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  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BC Paperback
  • Publication: 17 May 2017
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782214564
  • Stock: 50+
  • Size: 204x260 mm
  • Illustrations: 420
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: £12.99
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Girl with a Sewing Machine


The no-fuss guide to making and adapting your own clothes by Jenniffer Taylor

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Book Description

This beautiful, instructive book from The Great British Sewing Bee’s Jenniffer Taylor shows you how to make and adapt your own clothes without the need for shop-bought patterns. Using Jenniffer's fun and imaginative ideas, this book will teach you how to get started transforming unloved items of clothing into new and exciting outfits; how to customise clothes with doilies, tassels, tie-dyeing and block printing; and finally how to measure yourself, create patterns and make clothes from scratch, including dresses, skirts, tops, trousers and a coat.

The book is packed with all the tricks of the trade that Jenniffer has learned along her sewing journey, and it will get you started on your own #sewingrevolution!

Table of Contents

My sewing journey
Basic sewing kit
Sourcing clothes
Getting started
Scarf top
Jumper gloves and snood
Festival pouch
Customising your clothes 
Doily detail on a T-shirt             
Block printing and tie-dyeing on a shirt and jeans
Tassel T-shirt
Shirt reverse
Making clothes from scratch
Measuring yourself
Carousel skirt
Batwing dress
Kimono dress
Cross-back top
Sumer top with box pleats
Blanket coat
Gilet variation
Dunga dress
Dunga variation
Wrap trousers

About the Author

About Jenniffer Taylor

Jenniffer Taylor’s sewing journey began with her ultimate project: to design and make her own wedding dress. The experience unlocked her creativity and for the first time she found she was able to express her individual style; empowering her to create garments that she always wanted to wear. Jenni’s husband Kirk recognized her passion and after secretly submitting an application for her, she appeared as a contestant on the second series of The Great British Sewing Bee in 2014.

Jenni is now a prominent and popular sewing influencer and author, who teaches dressmaking both online and offline. As well as demonstrating on television and events, she also designs her own range of sewing patterns. Jenni’s first book, Girl with a Sewing Machine, was published in 2017. 

Find more dressmaking inspiration, tips and tutorials at www.jenniffertaylor.co.uk
Find her on Facebook: Tailor-Taylor 
Follow @jennibobtaylor on Twitter and Instagram


Craft Business June/July 2018

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Library Journal, USA

Taylor, a former contestant on The Great British Sewing Bee, brings her retro style to this collection of easy-to-sew projects, including several that repurpose thrift-store finds. The first section focuses on customizing clothes by repurposing or altering them, and the second features easy garments, often showcasing reclaimed fabric. Some garments are a bit sack-like and shapeless, including a top made of two square scarves sewn together, and others are just plain odd, such as the T-shirt that has been altered so tassels hang off the arms. Still, Taylors easygoing manner and free spirit will appeal to sewists looking for quick, fun projects with a retro vibe. VERDICT Taylors easy-to-sew projects will help beginners build confidence, and the down-to-earth tone is a pleasant change from the Pinterest-perfect aesthetic that often plagues similar sewing books.


Issue 46

Jenniffer Taylor (of The Great British Sewing Bee) is a self taught seamstress, who started out by adapting clothes she already owned or making new ones using a few body measurements. This is her guide to help you do the same, with ideas for customising old pieces using vintage doilies, tassels, embroidery, block printing and tie-dyeing, or creating new garments from upcycled fabrics such as vintage scarf top and blanket coat. With simple instructions and helpful photographs for each of the 17 projects, anyone with a sewing machine can join the sewing revolution and create their own unqiue wardrobe.

East Kent Embroiderers Guild

Following her participation in The Great British Sewing Bee, Jennifer was encouraged to put together the skills learned into this inspiring book, presenting fifteen fabulous projects, suitable for all skill levels.  As Jennifer enjoys up-cycling there are several ideas showing how to create new garments from unwanted clothes and accessories while other projects in the book are created from scratch. By using a series of body measurements marked onto the fabric length, no actual pattern pieces are required, but by following Jennifers instruction and guidance it is possible to create a range of very wearable items.  Whilst the designs will appeal more to the young-at-heart, inspiration can be taken by all who enjoy sewing and creating their own unique clothes.


