Tag Archives: Great British Sewing Bee

My first foray into sewing a swimsuit

I actually made this Sandpiper swimsuit last year but have (obviously) only just got around to photographing it for the blog. I bought 2 lots of fabric at the same time, so expect at least one more Sandpiper in the near future.

This is the Helen’s Closet Sandpiper Swimsuit – it’s no secret I’m a bit of a Helen’s Closet fangirl! I thought about using the Axis Tank and the pants pattern I used to make all my underwear (can’t remember which one it was now!) but since there are some specific techniques with sewing a swimming costume – like the elastic and lining – and because Helen’s instructions are always so great and comprehensive, I thought it was worth plumping for a proper pattern.

I made the size 6 and had to make loads of changes! I realised when I cut out the second version recently, that I cut out the wrong size. I looked at the high bust measurement and thought it was the full bust measurement. I took it in about 4cm off the shoulders, 2.5cm at the armpit, out to 6cm from the side seams at the waist, 3cm off the crotch seam and 2cm off the pants side seams! I did think this was a lot of adjustments – which obviously it is when you’re an idiot and cut out the wrong size! Luckily this was kind of a wearable toile!

I bought this fabric (and the other one) from an online shop I’d not used before – Fabriques. The fabric is fine but doesn’t have super good stretch – I’ve since bought some other swim fabrics from Sew Me Sunshine and Hey Sew Georgie and they feel much nice and have more stretch. It does the job but it’s pretty difficult to get off once it’s wet!

Attaching the swim elastic was a bit of a learning curve! It isn’t very even if you look closely. but when it’s on the body you can’t really tell. It looks quite scrunched up when it’s not on the body – which I assume is normal?

I’m very inspired to sew my second (and third and fourth ehem) versions after the Sewing Bee this week. I love seeing everyone’s different interpretations of the briefs on the made to measure challenges. But I would probably have lost because I don’t generally like lots of flouncey or intricate details in most garments – but especially in a swimming costume! Have you been inspired to sew a swimming costume after watching the bee? (I’m not sure I could sew one to a strict time crunch, though!)

February Make and March Plans

Well it’s been a while! I didn’t mean to take a break from the blog but I felt quite down through most of February and just wasn’t in the mood to blog. I did finish my coat, though, which is pretty amazing! I was in the mood to sew but not to write about sewing. Weird. But I’m back and I have most of March already planned with posts for things I made in January! I’m a little backed up!

My only make for February was my coat – but I knew that would be the case, and I actually really enjoyed taking my time over a bigger project and learning some new skills to boot.

This is just a sneak peek – I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the apocalyptic snow we had last week to take some nice Wintery photos……maybe it would have been a better idea to have waiting until it had actually STOPPED snowing!? I do have better photos for my forthcoming post about my adventures in coat-making, I promise!

Now onto my plans for March. As I mentioned in my post about my plans for the year, I’m going to try to join in with a couple of months of the Sew My Style challenge and March is one of the months I’m going to join in with as it’s the Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirt/Shirtdress and this was on my to-make list anyway.

I’ve got this lovely cotton/linen blend (I think) from the Great British Sewing Bee Live. My only questions is: which version do I make? I’m tempted by the cropped version, but with the proper collar. Or I could make the dress version – I don’t actually have any shirt dresses, though I do have a lot of other dresses so it feels like I’m more in need of separates at the moment.

My other main plan for March is to finally make some Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjamas, which have been on my to-make list for months and months. The pattern is one of my Make Nine so I really need to tackle it this month! I have this slightly ruined liberty fabric, which I bought years and years ago on Goldhawk Road. I carefully pre-washed it……with some other fabrics, one of which was pink and stained everything else. The other fabrics weren’t quite as stained as this one, though, so I thought this would be the perfect practice fabric for the pyjamas because there is 3 metres, it’s still nice quality, and the discolouration won’t matter for pyjamas.

Then when I’ve made the practice version, I’m going to finally cut into this gorgeous boat-y liberty fabric my friend gave me ages ago! I have red and white striped piping already, too, as I want to pipe this pair. I think both versions will be long-sleeved and trousers as our flat is really quite cold and even in the heat wave we had last year, I didn’t really sleep in my Grainline Lakeside Pyjamas which I made the previous year as it didn’t feel super warm indoors, even when it was 34 degrees outside! (For reference I currently have a blanket and a hot water bottle on my lap and it’s not as cold as it was on Thursday/Friday last week!).

