Essential Sewing Reference Tool by Carla Hegeman Crim – Book Review + Giveaway

The Essential Sewing Reference Tool: All-in-One Visual Guide by Carla Hegeman Crim captures in a single volume answers to our what-is-this and how-do-I-do-that questions we often ask ourselves while sewing. Whether you’re a veteran sewist or new to the craft, this handy all-in-one guide covers the nuts and bolts of sewing tools and techniques with easy to follow instructions, illustrations and photographs.

I was excited when Carla contacted me about the book she’d written. I knew she was the perfect person to author this type of reference guide. The first time I sewed a Sis Boom pattern (Carla authors the patterns and instructions for Jennifer Paganelli’s designs) I was really taken with the ease of construction and thoroughness of the illustrations. Carla has a knack for knowing where we’re most likely going to need a little visual assistance and there always seems to be the perfect illustration to explain it. The Essential Sewing Reference Tool is written with same quality curation for detail.

The book includes the following sections:

  • tools & supplies
  • stitches & seam treatments
  • ruffles & bias tape
  • zippers & buttonholes
  • sewn accessories
  • home dec
  • garment making
  • sizing charts for all ages

Within each of these sections are detailed visuals including charts, photographs and illustrations. What I like most is the level of detail Carla shares. Following is a great example. Whenever I use this method to create bias tape it’s a complete mystery to me how to determine the size of the fabric piece I need to begin with in order to create the quantity I’m going to need for the project. Generally, I create WAY TOO MUCH because there’s no way in heck I want to do it again and not have enough. This chart is genius!

The Home Decor section is fabulous. It includes detailed instructions for making the basics like pillows, pillow cases, a comforter, bed skirts, curtains and table linens. We don’t buy patterns for that kind of stuff and have to figure out the dimensions and material needed ourselves. Charts with sizes and yardage requirements are included. Again, brilliant! And I like math. I just don’t like making math mistakes and coming up short on this type of project.

Carla has written a thorough and well curated reference guide. Both sewing veterans and new sewists will appreciate the trusted and detailed content contained in the book. The Essential Sewing Reference Tool is sure to be a long-time friend on your sewing room book shelf.

Discover more about Carla on her blog The Scientific Seamstress.

Sis Boom and Scientific Seamstress downloadable patterns available in the shop.


Stash Books provided me with a review copy of this book and is also offering a copy for giveaway (international winners will receive an e-book).

Leave a comment sharing what sewing technique you’d like to understand better.

I’ll draw a winner next week.

Happy Sewing! Kathy

87 Responses to Essential Sewing Reference Tool by Carla Hegeman Crim – Book Review + Giveaway
  1. Kamala
    March 8, 2014 | 8:34 am

    The home decor sounds very useful to me, since I’d like to make curtains and bed linens. Thanks for the giveaway

  2. Machelle
    March 8, 2014 | 9:02 am

    I would really like to learn how to add piping. Every time I have attempted it is an epic fail! This looks like a great book thanks for sharing.

  3. Cindy Gillis
    March 8, 2014 | 9:22 am

    I need to learn more about using presser feet!

  4. Elizabeth Johnson
    March 8, 2014 | 9:54 am

    So many I need to learn just to make a simple dress! So I could really use this book! I follow the author and she is very talented!

  5. Darcie
    March 8, 2014 | 10:32 am

    I’m really excited to see Carla’s takes on all these techniques. I have older books with some of the same information, but it’s always nice to get a fresh perspective. And I like how scientifically Carla looks at sewing!

  6. Diane @ Vintage Zest
    March 8, 2014 | 11:15 am

    Just getting patterns traced and cut out correctly every time. I can’t stand when a pattern piece seems to have warped before I even start sewing!

  7. Sandy
    March 8, 2014 | 11:38 am

    I would like to learn how to make the perfect buttonhole.

  8. Lisa E
    March 8, 2014 | 11:43 am

    Zippers and buttonholes! This book looks fabulous.

  9. Mom C
    March 8, 2014 | 12:34 pm

    I’m working with my grand daughters to help them learn how to sew. It would be wonderful to have the entire how-to manual right there. I can show but my explanations sometimes leave something to be desired. Thanks.

  10. Linda L.
    March 8, 2014 | 5:15 pm

    Buttonholes are what I need help with.

