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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 31 March 2014
I love the range of patterns in this book, and have made a few already. However, there are a lot of mistakes, none of which are dealbreakers for me (so far), because I don't tend to follow pattern instructions. However, given that this book is made to accompany a series that may be introducing newcomers to sewing, I think they're pretty unacceptable.

They range from missing notches (the shift dress pattern), to really bizarre instructions (the bound buttonhole instructions for the coat make no sense - they suggest adding them in the second-to-last step using a method that doesn't finish them on the inside of the coat. Also annoying things about the photography, for example the book never shows how the simple T-shirt should look on a person, the main photo obscures the neckline which means that like the other reviewer, I ended up with a massive thing that fell off my shoulders! A lesson to always measure the pattern pieces and make a muslin!

I still think it's excellent value for money in terms of the number of patterns provided, but the instructions, mistakes and poor proofreading leave a lot to be desired, which means this book is actually not that fit for purpose if you consider its target audience of non-experts. A shame.
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on 3 April 2013
I am an experienced sewer and was delighted when the TV series and book came out.
The book is fabulous both for beginners and experienced sewers alike with lots of clear instructions and useful tips.
However I would have happily paid more to have paper patterns for all the designs included. There was just one paper pattern included in the book for a simple top.
I downloaded the patterns I wanted only to find that the pattern for the back button blouse was missing from the list of available patterns.
I decided to make a pair of pyjama pants for my partner and printed off some 30+ pieces of A4 paper which then took over an hour to piece together. When i came to cut the pattern out I found that the markings were incorrect. I doubt that I will make the items I want to because of the effort (plus ink and paper) required to make the patterns before sitting down to actually sew.
I think that this is a great shame as the designs look lovely and I would like to make them all.

Do not let this put you off - if you have the ability to produce the patterns yourself I would certainly recommend that you give it a go. Personally I found it too challenging to accurately piece the patterns together, and would have preferred to either find the actual paper patterns inside the book or even to send off and purchase them separately.
The book itself is fabulous .
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on 19 February 2015
As an experienced dressmaker and crafter who has now started teaching people to sew, I am dismayed by this book. It is difficult to follow and the pattern sheets are a disaster. Better to have 5 complete patterns than 5 sheets of criss-crossing pattern pieces! There is no real "tie-in" between the book content and the patterns - the connection is not clear in many instances. The pattern sheets are not labelled, so I had to spend half an hour sorting out which items were on which sheet. All in all, not good enough.
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on 21 March 2014
I have now bought both books for the sewing bee programmes. Love the TV programme but the book! How do you know what the patterns are - they don't tell you unless you look at the pattern sheets. Very poor instructions too with some mistakes. Do they not test the instructions and proof read?? There are much better books out there
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on 28 April 2014
I was very excited to buy this book as The Great British Sewing Bee has re-invigorated my desire to make my own clothes (not done much more than make curtains for the last 20 years!) and even have a go at adapting patterns and, if I'm really brave, creating a garment without a patterns at all. I hoped the book would help me in this.
There are some good tips, but I am only on page 40 and have spotted many mistake/errors/omissions.
For example, in the chapter on Fit there is a reference to "Stitch the shell" when, unless I missed it, we have not been told what a shell is.
And in the hemming section, under curved hems, I think a few sentences have been missed out. The text reads "...Cut along that line. When you get back to the beginning fold under the remaining end so that it aligns with the seam line". This makes no sense at all! Only after re-reading several times and looking at the diagram did I work out there is a step mixing about applying the bias binding to the cut edge. I have been sewing for years and this threw me. If I was new to dressmaking I wouldn't have had a clue!
This is a real shame as on the whole the book is good and the TV series was inspiring. May and Patrick clearly know their stuff and so should be more careful in putting their names to a sub-standard publication.
At the very least could the BBC and/or Quadrille Publishing review for errors (sewing construction errors not just typos) and publish errata online?
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on 5 April 2014
I've never been moved to write a review, until now...this is a case of a book rushed to print far too quickly without proff king reading or indeed, reading by anyone it seems. I'm a competent sewer and either do not understand or find mistake so far in many examples. Eg.the right/wrong side of the fabric is sometimes 'wrong' with text/diag not matching. I think I've found a cut and pin (page 40, item 1?) mixed up: disastrous! I was given this book, a purchase by my mum through Amazon, a delightfully accepted pressie as love the BSB and wanted a book like this. But please- check (by sewers, not proof readers who don't see sewing mistakes) before you print , BBC, and include more photographs! Disappointing.
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on 1 April 2013
In April 2013, the talents of some of Britain's top amateur needlesmiths were televised in series one of 'The Great British Sewing Bee'. Through this book to accompany the series, judges May Martin and Patrick Grant hope to encourage viewers to pick up their thimbles and thread their needles. This substantial hardback volume contains sections on getting started and basic skills, before taking the reader through 28 complete sewing projects. There's a glossary, a dictionary of fabrics and a handy index at the back of the book. The authors also also offer a few glimpses at the history of sewing in Britain along the way.

