Book: Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion With Fabric

I know I’m a bit late to jump on the bandwagon of the third book to be released in conjunction with The Great British Sewing Bee, but I bought a copy last week – no more sneaky free books for me now I no longer sell books 😦

Fashion-With-Fabric-1As everyone else has said, this is the best of the 3 Great British Sewing Bee books – I have all 3 (reviews of book 1 and book 2). This one was written by Claire-Louise Hardie, who is the sewing consultant on the show, runs a sewing studio in Stoke Newington and has a blog and website called The Thrifty Stitcher.

This book could easily be picked up by a beginner and has lots of useful tips, such as what equipment you need:

Fashion-With-Fabric-2.jpgAnd tips on tracing patterns (as you have to do for the patterns included in the book):

Fashion-With-Fabric-3The book is arranged in chapters by fabric, starting with cottons – each fabric type gets a glossary of fabrics within the type and also tips on how to sew the fabrics.

Fashion-With-Fabric-4The patterns included in the book also include variations, giving you many more patterns and also allowing you to develop extra skills in designing your own wardrobe.

The sleeveless shell top has a button backed variation.

There are a few patterns for children, including the shirred dress the contestants made on I think series 1 of the Sewing Bee.

Fashion-With-Fabric-7And it has a variation for adults – yay!

The jumpsuit is kind of okay, if it didn’t have the frill on, though I have the By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit to make, so I’m not sure I’ll make this one. I do like the casual trousers variation, though (as made by Rachel at House of Pinheiro)

Fashion-With-Fabric-9Fashion-With-Fabric-10The kilt pattern is included – I’m not sure my fella would wear a kilt (and he would even less wear cargo shorts or a plain t-shirt, which are the other men’s patterns in the book), but it would be cool to have a go at one!

Fashion-With-Fabric-13There is also a leather jacket pattern, which I found a bit disappointing – I felt like some of the ones the contestants made were better patterns, and in previous books they have included actual patterns made. Oh well, I’ll  have to look for a different leather jacket pattern for that time, probably like 8 years in the future, when I finally get around to making a leather jacket (which I’m not even sure would be my style!).

Fashion-With-Fabric-12There is also the lace skirt pattern in the book. I’d be interested to sew with lace one day, but I don’t really like the idea of a lace pencil skirt for some reason. Not sure why.

In the stretch fabric chapter are a couple of my favourite patterns from the book.

The knit dress with the fold details:

Fashion-With-Fabric-15I think I’ll try to make it more of a straight shaped skirt to make it a bit less 80s, which isn’t really my style.

I also really like the slouchy knit cardigan, and I particularly like the woven fabric kimono cardigan version – the fabric they’ve used is really pretty.

Fashion-With-Fabric-16I’ve got a week off work in a couple of weeks and am planning to MAKE ALL THE THINGS and try sewing with knits for the first time. I’ve been collecting jersey fabric for a while and plan to try a few different patterns to see which I like the most. If course, I’ll probably get about a fifth of what I hope actually made. Does anyone else massively underestimate how long it takes to make things and then get disappointed with your progress in a weekend/ day off? Or is it just me? Maybe once I’ve got more me-mades in my wardrobe, I won’t feel so compelled to make about 100 things at once!? Maybe I need to recreate Sewing Bee conditions to try to make things quicker!?

Book: ReCraft

Have you ever heard of Buttonbag? They make craft kits for children. They’re stocked in John Lewis, and probably a lot of other shops, so you might have seen them around.

On their website they say:

“Buttonbag is a young innovative company breathing new life into old crafts by updating them in a fresh, contemporary way….

Our lovely craft kits are designed and made in the UK using a range of beautiful fabrics, wools and trimmings. We endeavour to source everything as close to home as possible and the vast majority of our kit components, including all our packaging, comes from the UK.

Importantly, each craft kit contains everything needed to make the finished item. Sewing kits have needles, sticking kits have glue and toys that need stuffing have stuffing.”

They have also written a book! Actually 2 books (BoyCraft has just come out and aims to get boys into making things!), but the one I’m going to talk about is called ReCraft. A friend of mine bought it for either my birthday or Christmas (I can’t remember, I’m getting old!) a few years ago and I looked through the whole book immediately and straight away had loads of ideas of things to make and re-make.


There’s some really great ideas for making toys out of old jumpers – I especially like these whales! As anyone who has known me for a while will know, I have a bit of a thing about whales! ReCraft-3There are great instructions for each project, with clear illustrations, which I think make it quite child-friendly. Also beginner friendly!

ReCraft-4There are some great ideas of things to make out of old shirts, if you happen to have any lying around. Or their super easy to pick up at charity shops.


and cushion covers
ReCraft-6There are also some non-sewing makes in the book, like these scrabble magnets or lego clock (an alternative to a vinyl record clock, perhaps a good present for a boy?).


There are several things in the home section that I definitely want to make – I’ll get around to it one day! There’s a vinyl record clock in there, like the one I made. I love the dachshund draft excluder, which is made from an old pair of men’s trousers.
ReCraft-9I also think the little owl door stops are really sweet! They’re made from an old jacket.

ReCraft-10Another make made from an old jacket is this cute little bag

ReCraft-8Having read recently on Portia’s makery blog ideas for t shirt yarn, I feel more enthusiastic than every about giving t shirt yarn knitting a go – ReCraft has a very simple idea to make a rug, which I think would be good for a first experiment, but then the world is your oyster – depending on how easily you can get hold of old t shirts!

ReCraft-11 Do you ever find that even if you don’t manage to make any projects from a particular book, you still find them inspiring? I definitely do! I think also it means I have a list of possible projects in my brain when searching charity shops for bargains! Have you used any Buttonbag kits? I’m thinking they would be good presents for the kids in my life when they’re old enough!

