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Dawn's Diary: GBSB Mania!

Dawn's Diary: GBSB Mania!

Hi, I'm Dawn - Fabworks product specialist and all round fabric and sewing obsessed crazy creative person. This ‘All You Need To Sew’ blog post was originally supposed to be just a few of my thoughts about the new series but it has now turned into something of a lengthy post. If you’re also an avid seamstress I hope that you’ll find something useful to take away. Later on in the piece I'll be letting you in on my thoughts and ideas for previously featured GBSB garments, challenges and giving you plenty of sewing inspiration!

If you are in the know about what's going on in the sewing world you’ll know that The Great British Sewing Bee is back! At Fabworks everyone is super excited about the new show, its contestants, presenters and of course new challenges. There are a few of the contestants that we have definitely seen before, either on social media or as visitors to Fabworks Mill Shop in Dewsbury. I don’t think that it’d be fair to say who just yet because that’ll ruin the fun. We too only found out who the contestants actually were when it was announced publicly a couple of weeks ago.

We are hoping for some Fabworks acknowledgement in the show, as expected. Fingers crossed! A huge surprise from the last series was seeing a number of Fabworks fabrics on-screen, namely Jade’s winning garment of the week Jackie ‘O’ 60s Style Jacket using the Monochrome Wool & Silk. Tara (Fabworks Mill Shop manager) and I were texting each other frantically getting excited having seen our fabric on TV! As Fabworks is only a small family-run business, the excitement and anticipation is real. This helps our business and overall success massively and we are reliant on it. The Fabworks fabric is definitely what I’m most excited about for this new series - seeing fabrics that we know! Being the product specialist and handling nearly every fabric that makes its way through the doors here at Fabworks, I feel like there is sometimes a bond between me and the fabric. Do you know what I mean? Do you ever feel like you’re bonding with your fabrics? They’re like our babies. Told you I was fabric obsessed!

As for the presenters, I wasn’t so sure who Joe Lycett was, however after having spent an hour engrossed in YouTube videos with him taking the micky on-stage, I think his flamboyance will be a great addition to the show. What are your thoughts on a new presenter? Do you miss Claudia already? I love everything that is whacky and loud and brightly coloured, and I also like to see change, so I welcome Joe Lycett. Let’s just hope he isn’t OTT for our very serious TV programme. 

THE GBSB is great for the industry - popularity of the show usually means more dusting off of old sewing machines! We saw a spike in visitors to Fabworks during and after the previous series, having bleated on about our fabrics that were used on the show. There was even some incognito fabric shopping at Fabworks Online from previous contestants who had to order under a different name so that even we wouldn’t spot them. It’s all very hush hush until the show airs, but it’s so much fun to work out if it actually is one of our fabrics! The popularity of Jade’s ‘60s style jacket meant that we sold out of the fabric that she had used in under a week! Thanks Jade!

Jade's winning garment using Fabworks (now sold out) fabric - Monochrome Wool & Silk

To get yourself right in the mood for it, engross yourself in your own mini GBSB at home, I will be glued to the sofa come Tuesday night taking inspiration from the garments and challenges on the show. Whereas I couldn’t enter to be on the GBSB (having worked in industry all my life), it’s nice that it’s not just the avid seamstresses that can take something from the programme. My daughters are young beginner sewists who wouldn’t have shown any interest had the show not been broadcast on BBC at prime time. Also, what great news that the BBC have decided to keep the show running, especially after the GBSB Live took place, we thought that there was never going to be another show! Also, having seen the GBBO has moved to channel 4, we love the GBSB even more now. No adverts! Wahooo!

What do you think of the contestants on first viewing? Do we know anything about any of them? Who’s your money on? The creative ones that don’t follow the rules and that put their own hacks in? Or those who go by the book and are technically brilliant? Will we see any teachers pets?

This blog post started out with me just sharing my thoughts with a piece of paper but has soon grown into something more relevant and enticing, which led me to the conclusion that it would be a great idea to re-visit the accompanying book and patterns from the last series in 2016, in anticipation of our favourite sewing show being back on TV Tuesday 12th February 9:00pm BBC2. Let’s embrace the GBSB!

