Friday, 1 May 2015

Book Review: The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric

Okay so as usual I am last to the party but since I have only seen another couple of reviews of this book in the Blogosphere then I thought it was about time that I chucked my 2p in about the latest offering from the "The Great British Sewing Bee - Fashion with Fabric", written by Claire Louise Hardie and with a foreword from both May Martin and Patrick Grant.

Right from the start I liked this  book way better than TGBSB Book 2 (I don't own Book 1). It is a nice hardback tome with, like the second book, a separate boxed section for the patterns which are supplied on sheets.

The book is well printed on good quality paper.and amply illustrated with a mixture of illustrations and colour photos. 

It is split into a beginning part with basic sewing and fit information and several sections each dealing with a featured fabric  (Cottons, Wool and Other Animal Fibres, Stretch Fabrics and Luxury Fabrics) with patterns designed to be sewn from each. As you can see, the patterns are actually a good mixture of fairly easy to quite advanced. 

The focus of the patterns are mostly womenswear with a couple of patterns suitable for children and men including a kilt, although the sample illustrated could do with a bit of a tweak in my humble Scottish opinion. All the designs are quite fashion-forward, actually pretty wearable and the shots of each design are nicely styled. For each featured pattern they also provide a hack idea to make another garment modified from the same pattern.

The patterns themselves are printed onto good quality thick paper and are nested onto sheets which need to be traced like Burda but are less crowded. They all come with seam allowances and are quite clearly marked and easy to find.

I have not finished it yet but I have traced out the "Silk Tee", done with my usual two tons of alterations and sewn it up bar the zip and hems. I have been looking for a top like this that I can use as a basis for hacking into other styles once I have finessed the fit.

The huge plus for me is just that - the sizing goes up to a size 20. The finished garment measurements are supplied so it makes it easy to see if a pattern will be suitable and how much grading you would need to do to get things to fit (Answer: for me none. Just some FBA's and on some patterns nothing at all. I will have to size down). I am delighted that the author/publishers took on board all the comments on the last two books and made the sizing more inclusive. While I know that a 20 is not venturing far into the world of bigger sizes it is a start. Patterns like the "Drapey Knit Dress" and the "Vintage Inspired Blouse" have a lot of ease so you could definitely fit into them if you were a size or two bigger.

So if you are thinking of adding another sewing book to your groaning shelves then this would be ideal.Especially if you are looking to take your skills a little further and try some designs that are a bit more advanced, whilst still having a good reference to hold your hand when you are doing it. The styles are modern, there are a lot of options and the tracing is not too bad as the pattern sheets are nice and clear. In my opinion, better than taping up lots of paper sheets from print at home patterns.

So did you buy this book? If so, what did you think? Have you tried any of the patterns yet? Did they turn out okay?

Hope that you are having a nice week.

K xx

Just in the spirit of disclosure I must add that I purchased this book myself with my hard-earned loot and all opinions expressed in this post are very much my own.


  1. What a comprehensive review with clear pictures - Sew helpful! Thanks xx

    1. Thanks Josie. I was surprised by just how much I liked this book and how many of the patterns I can see myself sewing. It was only a tenner from WH Smith so I think that it will turn into quite a bargain as there are three definites that I will be making. I am glad that I bought it which I wasn't with the second book. xx

  2. Looks and sounds good. "How to..." books are helpful for a novice like me, but only if the patterns included are things I want to make, so I'll have to take a look. xxx

    1. There are some good ones out there. This one isn't bad, some nice modern patterns and NO bunting. :) Don't think that you class as a novice. I loved your beautiful yellow dress. Definitely channelling two of my style icons, Margo and Yootha. Xx

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Edwin. I am sorry that you find sewing difficult these days. I am in awe of your beautiful crochet. The blankets on your blog were gorgeous. Xx