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sewing and craft book reviews

We are excited to be reviewing the new Great British Sewing Bee book From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner (published by Quadrille), hot off the press today! 

Great british sewing bee breton top from stitch to style

The Breton top dressmaking project. Series 4 // The Great British Sewing Bee From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner (Quadrille £20) with forewords from Patrick Grant and Esme Young.

what is this book all about

gbsb from stitch to style2

We are very excited to be reviewing the new Sewing Bee book and sharing our favourite dressmaking projects. I’m not sure how much of an introduction the #GBSB needs, but if you are in need of a fix, head over to our Sewing Bee Guide or chat with other sewists about the first episode in the forum. In total there are 27 projects and whoop whoop the book comes all the printed patterns on paper in a separate sleeve!

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 2

what projects are included

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 7

There are 27 women’s, men’s and childrens’s projects in total. The book includes:

Women’s: Bias cut top, Jumpsuit, Unisex kimono, Breton top, Breton tee, Jersey dress, Peplum dress, Wiggle skirt, Sari into dress, 1960s colour-blocked dress, Colour-blocked top, Palazzo pants, Culottes, Chinese-inspired top, Japanese-inspired top, Soft-cup bra, Asymmetric skirt, Strappy sequin dress, Camisole top and shorts.

Men’s: Unisex kimono, Men’s cycle top, Men’s pin-tuck skirt.

Children’s: A-line skirt, Babygrow, Child’s cape, Child’s dungarees.

who is the book suitable for

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 13

The skills needed to make the projects in this book are the most varied from all the GBSB books so far. For absolute beginners you could try out the bias cut top or child’s cape. If you are new to dressmaking then the Unisex Kimono, Breton top or Wriggle skirt would be good options. If you have more sewing experience then you can develop new skills with more advanced projects such as the Men’s cycle top, Men’s pin-tuck shirt or Sequin cocktail dress. Most projects are aimed at the advanced beginner/intermediate sewer and include the Jumpsuit, Colour block dress, Palazzo pants and Soft cup bra.

I think the selection of projects included is really broad, with techniques needed from underwear making to sewing sportswear. As with previous books it is mostly aimed at women, with the majority of projects suitable for women’s dressmaking. What I really like about the book is that it reflects a lot of the trends in the world of sewing from this year, with patterns for activewear, lingerie and sewing with jersey.

let's have a browse inside

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 12

The book is divided into four main sections: Introduction, Foundation projects, Inspiration projects and Exploration projects. In the first section, there is a short introduction to topics such as basic sewing kit, machine basics, pattern sizes, fitting techniques and choosing fabrics.

The book then moves onto Foundation projects, here is the Bias cut chevron top featured in Episode 1 and although a bit tricky, a confident beginner could tackle it. Patterns are available in a broader size range this year from UK sizes 8 – 20. On page 17 there is a ready-to-wear measurement chart with a size 12 being Bust 36.5″, Waist 29.5″ and Hip 40″, which compares favourably with other pattern companies. I’ve include more thoughts on the sizing below.

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 22

Each pattern lists materials needed, difficulty level, suggested fabrics and design notes with finished garment measurements. There is a lay plan and illustrated step-by-step instructions. Many of the patterns also have a ‘core skill’ section which gives more detailed instructions on a specific sewing skill and how to master it!

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 15

This is the Breton top which I chose to make from the book. The instructions are really easy to follow and i’m so happy with the finished top! The fabric I chose is a more strutted knit and perhaps it would have been better for something with a little more stretch if you wanted it super fitted but I quite like the more relaxed look it gives. It took me a little while to find all my pattern pieces and correctly trace them off, so leave plenty of time for that. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the fitted garment measurements. Flatteringly they suggest I should cut a size 8, which would have still given me >1″ of ease at waist and bust but I was concerned this didn’t seem right as I am most definitely a size 12! In the end I measured the pattern and after factoring in negative ease, I ended up with a size between 8-10. It’s the first time i’ve sewn with such a small stripe and I knew I had to get my lines matching on such an obvious print. I painstakingly pinned every stripe at every seam and also made sure I cut each piece out so the stripes would match. All the pattern pieces were accurate and notches matched. The only thing I think might be confusing is the notches aren’t marked with sizes and I had to double check I was clipped my size for some of them.

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 3

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 5

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 4

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 6

Here are some of the other projects I liked from the book. Many of the projects come with pattern hacks, for example the Palazzo pants and a culottes hack. If you’d like to see more of these check out Charlotte’s review of the Culottes and Sew Over It Lisa Comfort’s vlog review of the Palazzo pants.

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 17

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 23

Another great feature of the book is the range of models used for the projects, it is much more inspiring!

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 18

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 19

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 22

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 14

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 20

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 24

Here is one of the children’s projects, to make a babygrow. Based on what the BBC have said about the episode next week, we could be seeing the contestants sewing something similar to this.