Now onto the books! Having had a taste of the GBSB craze, if only a short involvement, our first ever exhibition at the GBSB Live (a 4 day event in London, September 2017) as well as watching the previous series on TV, of course. Here we introduced ourselves to longstanding customers who were contestants of the show, showcasing our wares and networking within the sewing community, a first for us having only just launched our online business less than a year before. *Happy moment*

I was keen to see if the books lived up to all the other good experiences I had had GBSB-related. If you have any of the GBSB books, you will know how well thought out and useful they are. Believe me, I was ready to criticise them as I thought they would be aimed at absolute beginners and of no use to me personally, but actually I was pleasantly surprised and that my initial thoughts couldn't be further from the truth. In fact I was actually that pleasantly surprised by it that I went out and bought all the others too. Great inspiration! The patterns are well thought out and a pleasure to work with.

With the announcement of the new show I felt a bit nostalgic and thought it would be a great opportunity to share some thoughts in anticipation of the new show that starts this week. Here are my thoughts on the patterns, how I would approach them, and why I have chosen the fabrics that I have.


Did you know that we have a stunning range of organic cotton jersey, interlocks and cuffing fabrics that were originally made for a baby wear company? They are so super soft and comfy and perfect for the Babygrow pattern. The pattern is a lovely side-opening babygrow (without feet) that's suitable for ages 9 months to 36 months.

Suggested fabrics are cotton stretch jerseys, with the GBSB version including cuffs and binding in the same fabric as the body. I think that it's a great idea to add your own touch to your garments, such as the use of a contrasting binding and cuffing, using coordinating fabrics from the same range. Here are just a few of the fabrics that we have in our organic cotton jersey collection.

If I were to make this babygrow, my choice for the main body would be the Army of Frogs with matching cuffing in Leaf  Green Organic Ribbed Jersey Cuffing. For the binding you can either use the Army of Frogs or create extra impact using another coordinating fabric from the collection; Micro Stripe Leaf Green - Organic Cotton Interlock. This narrow, horizontally knitted, striped interlock isn't too stretchy down the stripes which makes it perfect for binding the curved edges of the opening of the baby grow.

Together, these 3 fabrics make a winning combination, all crafted using the ever popular organic cotton jersey that's super soft, irritant free, and specifically designed for baby clothing. What more could you ask for!


Breton Top & Dress:

If you like the sound of our super comfy, organic cotton jersey fabrics but don't have any babies or toddlers to make for, another great GBSB pattern that will suit the interlock jersey is The Breton Top and Dress. We have a lovely selection of stripes within the organic range, from single jerseys to interlocks, these fabrics are ideal for the Breton style, you just need to pick your colour and create that same look yourself. Trust me they feel incredible next to your skin, and their extra width means you will probably need less fabric than if you were using standard width fabrics (usually 150cm). Make matching tops or dresses for your little ones using the leftover? A simple easy pattern that'll work its way to becoming a staple garment in no time!

Wiggle Skirt:

While we're still on the subject of knitted fabrics , a really simple and quick make that's super versatile is The Wiggle Skirt that is basically a tube skirt with an elasticated waist. Go for different lengths and colours to suit your style, this one is customisable. Great! The suggested fabrics for the pattern are stable double knit jerseys such as ponte and a medium weight scuba fabrics, both of which will work excellently. Plain scuba fabrics may work better than the patterned / printed ones (if you're going for a skin tight fit). Should you prefer your Wiggle Skirt to have a design on it, there are so many beauties to choose from I would definitely recommend creating a figure skimming fit (rather than a tight fit) as overstretching printed and knitted fabrics like these can cause the print to distort and loose definition.

All ponte fabrics here

All scuba fabrics here



For those of you already familiar with knitted fabrics and how versatile they are, I think the Jumpsuit pattern, translates easily to be made up in another double knit jersey, the same as the Wiggle Skirt: ponte or (lighter weight) scuba fabrics. I would strongly advise the use of interfacing the zip opening edges, as is suggested in the book, as it will be really helpful when applying your zip mainly because stretchy fabrics can be tricky and if overstretched will cause the zip to curl and not lie flat.The silky drape quality of the lighter weight scubas will look and feel amazing and will give you a garment that's both stylish and comfortable!

My ideal choice for the jumpsuit would be Super Sleek Navy Ponte, a first rate ponte that oozes class and has good drape quality, is stable, but still has stretch and a beautiful subtle sheen, plus its made from cotton! Make the jumpsuit in this classy fabric and add a superb metallic zip (rose gold, with a ball chain zip pull) will make an excellent additional feature! This stylish garment can be worn to the office with flat shoes and simple accessories, you can also layer it up with a fine knit roll neck jumper/ sweater in red or white. For a simple but classic evening look , just add your favourite pair of heels and some eye-catching jewellery. Think of  the different looks you can create by simply adding different shoes and accessories!