Book: Colette Sewing Handbook

After making a couple of Colette Patterns (Violet Blouse and Laurel Dresses 1 & 2), I thought it might be nice to review the Colette Sewing Handbook. I know this book is now quite old, but it’s relatively new to me. I got this book for free via my old job in a bookshop – a perk I definitely miss! I didn’t get it for free to review here, though.

Colette Handbook 1The book is like several sewing books I have (it’s an addiction, what can I say?) in that it takes you from knowing absolutely nothing about sewing and teaches you all the basic techniques and equipment, through all the things you might need to know until you can make some clothes, and with some patterns included.

The tips pages include:

Tools and SuppliesColette Handbook 2Hand stitchesColette Handbook 3Editing for your style (like Coletterie’s series Wardrobe Architect)

Colette Handbook 4Choosing fabric
Colette Handbook 8The patterns included are in an envelope at the back of the book:

Colette Handbook 12

Meringue Skirt – the book has some good tips for how to deal with scallops.

Colette Handbook 5Pastille Dress – there’s a whole mini chapter before this pattern on getting a perfect fit, including a sway back adjustment, which is something I always mean to do as I have a narrow back and curved posture.

Colette Handbook 7Truffle Dress

Colette Handbook 9Taffy blouse

Colette Handbook 10Licorice dress

Colette Handbook 11
I think the only one of the included patterns which is even vaguely my style is the Pastille dress, which I’ll try to make one day, when I’ve made all the other patterns on my list…. Does anyone else have loads of patterns, from books, and from companies, which you want to make, but never have the time to, and yet you keep buying more? And more fabric. Always more fabric! Has anyone made any of the patterns from this book?

Anyhoos, the things I like about this book are that it’s spiral bound – this might seem silly, but I’ve made a couple of aprons from the first GBSB book and trying to keep a non-spiral bound book open while trying to read the instructions is frankly a pain in the arse, so spirals are good. I also have found the instructions on the Colette patterns I’ve made really clear to understand, so I have high hopes for the fitting tips being useful. Do you have this book? What do you think? Do you have any other favourite sewing books? The new Great British Sewing Bee book is definitely on my list!

Book: Great British Sewing Bee 2

So I know I’m way behind the times, since the series has been over for weeks now, but I’m sharing the second Great British Sewing Bee Book with you today. I got a copy free from work (one of the perks of working in a bookshop is not only cheap, but sometimes free books!). I think I enjoyed the second series of the Sewing Bee a bit less than the first, partly because I felt like some of the challenges were hard for the sake of being hard – but maybe they had to do that as they can’t make the same things in every series. And although I enjoyed the no pattern week, it kind of irritated me that it was a bit Project Runway and that I would imagine the majority of home-sewers do use patterns always.

Anyway, these were small niggles, and the patterns that come with the book are pretty good – and you get printed pattern sheets with this book instead of having to print and stick the downloadable ones like with the first book.

I think the first book had a pencil skirt in, but I prefer the one in this book. Maybe I’m just drawn to the pink and the spots!?


I really love the 1930s blouse that they made and have it traced already to make!


I also thought the baby dungarees they made were really sweet, and I was so glad the pattern was included in the book. I have already made these for my nephew (who turned 1 the weekend before last!). I’ll be posting the full details later in the week.


I also love this bowling shirt – it seems quite rare to be able to find a bowling shirt pattern. I think it could also double up as a Hawaiian shirt pattern – I have some gorgeous, genuine Hawaiian fabric that I desperately wanted to make into this shirt, but there’s only about a metre and even with a contrasting collar and cuffs, I can’t get the pattern pieces to fit, boo 😦


I’m thrilled that they included the pattern for Tamara’s 1960s coat! I would definitely not use the same fabric as her as that stuff looked like a bitch to sew with, but I really love the 60s and this coat is a really nice shape. I’m determined to make a coat at some point, so maybe this will be the pattern?


Book: Love At First Stitch

Love-At-First-Stitch-1 I’m sure if you follow any sewing blogs, you will have heard about the release this week of Love At First Stitch by Tilly Walnes from Tilly and the Buttons. I was lucky enough to get an early (and free!) copy from the publisher – there are some perks to my job! As I’m sure everyone else has said, this is a really lovely book – both beautifully produced and filled with brilliant tips and some lovely patterns.

Love-At-First-Stitch-2The book takes you from total beginner, making a scarf, via pajama bottoms, skirts, a blouse through to a pretty party dress, teaching you all the techniques you need as you progress through the book. There are little sections between the instructions to teach things like putting in a zip, and help fitting patterns to your measurements:


If you already know how to sew, then this book is still for you as the patterns are lovely and have a 60s-style vibe, which fits in with things I like to make and wear.

I especially love the Mimi Blouse (and have already cut one out – just need to find time to sew it together!):


The other brilliant thing that Tilly has done is to show you how to customise/ alter the patterns to your own taste/ style, like this Mimi variation with contrast collar and piping:


I also love the Megan Dress:

Love-At-First-Stitch-5and the Lilou Dress is definitely on my list of patterns to make.


And I love, love, love, the variation with a scalloped neckline:


To celebrate the online launch of the book, I made the Brigitte Scarf, which is the first pattern in the book. I made it double-sided, with some stripey fabric I have earmarked for a laurel dress. I cut the pattern 9cm x 60cm, compared to the original size of 15cm x 65cm. I shortened it because my paper was 30cm long and I changed the width because the pattern should be folded in half lengthways (then turned around the right way), but because mine was 2 different pieces for each side, I halved the width and added another 1.5cm seam allowance.

The stripes go lengthways:

Brigitte Scarf 1

And they go across the scarf:

Brigitte Scarf 2