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 16

Here is one of the menswear patterns, following on from one of the biggest trends in sewing this year, making your own activewear.

Great British Sewing Bee from Stitch to style 21

Final thoughts: This is a sewing book that will appeal to everyone because i’m sure most people will find at least one project they would like to sew. Inevitably with such a broad range from children’s to underwear, jersey and sportswear, you won’t want to sew most of them. There are loads of techniques and skills to practice and develop in this book. We really liked the range of models used in the book (lets have more of this please) and the styling is great throughout. It certainly gets a thumbs up from us and we can’t wait to see what you all make!

From Stitch to Style - The Great British Sewing Bee Book review. Find out more about this new release and what projects you can expect to find in it


  1. Profile photo of psychicsewerkathleen

    I’ve been looking for your review of this Sewing Bee Book! I think I’ll order it after reading through your review 🙂 I love the one I have (Fashion with Fabric) and I’ve been eyeing their others – ho humming you know 🙂 My favourite pattern is really difficult to decide but I think it’s the Grainline Scout Tee (I’m just finishing my third) which I changed quite a bit to be honest but that’s what I always love about Grainline. I added a load of darts – an fba guided me through side and bottom darts in the front – then I added back fish eyed darts and a hem facing. It fits me perfectly as you can imagine so I make it often when I have about a meter and a half of Liberty cotton lawn around 🙂

  2. Profile photo of ebrook

    Having only recently started sewing my favourite pattern so far is the Bettine dress by Tilly and the Buttons. So simple for a beginner and I’ve already made two, one in chambray and one with a pink flamingo print 🙂

  3. Profile photo of millymolly

    My favourite is a McCall’s pattern that I altered slightly but I can’t remember what it is called but I used it in my textiles coursework at school and it is a lovely dress

  4. Profile photo of cikka

    Nice to know that this pattern hd no problems. The sizing and measurements seem a bit off in this book. I think it would be a good idea to measure the pattern pieces at a couple of strategic places before cutting…. I tried to trace the palazzo pants pattern yesterday and was very put off by the total mislabelling…. leaves me feeling very wary!

  5. Profile photo of pippa

    That Breton toip looks lovely. I have to say that my favourite pattern is either the Renfrew top or Seamwork Aberdeen as they are the ones that get the most use .

  6. Profile photo of jersey651

    I don’t have a favourite pattern yet as I am only just about to start my first make which is the casual trouser pattern from the last GBSB book.

  7. Profile photo of maramori

    My favourite pattern is the Maya top by Marilla Walker – I love the boxy shape and the fancy insides (french seams and facings). I like making it in wax print cotton, the odder the design the better (currently wearing one with a giant desk fan print).

  8. Profile photo of charlotteforcer

    My favourite pattern at the moment is the Birkin Flares by Baste and Gather. Not that hard to make, they look amazing but above all a great fit and super comfortable. I love them.

  9. Profile photo of katie13

    My favourite pattern is the Sew Over It ultimate shift dress. It’s so versatile and shows off the fabrics beautifully!! 🙂

  10. Profile photo of beckybobbin

    My favourite pattern is Butterick B4443. One of the first patterns I ever used and so far I’ve made three different versions. Such a lovely fit- makes my waist look tiny and I always get compliments when I wear them. 🙂

  11. Profile photo of jacawe

    My favourite is simplicity 1918 – amazing fit trousers. The pattern is great and the instructions for fitting are easy to follow. I’m always complimented when I wear these.

  12. Profile photo of batwidow

    Favourite pattern of all time is Colette’s Negroni, as I can make shirts for myself and my husband! Great value! And such a comfy shirt.

  13. Profile photo of giorgia

    Pussybow Blouse from SEw over it! There are more complex/sophisticated patterns for this timeless blouse (one in a previous GBSB book!) but I can put this together in a breeze now. Amazed at how happy I am every time I finish one!

  14. Profile photo of redclyffe

    My favourite pattern is Colette’s Ginger skirt. It’s the pattern that brought me back to dressmaking, after years of thinking sewing was a fun hobby that was somehow detached from the clothes one actually wore. With Ginger, for the first time, I had made something that almost fitted better than any skirt I had ever made, and the next 7, 8, maybe 10, certainly did.

    1. Profile photo of redclyffe

      doh, meant to type: almost fitted better than any skirt I had ever _bought_

  15. Profile photo of penguinandpear

    My favourite pattern is… well there are lots but one that stands out is Lisa Comfort’s Ultimate pencil skirt…. planning to make it in a tartan as soon as I have some time!

  16. Profile photo of kristina

    My favourite pattern of all time is definitely the Deer & Doe Chardon skirt. But very keen to try making my own Breton top as in the picture above!