Monday 6 April 2015

Read it - TGBSB: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

I love books. If anyone asks me what I want as a gift, nine times out of ten I'll point them in the direction of a book I've been lusting after, usually on Amazon. My poor billy bookcase is straining under the weight of the multitude of sewing, knitting, gardening, cookery and history books I have collected over the years.

The Butterfly Balcony Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe
That shelf is definitely sagging under the weight of all those words.

Having such an extensive library and not a lot of space, new arrivals have to earn their place upon my shelves. When I buy a book I like to know exactly what I am getting, if it's going to contain patterns then I want to know exactly what patterns! Oddly this is not always so easy to find out, most reviews and online stores only show you snippets of what's included, a taster to whet your appetite but not necessarily inform you as to what is inside. I find this frustrating so I've decided to do a few quick reviews of some of the books I own in an effort to help those of you, who like me would rather have the full picture before making the decision to add this book to your collection!

Seeing as The Great British Sewing Bee has recently been back in the limelight it seemed only right to start with a book from the series. Unconventionally I am starting with the second book as it's the only one so far I have made something from so feel I can give you a more well-rounded account. Right, let's take a closer look!

The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe ~
By Tessa Evelegh with Forewords By Patrick Grant & May Martin
Published by Quadrille 2014
RRP £25.00

The Butterfly Balcony Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

'An accompaniment to the hit BBC series presented by Claudia Winkleman and judged by Patrick Grant and May Martin, The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe is a practical sewing book brimming with fantastic projects, including a core of wardrobe essentials including a pencil skirt, easy T-shirt top and a wrap dress. Menswear and retro garments are also included, as well as a fun selection of designs for babies and small children. Dress sizes range from (UK) 8 to 18 and the book is full of inspiring photography so you know exactly what you're looking for - and the included pattern pack, containing five full-size pattern sheets, makes creating your wardrobe even easier.' (Quote from Quadrille)
The Butterfly Balcony Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

TGBSB: Sew Your Own Wardrobe, is the second book in the series and was produced to complement the second series of TGBSB, which aired in 2014. The book has been broken up into four chapters Basics, Fabric, Fit and Finish.

~ Basics ~
The first Chapter is 'Basics' which deals with the skills and techniques you'll need to complete the projects in the later chapters plus two self-draft / no pattern garments.
The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe
~ A-Line Pinafore ~ Glorious Gown ~

 Also included are the sizes for all of the adult projects in the following chapters:

Small: 34-36" chest / 28-30" waist / 35-37" hip
Medium: 38-40" chest / 32-34" waist / 39-41" hip
Large: 42-44" chest / 36-38" waist / 43-45" hip
XL: 46-48" chest / 40-42" waist / 47-49" hip

UK 8: 31.5" bust / 24" waist / 33.5"hip
UK 10: 32.5 bust / 25" waist / 34.5" hip
UK 12: 34" bust / 26.5" waist / 36" hip
UK 14: 36" bust / 28" waist / 38" hip
UK 16: 38" bust / 30" waist / 40" hip
UK 18: 40" bust / 32" waist / 42" hip

The remaining three chapters contain all the pattern instructions.  Each pattern has a difficulty rating and falls in one of four levels Easiest, Easy, Moderate and Tricky.

Fabric ~
The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe
~ Aztec Leggings ~ Men's (?) Waistcoat ~ Silk Tunic ~ Anorak ~ 
~ Teddy Pram Suit ~ Prom Dress ~ Easy-sew Short Skirt ~ Men's Shirt ~

Fit ~
The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe
~ Draped Top ~ Pencil Skirt ~ Shift Dress  ~ Full Skirted Dress 
1960's Coat ~ Wrap Dress ~ Men's Trousers ~ 1930s Blouse ~ Box Pleat Skirt ~

Finish ~
The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe
~ Simple T-shirt ~ Yoke Skirt ~ Baby Dungarees ~ Slip Dress ~ 
~Women's Bowling Shirt ~ Baby Dress and Knickers ~ Girls Dress ~

All the patterns for Fabric, Fit and Finish are contained in a separate folder, multi-sized and ready for you to trace off and get sewing. There is also a link HERE to Quadrille's page for the book where all the patterns are available as individual PDF downloads!