If you have a sewing machine that is gathering dust, or you want to get one and have a go at making your own clothes, you will find something for you in this book. From adapting existing items to making garments from scratch, there is plenty of help for the sewing novice and intermediate stitcher alike.

Like myself, the author of this book is self-taught, and this is very much a book aimed at the modern person. You dont need to buy up the shop in order to get kitted out and many projects focus on remaking charity shop purchases. Even the garments to make are all basic daywear that are quick to make and slow to date. In short, this book is ideal for anybody who wants to free themselves from off the peg fashion and might not have a lot of time or money. The book opens with a look at the authors own sewing background and this is followed by a short section on what you need and why. The why part is particularly useful as it also mentions what you dont need; I dont have an overlocker either and also have used plates to draw curves! There is another useful short section on taking a look at your existing wardrobe and shopping for fabric, plus tips on looking after fabric. The rest of the book is organized into three sections: getting started, customizing clothes and making them from scratch. Make your own pincushion, a top made from scarves, upcycle an old jumper into mittens and a snood and cut up old jeans to make a pouch. It isnt all about sewing either, as in the customizing section there is a project on dyeing and printing as well as cutting up an old t-shirt to make a tasselled top. After these simpler and cheaper projects, have a go at making your own clothes. Turn a tablecloth into a gypsy skirt, make simple tops and dresses, a coat from a blanket and wraparound trousers. These are all comfortable items that would get worn a lot and are easy to make even if you havent had much sewing experience. All the projects have staged photographs, as well as several shots showing the finished item from various angles, useful tips and a chatty style of instruction that is very user friendly. A book like this takes most of the unnecessary mystique that has built up around dressmaking and makes it all seem not only doable but modern.

Sew Now

Issue 10

Jenniffer Taylor lit up our screens in series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee and since then has fully immersed herself into the world of sewing! After teaching classes around the country covering dressmaking and upcycle, she's just released her first book, Girl with a Sewing Machine. It's packed with patterns for all skill levels, and we love the use of upcycling and tips on getting the perfect fit. Because adapting a garment or pattern to suit you and your style is what making your own clothes is really about. Don't forget to share your makes from the book with #sewingrevolution

fizzi jayne makes

I was so excited when I received Jenniffer's debut book, Girl With A Sewing Machine.  If you do not recognise the name let me tell you a little bit about Jenniffer....  Her sewing journey started with her wedding dress, yep she began with a small project?!?! This created a love affair with sewing and thanks to her hubby secretly applying she was a contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee. Now you can find her on the Sewing Quarter channel, teaching workshops and creating a #sewingrevolution! #CraftBlogClub has also had the privilege of her being a guest host andThe cover says it's a no-fuss guide and that's what I love about this book the most, the get stuck in and sew!  Being a self taught seamstress there is no jargon with a no nonsense approach.

The book is great for beginners, it takes you through what essential kit you need and it goes through fabric terms and seam finishes, so lots of information to get you started.

Jenniffer is known for her upcyling, so there are lots of upcycling projects, craft projects and embellishment ideas to customise clothing.  These are fun projects for anyone looking for inspiration but if you don't feel confident in sewing these projects are a great way to dip your toe in and build up your skills before making garments.

When it comes to making clothes there are no patterns with the book instead Jenniffer shows you how to make clothes from scratch using the garments you already own and using your basic body measurements.  There are photos to show you exactly where to measure, which is helpful as not everyone knows where there true waist is. 

There are some great projects that are different to what you'd see in most dressmaking books, so if you like Jenniffer's style you'll love these projects.  The whole book has easy step by step instructions with great photos and top tips throughout.

You will learn lots of different skills including construction techniques, drafting a pattern direct to fabric, machine and sewing techniques as well as changing necklines, sewing pockets, using garments to draft a pattern, altering patterns, basic fitting techniques and draping techniques. I think I've captured everything! 

I think it's a great book for beginners and anyone who is looking to improve their skills. By the end of this book you will have a greater understanding of garment construction which will unleash your creativity and the ability to create your own unique wardrobe.