  11. Jan
    March 8, 2014 | 6:31 pm

    How to sew on piping and buttonholes are two things I need help with. This book sounds like something every sewing needs in their library. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

  12. Cecilia
    March 8, 2014 | 6:37 pm

    I would like to learn how to make piping on chair cushions.

  13. Jody
    March 8, 2014 | 8:11 pm

    I’d love to know more about how to fit patterns properly to my body shape

  14. Cindy Dahlgren
    March 8, 2014 | 9:27 pm

    I need to learn how to use interfacing, and what the million types are for. I want to learn garment sewing, but it’s tough when you don’t understand the words.

  15. louise
    March 8, 2014 | 10:08 pm

    This book looks fantastic! the sizing charts are interesting! I really want to sew for myself this year, so it would be helpful!

  16. MelodyJ
    March 8, 2014 | 11:13 pm

    I want to learn tailoring.

  17. KnitCave
    March 9, 2014 | 3:04 am

    I would love to learn the best way of spacing button holes so that there is no gaping and setting in sleeves.

    I still have so much to learn and looking at your review it certainly looks like a book for me.

  18. Annettr
    March 9, 2014 | 6:20 am

    Piping and buttonholes are on my list.

  19. Terry
    March 9, 2014 | 6:42 am

    Finishing. I’d love to know the tips of how to make handmade items not look homemade

  20. Karen U
    March 9, 2014 | 7:54 am

    I would like to become a master zipper installer. I know how to install zippers, it’s just that they finish looking homemade instead of handmade. Thanks!

  21. Gwen
    March 9, 2014 | 8:17 am

    I would like to master button holes. Thanks

  22. Melanie
    March 9, 2014 | 11:25 am

    I can’t tell you the number of times I have read various instructions on how to put in a zipper and I have tried many ways. Most of the time it turns out alright, but I feel as though I have to learn the technique all over again every time I need to put in a zipper. The book sounds great and I always so enjoy your reviews, so thorough and insightful. Thanks!

  23. Lisa Eck
    March 9, 2014 | 12:20 pm

    I want to master piping and bias tape. Every time I try it they don’t come out nicely.

  24. Beth
    March 9, 2014 | 12:22 pm

    I’d like to learn about buttonholes.

  25. Amy C
    March 9, 2014 | 12:53 pm

    I am pathetic at true 1/4″ seams. I can now adjust my machine needle but I still struggle to make a 12.5 x 12.5 block when I am supposed to! I guess practice will make perfect??

  26. Penny
    March 9, 2014 | 5:13 pm

    I really need to learn more about making curtains. Love the giveaway

  27. Barbara J
    March 9, 2014 | 8:08 pm

    Fly zippers – haven’t made them yet. They do intimidate me a bit.

  28. Deb E
    March 9, 2014 | 8:48 pm

    I would like more info on correctly making buttonholes so they look more professional.

  29. KellyS
    March 10, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Most sewing techniques are intimidating to me if I haven’t tried them before. That being said I finally tried zippers and found they are not too bad. I still freak out I will sew through my finger while installing them, but at least the fear is a little less than it was before I tried. I haven’t tried pipping yet, and Y-seams are still a bit hazy to me. Thanks for the chance to win!

  30. Teri McInerney
    March 10, 2014 | 7:22 am

    I’d like to learn an easy way to make perfect miters, however, Serger tips are a close second!

  31. Wendy
    March 10, 2014 | 9:13 am

    This book looks awesome!

  32. Rachel Horton
    March 10, 2014 | 1:19 pm

    Looks like a great resource!

  33. KimberJ
    March 11, 2014 | 11:21 am

    Are there any time saving tips for piping on chair cushions?? Help!

  34. Angela Newman
    March 12, 2014 | 4:19 pm

    I need to learn more about interfacing and also zipper installation on slippery fabric.

  35. Michele
    March 12, 2014 | 6:28 pm

    My daughter, 26, has finally expressed an interest in sewing. Oh, Happy Day! This weekend, I am taking her one of my ‘extra’ machines and a few basic sewing supplies. This book sounds like it would be a perfect reference for her – especially since I am 7 hours away. Thx!

  36. gina
    March 14, 2014 | 6:52 am

    my granddaughter wants to learn to sew this would be a good guide to get her started sewing using proper tools and learning the terms.

  37. Donna
    March 26, 2014 | 5:13 am

    Zippers can baffle me. I would love o learn a consistent method for successful zippers.

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