Book Index/Chapter headings
Intro, starting to sew, basic sewing skills, Projects, Appendix
PaperBack or HardBound?
Its a lovely hard bound heavy book with dust cover
Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?
Projects have a completed project photo and some diagrams and steps described in basic terms. There are some lovely photos of on the set contestants from the BBC Great British Sewing Bee series 1 TV show, and some occasional tips from May Martin throughout the book.
Something very important to know is that the book has patterns included with it, but all but one included (a simple sleeveless tunic) must be either scaled up from little miniaturised patterns from the book or downloaded from the website provided in the book. The tunic is included on paper at full scale ready to work with it, and it is a real shame the other patterns included were not also printed in the same way. I would rather have paid more than have to download or photocopy the miniaturised patterns after scaling up on the copier.
Be aware the patterns are suited only to slender girls ranging from the size 8 up to only a 16 in British sizes, the size 16 is not very big either with bust of 97 and hip of 102cm equivalent EUR size of 42, so many people will have to grade the patterns up to use them. The Unisex PJs go up to an XL but no where did I see any information on a size in centimetres to correspond to their size indications. Will have to measure the pattern and figure out how much ease there is in there.
Having said that there are some lovely dresses included in a range of styles that I really like, 2 good basic aprons for his and her (the her version is pretty with gathered bodice and frilled hem) a nice range of simple to sew home dec items, unisex PJs, shirt, tunic, blouse, and an unlined jacket, men's bow tie, some skirts etc. A good range of simple to sew patterns as well as a couple of more complex ones.
The writing is aimed at very beginner sewers and tries to make sewing highly accessible for that level of sewer, which isn't a bad thing.
Having said that, I bought the book more as a souvenir of the show I enjoyed so much and it also has some nice historical content about the place of sewing during war time in Britain, the origins of commercial patterns, the influence of Beau Brummell on the development of men's fashion, and I am prepared to download patterns and then grade them up by hand. I do wish I did not have to, and I would have paid more for the book quite happily if they had included full scale useable patterns on paper with the book.
I do think some of the information could have been a little more extensively written perhaps with more diagrams, given it is aimed at beginners. There is only brief information about fabric and little concerning how to lay pattern pieces out, and next to nothing on pattern matching that I could find. So beginners are going to need additional resources to learn to sew if they want to learn to do these things well. I suspect they author aimed at making the sewing processes seem less intimidating by including less information where at times perhaps a little more info may have actually made it easier to understand for a beginner.
I will add just to be a bit picky that there are quite a few syntax errors as well as typos, which is always a bit of a shame to see in a book, where more careful editing could have completely eliminated these. Perhaps there was a rush to get the companion book to the series off to the printers.
Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?
No I would not, given the patterns are not all included ready to simply trace off and use in a good range of sizes and to use those in the book, you have to either scale up by hand drawing square by square the pattern pieces up onto graph paper, or enlarge by 500% on photocopier, which will cost a good deal of money at a copy shop, or download from the website and then assemble tile style the pattern pieces.
The patterns included are very nice but I did read a review after buying my book from someone else, that said at least one of the patterns have actually been pulled off their website of the publisher and that now you are directed to go to the pattern designer's site and PAY EXTRA for that pattern if you don't want to photocopy the pattern from the book or hand scale it up. Why include it then to only remove it from the website?
If you would like a companion book to the series, with not all but just some of the patterns used from the show that you may well have to work with more than is really necessary these days, then by all means, buy it. Just don't expect really thorough instruction or more than one way to approach a technique to be presented.
On balance it is a nice book to have but not as user friendly as it could have been, which is a bit of a shame really.
To improve if they ever do a book for the second series, releasing the patterns in a larger range of sizes up to say a size 22 just as commercial patterns do today would be good, printed on paper and included in the book ready to work with would be great. Perhaps clearer step by steps and photos along with the included artists drawings would help beginners to learn to sew more easily as well.
Loved the photos from the show, and historical content!