Full review and images: https://fizzijaynemakes.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/book-review-girl-with-sewing-machine-by.html


The Great British Sewing Bee was a TV series in the same tradition as the Great British Bake Off, and for four seasons, it featured amateur home sewists (not aired in the U.S. but episodes can be found online).
Taylor was a contestant on the second series and has since started running workshops and advocating for home sewing. Here she outlines basics for sewing garments, both from scratch and for altering existing items to remake them into new shapes and functions (both staples of the TV series). Each project is outlined in steps, accompanied by color photographs, which include useful information on making adjustments to fit ones measurements as well as explanations of why to do things a particular way. Specific skills are highlighted in each project, and each of those skills is indexed for quick reference.
Taylor notes throughout that she is self-taught and provides encouragement for aspiring sewists. Basic sewing tools and fundamentals are outlined, and projects include a skirt, dresses, tops, a coat, and more. Measurements are given both in metric and U.S. customary units.


Girl With a Sewing Machine is a craft book with genuine soul and one of the nicest dressmaking titles I have read in quite a while. The reason it resonates is because Jenni is a down to earth person who truly wants to get people over that initial fear of making their own clothes. It is a much bigger step than some might imagine and it makes perfect sense to get cracking with old clothes or charity shop finds and to upcycle them. Looking back this is was I was doing from about the age of 9 with my best friend Laura creating garments from our dressing up box, letting my imagination run wild and then enjoying the end results instantly. The alteration challenge on the Great British sewing Bee is always my favourite part, yet for some reason I have got out of the habit of just having a go and being adventurous. If it something that would otherwise be given away or never worn, then what is there to lose?

There are projects using different fabrics such as silk scarves or woolly jumpers meaning you can quickly learn how your sewing machine handles them, and what you prefer working with. I am definitely going to sew the mittens and snood from an old jumper for next Winter.

The technical details are nicely written too, in a friendly and accessible voice and Jenni looks so happy and confident in all of her makes that you want to get sewing and replicate her joy!

Having said that, Jenni has her own style and you may not want to recreate all the outfits exactly, but you can still learn plenty from the methods. I am not sure I could rock a tassel top, but I could sew one up for someone who could!

I think the self-drafted garments towards the end look appealing, though I have not yet had time to sew them up. The wrap-trousers are on my make-list and I will report back.

I would recommend buying the book for those friends who keep saying they want to sew but dont know where to start. I would also recommend planning some sewcial nights with like-minded folk to have a go at some of the projects together, embracing the spirit of the #sewingrevolution.

The wonderful textile artist Ineke Berlyn was the spark for Jenni to start sewing and she sadly died earlier this year. My mum bought me her book on Journal Quilts a fews years back and I have admired her work ever since. I imagine that she would be super proud of Jennis book and I am sure it will give readers the same inspiration to make beautiful things.

Full review and images: https://www.jenni-smith.co.uk/blogs/news/girl-with-a-sewing-machine-book-review-by-jenni-smith

The Sewing Directory

Jenniffer Taylor will be familiar to sewing fans as a former contestant on The Great British Sewing Bee and this new book shares her infectious enthusiasm for making and upcycling her own clothes as part of her personal Sewing Revolution.

The book begins with Jennis personal journey through sewing as a self-taught seamstress and how she made her own wedding dress! The practical side of the book talks you through the tools required (including some rather unusual items that Jenni has found helpful) and she goes on to discuss thinking about the types of clothes you wear and what fabrics you might require for your sewing journey.

The first simple project in the book is a dear little teacup pincushion that is a pretty and practical project to cut your teeth on. Jenni encourages visits to charity shops to collect headscarves, woollens and old jeans to upcycle into pretty projects including a Scarf Top and the brilliant Festival Pouch to hold all your valuables whilst having fun away from home! Its on my to-do list

There is a whole chapter on customising clothes in your wardrobe and she has some great ideas including embroidery, printing and adding tassels plenty of ideas to give your garments a much-needed uplift!

As you move on, Jenni takes you into how to make clothes from scratch with a useful section on measuring yourself using a trusty piece of elastic and a tape measure. The book refreshingly does not rely on using pre-sized patterns Jenni encourages you to draft your own personal patterns that will fit you, onto newspaper or pattern drafting paper from your measurements or by using an existing garment as a base and drafting straight to fabric.

