The Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB) started last week, it’s the fourth series so ten new contestants are vying to be crowned Britain’s best home sewer. Each week they have various challenges under timed conditions, I decided to have my own Little Sewing Bee challenge, trying to sew something each week either from the books or linked to the challenges.
Each year a book is published to go with the series containing quite a few patterns. I’ve just managed to buy this years book as it’s already reduced at The Book People. It’s quite interesting looking through it as it does give you clues to what they will be sewing over the next few weeks, such as a mans Lycra top, something from a sari, a bra…that will be an interesting challenge for the three chaps!
The first challenge this year was a deceptively simple top, it’s only got two fronts, two backs and a bias neckline…only they had to make it bias cut with striped fabric, a chevron style top! And of course those chevrons had to match perfectly! I’m not a chevron person, so I’ll give that challenge a miss!
The recycling challenge was to make something from a plain blue maternity dress, the contestants haven’t really got into the swing of the recycle challenge yet as usually the wackier the better, there were quite a few fairly simple skirts, not much exciting there!
The final challenge is to make something they know about in advance, they can choose the pattern (and therefore practice it) and the fabric, but it’s to fit a model, so they need to check sizes etc on the day. They had five hours to make a skirt. There was an amazing one all net with a high boned waistband, she stitched silver ribbon along the edge of the net and it puffed out and bounced along beautifully. The winning one was a very fitted skirt with a fishtail, as Esme (the judge) commented, it fitted the model perfectly!
I decided to make a skirt this week. I saw a pattern on facebook recently for the Anywhere Skirt, I really liked it and ordered it straight away. It’s a very versatile skirt as it is basically what I would call a dirndl skirt with pockets and a button placket and options of sashes. What’s nice is the way the pattern is for all ages, all sizes, any length… you enter in your waist measurements on a chart and it then tells you how to calculate the size of various pieces…
A word or two of advice…
- Do not try and work out the pattern pieces whilst your 18 year old daughter is in chatter mode, just enjoy the moment (or the hour!!) and wait til you have peace and quiet. Otherwise you will make an obvious mistake and miss out one vital calculation…such as doubling the required waistband width by two before adding the seam allowance, this was particularly frustrating as it also affected the sash measurements!
- Do not cut out when OH unexpectedly decides to be sociable in the sewing room, again just enjoy the moment and wait for peace and quiet…otherwise you won’t notice the glaring mistakes you made with the measurements, even when there’s a niggle in your head!
Luckily I had plenty of fabric! The fabric is a lovely Liberty tana lawn. I was given this recently by a friend who was clearing her mother’s sewing room. What makes me smile is that I know exactly where she will have bought it. Many years ago (probably about 25!!) there was a local mill that made fabric for Laura Ashley and Liberty. They had one helluva closing down sale, most fabrics as I recall were about 50p a metre, tana lawn, silks, I’ve still got a length of silk stripe fabric I bought there. It was the sort of sale that went down in sewing folklore!!
I’ve been trying to decide what to make with this tana lawn as it’s quite a busy design and I felt for me a dress in it would be too much, so when I saw the maxi-skirt pattern, I knew just which length to choose.
The pattern is very straight forward (if you’ve got peace and quiet!!) The only change I made was to interface the front button placket, I wanted to give the tana lawn a bit more support rather than risk it tearing. I made it with a deep 3″ waistband, sashes, pockets and maxi length. It was pretty quick to make too. I bought the buttons from Samuel Taylor, they coordinate pretty well and even better they were only 10p each!
I love it, it took a few tries to find a top to go with it. The sash can be tied in a bow or I prefer it wrapped round Japanese style. I think it will be great for the summer as it’s lovely and light to wear. I’ve got a length of grey chiffon in my stash…I might just have found the perfect pattern for it!