claimed to be a how-to for using a sewing machine.

If this book only claimed to help with patterns, fabrics, seams, etc, it would be a 5 star review. The photos and diagrams are great, the detail seems to be about right. It’s well-organized and easy to navigate.


This book claims to teach sewing machine use. The sub-title literally is “how to use your sewing machine…” The back description says “Discover how to …use a sewing machine.” It does not do any of that. There is one (1) photo of a sewing machine that is basically the same as the diagram in the instruction booklet that came with my machine, where they point out the parts. But there is zero discussion of what the different parts do! What’s the point? What the fuck is a bobbin? There seem to be two places that thread goes through - why? Seriously, how does the sewing machine work?

In a book that is more than 200 pages long, I am baffled that the author didn’t include an additional three or four pages providing even a high level overview of machine sewing. It’s odd - the book both assumes no knowledge of machine sewing (given all the detail provided in all the other sections - different seams, hems, buttonholes, etc.) and yet provides no knowledge of how to use a sewing machine.

Just … what? Why? I’d argue this is a failure of editing as much as the author - someone at some point should have said “hey, if you’re going to market this as a book to teach people how to use a sewing machine, you should include some information on how to use a sewing machine.”

I cannot recommend this book for people who are new to machine sewing, but I definitely recommend it to people who are looking for a good reference book after having a couple years of experience with their sewing machine.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it for once I actually know how to sew - the other parts seem very helpful!
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ASKelmore | Aug 17, 2020 |
I'm a self taught sewist, always looking to improve on my skills and discover new ideas and techniques. I was quite excited to explore the 400 pages of The Sewing Book - "more than 300 step by step techniques. Tools. Fabric. How to Use Patterns. Projects for the Home and to Wear." I happily turned the first page....
DK books excel at presenting information and ideas. The Sewing Bible was no exception. The images presented are full colour photographs. They are crisp, clean images that let you see easily see the details, such as the thickness of different threads and the different types of fabrics. The accompanying information is clear and concise. The layout makes it easy to read.

I sewed a lot of my children's clothes when they were young using commercial patterns. I've never attempted to create or alter patterns for myself, which is something I'd like to try. The section covering this was excellent.

The actual sewing process is detailed as well - stitches. There was a great little pattern for a simple tote bag at the end of this chapter to practice (I have lots of scraps I could use up here!) Subsequent chapters deal with the different techniques of sewing clothes. Again, excellent directions and accompanying photographs. (I preferred these over drawn illustrations.) There are more small projects to practice more skills such as zippers, linings, buttons and more. A small unit on mending was also included. Patterns and an index complete the book.

The Sewing Book is an excellent resource for both novice and experienced sewists. And it's the quality of information and product that I've come to expect and appreciate from DK.
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Twink | 3 other reviews | Mar 18, 2019 |
Encyclopedic, easy to read, wonderful photographs, this is my idea of a perfect sewing book.

DK always uses high-quality photographs, and has sensible sized fonts. I have been looking around for an all-in-one sewing help book, and I have decided that this is the one for me.

It is large, like most DK books, and very heavy, but I think I will put it next to my sewing table, and can imagine referring to it repeatedly. And, as a complete novice to sewing with a machine, it is worth the 36USD to me.
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Critterbee | 3 other reviews | Apr 16, 2018 |


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