If you are one of my readers who admire my work but have never even looked at a sewing machine you must must must take a look at Stitch by Stitch, a new sewing book by Deborah Moebes of Whipstitch.
That being said, I myself as non-beginner found a tremendous amount of info in this book as well. There were a couple techniques that I was doing incorrectly in which Deborah walked through properly and also some terminology that I had never heard of before.
But as I said, it is a great book for beginners. Through simple projects you gradually learn to sew using new techniques with each new project. Along the way, you get answers to questions like 'what is a fat quarter' anyway? And I know a lot of you have been asking for a bias tape tutorial. This book has a great one!
There is a whole section about your sewing machine. A lot of sewing books assume you know the ins and outs of your machine. Stitch by Stitch assumes nothing and takes you by the hand, eliminating the intimidation of all those knobs and dials. It also discusses important but easily overlooked advice like tension and how to hem curves (I know a couple of you have had questions about this).
You know when you're watching Project Runway and the contestants are using a strange gadgets you've never seen before? THIS BOOK HAS THOSE! The tools section was divine! Deborah discusses which are essential, which are good to have and which are just fun to have around.
The fabric section is also quite useful and I think it gets overlooked by a lot of beginners. When I first started sewing clothing I had no idea what I was doing in JoAnn's. I bought bottomweights for blouses, batistes for unlined skirts. As long as it was on sale it ended up in my project. I definitely recommend beginners read this section thoroughly. It will go a long way with results.
Starting from a fancy napkin, readers work their way up to a-line skirt variations with all the patterns provided on a CD in the back of the book. I actually loved the reversible tote bag project and could make a hundred of these. Deborah actually has some good advice on how to make a hundred. Well, maybe not a hundred but she does have advice on how to sew many quantities in a shorter amount of time, great if your a prospective etsy seller.
Don't be intimidated by zippers and buttonholes any longer!