New Book: Great British Sewing Bee Fashion With Fabric

Great British Sewing Bee Fashion With Fabric BookThe third series of The Great British Sewing Bee is well under way, and the past few episodes have seen the participants pit their wits against different types of fabrics, from simple hard-wearing cottons, through structural costuming materials and onto the sometimes daunting world of feather-light sheer fabrics. As with previous series, this third outing for Patrick, May and Claudia as ringmaster is supported by an accompanying book.

I was a great fan of the book that accompanied the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee as it contained all the information I needed to really get started on the road to sewing my own clothes – from good, clear information on fabrics and tools, through fantastic information on how to read and use sewing patterns and guide to garment construction; seam treatments, invisible zippers, use of interfacings, etc, and importantly all of the pattern pieces to make the featured garments.

This book features many of those same qualities without being repetitive. Some information is expanded upon, some is given new, and the all new set of pattern pieces and accompanying garment instructions cover new skills and ideas. The pattern pieces are, as last time, clearly given on good quality pattern pages for tracing.
Great British Sewing bee Fashion With Fabric Sewing Pattern Sheets - contains five double-sided sheets in total to create 30 stylesThe pattern pieces for 30 garments are given over 5 double-sided pattern sheets. The pattern pieces overlap to save on paper, but are very clearly presented for tracing: easily identified by the different colours used for printing which makes copying the patterns very simple.

Womens garments are given in standard pattern sizes 8 through 20, with a similar range of sizes given for men, dependant on garments type, and measurements for children’s patterns vary on the style and age range the garment is intended for, but overall there is a good range of sizes on offer.

The book is divided into fabric types and qualities, as has the series this year. Chapter One focusses on cottons, the second on wool and other animal fibres, followed by stretch and luxury fabrics making up Chapters Three and Four respectively. Whilst much valuable information is given in the 40 pages leading up to the first chapter, each of the fabric-type specific chapters gives a wealth of information on both how to work with the materials covered, best practices, materials and tools, plus the skills needed to carry out any new pattern elements, such as working with boning in corsetry, in the luxury fabric chapter.
Corsetry and Boning in The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion With Fabric book
Whilst some patterns stand completely independently, others are given as variations on a theme, where modifications to a garment are given to show haw a pattern may be adapted to create a quite different style or look. The adaptations are given as extensions to pattern pieces, which is helpful in allowing the sewer to garner a little confidence in changing commercial patterns to suit their needs, or perhaps how to combine pattern pieces from different sources to create a different look (such as when I combined two patterns last year to create my Von Trapp dress, which I also made from curtaining fabric… I must have been ahead of the curve on that one…)

Eskimimi Makes Von Trapp Dress
These pattern adaptations/modifications are given as ‘hacks’ for some reason. I don’t like the term ‘hack’ – it sounds imprecise and brutal, and has a ring of onomatopoeia about it, as if a medium-sized dog is trying to choke up something stuck in its throat and make a mess of your carpet. Obviously a larger dog will make more of a ‘hrock!’ sound, so only medium-sized dogs will hack, that ugly sound. If I think to hack something that is not a computer (and that’s rather unlikely) I would expect to do so in a frenzy, and with an axe.

Patterns can adapted, modified, with vision and style to make them more suitable to the sewer, or give a new and unique twist to the style. These are planned, envisioned changes, and this book gives a small insight into how these modifications can start to be imagined and carried out, allowing the sewer not to hack at a design, but enhance it. I really don’t like the word ‘hack’ in this context, but let’s leave it there – the underlying concept is sound, and positive.
The Great British Sewing Bee Book Fashion With Fabric Leather JacketOverall, this book seems slightly less concerned with achieving the perfect fit in comparison to the first volume (and they make great companion volumes because of this) and some of the designs have a much more relaxed fit with simple details – though some, such as the semi-fitted Leather Jacket above, would push the skills of many amateur sewers.