The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

~ The Good Points ~
~There are a good range of patterns for all the family and there to my mind at least there are no pesky fillers! There are even 4 for patterns men, which is a lovely surprise and about time too! Though that waistcoat definitely has the buttons on the wrong side for boys!
~ The book is beautifully designed and photographed making it an inspiring book to have on your bookshelf and at your sewing station!
~ There is a section on taking your own measurements and checking your silhouette which is really very useful.
~ No annoying dust jacket! Is it just me who finds them frustrating on craft books, they always get creased and bent and end up looking tatty!
~ All the patterns are included full size in the book meaning you don't need to re-scale or download anything before you get started, just grab your tracing (or baking) paper and your good to go! Plus the fact that there is the option for PDF's, is a great addition!
~ Did I mention there are LOADS of patterns! For a hardback book with 24 sewing patterns, it's a bargain! The cheapest I could find in the UK was for £6.00 from Amazon, which is a whole lot of patterns for under a tenner!

The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

~ The Not So Good Points ~
~ The pattern sheets are a little confusing as the pieces are not necessarily all on the same sheet or in the same colour, but having access to printable PDF's negates this somewhat.
~ You will need to jump about the book a bit to find all of the instructions for some patterns which can be a little confusing.
~ Some things just get a little glossed over and not properly explained (see my post about The Men's Shirt) and there are sections where the proofreading seems to have been overlooked, such a shame for a book all about precision. As long as you are not a complete beginner you will be able to muddle through the discrepancies in the instructions, keep youtube tutorials on standby people!
~ It would be really helpful if every pattern had good clear images of the garment, the artistic photos are gorgeous, but from a practical point of view, it's not always that easy to see the construction of the garment that clearly.

The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

~  My Verdict 
TGBSB: Sew Your Own Wardrobe is all about learning the art of precision sewing; sewing that May and Patrick would be proud of, which perhaps means that this book is not really aimed at those who are just starting out (despite its claims). Most of the patterns are a little more difficult than basic so will be great for taking your existing skills up to the next level, but perhaps not so suitable for those wanting to dip their toe in the water for the first time, rather something to work up to!

The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

The patterns in the book are all great, to my mind there aren't any fillers. The real standout patterns for me are the Men's Shirt, the striking yellow 1960s Coat, the 1930s Blouse and the loose T-shirt, which looks lovely and simple to make plus very comfortable! Oh and the teddy suit for a baby is so adorable that makes me tempted to have one of my own, almost! I was lucky enough to get my copy as a Christmas gift, but I certainly think it's worth spending your pennies on, the good points about this book certainly outweigh the bad and I really think it would make a great addition to any sewers bookshelf!

The Butterfly Balcony - Review of The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe

I hope that you enjoyed this review and if you have been pondering buying this book I have helped you to make a more informed decision!

Have you got this book, what did you think?

Wendy x


  1. Thanks for such a great review! It's making it very difficult to resist the urge to go and buy it right away. On the other hand, my birthday is coming up in a month or two, so maybe I should just leave some subtle hints lying around...

    Your bookshelves look absolutely wonderful!

  2. What a fabulous idea! I too hate it when you can't find out what patterns are contained in a book. (I usually like to add up which patterns I would actually make & divide the cost of the book by this number to figure out how much each pattern would cost. I think maybe that makes me feel better about the cost of the book! haha) I just love the 30s blouse & yoke skirt in this book. Thanks for sharing such a great review! :D

  3. Yay! I love seeing other people's crafting and cookbook collections. So inspiring! And thanks for posting pictures of the patterns. I very much share your annoyance at not being able to find pictures online of the patterns for a given pattern book.

  4. Thanks for the review. I too have so many books & trying hard not to buy more. I wonder if you do get the patterns from The Book People? I brought a Cath Kidston book from them & it didn't come with the bag kit, when I contacted them I was told they didn't supply the extras...... it was almost 'what did you expect for £5!' x

  5. Thank you Katie! I would definitely leave lots of hints as its certainly one worth having! ;-)

  6. Thank you Michelle! I know its silly really as if you have a great book full of patterns why would you not want to show off how fab they all were! What a good idea to work out the cost per usable (to you) pattern its certainly a much more logical approach, I shall certainly be using that in the future!!! ;-)

  7. Thank you Mrs.B, I am so glad to hear its not just little old neurotic me who is irritated by the lack of info on some books, and surely they would sell more books if you showed all the patterns off!! :-)

  8. Thank you Joe! Oh that is bad, I would have thought if your selling the book it should at least be complete and the bag is part of the book and not an extra! That does raise a good question and one I had never even considered, I will have to check with them! xx