My GBSB Sew Along

2019 saw the return of The Great British sewing Bee and I was so excited after two long years off. It was great to read such a positive news feed and see so many people inspired and enjoying watching the new series (I always scroll quickly past the haters, there is no time in my life for negativity, especially around sewing!). I decided to join in with as many of the themes as possible and make something from each week. I added my own twist, but I can confirm that I did not make them in the same time frames. I had great intentions of completing each week but as with everything, life gets in the way. I have had this blog post half written for nearly a year and have come to the conclusion, I am never going to get all the themes done any time soon. It seems a shame not to share how far I got, and with the new series around the corner, now is as good a time as any.

Week One

What a fantastic start it was with the wiggle dress and a denim upcycle challenge. I have made a few dresses in a similar style to the wiggle dress. I will have to dig them out and get some photos. I decided to raid my wardrobe for jeans I no longer wear. I found a pair of green jeans that have never fitted quite right and decided to make a pinafore style dress similar to one that I already have and love. I used that as a template and quickly realised that I didn't have enough fabric. We moved recently and I had a big clear out so I couldn't find any others I could use but I did find a pair of cords that I knew my husband never wears. I sent a picture to confirm he wouldn't miss them.

I did one half in each of the fabrics. The side seams weren't in the same place on each side, but I was OK with that. I un-stitched the pockets and placed them on the front of the dress which really finishes it off. I used belt loops to thread the straps through.

I used as much of the item without changing it. The top hem was the bottom of the trouser leg, so I only had to worry about the bottom hem and under the arms which I just turned over a couple of times and top stitched. The fabric I had was quite flexible so this worked really well.

I wear a size 10 and I have drawn some rough measurements up if you want to give it a go yourself. These measurements do not include seam allowances.

Week Two

Week two was children's week and the sewers were tasked with creating a hoody in the pattern challenge, a fancy dress costume using fur coats and a dance costume.

For Christmas we got George a tent, top hat and stick because his favourite film is The Greatest Showman and he dances around with the hat and stick every time a song comes on. I also bought half a metre of red velvet and planned on making a jacket but the lead up to Christmas was too busy and I didn't get around to it. This challenge was the perfect excuse to tackle it.

I used a shirt pattern I have as a basic template for the back and adjusted the front. I used the sleeve template and measured his arms to lengthen them and I just made up the collar and tails as I went along. I made the lining first in some material I already had and tried it on him the next day. When I knew it fitted and made a few adjustments I repeated it in the red velvet. We bought some gold trim and raided the button jar to find a few gold buttons. The centre one is one of my Dad's military buttons. I pinned the trim on first while George was eating his lunch and he had some input on where it should go. I sewed all the trim on by hand.

I finished it just i time for the circus to come to town and George danced most of the way through the performance. He got a great picture with the clown and ringmaster at the end of the show. I definitely gained some mum points for this one.

Week Three

Week three was 70s week and although I want to try and follow the weeks, I also want to make something that I can make use off. I wasn't going to make a pair of flairs and punk isn't really my thing. Maxi dresses on the other hand are my thing!

We went on a cruise for our honeymoon in 2018 and Barcelona was by far my favourite stop. We went on a food tour, which I would recommend if you go on any city breaks. We did one in Dublin too. The tour guides are always really friendly and knowledgeable, and you get to drink and eat lots and make some holiday friends. I asked our guide if she knew of any fabric shops and she pointed us in the right direction. I found this little shop and picked this beautiful piece of fabric out for just 10 euros.

I knew I would probably make a dress or skirt with it but hadn't worked out how yet. I started by working out how big to cut the circle out of the centre. I then knew how much fabric I had to work with for the top. There is a lot of fabric and gather and it is quite heavy so it didn't look right sitting under the bust, but I didn't have enough fabric to add a band in the same fabric. I used some of the plain navy cotton that I stock to add the centre band and the back. I cut a piece of elastic the size of my waste and stretched and sewed it around the top of the skirt as a cheat way of gathering it and help add some support since it is so heavy.

I really hate inserting zips and I remember one episode of the sewing bee a few series back in children's week when they did shearing. I hadn't done it before, but I remembered that you have to hand wind the bobbin with elastic. I did a little sample and then went for it. The shearing is 1/4" apart and although it was time consuming it was really easy and a lot less stressful than adding a zip. It also means I didn't have to worry as much about getting the fit precise because the elastic did that for me.

I used a pattern for the front pieces but wish I hadn't because of the amount of adjusting I had to do on it. The beauty of this fabric was that I didn't need to hem it either. It is now ready and waiting for summer and taking on holiday with us in June.


Week Five

When I heard there was a recycle week, I was really excited but it took me ages to work out what to make. I usually turn all my scraps into quilts or give them to a local school or nursery. After thinking about it for a few weeks I remembered some curtains we used to have in the office. I found them in the garage, they had been put down for a few DIY projects (thankfully no painting) and had cat scratch marks but I put them in the wash, and they came out great.

I don't usually do pattern matching but with such bold stripes it had to be done and I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I have made this New Look 6124 pattern a few times. It is simple and sophisticated, fits beautifully and is really comfy. It is the first pattern I thought of when I looked at the fabric I had to work with.

We had an invite to my cousins little boys Christening in Wales so I had the perfect occasion to wear it and took great pleasure in telling everyone I made it from a pair of curtains and it cost me the price of the zip.

This was as far as I got unfortunately but I still fully intend on making a swimsuit from week four and a coat from week six at some point. Week eight was a strapless evening gown so I dug out this old photo of me from 2012. I used a Vogue pattern to make my Christmas party dress that year. I loved it and felt like a princess, but it took me weeks, all the flowers you see down the front were individually hand stitched. I certainly won't be attempting to make anything similar any time soon!


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