I think this should be enough to keep me occupied throughout March. What are your plans for the next month or two please?



Great British Sewing Bee Live

Last month, the day before I went to the Balenciaga exhibition at the V&A, I went to the Great British Sewing Bee Live with my friend Sarah (who it turns out has the same birthday as me!!!) and my new friend Stef. And it was ace!

There were quite a few different displays of clothes around the exhibition, like this one by either GCSE or A-Level students, I can’t remember which!

I wouldn’t be able to make most of these dresses now, let alone when I was 16 or 18! I Wasn’t really sewing back then, but still….

I failed to take a note of what these red dresses were all about – anyone else who went know what they were/why they were there? I did love them, however!

I would love to know what structure was underneath this collar.

I slightly love all the circles on the one in the middle, below.

Probably my favourite exhibition within the exhibition was a display of liberty print outfits, showing the history of liberty prints and the history of clothing shapes and silhouettes. I’m not a huge fan of the more cintzy liberty prints but I liked quite a few of the ones they had in display. I love this blue one!

I love these psychadelic 60s ones.

I also weirdly like this more 70s dress. The colours are a little washed out, and it may be the style of the dress I’m drawn to, but I do really like it.

I love this one. I love the combination of the velvet and the print. Velvet is definitely on my radar this Winter as it seems to be everywhere at the moment. I’m thinking of making a velvet party dress for the New Craft House Winter Party – maybe I’ll copy this dress!?

This green one might be my absolute favourite! I love the silhouette and the fabric isn’t totally unfortunate.

One of the best things about GBSB Live was the display of the clothes made on the actual show they had. I loved this outfit that Rumana made.

I was going to use the pattern from the hacking jacket Lauren made in season 1 as the pattern for my suit refashion, but I couldn’t fit all of the pattern pieces onto the existing jacket pieces. Boo. I still like the jacket, though, so I might give it a go in the future….with new fabric.

The 60s jacket Jade made is one of my favourite things anyone’s every made on the Sewing Bee – and I got to see it in real life!

These gowns are both amazing in real life. I want to wear both of them!

I didn’t remember to take too many other photos as I was too busy trying to spend all my money on fabric!

I resisted the urge to buy this fabric, though I slightly regret it now looking at this photo!

I like how these lampshades looked on the Higgs and Higgs stand.

And now onto what I bought. One of the things I was determined to get was some nice white fabric with a bit of drape that wasn’t see-through to make a white shirt from. I don’t have a plain white shirt and it definitely feels like a gap in my wardrobe. There was a stall called Holland and Sherry which is a fabric mill which supplies Saville Row and usually only supplies to trade and not to ‘normal’ people. They had some amazing stuff, which was all sold in specific lengths – this one was luckily 2 metres, and cost £20 which I don’t think is too bad given how good quality it is.

This lovely off white with black-brown flecks was from Higgs and Higgs. A lot of their stuff was quilting cotton and was quite stiff, but this stuff is really soft and drapey. I’m planning probably a melilot.

I also bought some basic navy blue jersey for hopefully my first Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top, but it was impossible to photograph! The last thing is this lovely linen-y cotton remnants from Guthrie and Ghani. I also bought the Kalle shirt and shirtdress from them.

All in all I was impressed with the first GBSB Live – it was really nice to have an event specifically aimed at dressmakers. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Knitting and Stitching Show as I was disappointed with the selection of dressmaking fabrics the last time I went, though it seems to have imrpoved in the last couple of years. I met quite a few new people and saw a bunch of people I had met before. It’s really nice to be part of such a lovely community.

I’m going to Sew Brum on Saturday – who else will be there?! I plan to buy yet more fabric, but then I think I’m going to have to ban myself from buying more until I’ve made, like, 15 garments!



Make It: 15 Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

15 Homemade Christmas Present IdeasOn Saturday  the boyfriend and I went to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Cirencester and it was really lovely. We all sang a couple of carols then Ben Miller (or Armstrong and Miller fame), who is apparently local pressed the button then there were fireworks on the roof of the local church. It has definitely got me feeling in the festive mood so I thought I’d share my pick of homemade presents I’ve made for various people in the past – I have no ideas of things to make this year, so if anyone has any ideas I’m definitely looking for some inspiration!