Asymmetric Skirt

One pattern in particular from the last GBSB book that really caught my eye was the Asymmetric Skirt. I think the combination of the mustard boiled wool, curvy raw edges and lovely drapey style were the dominant factors. I do love boiled wool fabrics but they can be expensive and rather itchy so having closely examined  some of Fabworks scuba and pontes I have decided that ; Super Sleek Navy Ponte (as suggested for the Jumpsuit), Matte Black Scuba and our Navy Scuba will make excellent alternatives. All three fabrics have good stability , excellent drape and barely fray, also they are excellent value too. As they're non-fraying fabrics creating the garment should be something of a doddle too, relatively speaking. The beauty of making this skirt in a dark colour is you can add colourful top-stitching where the yoke is attached to the skirt pieces. Practice on scraps on fabric to see what works for you. I love colour so I am all about the quirky notions such as contrasting thread details!


Chinese Inspired Top

Now for another pattern I have been intending to make for quite some time; the Chinese Inspired Top. The GGSB book suggests using a medium weight satin, brocade, faille or challis, but recently I've had the pleasure of using one of our wonderful designer jacquards and was left in awe at the superb sheen on the background contrasting with the matte secondary colour of the pattern detail, and I know that it's actually a perfect alternative.You can see and read all about these fabrics in our blog posts (Biker Cardi Using Perfect Paisley Jacquard and More Chic Than Sheikh. Whilst making the Biker Cardi, I was reminded that I'd previously purchased some of the Blue Dusk Palms Jacquard intending to make a very swanky tuxedo style blazer, but when writing the description for the Palms Jacquard collection I had always thought it will make a beautiful Chinese inspired top or dress, with its light silky properties. So, why not the GBSB one? Just over 1.5 metres will make this sleeveless top, but if you buy 2-2.5 metres you have the option to add sleeves and turn it into a dress. For a dress pattern with full skirt and sleeve options the Simple Sew pattern The Lily Dress is ideal. If you don't want to make the dress, GBSB's Chinese Inspired Top is simpler and you can just extend the length and add some side splits for a super tunic style dress.When I finally get round to making my version I will add some navy or black piping to the collar and front opening to emphasise the contrast in the yarns of the very beautiful Palms Jacquard.


Palazzo Pants

If you are in desperate need of some very versatile trousers (who doesn't?!) then look no further than the simple Palazzo Pants'from the 'From Stitch To Style' GBSB book. 2/2.5 metres of drapey fabric will make you a pair of trousers. Choose your preferred design first (I always encourage this, the design is the most important - you're not going to wear something you don't like the look of!), then using the weight of fabric the trousers will make up in a variety of different styles to suit the seasons. Use a medium weight linen for summer, a soft and drapey ponte for autumn / winter that'll take you through to spring. For occasion wear, satin backed crepes, dress crepes, viscose and silk velvets and other occasion wear dressy fabrics are all perfect depending on the season. If you make your Palazzo Pants in a fine worsted suiting you can wear them all year round unless you're experiencing tropical temperatures! Tropical suitings do exist too! For more info on suiting fabrics and their uses take a look at our blog - Suiting- A Fabric To Suit Everyone (also written by me). I have made various garments from our wonderful range of fine Italian suiting fabrics and discovered that if I pre-washed and hence pre-shrink the fabrics then I don't have to worry about dry cleaning and fussy laundering techniques later on. Of course I always purchase extra to allow for any shrinkage but often find that if they are closely woven and washed at a cool or delicate / wool setting on the washing machine, then gently air dried they hardly change. I'd also strongly recommend using a detergent specifically tailored to washing wool and silk products. There's nothing worse than washing a nice wool and it coming out of the machine looking nothing like it did when it went in.

I haven't followed any particular order in my choices from the last GBSB book because I have intentionally tried to group my fabric choices together by fabric type. Another woven range of fabrics we are proud to sell at Fabworks are our finest, high thread count Italian cotton shirtings, believe me , these are the most beautifully soft finely woven fabrics from Italian mills that supply all the top designers. So when your sewing skills are honed enough to tackle the Men's Pin-Tuck Shirt you will have oodles of choices.


I hope you've enjoyed reading my thoughts on everything GBSB. The book 'From Stitch To Style' is on sale with most online retailers. Now we're in the zone ready for the new season, let's get back to sewing and enjoying what the new series has to offer!


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