Book Review: The Great British Sewing Bee

Are you ready for the new BBC show that will have you glued to your TV??
From the people that brought you The Great British Bake Off, tonight the debut of The Great British Sewing Bee will be at 8pm on BBC2 here in the UK.
The first of the four episodes shows the Contestants make an A-line dress, alter a top and create a made-to-measure dress.

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the book from a friend of mine and have been looking over it for a couple of weeks.  It is available now from most book shops (We have a few copies at Sew Crafty) and on Amazon.

This book is Gorgeous! Underneath the dust-cover it has a hard cover reminiscent of some of the vintage sewing guides that my mum has in her collection. It is filled with beautiful photographs and jam packed with great sewing tips and tricks.

There are 28 projects to have a go at with varying degrees of difficulty. Each one is well described and illustrated. 18 dressmaking projects and 10 homeware projects give the book a nice balance. The projects are well executed and as I said, beautifully photographed.

Aside from projects, it has a few historical insights including the origin of the term 'Sewing Bee', there's a great section on tools and stocking your sewing box too.

There is also a great section on choosing the right fabrics for your projects, I always find these sections a little difficult to read, as a person who sells fabric for a living, but for the first time in a long time, I agreed with their advice and it seemed a pretty comprehensive list. I also really liked their section on understanding a pattern, again they covered all the basics that we try and help our 'new to patterns' customers with at Sew Crafty.

The basic tutorials for techniques like invisible zips and making bias binding are clear, well photographed and easy to follow.
As an experienced sewer I found myself itching to get my sewing machine out! It was inspiring and well presented, with a lot of really useful information, quite a rarity in the craft book market. The projects are achievable and the fabrics they have chosen to use for the photographs for each project are all really pretty, the apricot polka dot (crepe de chine?) fabric they have used for the Tea dress is just yummy!
You can tell that Tessa Evelegh (the Author) loves her subject matter, she writes in such a way that engages a new sewer, without patronising an experienced sewer like myself. It is straight forward without being too simple, not missing any detail out. This book is as good for those starting out as it is for those wanting to improve their craft. It's been a while since I have picked up a craft book that made me mark pages in priority order of which project to do first!

I am really looking forward to seeing which of the projects they have to tackle in the show. 
We have been aware of this show since the call for contestants went out last Summer and been waiting eagerly in anticipation since then to see what the show was going to be like. When Claudia Winkleman was announced as the host I was jumping up and down (massive girl crush). It made me wish I had had the courage to go up for the show myself! (season 2...maybe?)

A show like this for me and the industry that I work in and love is untold as yet, but as far as I am concerned it can only be a good thing. To heighten the image of Sewing and to let people into the secret joy that sewing, dressmaking in particular can be is just wonderful.  I am glad that the BBC saw the potential in a 'sewing version' of the Bake Off and let the formula that worked so well for that show influence this one. I can only hope that what people saw in that show they see in this, that sewing is not just about making things cheaper than in the shops, but that making something with your own two hands that is unique to you is special.

When reading this article about the show on the Daily Mail Website I found this quote from one of the shows judges, the yummy Patrick Grant:

‘There are certain things in life that are inalienable facts: we need to eat and society dictates that we have to wear clothes every day,’ says Patrick. ‘Most people can manage some kind of cooking, but the fact that nobody knows how to make clothes is very sad.
‘Human beings naturally enjoy the process of making things. There’s a creative gene in all of us, whether it’s for baking or sewing or something else. When we’re children we make things all the time, but when we become adults we spend most of our time on a computer.
‘It would be nice to think people could get back into the skill of sewing; it’s not just about making new things, but also reinventing old ones. All you need is a bit of enthusiasm and someone to show you how to do it.’ 

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Sammy xxx

4 comments:

  1. Just watched the program on the bbc iplayer and I am so happy to see people making things and that it is available for all the people to see. Totally agree it is not about how cheap this is - it is all about how personal is what we wear and how the big cheap industries damage this, I hate shopping for clothes because all the things I like are soooo expensive and all the cheaper things are same that everybody else is wearing, so good point on trying to save the skill of making clothes for ourselves or at least altering the garment to our own needs... cant wait for the next one :)
    and thanks to your post I might have to get the book too ;P

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  2. it was good wasn't it!

    I loved the fact that it wasn't all people who have been sewing for life and that they all did different projects.
    H

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  3. Lovely review!

    My daughter was the stylist for this book (though not the front cover). It was pretty cool to watch the show and see how it ties in with the book. I sew, but haven't made a garment since my early twenties. This has really inspired me to get my act together and start making clothes again.

    Barrina xx

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    1. Aww Barrina,

      Your daughter must have had lots of fun styling the book - lucky girl!

      Lots to keep us busy and get us all doing more projects again I think!

      H

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Thanks for your comment. We do read them all and appreciate the support <3
H and Sammy