As stated in the introduction, "This book is for all sewers who want high-quality machine stitching, finishing, and embellishing without headaches, whatever their level of expertise." The book is an excellent reference and should not be considered as having value only to those interested in heirloom sewing.
Ms. Ahles covers such basic topics as fabric preparation, thread, needles, presser feet, stabilizers and tension, among others. She encourages sewists to maintain sample notebooks of their favorite techniques that include fabric swatches, presser feet used, stitch width and length, tension adjustments and any other information required to produce excellent results. Chapter 2, Easy Ways to Achieve Precision in Your Sewing, alone is worth the price of the book, discussing cutting and marking techniques and creative methods for guiding your fabrics to the needle.
Each chapter ends with a few frequently asked questions that expand on the topics discussed. Realizing that the same stitch might be given a variety of names by different sewing machine manufacturers, each stitch mentioned is diagrammed in the sidebars. The sidebars also include tips such as "Some machines have more than one feather pattern. The feather pattern with a straight stitch down the middle is usually the easiest to learn.
Aside from the wealth of how-to information, Ms. Ahles makes it clear that home sewists need not settle for mediocre results, when today's sewing machines are capable of so much more. The book encourages you to challenge your machine and yourself to achieve beautiful results.
Chapter 1: Getting the Best Results
Chapter 2: Easy Ways to Achieve Precision in Your Sewing
Chapter 3: Decorative Edges and Creative Applique
Chapter 4: Twin Needle Stitching
Chapter 5: Hemstitching
Chapter 6: Replicating Vintage Lace and Entredeux Techniques
Chapter 7: Fagoting
Chapter 8: Hemming and Re-hemming, Plain or FAncy
Chapter 9: Narrow Hemming
Appendix A: What to Look for in a Sewing Machine
Appendix B: Machine Settings for Decorative Techniques
Appendix C: Caring for Your Sewing Machine
PaperBack or HardBound? Paperback (199 pages, including appendices).
Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs? Yes.