The book is superbly illustrated and the instructions and associated techniques are very clear so that the garments are very achievable for even a beginner sewer.  The designs are easy-to-wear casual and would appeal to a broad audience. There are a couple of dresses, a skirt, simple tops, a blanket coat, wrap trousers and my favourite the Dunga Dress.

If youve been reluctant to make your own clothes, Jennis ideas and enthusiasm will help you overcome those fears and get you started you cant help but be inspired by her bubbly, chatty writing style and obvious passion for her subject.

- See more at: http://www.thesewingdirectory.co.uk/girl-with-a-sewing-machine/#sthash.uN7scZna.dpuf

Tracy Shephard - Postcard Reviews

I was so excited to get my hands on Jenniffer Taylors book and couldnt wait to make a project.

Besides being a book full of inspiration, sewing ideas as well as hints and tips, it is a jolly good read. I had heard of Jenniffer from the Great British Sewing Bee but I didnt know she was also in a band, or that her path to sewing fame was because her husband entered her for the Sewing Bee without her knowledge.

Girl with a Sewing Machine, is a glossy book, with three sections. Getting started..Customising clothes and Making clothes from scratch.  Jenniffer also lets you know what notions you will need to make up your sewing kit, fabric ideas and the book is littered with Top tips that will help with our progress.  I just adored her fabric diary idea and is one I am going to adopt.

What I especially liked about this book, is that Jenniffer doesnt suggest we go out and buy expensive items. Jenniffer is all about upcycling and reusing what we already have. She even made the most gorgeous skirt using a tablecloth.. genius.

So do as Jenniffer suggests, grab a cuppa and dive in.

Full review and to see Tracy's project: https://tracyshephard.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/girl-with-a-sewing-machine-jenniffer-taylor/

Crafty Sew and So

Jenniffer Taylor is best known as a contestant on The Great British Sewing Bee.

Since staring in the show, Jenny has been taking her #FashionRevolution message around the country and we had a great day when she visited Crafty Sew&So for a refreshing day.

She very kindly gave us the first ever signed copy of her new book, Girl with a sewing machine, to give away as a raffle prize at The Dressmakers Ball! 


I decided to take a look at the book before we gave it away and I really wish I could keep it as it has some fantastic projects and ideas for beginners and established stitchers alike. 
She begins by running through all the sewing room essentials you might need with a charming photograph of her sewing room and detailed descriptions of each tool and what they can be used for. Watch out for some surprising and innovative uses for everyday items! 

Most of the projects use up-cycled and recycled clothing and fabrics. Making this book a unique, interesting and very relevant read. Im sure you have bits of old fabric or garments that have passed their useful life as they are or you have simply got bored of in their current form, Jenny encourages us to look at these items in a new light. 

She also touches on ideas for embellishing and mending your clothes. I particularly like the use lace doilies as embellishments on clothing she has even used beautiful embroidered vintage handkerchiefs and table covers to make a whole top!

She includes some lovely ideas for adding embroidery to garments which is very on trend. 

Full review and images: https://craftysewandsoblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/girl-with-a-sewing-machine-by-jenniffer-taylor-book-review/

Simply Sewing

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Alison Stevens

Jen's way of writing puts you at ease and makes every task seem easy. The pictures are clear and the instructions are easy to follow even for a beginner. I love the way she recycles old clothes into something new.

Cristin Williams

or a beginner like me this book I fab! I have a few sewing books and have been trying to teach myself to sew for a while but this one is definitely one of the best. The best part for me is the taking measurements section, have actual photographs of a person being measured is much better than the drawings other books have. I love all the 'top tips', little things someone like me wouldn't think about but which make sewing that little bit easier. I can't wait to get started customising clothes, my husband better watch out as I may steal a few of his shirts for my first project!!

Dawn Andrews

The first thing I enjoyed about Girl With A Sewing Machine was reading about its author, Jenniffer Taylor, and discovering how she began sewing. If youre a beginner when it comes to sewing and are particularly daunted by the prospect of making your own clothes, you will perhaps be heartened to learn that her first from-scratch project was making her wedding dress and it looked fabulous!

