The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion With Fabric – Buy It!

GBSB stripey knit dress collage

The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion With Fabric is a stonking book. STONKING. Here’s the skinnie:

  • It’s written by a real expert, The Thrifty Stitcher.
  • Patterns have been tested by some of the best Sewists out there, including Fehr Trade.
  • The book is arranged according to fabric challenge – cottons, animal fibres, stretch and luxury fabrics –  which means it covers a whole swathe of projects from chiffon pussy bow blouses (eek!) to leather skirts and jackets to tartan kilts. This ain’t no beginner-friendly yawn fest.
  • There are over 30 projects and a whole separate slipcase of four sheets of full-size patterns to be traced. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
  • I found some great tips, especially for equipment – recommendations increase as the book delves further into project complexity.

Fashion With Fabric

No doubt about it, this is definitely the best book to have come out of The Great British Sewing Bee. It has loads of patterns that I actually want to make. As soon as I eyeballed the drapey knit dress, I launched straight in.

GBSB stripey knit dress

Fehr Trade reckons the book is worth buying for this pattern alone. I’m not arguing! It is the most delicious piece of fabric origami. Cutting out the pattern pieces, I was scratching my head. How would these go together? Such fun!

origami piece

If you recognise the fabric, that’s because I’ve used it before on my latest Coco top. The ponte knit is nice and stable and of such a great quality. You can buy it for £3.50 a metre from Saeed Fabrics in Walthamstow, still in stock last time I visited. I love the grey/black combo – it’s much warmer than white and black.

If you’re making this dress, please pay attention to the finished measurements guide on page 145. I didn’t, cut out a large, and ended up taking the dress in a lot at the side seams.

I love that this knit pattern has a neck facing. No annoying turning under of a raw hem and hoping for the best. Facing, interfacing and top stitching – that’s what I like! I wouldn’t bother trying to do any stripe matching on dress seams. (I didn’t.) The construction is so unusual that you’ll just drive yourself mad with very little good effect.

This was my first make from Fashion With Fabric. I doubt it will be my last. This isn’t a good book. It’s a STONKING book. Did I say that already?

With thanks to Quadrille, who sent me a copy to review.

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52 Responses to The Great British Sewing Bee Fashion With Fabric – Buy It!

  1. Jackie says:

    Thanks for this Karen. I have been wondering whether to buy this book or not but at a very early stage of my sewing it seems it could be very useful. Especially as when I was sewing before knits & jersey fabrics didn’t exist. And what did happen to crimplene? I have also sent for The Sewtionary on your recommendation. Now all I need is confidence!

  2. Jackie says:

    PS – dress looks great too! Unusual & stylish.

  3. Mezza says:

    Fantastic dress! Well done! I will definitely look into this book – I love a challenge

  4. That dress is cracker! I really hadn’t thought about buying the book after outgrowing the first GBSB book within months. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Fadanista says:

    I love the dress – a lot! I’ve had the webpage open to buy this book on several occasions and you’ve pushed me over the edge. Thanks!

  6. I love this dress! I bought the book last week and have been gazing at it ever since but I have told myself I am not allowed to start another new project until I finish at least one of the ones currently on the go!

  7. I’m following the program in Belgium.
    Yesterday it was episode 2.
    And as a beginner, I really like al the tips.
    Nice program.

  8. susan says:

    I want this dress!! It looks wonderful and stylish but also comfie! I bought the last sewing bee book but got cross as the two things I did make had mistakes in the pattern/instructions so I didn’t make any more items from the book and it put me off buying this book – after seeing your dress and review I may have to reconsider……..

  9. Clare says:

    The book is actually free when you subscribe to Love Sewing magazine so even more projects to bargain!
    Looks like a good buy when I’ve had a little more practice!

  10. Gail says:

    Stonking…is that from the great British spelling bee. I assume you mean great and if your dress is anything to go by, then stonking it is! Love it.

  11. Thimberlina says:

    That’s dress looks fabulous on you….can’t stop… shopping!!

  12. It is hard to get a book that is challenging for a person who knows their way round a few patterns. Thanks for the recommendation. It is free if you subscribe to Sew Home and Style at the moment and I was very tempted. That is a bang up to the minute dress. Fabulous. Jo x

  13. Jenna says:

    I have been eyeing this book now for a while (since Tilly did a review of it). I definitely need this book! Going to pick it up this week I think!

  14. Amelia Wray says:

    I love this dress! I saw the version Claire-Louise made/wore and thought it looked like a great pattern. This book is definitely on my wishlist!

