If my offerings today are anything to go by, I think I would have been the one asked to leave the Great British Sewing Bee last week…
We are up to episode three of the sewing contest and the challenges have been fairly tough, particularly when sew against the clock in front of a TV crew! This week was all about underwear, so silky fabrics, french seams etc
The first challenge was to make a bra, I had wondered if this would come up as it is becoming quite the ‘in thing’ to make. It seemed to be the one item the contestants hoped wouldn’t come up…especially the chaps! One of them did comment that they’d never stayed on long enough to study how they were made!! The winning one was pretty much perfect. It was interesting to see what made it so good, the picot edging on the elastic was just showing, there were no gathers into the hook and eye bar and of course the lace edging was symmetrical.
There’s quite a lot of specialist haberdashery needed to make bras, soft elastic, clear elastic, hook & eye tape, sliders etc which has always put me off having a go. However I spotted on Etsy a bra making kit for about £12.95 which includes lace, satin and all the bits, so I’ve ordered one, purple and black. It’s not arrived yet so watch this space!
The up-cycling challenge was to make something from two silk scarves. There were lots of camisoles made, some alot more successful than others. The final challenge was a luxury dressing gown, either for a man or a woman. There was the usual silky satin robes, but the winning one was a beautiful vintage style simply made in a gorgeous cotton lawn and the luxury bit was all the hand finishing she did. It just shows that sometimes keeping it simple but sewing it beautifully is the way to go.
As my bra kit hasn’t arrived yet I decided to make a camisole. The pattern in this years GBSB book needed a particular style of lace which I didn’t have in my stash. I decided to use the Slip Dress pattern from an earlier book and shorten it. I found in my stash a short length of beautiful silk,. the sort that drips through your fingers. I think it’s been in my stash for years, mainly because I knew it would be a s0 and s0 to sew…and it was!
I used a rotary cutter to cut this out which was new to me, I’m still not sure about using them generally for cutting out (I just use mine for quilting) but for a very moveable silk they were ideal as you weren’t lifting the fabric to cut with scissors. The pattern is cut on the bias with darts under the bust. If I made it again I would be inclined to gather it here instead of the darts as I struggled to get the piece to then fit on the front, not helped by french seams…well one side got a true french seam, the other side got a botched one as I stitched the wrong sides together and I wasn’t going to start unpicking that silk!!
From the start I wasn’t happy with the fit at the front, for silk cut on the bias it’s pretty shapeless, in the end I put a hand-stitched tuck/dart at the top on each side and at the end I also stitched a tuck in the lace under the arms to help pull it in a bit.
The straps are some ribbon I had in my stash, although it’s wide the sheerness of it made it fit in nicely with the silk. Last night when I was trying it on I really wasn’t happy with the fit, it got to the stage of ‘just finish it!’ This morning when I tried it on I realised the straps were too short (luckily only one was stitched on!) I also tried it on without a bra on and it did fit much better. I had to add a piece onto one length of ribbon to finish the other strap. A little bow at the front neatly covered any messiness there.
By the end of all the tweaking I’m much happier with it. It’s not easy to photograph though and you’ll be pleased to know that I’m not about to model it. It doesn’t fit Florence, my muse, very well. I can’t say I’d be likely to use this pattern again though, I think I’d have got a better shape with a bias cut and just a couple of side darts.
At the beginning I was thinking it would be nice to make a pair of matching undies, half way through it was ‘No way am I making anything else in this silk’. By the finish it was more ‘I might just have a go…’
I’m loving this Little Sewing Bee series! Your top is so pretty! It was a great idea to use that pattern from an earlier book. It’s definitely underwear and not a dress! You should also make some matching knickers! Can’t wait to see what you make for International Week 😃
I’m enjoying your Little Bee series very much too. I love your top and agree that the original pattern is very lingerie-like rather than someone of my age at least would wear as a dress! I had intended to make some lingerie for Helen with the left over silk from the wedding dress lining (silk charmeuse) but boy was it difficult to sew so I’m not sure I will! I haven’t seen this week’s episode yet.