Essential Sewing Reference Tool: Review and Giveaway!

This giveaway is over.

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Congratulations to Laureen, the winner of the Essential Sewing Reference Giveaway!

When I started sewing for real, about five or six years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing. I had never taken a class, never had a mother or grandmother that had taught me any sewing skills, and never really read or seen a book on how to sew. I just found some online tutorials for making simple skirts and pillowcase dresses and started there.

I wish this book had been available to me back then!

Essential Sewing Reference Tool review by

I’m so honored to know the author of the Essential Sewing Reference Tool, Carla Hegeman Crim, aka The Scientific Seamstress. She was a wonderful addition to the Sew Fab Pattern Sale last fall, and (you didn’t hear it here), but rumor has it she’s returning to the Spring Sale. She is a dynamo in the sewing world and to say that this book is a reference book does not do it justice!

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The Essential Sewing Reference Tool covers everything you need to know about sewing in 130 pages (PDF version). Never sewed a stitch in your life? This is the book for you! You say you’ve been sewing for years? This is for you too! I guarantee you will learn something new! For instance, I’ve been sewing for several years and I have never really paid any attention to thread weight… until now. Lookie there! There are numbers assigned to thread weight. How did I not know this?

Essential Sewing Reference Tool review and giveaway by

The photography in the Essential Sewing Reference Tool is top-notch; it’s just beautiful. It’s a visual guide as well as a reference guide, which is what makes it such a handy book to have, and trust me, you NEED this book. There is information on ways to finish seam allowances, every hem you can think of (including one I had never even heard of), how to make your own bias tape, and so much more. I particularly find the Garment Making and Sizing Chart sections to be very helpful!

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I can’t say enough great things about this book because if I told you all of the awesome things about it this post would go on forever and you would leave me.

Plus we’d never get around to the giveaway!

That’s right! I’m giving away one copy of the Essential Sewing Reference Tool. Just leave a comment for me telling me one sewing skill you’d like to improve and you’re entered! Don’t forget to include your email address so that I can contact you if you win.

*International winner will receive a PDF copy, Domestic winner will receive print copy.


  1. Amy Renea says:

    WHICH sewing skill??? ANY sewing skill please! I am a make it up as I go but I wish I knew what I was doing type:)

  2. Kellie Snyder says:

    Ok, so I don’t know if this qualifies as a sewing skill, but I’d love to have more ‘guts’ to try new things. I’m pretty good at the things I know how to do (which isn’t a whole lot), but I’m always scared to try something new. When you get down to it, that’s kind of silly because new things are basically just building off of the skills I already have (and am good at). :) I just hate messing up. The book looks awesome.

  3. Sara says:

    I would like to learn how to make my garments look more professional and less homemade. []

  4. KellyS says:

    I heard there was a tutorial for manual buttonholes. I need to learn that. I rely on my auto buttonhole way to much. Plus piping and invisible zippers would be nice to learn.

  5. Sara Johnson says:

    I would like to improve my zipper insertion skills.

  6. Merav Ruthman says:

    Thanks for the great review. I totally need help with my gathers-separating the folds from my gathers.
    Can’t wait to read the book :)

  7. Courtney says:

    Bias tape. I want to make my own without burning myself. And buttonholes. Buttonholes make me so nervous that I actually have 2 dresses completed with just buttonholes to do and I’ve avoided it for WEEKS.

  8. Nancy Carr says:

    I have never totally mastered putting in zippers. They just frighten me to begin with. Would love to win the giveaway. Blessings

  9. I need to get better at ruffles. I also need to learn how to do a collar. I don’t think I’ve ever done one.

  10. I would really love to learn how to sew zippers! I’ve done one and it was a bit nerve-racking. I could definitely use the practice!!

  11. cara moore says:

    my mom started me on plastic canvis when i was about three. then i moved on to printed cross stitch and then counted cross stitch and i can remember doing simple projects on her old Kenmore machine when i was 6 or 7. By the time i was in highschool home ec. i was practically teaching the other students in the class but i am still learning new things from Carla’s PDF patterns. I would LOVE to have the book!

  12. Beth says:

    I would like to know how to alter patterns for different sizes/shapes

  13. Carolyn says:

    Using bias tape. Not sure why I have challenges with it, but I do.

  14. Brenda Melahn says:

    I would like to learn to add piping without “falling off” the edge in spots.

