V8949 Lace Dress- Inspired by GBSB 3 Episode 5!

v8949 GBSB lace dressDid you catch the Great British Sewing Bee final? Well done to Matt – I think he was my favourite from the start! However, did you see all those lovely lace skirts they made last week? Last year for GBSB Series 2 I took part in my very own ‘Sewing Bee Sleeveless Top’ challenge (you can see how that make went here). Not one to break with tradition, this year for GBSB Series 3, White Tree Fabrics were very kind to set me another challenge! This time it was a lace challenge – though ‘challenge’ is perhaps an understatement.

The pattern I used for my GBSB lace challenge was the Vogue V8949 dress, an ‘Easy Options’ sewing pattern that features both long sleeve and sleeveless dresses with a lace overlay. I chose to make view C for the a-line skirt but then added the lace sleeves from view B to make it a bit more ‘demure’ and more like an evening dress.

The fabric I used is the black large flower lace from White Tree Fabrics – the same black lace that Neil used in the Sewing Bee episode – with a simple, ivory-coloured lining underneath. The lace has a lovely scalloped edge which I think looks just lovely around my dress hem. If you’ve never sewn with shiny lining and silky, stretchy lace before (like me) then my goodness you’re in for a bumpy ride. These fabrics are gosh-darn slippery! Basting and pinning are your friends for this project, believe me. I got quite frustrated with this dress at one point and put it away for a few weeks whilst I calmed down – I really don’t know how those Sewing Bee contestants managed to cope in such a small time-frame! No walking away from the challenge for a breather in that room…

great british sewing bee neil lace skirt

The pattern itself is made up of lots of separate panels for the skirt, a front bodice, a back bodice, a waistband and two decorative peplums over the hips. I quite like the added peplum feature, it’s not something I’d ever have thought to try but the end result is quite effective. Definitely one I’ll be keeping in mind for future projects! I also rather like the addition of lace sleeves, although I did make them a little too big for my liking. You live and learn – and I certainly did learn a lot whilst making this dress.

vogue 8949 lace dress gbsb

Overall this GBSB lace challenge was exactly that – a challenge!  I’ve learnt such a lot about delicate fabrics and sewing techniques through making it. Practice makes perfect! Who knows, this time next year you might be watching me on the TV as I battle with these fabrics in public rather than in them privacy of my living room 😉

What do you think? Have you ever sewn with lace before? Has the episode inspired you to try? Here are a few of the other White Tree Fabrics bloggers makes (which are all so much better than mine!) – check them out!

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Satin Pyjamas for White Tree Fabrics + 20% off code!

v7837 satin pyjamas for white tree fabricsHave you heard of White Tree Fabrics? They’re a brand new fabric and haberdashery website specialising in satins, laces and other luxurious fabrics. When they asked me if I wanted to be on-board with their blogger project, I have to admit that I hesitated. I’ve never sewn with satin, lace, silk, net, crepe or any of the other marvellous fabrics that they sell. What on earth was I going to make? And then I remembered my mantra: ‘try it and see’. And that’s just what I did with this project – a satin pyjama set! (I’d also like to apologise for the lack of photos of me in my pyjamas but, come on, nobody needs to see that…)

vogue 7837 satin pyjamas for white tree fabricsThe pattern I used for my pyjamas is the Vogue V7837 and is the same one that the lovely Simon used on the series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee for the silk nightgown he made (click here for a reminder!). I chose to make view D, which is the shorts and cropped camisole top, with a lace trim and a bow at the back. What could be easier than that?!

My fabric choice is a lovely, cornflower-blue duchess satin, which you can find on the White Tree Fabrics website here for just short of £9/metre. And now here’s the amazing part – you can get 20% off and FREE DELIVERY using my unique discount code! That brings this fabric down to £7/metre which is just a bit silly to miss out on to be honest.

The code for your 20% discount and free delivery is: SEWSENSATIONAL

The pattern itself was easy enough to follow but there are are an awful lot of skills involved, ie sewing a channel, inserting elastic, attaching lace, mitring the lace at the points, neck and arm binding…nothing that I’ve not done before but definitely something that it’s worth taking your time over. The satin is quite thick too and, although lovely to sew with, can get quite bulky when sewing seams and binding, so make sure you do lots of clipping!

vogue 7837 pyjama top and shorts

What do you think to my finished summer satin PJs? They fit and feel comfy to wear but I’m not sure I’ll get around to wearing them very frequently… they’re a bit different from my usual cotton 2-pieces!

