The Great British Sewing Bee, the book!

Bee bee… hello world, have you caught the sewing bug already? Oh yes, sewing it’s on prime time TV and I wasn’t about to miss it just because I was 5988 miles away on holiday. 
This post isn’t to share my views of the program just yet but to share my views of the accompany book. 
Oh yeah! this beauty was waiting for me courtesy of Crafty Magazine. To win a copy, just pop on their blog and answer “who is the presenter of the program”! Easy Peasy “Claudia Winkleman” squeeze! 
LOl Not that I have any intention of squeezing Claudia, my eyes (and virtual crafty hands) are on Mr Grant.
I love books, specially ones that instigate me beyond inspiration by bringing technical knowledge.
The Great British Sewing Bee book share glimpses of the contestants and their projects, however the value of this book is beyond the series. 

It’s really a solid knowledge builder, with clear step by step explanations. Novices may need additional advice as explanations assume some prior knowledge on the more complex projects.
It starts with a guide of tools and some british historical facts about sewing.The design of the book is contemporary with approachable language. It tries to communicate with total beginners. 

I get very excited when I see non technical terms. So comforting to read the explanations without having to look at the glossary. Same approach when they explain how to choose fabric with few practical steps. No excuse to feel lost around the fabric shops now.
The book has a reasonable selection of fabrics explanations giving readers ‘fabric user friendliness meter’ from very, easy, moderate and tricky to use. It also cover basic sewing skills, work station preparation and my favourite subject.. ‘Pressing’.
One of the things I struggled the most when I was a beginner was looking at the puzzle pieces in front of me and know where to start. I’m glad the book start to share some light on construction order.
Projects are a mix of home projects and fashionable garments. Sometimes I get put off by projects that don’t appeal to my aesthetics losing the opportunity to learn something. Not the case with this book. Great garment patterns!

My biggest let down is the men projects. I always struggle to get good project ideas for hrh and he wasn’t impressed.

The projects are classified by difficulty and range from UK size 8 to 16. Another small let down. The average UK clothe size is 14 ( in inches bigger than sewing size 16). 
Printing cost of patterns in tissue may be the main reason many publishers avoid having them printed large scale and there is only one printed pattern behind the book. For the other patterns they need to be either downloaded online or taken to a printer to have it enlarged. If you have humongous patience you can grade/ scale with dressmakers squares.
Managed to download the patterns without a  hitch, the only thing it’s that you need to sign up your email and name for every download. 
The 500% enlarge options intrigued me. On twitter I “heard” people considering that printing in A2 would be the same hassle than printing at home.Visiting a printshop cost me £ 10.50 for one ready to cut pattern.  (£8.50 + vat). The Mathilde Blouse would cost £7 with all instructions and the simplicity pattern can be bought for less during sales. 
At least we know it can be done. 500% enlarged pattern.
I cannot finish this review without saying good lucky to all contestants.Review of the program after the last episode!
Ps. No idea how they could sew with handsome Patrick around… I would be giggling like a school girl all the time.. Don’t tell hrh!

Check the String laundry bag tutorial, part of the book available online.
This review is that last leg of the The Great British Sewing Bee blog tour promoted by CraftyMagazine. For previous reviews:Teasemade, Peas & NeedlesHandmade JaneDid You Make That? & My Happy Sewing Place 
  • That’ve bought the book too and love the style of the garment patterns! Have downloaded them all but haven’t tried printing yet!
    bought it in Tesco for £10 which was the cheapest stockist I found.
    Looking forward to trying out a pattern 🙂


  • That sounds like a strange move on behalf of the publishers, really.
    Maybe it’s a book to whet the appetite of the potential sewer… but the publisher knew that over 50% wouldn’t ever pick up a pair of scissors or dust off the sewing machine and the book would remain coffee table reading, for eternity!

    I don’t know… but thanks for the lovely review

    Bundana x


  • My local WH Smiths had the book for £10, which I just couldn’t walk away from. I agree with your review and am really enjoying reading the book. I did have to take the dust jacket off though, I found it far too “busy”. The inner hard cover is far easier on the eyes, even without Patrick and May.

  • I would not be able to help myself if I found the book for £10. But I have resisted knowing it does not come with patterns, this is a real let down, as I know I will probably not want to print everything out, so much like extra work!

  • Rachel, thank you for the excellent review of the book, I have already been thinking about purchasing it. It looks fantastic. And the show is wonderful, I have really enjoyed the 2 episodes thus far.
    When you talked about the sizing of the patterns.. How does this relate to USA sizing?

    • Hi Judy, they are UK sizes. Im not sure if the book sold in USA would convert to US sizes.

  • The book looks lovely, I had a squint in my local tesco but I’m going to wait until pay day before purchasing a copy!
    The men’s projects do seem weak which considering there are two male contestants they could have at least tried a bit harder. Good review though 🙂

  • I’ve been entertaining ideas of making my own clothing for ages, with patterns dating back to the 80’s & just a couple of things to show for it – oh & a hoard of lovely fabric to play with.

    This programme may be just the push I need to actually get going & make the dream a reality, use up my stash & get a whole new wardrobe! I love it & would also love a copy of the accompanying book!

  • Thanks for the review, the book looks good, but I definitely couldn’t mess around printing out or photocopying patterns.
    Patrick reminds me of ‘Mr Selfridge!!

  • I agree re the projects. Very often what puts me off similar books are the choice of projects (including, I’m afraid to say the Colette Handbook, although I bought that anyway). I am very fussy!

    Is the printing out any different to buying PDF patterns (e.g. Tilly’s ones?). i’ve seen a lot of negative comments around this – maybe they are just from people who normally hate printing any patterns?

    • Besides the ready printed pattern. the downloadable PDFs from the book are exactly what you get on a PDF pattern,