  15. Jody p says:


  16. Debra White says:

    Everything!!! Returning to sewing after 30+ years & there are soooo many changes. Zippers, buttonholes, etc.

  17. melle e says:

    LOL! Does *all of them* count as an answer?

    I’d love to conquer my fear of trying new things. I don’t have anyone close that sews, so everything I’m learning is on the fly… and off of youtube. LOL.

    A book like this… with pictures and words.. well. let’s just say half of youtube does me NO good. I don’t learn that way. :( But I do learn very well by reading. :) So this would be invaluable for me.

  18. Susan says:

    I would love to improve on working with bias tape. Right now , I am pretty sure it is my number one sewing nemesis.

  19. Latoya says:

    bias tape making :)

  20. Fran Bellas says:

    Knit and zippers are two things that I have not done. Both are on my list to try. I have two girls and am amazed at why how I have gotten away with avoiding them for this many years!

  21. Rachel says:

    I would love this book to help with zippers! So far I have only inserted a couple and they are less than perfect :-) Thank you so much for the chance to win!

  22. Rachel says:

    Wish I was better at sewing knits. They’ve always scared me a little bit so I avoid using them.

  23. Andrea M says:

    I would love to figure out sizing AND figure out how to sew with knits (without threatening to throw the machine out the window).

  24. Beth T. says:

    I would love to be brave enough to work with zippers. So many great patterns require zippers. If I mastered zippers, I’d be well on my way to making those darling bags and pouches everyone else seems to be creating. So–zippers it is.

  25. Heidi says:

    Zippers, especially on bags. And I’m nervous about sewing knits. They drove my mom crazy, and I’ve clearly inherited her aversion.

  26. Zippers are my nemesis :(

  27. kim m. says:


  28. I would love to learn more about all different feet for the sewing machine.

    jachelno at gmail dot com

  29. Natalie Doyle-Hennin says:

    I’m with the first poster who said “any sewing skill,” though learning to be more precise and adjusting my machine would be wonderful skills to learn.

  30. Flavia Pais Gaspar says:

    Must overcome my fear of zippers and shirring!

  31. I think I need a refresher course on button holes. I would also like to learn how to make a lined jacket so any help there would be great. Thank you for the giveaway.

  32. jane d says:

    I’d like to learn blind hemming using my sewing machine!

  33. Paola Phillips says:

    I am terrified of zippers so I’d like to learn a bit more about them

  34. Zippers scare me so I would love to become more confident sewing with them.

  35. Ellen M. says:

    I would love to learn how to make my zipper installation look more even and professional. This looks like a fabulous book – thanks for the chance!

  36. Shannon h says:

    Zippers!! I guess practice would make them better but they make me so nervous. Thanks for the awesome give away!

  37. Virginia says:

    I’d like to try rolled hem on silk

  38. Cathy Enders says:

    I used to sew most of my wardrobe but it became very challenging to get a good fit, so I stopped. Really would like to learn how to do a better job of choosing and fitting patterns for myself.

  39. Caroline says:

    I have been sewing for years but would love to know more about linings and zippers :)

  40. DeNae Dvorak Stewart says:

    I wish I would get better skills at putting in zippers, and putting ribbed knit for neckbands and cuffs around the arm holes

  41. Bridgette says:

    Inserting invisible zippers! Would love to get better at that.

  42. Jennifer Callahan says:

    Zippers! I avoid them like the plague and I want to learn them.

  43. I’d like to improve upon my invisible zipper skills. :)

  44. Brooke says:

    I would like to learn more hand sewing techniques.

  45. Kristy says:


  46. Leigh Knox says:

    I want to learn to sew.

  47. I really need to work on my zip skills. I’d love to know how to do all the different zip insertions.

  48. Leah says:

    Zippers would be my area to improve in. I can do them, but I could do better with them. :) Thanks for doing this giveaway.

  49. Amy Stanfield says:

    Um, I have no sewing skills (well I can sew a button…ahem) so anything would be a vast improvement on my current status. If I don’t win this book, I’m happy to know of it’s existence. Yay for sewing help!!

  50. gale melton says:

    there are different types of thread besides Heavy Duty! I had no idea!