Blogger Network #2 – Sewing Bee Circle Skirt

Sewing Bee circle skirtEveryone who is anyone in the world of sewing is hooked by the Sewing Bee this year – and with the final creeping up on us this Tuesday, what better time than to make something from the GBSB book! For my 2nd Minerva Blogger Network post I decided to make this circle skirt from the first Sewing Bee book and, after initial reservations about it being a bit too swishy, I now absolutely love it! (This may or may not also have something to do with the fact that we’ve been watching Mad Men back-to-back recently and I’ve been obsessing over Betty Draper’s delightful wardrobe).

sewing bee circle skirt buttons and zipThis skirt really is fabulous to make – it’s made up of two huge semi circles and a waistband and sews together in no time at all. It’s great for someone new to dressmaking. The only tricky bits include inserting an invisible zipper (see the Colette blog for help with this!) and creating button holes . If you’re a bit wobbly with these skills then practice on some scrap fabric first until you get it neat enough for the real thing!

I also found that, due to my petite height, I had to chop off about 8 inches from the hem to bring the skirt above my knee. I know the ‘midi’ skirt is so on trend right now but it just looks so wrong on a person of my stature. Anyhow, not to worry…

gbsb circle skirt

The fabric I used for the skirt is a lovely, swishy, swirly denim-coloured chambray. It’s so soft and perfect for this kind of garment! If you fancy making over your own wardrobe, Mad Men Style, then you can buy the chambray fabric for the skirt right here. Do you like it?

Aside from hacking off the length, I think the only edit I’ll make to this pattern is to try and add some belt loops to the waistband. I didn’t measure it properly when I was sewing and it’s about an inch too big around my middle – does anyone have any good tips/tutorials for adding belt loops post-completion?

GBSB Series 2 Episode 6 – Vintage Blouse and Coat Sewing Patterns!

Hollywood Patterns 1087 GBSBWho else was wow-ed by the Sewing Bee contestants’ vintage blouses and coats last night?! I know I’d certainly struggle with those patterns! I’ve definitely been inspired to have a go at making my own short-sleeved blouse for spring though – a lovely Liberty cotton lawn would go perfectly with the sewing pattern used on the show…

If you fancy making a vintage blouse exactly the same as the one on the Sewing Bee, see if you can pick up a copy of the sewing pattern that they used: Hollywood Pattern 1087. The pattern envelope looks so lovely I’m not sure I’d want to open it!

simplicity 1590For a similar, still-in-print vintage blouse pattern, try Simplicity’s 1590  retro blouse sewing pattern – it’s one I’ve had my eye on for a while and this GBSB episode has convinced me I was right to do so!

The contestants also made a round of outdoor, heavy, woollen coats. After seeing the Colette Albion pattern that was released recently, the idea of making a coat is looking more and more accessible.

Want to make the same coat as one of the Sewing Bee sew-ers? Here’s a little round-up of the sewing patterns that they used:

lynda's gbsb winning coat b5824

Lynda’s winning coat sewing pattern – Butterick B5824

david's military coat sewing pattern gbsb McCalls 4745

David’s military coat sewing pattern – McCall’s 4745

heather's swing coat sewing pattern gbsb b5716

Heather’s swing coat sewing pattern – Butterick B5716

You can also view my other Sewing Bee pattern round-ups at the posts below:

My First Tilly & the Buttons Coco Dress!

tilly and the buttons coco dressYay! I finally made my Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress! This pattern is absolutely beautiful and so simple to make, too. I was a bit sceptical at first as I watched people all over Twitter declaring that they’d whipped their dresses up in an afternoon…. but now that I’ve managed just that myself, I’m proud to be #sewingcoco with the rest of you!

I made the size ‘3’ pattern and chose to do the long sleeves and plain neckline variation. I also shortened the hem by about 4 inches (I’m 5’3 and like my dresses to be above the knee) but this was very easy to do and Tilly gives you clear guidance on when and where to make the chop. I also added some little patch pockets to the front but you can hardly see them because my pattern matching is so brilliant (modest and proud).

tilly and the buttons coco dress #sewingcoco

I’ll definitely be making another Coco – next time I’ll perhaps take a couple of inches out of the top width and do cropped sleeves too. Have you made a Coco yet?

