by Michelle:

Every now and then, someone will ask where I learned to sew. The truth is, I’ve always been someone who throws themselves into learning new things, and once I got started with sewing it quickly became an obsession. I’ve watched online courses, read reference books, attended short courses. I’ve also picked up lots of little tips and techniques along the way from countless sewing blogs, vlogs and Instagram posts that I sadly now can’t properly credit because I didn’t really note them down as I went.

However, here’s my attempt at a shortlist of helpful resources on what I think are the three main topics for an amateur dressmaker such as myself: sewing, fitting, and drafting. And now that it’s on the blog, I’ve got somewhere to link interesting blog posts for future reference too, so do check back from time to time!


Reference Books
  • For absolute beginners, try Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes. This was the book that got me started!
  • Vogue Sewing
  • Tailoring: The classic guide to sewing the perfect jacket
  • Couture Sewing Techniques, Claire Schaeffer
  • The Complete book of Sewing
Online courses

These, and many other, sewing courses are available on You will need to either pay for individual courses, or sign up to a monthly subscription that allows you to watch their online courses (unlimited!):

  • The Couture Dress, Susan Khaljie
  • Couture Finish Techniques, Alison Smith
  • The Essential Guide to Sewing with Lace, Alison Smith
  • The Essential Guide to Sewing with Sheers, Sara Alm
  • The Essential Guide to Tailoring (series), Alison Smith
  • Mastering Construction (series), Sara Alm
  • The Iconic Tweed Jacket, Lorna Knight
Live courses
  • Professional Sewing Techniques, London College of Fashion. See my review here.
  • Aneka Truman of “Made to Sew” has a great collection of video tutorials of common sewing and drafting techniques.


Reference Books
  • The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting, Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
  • Fit for Real People, Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
  • Pants for Real People, Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
  • The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, Sarah Veblen
Online courses

Again, these are all on

  • Jacket Fitting Techniques, Pam Howard
  • Pant Fitting Techniques, Sandra Betzina
  • Custom Fitting: Back, Neck & Shoulders, Kathleen Cheetham
  • Custom Fitting: Waist & Hips, Kathleen Cheetham


In my opinion, you can learn lots of the basic techniques you might need to draft your own patterns (for your use) or hack sewing patterns, without going to fashion school or taking professional level courses. Will you be drafting high-end couture garments on that basis? Maybe not. But can you learn to draft garments you want to wear, from your basic block, that way? I have! Below are some of the drafting resources I’ve referred to over the last few years.

Reference Books
  • Patternmaking for Fashion Design, Helen Joseph-Armstrong
  • Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear, Winifred Aldrich
  • Pattern Drafting for Fashion: The Basics, Teresa Gilewska
  • Fashion Patternmaking Techniques (series), Antonio Donnanno
  • Freehand fashion, Chinelo Bally, is an interesting basic introduction to drafting and sewing without using paper patterns.
Online courses

Again, on

  • Patternmaking and Design (series), Suzy Furrer


Online courses

Again, on

  • Drawing Fashion Flats: Designing Construction Details, Laura Volpintesta – this has really helped my sketching/design process for self-drafted patterns and pattern hacks, and made it easier for me to visualise ideas by sketching them on a croquis.