  51. Keisha Jackson says:

    I’ve been crocheting for a couple of years now ( self taught with utube tutorials) so I thought I could teach myself to sew the way. Not so. I took a sewing 101 class a week ago that was 3 hours long. I now have a beautiful tissue holder for my purse! I want to combine sewing skills with my crochet skills to create beautiful pieces. I have so much to learn! I would love to win this book to give me a solid knowledge base and have it at my fingertips at all times.

  52. Definitely zippers!!! They always pucker up at the end!!

  53. I would like to improve on my serging skills

  54. Abigail says:

    button holes.
    mine never turn out right

  55. Kimmi says:

    I want to know how to tailor my own clothes.

  56. Gwen says:

    I would like to improve my dart skills.

  57. barbara n says:

    I have always had difficulty with zippers….I guess I just never learned how to put them in right!

  58. Laureen says:

    I’d like to improve my serging skills. I’d also like to learn more about adjusting patterns to better fit me, I mostly just wing it, but having a proper game plan would be sweet. I also need to learn what all these feet are for… my sewing life would probably be made a little easier if I used more than one foot to do EVERYTHING.

  59. Ajaire says:

    From what I’ve seen in the reviews of this book I think it could help fine tune ALL my skills! I would love to win a copy :)

  60. Deb says:

    Ha ha – I’d like to work on all of my sewing skills! I took a class and did fine but on my own, I am a mess and just give up. Perhaps the snazzy book would help move me along. :-)

  61. audrey f says:

    would love to get better at making garments fit me better, darts, taking measurements etc.

  62. Allison P says:

    sewing zippers!

  63. I waited until age 37 to start learning to sew. I need all the help that I can get!

  64. Kerrie says:

    I would love to learn how to do zippers. Presently, I am too chicken to even try!

  65. Mary Jo says:

    I know the basics but just enough to do repairs and simple sewing. I would love to learn more about my machine and the attachments so I would be more onfident to tackle patterns for myself.

  66. Angela Newman says:

    I need to learn how to tailor patterns to fit my peite frame better! And installing zippers on slippery fabric, no problem with cotton but they never look nice of slippery fabric.

  67. gina says:

    better fitting for my granddaughters clothes

  68. Mary Kay says:

    I would to improve my sewing abilities when it comes to making dresses. How to make it fit my target correctly would be a big help. And tools I would love to learn more about the tools I need.

  69. Allie says:

    I NEED to learn and understand the how and why of tension, stitch length, and how thread weight and fabric material all work together. Then I might not throw my daughters’ dresses halfway across the room

  70. Pam hunter says:

    Overall skills, as well as accurate cutting, accurate quarter seams … oh, just accurate sewing!!!!! :)

    Thank you for the chance to win!


  71. Jess says:

    I’d like to improve my seams (always look a little crooked). And I’d like to learn how to use the buttonhole feature on my sewing machine! Haven’t tackled that one yet.

  72. Oh, wow! I would love to learn to sew a zipper that isn’t ugly and wonky! Thanks for the giveaway and the book review!

  73. jamie says:

    I would love to learn how to attach zippers.

  74. Amy G. says:

    I’d like to learn how to sew skirts well instead of just tiny craft projects.

  75. Jenny WH says:

    I’d like to learn more about how to use stabilizers and interfacings.

  76. Becky says:

    Buttonholes, ruffles and zippers, oh my! Definitely buttonholes, zippers and ruffles!!

  77. Nadine says:

    The skill I would like to improve is using knit (no stretch)!

    Thanks for the contest.

  78. Laureen says:

    Wooo hooo!!! I’m SO excited about this! THANKS!!!


  1. […] Monday: The Southern Institute Tuesday: Pattern Revolution Wednesday: Imagine Gnats Thursday: Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! Friday: Modkid Boutique  Saturday: Craft Gossip and on Sunday the 16th of March, the tour will wrap up here on the blog!  You can also buy a copy of the book on Amazon in paperback or Kindle form! / […]

  2. […] The Southern Institute Pattern Revolution Imagine Gnats Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! Modkid Boutique  Craft Gossip Today is ANOTHER chance to win the book !!!! (hard copy if in USA, ecopy for international).  To enter all you need to do is leave us a positive comment!  Anything you want, but if you want a starter idea you could say what you’d love to learn from the book or what you love about the Scientific Seamstress brand? A winner will be picked on the 19th of March (pst).  If you don’t want to wait any longer you can buy this amazing reference tool on amazon either a hardcopy or Kindle version! The Essential Sewing Reference Tool: an all in one visual guide […]

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