(click on the picture for the full post)

One of the most versatile and adaptable presents you could make is a tote bag – you can applique something on it to suit the person you’re making it for. I’ve made them with a car, a strawberry and BBC’s Sherlock on for various people!

For your tea-loving friend or relative, why not make them a tea-cup candle? You can flavour them with any essential oil – I used chocolate, mmmm.

Do you have a friend who loves lego? If so, you could make them a lego doorstop – there isn’t a huge amount of knitting involved, so you’ve still got time to make this in time for the big day!


You could make a genuinely one-off present in the form of a scrapbook, as I did for my dad’s 65th birthday.

For your music-loving friend or relative why not make a vinyl record clock?

For your internet-meme-loving friend or relative you’ve still got just about enough time to embroider a cushion cover 😉

thumbnail_img_1309For your friend or relative who loved cooking and baking you could make them a lovely apron – there are lots of free patterns out there. I used the one from the first Great British Sewing Bee.


If you have a friend or relative who loves running or exercising, you could make them a useful present in the form of a running armband to hold their phone and keys while they’re out doing their thing.


For Kids:

If you know a kid who needs entertaining while traveling (or at other times!) why not make the travel match game I made for my friend’s daughter?

If you know a kid (or have a kid) who would like to learn about growing things, why not make them a felt allotment? (p.s. this is really, honestly, one of my very favourite things I’ve ever made – I was more excited to give it away than I think the recipient was when she opened it!)

Why not make their favourite book into a cushion cover……..

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2or a wall-hanging?

Clothes are sometimes a good option for kiddies (though they will grow out of them in no time at all!) I’ve appliqued babygrows, made dungarees and made the cutest dresses with matching knickers!


Are you making any homemade presents this year? I’m not sure I’ll have time to be brutally honest, though my sister has asked me to make her some skirts so I think that will count….if I get them made in time?!


#SewDots Dress

In my October plans post I mentioned I was going to try to join in with Rosie Martin’s #SewDots movement for the RNIB. She raised £791.29 so far (with a target of £500 being smashed) and you can still donate to the JustGiving page if you’d like. I finished my dress in the nick of time – literally! I posted it on Instagram at about 5pm on the last day.

sew-dots-dress-2This is the Drapey Knit dress from the 3rd Great British Sewing Bee book.


This is the fabric, which I’ve had in my stash for ages. You may recognise it from my running armband tutorial.


I did make a couple of changes to the pattern. The main one was when I traced the pattern, I widened the hem line as I didn’t like the 80s style narrowing. I think I could maybe have widened it a bit more, but I think it looks quite balanced.

sew-dots-dress-5I reduced the sleeve seam allowance to 0.5cm instead of 1.5cm because the fabric isn’t probably as stretchy as it should be for this pattern. Also I think I cut them in the wrong direction – the fabric has more stretch one way than the other and I think this stretchy direction runs up and down the sleeve instead of around! It’s not normally my style, but I like the batwing-style of the upper sleeves.

sew-dots-dress-6The other change I made was to the neckline. The head hole was so small I couldn’t get it over my head (same non-stretch issue I think!) so I sewed it with a 3cm seam allowance instead of the 1.5cm allowance suggested. This did unfortunately mean I slightly messed with the crossover pleat-y-thing at the neckline. I think other people have mentioned this doesn’t sit perfectly and mine definitely doesn’t when I resewed the neckline.

sew-dots-dress-8I can sort of fudge it a little if I arrange it and stand still! Eagle-eyed viewers may spot that my pleat-y-thing is the opposite way around than it should be. For some reason – and without noticing at all – I had the fabric with the wrong side up when I cut out all the pieces for the front (they’re cut in a single layer because it’s obviously not symmetrical) so they ended up a mirror image. Luckily I cut all the pieces wrong so it was sort of fine in the end.

I do like the pockets and the way the pleats flow straight into them. 🙂

sew-dots-dress-3For once I like the fit on the back of this dress! It’s meant to look a bit wider at the top, so it doesn’t look too big I don’t think. I also like how in this photo it looks like I have a real shelf of an arse!


I’m sure I say this every time, but I really think I’ll make this pattern again. I’ve worn it quite a few times already, with a top underneath for warmth. When the weather gets a  bit warmer I think it will still be a comfy dress to wear – but it’s smart enough for work. And I got quite a few compliments on it, which is always pleasing 🙂