Review and giveaway: The Essential Sewing Reference Tool by Carla Hegeman Crim

Editor’s note:  The winner of the giveaway is commenter #86, Michelle, who said….

“How awesome is this book!  Blind hems are ny downfall, for some reason I can never remember how to do those on the machine no matter how many I have done.  And bed quilt sizes…I never remember how much fabric I need and end up having to re-calculate at the store.”

Review and giveaway: The Essential Sewing Toolkit by Carla Hegeman CrimCarla Hegeman Crim, The Scientific Seamstress, has a new book out!  It’s called The Essential Sewing Reference Tool and it is exactly what the name suggests – a go-to sewing reference book.  (Anyone else totally geek out on reference books?)

If sewing is a new hobby for you, this book can help you make sense of all the new sewing jargon, techniques, and tools you’ll encounter.   Or, if you’re a more experienced sewist, this is a great resource for when you need a refresher on a technique you don’t use as often.  It’s also chock full of charts of standard measurements and conversions you might need if you’re making a project without a printed pattern as a guide.

A quick look at the table of contents shows sections for tools and supplies, stitches and seams, materials, edge treatments, zippers, buttonholes and buttons, home décor, sewn accessories, garment making, size charts (very useful info, especially when sewing without a purchased pattern, and without child around to measure), and number conversions (decimals to fractions, yards to inches, yard to centimeters/meters).

There is so much information packed into this book!  For example…

If I was wondering what type of elastic I should buy to use in an elastic casing, I could find the answer on pages 16-17.  There, I’d find out the differences between elastic types (woven, knit, braided) and style (nonroll, fold-over, buttonhole, lingerie, sport, clear, and elastic thread).  FYI: A nonroll knit elastic would be a good choice for this application.

Or, suppose I was making a skirt and wanted to use French seams because they look nicer and don’t fray, but the pattern I was following didn’t call for any special seam finishes.  I could turn to page 27 and see how to make a French seam.

Or, maybe I’m making a blanket for a child’s bed, to give as a gift.  I can look at page 72 and find out the dimensions of a standard comforter.  The same table gives dimensions for coverlets and bedspreads, and the section explains the difference between all these types of bedcovers.

In the home décor, sewn accessories, and garment making sections, you can find instructions for basic sewing projects, like a pillow cover or a simple gathered skirt or a set of napkins and placemats.

With so much information literally at your fingertips, The Essential Sewing Reference Tool would make a great addition to any sewists’ library!

Want to know what others think of this book?  Check out the earlier stops on the blog review tour:

Monday: The Southern Institute

Tuesday: Pattern Revolution

Wednesday: Imagine Gnats

Thursday: Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!

Friday: Modkid Boutique 


Happy news! I have a copy to give away!!  (You can also skip the suspense of the giveaway and just buy yourself a copy here.)  To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here telling me one sewing technique you always need instructions to do.

I’ll choose one answer at random as the winner.  Deadline for entry is midnight CST on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

Good luck!



  1. Ginger Benedict says

    Started sewing again now that I have granddaughters. There are so many new and improved techniques, gadgets and machines I need all the help I can get.

  2. thia Beniash says

    I know the basics of sewing. My daughter and I would love to learn more, like reading patterns and how to do corners better. This book would be super helpful! Thanks for the chance!

  3. Jo Ann says

    I have been sewing every since I was in high school (decades ago)for myself, my children and now my grandchildren but I still struggle with zippers!

  4. Heidi G says

    I love Carla! Her patterns are the best, and she is always helpful with sewing know-how. Elastic thread is my enemy, and buttonholes are my terror, so I always need help with them.

  5. ChrisTea says

    Wellll … I don’t sew very much but I’d love to win this book for my daughter. She’s into alot of creative things and does alot but she still runs into things that stump her when she’s sewing. Not long ago, she declared war on a zipper. lol. Thanks for the chance to win for her.

  6. Susan Samuel says

    Sewing kick pleats at the back of skirts and dresses always leave me searching for the instructions.

  7. Reggie w says

    My biggest problem is when I’m sowing something weather a blanket or scarf or clothes I seem to have huge probems casting off and then trying to come back on. No matter how many times I’m taught.

  8. says

    Blind hemming.

    That’s the first one that comes to mind, but there are others–I’m a slap-dash, haphazard kind of girl so anything meticulous is tough!

  9. Amy McDonah says

    I need to look up everything but making a straight stitch! I am a new seamstress and I need help!

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