Before jumping into any projects, the book provides several pages of information on sewing kit items, sewing machines and fabrics, which are a helpful way of making sure that you are prepared and organised before you begin sewing.

Each project has an introduction, a list of materials you will need, easy-to-follow steps interspersed with Jennifers top tips, and is comprehensively illustrated with clear photographs. This format is extremely helpful regardless of level of experience.

There are three main sections to the book: the first, Getting started, eases you in with some fairly simple projects and includes guides to making a vintage pincushion and turning an old jumper into mittens and a snood; the next section, Customising Clothes, has some wonderful ideas to help you get creative and upcycle and refresh existing items, from using tie-dyeing and embroidery to finding a use for Nans old doilies; the final section, Making Clothes From Scratch, starts with a great guide to taking measurements, and includes a number of projects to make a variety of garments including tops, skirts, dresses, coats and trousers.

I found Girl With A Sewing Machine extremely well thought-out and this is evident in its content and layout. Jennifers ability to explain things succinctly and comprehensibly makes this informative book a pleasure to read and an exceptionally great addition to any creative individuals library and toolkit.

Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Judith Rigg

If you love sewing you need this book! It covers all aspects of sewing, starting with basic things you need to know about fabric and tools through to sewing terms and seam finishes. The book starts with an interesting chapter by Jennifer about her passion for sewing and how she started out. A wide range of projects from beginner to more advanced are clearly explained and well photographed. Most of the designs do not require patterns and clear instructions are given on how to create your own templates to your size. I own lots of sewing books but this is probably one of the best ones I have come across as it is very comprehensive. The book is great value for money too. It certainly won't be remaining on the shelf like a lot of my books, as I can see myself making lots of the garments in it..Jennifer's personality comes across in the book and it is written in a very friendly and easy to understand way.

Julie ironmonger

I have just had the pleasure of reviewing this book . I've been a fan of Jenniffer Taylor's since the Sewing Bee & I was over the moon to be chosen to review her book .
It's a book that will be useful to the experienced & newbies alike . The step by step instructions & accompanying photos are easy to follow . The instructions are written so as to give you enough information without over complicating matters.
What I like in particular is the recycling ethos this book promotes. Perhaps we don't want to throw an old favourite piece of clothing away but it looks like it's seen better days . This way we can update & rejuvenate clothing. We don't always want to make something to wear from scratch or we can't find what we want in the shops . Perhaps we've picked something up in a charity shop . With Jenniffer's book we can create our own designs using items we've already got
I would give this book a Five star rating without hesitation. Now to get to work on some of the ideas !

Kate Menhinick

This is a beautiful book; basic, yes, but the best ideas are the simplest and anything that inspires and fires your imagination is good in my world. We start with the basics, then some re-purposing before heading into the tunic on the cover.
I like the fact this book promotes trial and error, having a play and experimenting while given enough tips for you to be proud of your results.
If you want somewhere to start with your sewing machine without laying out a mortgage payment in the fabric shop (it's all so pretty!), a taster to grow in confidence written in a friendly, accessible style then this is a good book for you.

Sarah Dennis

This is another fantastic book from Search Press. With clear pictures and friendly wording it's like having your own private tutor guiding you through every step. This book shows you don't need to spend a lot of money when making your own clothes and has handy tips on acquiring fabric, making a pattern to fit *your* measurements and customising your current clothes to put your own, unique spin on them.

The sewing kit list includes a few surprises in addition to the usual pins, scissors etc but I can see that these items will become essentials in my sewing kit. I particularly like the section on seams which explains what seam to use and why.

There is a good choice of clothes to make for all seasons using a variety of fabrics. The instructions are clearly written, avoiding any "technical jargon" accompanied by close-up pictures.

Sophia Komninou

Great book to get you started on sewing.
I really enjoyed the pictures and the very clear instructions.
It does not contain any pattern but a lot of sewing recipes instead. I think that is very useful as it helps you to make adjustments and bring anything to your style/figure standards.
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into sewing, especially for those who are more looking into up cycling and being creative with textiles!

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