One of the patterns that I most look forward to attempting is the Walkaway Dress. This is a version of a dress from the 1950s that was covered in the first episode, sized for modern western sewers.
The Great British Sewing bee Walkaway Dress Fashion With fabric BookIt was mentioned in the episode that this dress became a great blogging favourite some time ago, due to the challenge posed by the dress’ name and aim – that you could start cutting the pattern in the morning and walk away wearing it in the afternoon.

I’m not feeling up to tracing, cutting or sewing anything at the moment, so the idea shall have to be one that I sit on for a while, but whilst I do I have plenty of skills to read up on as I work my way through the ideas and tips in the book.

Note: The opinions expressed in this review are my own, I purchased this book with my own scrimped pennies.

Update: Here’s a fun little reply tweet from the publishers:

Shades Of Sunshine Sweater

The yellow striped sweater with kangaroo pocket is complete and off the needles. Isn’t she pretty? The majority of this sunshine-y wonder was knit, if you remember, by Jen of JenACKnitwear. I can take no credit for anything other than a sleeve and a half. I knit the remaining sweater over a day and a bit, between dozing spells, and it was as gentle and relaxing as sleeve knitting should be.
Where I struggled a little was when it came to blocking the sweater. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to actually go through the washing, removing of water, towels, pinning, shaping  and care that it needed. Most of these steps involved bending down, or putting my head down in some way, and this is one of the circumstances in which I have been finding myself light-headed and faint (and I did faint again on Sunday and have injured my face/head somewhat – which is one of the reasons that I probably wont have any pictures of me wearing the sweater for a couple of weeks at least, but I will share them when I do!).

I think I finally got the sweater blocked last Thursday or Friday, and it was worth the effort. The yarn has bloomed ever so slightly, and the plump, uniform stitches are soft and gorgeous. The sweater is knit in no less than six different graded shades of yellow yarn, starting at the top with the most extreme pairing of dark and light and ending at the bottom with the two middling shades. It took a while to figure out the stripe placement and where each colour changed to match the sleeves to the body, but through careful squinting, judgement and counting of rows between Jen’s deftly woven in ends, I think I have it right, and nobody will study the stripes as much as I have done, anyway.

I think my favourite thing about the sweater is when I wear it out it will always warm me not only with its soft and comforting fibres but also with the friendship and care that this was given to me. I think Jen knows how much this has meant to me – I hope so anyway.
The good news is that I feel a bit more confident and happy in things now. It’s still difficult not being able to get out and about. The only place I visit is the doctors, and that’s not exactly a bundle of laughs, so it feels quite isolated being stuck in bed, sometimes worried to move too much as I’ve been weak and dizzy, which brings around nausea and feeling faint. Plus I know I have to look after myself as I gave Mr Awesome a bit of a scare when I passed out the other night (and on his birthday, no less, the entirety of which he spent caring for me, rather than the other way around). So it’s lonely, but at least I now can click my needles together between naps.

I’ve got a few ideas in my head at the moment, but I think that all and any ideas will take a while to find fruition at the moment, but with hope anyone who is patient enough to stick with the blog’s current intermittentness will see some bright and cheery things soon.

Bargain Project Alert: Narwhal & Whale Yarn Sale & Free Shipping Worldwide


The yarn to knit my new Narwhal and Whale patterns (Sublime Lustrous Extrafine Merino DK) is on sale for only £1.95 a skein today with free WORLDWIDE shipping using the code FREED when buying from Loveknitting and spending over £5. Find the yarn here: Sublime Lustrous Extrafine Merino DK

The Narwhal & Whale pattern is also available from Loveknitting or via Ravelry

It’s at a bargainous price, and is a lovely yarn to enjoy. You only need a skein each for the bodies of the whale a narwhal, and a little of a third skein for the Narwhal’s amazing twisty tusk, or you could use a small amount of stash yarn. The Sublime Lustrous Extrafine Merino DK is a soft and silky joy to work with, with added subtle shimmer which makes this pair look as if they are truly underwater!

Grab that bargain quickly, as it ends today!