Oh and I’ve had a lot of you asking about the fabric – I used a lovely, double jersey from Minerva Crafts with an aztec print. It was only £4.99 a metre and feels fantastic!

GBSB Series 2 Episode 4 – Dungarees and Prom Dress Patterns

GBSB dungareesEpisode 4 of the Great British Sewing Bee (series 2) challenged the sewers to make several things that I really have no intention to ever make…. at least in the near future. I neither have no children (yet) or no teenagers (yet) to hand, so this post is more of an episode round-up!

First up the contestants had to make some toddlers’ dungarees using heavy duty cotton or corduroy. For a beginner dressmaker this looked Burda 9464 dungareesquite intimidating! If you’re looking for instructions on how to sew a flat felled seam like in the episode then head over to the tutorial on the Colette Patterns website – it’s full of pictures and incredibly useful!

If you’re looking for a similar dungarees sewing pattern, try Burda 9464. It has shoulder buckles and buttons at the side, like the one the Sewing Bee contestants made, as well as a long-length version to keep those knees from grazing!

For heavy-duty fabric try cotton drill, corduroy or denim.

The final challenge was to sew a teenager’s prom dress – and once again Lynda won ‘garment of the week’ with her lovely, mini, embroidered, sweetheart neck creation!

Lynda's winning prom dress GBSB2Simplicity 4070If you fancy having a go at making your own version, the prom dress sewing pattern used by Lynda was McCalls M6646 which may need a few modifications if you want to make it yourself (note the frills!) If you want something similar and more simple, give the Simplicity 4070 prom dress a go that I’ve pictured here!

I’m not sure I’m quite ambitious enough to start making dresses like this but I’m sure many of you will now have children, nieces and cousins all wanting you to make them something for this summer’s prom!

For similar fabric to Lynda, try satin, dupion, taffeta or crepe and of course corset boning!

Don’t forget to check out my other Sewing Bee pattern posts:

New Look 6483 Sleeveless Top – GBSB2 Inspired!

my new look 6843In the first challenge of series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee, the contestants were required to make a simple, cotton, sleeveless top. Easy! I hear you cry. Everyone has a piece of cotton in their sewing stash. Every dressmaker knows how to make interfacing, sew curved seams and make a button loop…. or do they? Welcome to my very own Sewing Bee-style challenge!

After the first episode of the Sewing Bee had aired, and thanks to the lovely ladies at Simplicity patterns, I found myself with a copy of the New Look 6483 sewing pattern on the sewing (dining) table. This pattern is almost exactly the same as the one used in the show, although there’s no ‘pulling through to the front’ business involved in this one which, perhaps, makes it even easier.

The bits and bobs you’ll need to make this pattern are as follows:

new look 6483 sewing bee challenge

First up, notice how the sewing pattern is marked as ‘1 Hour Easy’? If this isn’t perfect for a Sewing Bee Sleeveless Top Challenge then I don’t know what is! I decided to go for view ‘E’, which is the one on the top left of the pattern cover.

new look 6483 sleeveless topHowever, 1 hour is perhaps something of an understatement. It probably took me an hour to cut out the pieces and a couple of hours to sew everything together – but that’s not too bad, right? Plus I had to allow an extra hour because I made the pattern way too big (Top Tip! I compared my measurements with the fit-guide on the back and used the appropriate-sized pattern. When I sewed it up it was about 3 sizes too big so I had to take a big chunk out of my side seams. I suggest choosing a smaller size than you think clipped seamsyou’ll need!)

Overall this pattern is pretty easy to follow and good for a start-up stitcher like myself. Attaching the interfacing is simple and the curved seams are nice and big so very easy to do on your machine. I didn’t even have any trouble adding the darts.

A tip I have for clipping all the curved seams is to use your pinking shears! I learnt this from Lucie over at Love Lucie and haven’t looked back. It’s so much quicker and neater and works just as well. how to sew a button loopGive it a go!

As for how to sew the button loop… try this little diagram! Using the tiny image in the pattern, I created a loop of cotton the width of the button and then wound my thread around the loop a few times to strengthen it. I think it looks quite good! It does the job at least.

Has anyone else made this pattern before?

If you’re looking for other Sewing Bee related patterns then try my posts on the silk nightgowns and the men’s pyjamas!