  15. That dres looks really nice. I think im gong to Walthamstow on Saturday so i might try to pick up some of that stiped ponte. Is it viscose on poly? It looks really nice on you.

  16. Hélène says:

    This season of TGSB is so excellent! Thanks for this review. In fact, I was wondering if this book was worth it. Your dress is the best proof of all!

  17. knitsewsandtea says:

    I saw the dress made by Melissa Fehr. I love her dress, but yours with the sleeves and the stripes is definitely the winner. I’m going to make one with sleeves.

  18. Dani Malloy says:

    That dress is fly. Also, just googled “stonking.” Thanks for the vocab lesson!

  19. Lana says:

    What size do the patterns go up to?

    • Ros says:

      From the blurb: “Accompanying the book are FIVE FULL-SIZE PATTERN SHEETS giving all the pieces needed to make the 30 garments in WOMENSWEAR SIZES 8 TO 20 and MENSWEAR SIZES XS TO XL.”

  20. DavyMade says:

    This dress is fabulous! Once I’ve been sewing a little longer I definitely want to buy that book!

  21. charlottepb says:

    Just received my copy of the book, and love it. For simpletons like myself I enjoyed all pattern hacks. I have to say although I loved the folds this was my least favorite make. Until I saw your version, is amazing, I want to make one too, I also had a look at Fahr and again I am sold!

  22. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Love this pattern & fabric is fab – crossing the pond now (mentally) to get both. Thanks for the tips, Karen!

  23. elaineoc says:

    The dress is gorgeous! I haven’t looked at the book yet but I would probably buy it just for that.

  24. Alex says:

    So jealous, Karen! My copy hasn’t arrived yet :((. I’ve been drooling over that dress since I saw CL wearing it. I can’t wait to make it too, so my style! Looks amazing!

  25. Nathalie says:

    Very pretty dress! I love the different orientations of the stripes

  26. Glad to hear that this book is a win. I was really disappointed with the last one. I used the patterns to teach the girls at work dressmaking and there were a lot of missing notches, etc. I think that this series is a bit harder than the other two as well. Better thought out challenges. Will definitely buy the book now. Thanks for the review. Xx

  27. My copy arrived today – just about to have a peruse in bed. That dress looks FANTASTIC on you – tres chic!

  28. I want that dress, so I’m just going to have to buy the book 😉

  29. Knockout dress. Thanks for the low down on the book. I’ll check it out.

  30. Alison says:

    Does anyone know if it’s RTW sizing or standard pattern sizing? I’ll buy it if it’s big enough. 🙂

  31. Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the review and I love your striped drapey dress, it looks awesome on you! I’m so glad you like the book, your opinion means a lot to me, as I know you don’t pull any punches. Cheers for the tip on the striped ponte too, I’ll have to get me to Walthamstow asap!

  32. Liza Jane says:

    That dress is fantastic!!! Ack!

  33. Josie says:

    That dress looks fab! I’m loving The Bee this year, partly because the men are sew talented! In previous series I have found some of the males felt a little like token gestures! Thanks also for the book review, I’ll keep my eyes out for it x

  34. Caroline says:

    Karen, this dress is sew amazing! The style of the dress and the stripes really go well together, its effective and eye-catching. I love a knit dress, my favourite. Well done!

  35. I dont usually buy the ‘book of the programme’ cos they are usually rubbish…now im thinking mmm maybe?
    best daisy j x

  36. Sheree says:

    I wasn’t sure about this dress, but seeing it made up in striped fabric has sold it to me. Looks great. It adds just the right amount of detail.

  37. ginnie31 says:

    Just had this book for my birthday, this dress has been picked out by my daughter to add to my “to do” list. But there are many more I want to try too.

  38. Debby58 says:

    On your recommendation I have just received the book and I can’t wait to have a go of that dress which looked fabulous von you by the way. Thank you for the point in that direction. With so many things to choose from , personal ones always seem the best.

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  40. mpostings says:

    Dress looks fan. I only bought the book yesterday (half price at w.h.) and was wondering where to start…. So much sewing so little time…. And you’ve helped me make up my mind.

  41. B-rouchka says:

    I love your dress!! It seems simple, yet SOOO sophisticated! I always fear working with stripes but this one motivates me to buy some stripy fabric and play with the pattern.

  42. Thanks for this! I love the dress and think I might just neeeeed the book. I haven’t tried making clothes yet (I make homewares etc) … so I’m good with my machine but a clothesmaking virgin!

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