After a brief introductory section, 'Starting to Sew' takes the reader through the process of stocking a sewing box, using a sewing machine, understanding paper patterns and finding fabrics. 'Basic Sewing Skills' then outlines how a project should be approached, and offers a detailed guide to the following tasks: tacking, handstitching, sewing and finishing seams, shaping and contouring, gathering and easing, inserting zips, applying bias binding and making buttonholes. Each section is accompanied by some good, clear photos to help the reader understand each process described.

Thus equipped, we are ready to move on to the most substantial section - the 28 sewing projects. A full-size pattern for the tunic is included in the back of the book; all the rest can either be downloaded, printed and pieced together, or photocopied and enlarged, or redrawn from the illustrations in the book. Each project comes complete with a 'button rating' for difficulty - 1 being the easiest, 5 the most difficult. This rating is indicated in brackets in the list below, so that you can get a feel for the scope of the projects available.

Tunic (2), Pyjama Trousers (1), Button-back Blouse (3), Floor Cushion (2), Edge-to-edge Jacket (3), Pencil Skirt (2), Summer Dress (4), Laundry Bag (1), Basic Curtains (1), Circular Skirt (2), Tea Dress (2), Girl's Dress (2), Tie Cushion (1), Cook's Apron (2), Prom Dress (4), Window Panel (1), Hacking Jacket (5), Bow Tie (1), Camisole (3), Boyfriend Shirt (4), Patchwork Throw (1), Roman Blind (4), Basic Dress (2), Waistcoat (3), Tote Bag (2), Blouse with Collar (2), Butcher's Apron (1), Ruffle Cushion (1).

On the whole, I think the book is well-presented. It provides good, basic information for novices, whilst at the same time being a handy reference for sewers with a little experience under their belts. Not all the projects interest me, but there's a decent enough range on offer, and between them they test a variety of essential sewing skills. On a practical note, all of the patterns for women's clothing are supplied in UK sizes 8-16. The men's waistcoat is available in UK sizes S - XXL, but no other measurements are offered, which might make it a bit tricky to get a good fit. I'm a little bit disappointed that there are no tips on mending, altering or embellishing garments, which were covered in the TV series. I also think the publishers missed a trick by not tying more of the projects in with the expertise of the contestants on the show - after all, they provided great inspiration to make, do and mend!

This review refers to the hardback edition of 'The Great British Sewing Bee' published in 2013 by Quadrille Publishing.

I've also added some extra notes here on the various projects listed in the book, in case readers are interested:


- The simple project shown was the 'Laundry Bag' (p.112). The fabric used was 'Verbier Grey' by Marson. The same design is also available in beige or green.
- In the dress challenge, Stuart made the 'Summer Dress' (p. 120). The fabric used was 'Chinese Lanterns' by Amy Butler.


- The simple project shown was the 'Tie Cushion' (p. 151).
- In the blouse challenge, Tilly made the 'Button-back blouse' (p. 91).


-The simple project shown was the 'Basic Curtains'.
- In the jacket challenge, Lauren made the 'Hacking Jacket'.
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on 21 February 2014
Love that they have included all the patterns this time, even if slightly muddled on the 5 pattern sheets. This means that even those without access to the internet and a printer can make the items. It is also very logically ordered giving much advice about fabrics, fit and finish. Like the master classes from May and Patrick too. Definately worth the money for the patterns alone.
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on 9 July 2014
I loved watching the sewing bee and eagerly awaited the arrival of the book. I too am an intermediate sewer, and tried the men's casual shirt pattern. Although I followed the instructions very carefully, there was a mistake in the pattern itself (sleeve) and the design of the shirt meant that the collar looks unfinished. Really disappointed :(
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on 2 July 2014
I am guessing that all of the five star reviews are from people who haven't actually tried to make anything in the book. It may look the business and does have some handy hints and tips for beginners, but the patterns leave a lot to be desired. That is assuming you have got past the first hurdle of transposing them and sticking bits of paper together to make them.
I confess I am a beginner, but this book is enough to put you off for good, every thing I've made has been wrong, from the pencil skirt with the bizarre tiny waist, to the tea dress with the enormous shoulders and the boyfriend shirt with the too small collar, shoulders and armholes. If it wasn't for the other reviews from more experienced sewers I would've thought it was me at fault and have been even more depressed about it.
So if you take my advice, don't waste good time and money making these clothes, buy a nice pattern from Simplicity etc with the safe knowledge it will work.
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