Tag Archives: The Great British Sewing Bee

Patchwork Denim Whale Jacket

Long time no update! But I have a few old makes to share and lots of plans for new makes so hopefully I’ll be around a bit more this year than last year!

A while ago, at the beginning of the pandemic when I was furloughed, I sewed a bunch of pairs of jeans (have a look at my archive page for deets). This means I ended up with lots of denim scraps. I decided I wanted to make a patchwork denim jacket from these scraps. I was mostly inspired by Raph on the Sewing Bee when they did the reduce, reuse, recycle week and he made a patchwork denim dress with a whale on it.

The jacket went through a couple of iterations – at one point I was going to try to make a picture from the denim, but my skills are not good enough for ‘painting’ with fabric! But then like a lot of the world I watched the first series (and there has since been a second) of Young Royals on Netflix and became a little obsessed with this jacket that Edvin wore a good few times. And it was like destiny! I did buy a pair of white jeans from a charity shop to help break up the blues.

I decided to use the Friday Pattern Company’s Ilford Jacket pattern (which I made once before for my brother in law) and I made the chunks of patchwork according to the size of each pattern piece, so I didn’t waste as much fabric by making one massive sheet of patchwork! The below is the back. I cut random pieces and just tried to assemble them in a way which meant no 2 pieces of the same colour were next to each other. I did have 2 quite dark blue denims but they look a tiny bit different.

I actually finished this jacket at the end of 2021 and never got around to photographing it. Oops. Anyhoo. This is how it turned out. And I LOVE IT!

I did the patch pockets and chose fabrics based on what would contrast in each section they belonged in.

I did both sleeve plackets in white, but the cuffs in different colours, again based on which colour would contrast best on each sleeve. I did the basic construction and then cut out the cuffs and pockets. I also underlined the whole things because there were SO MANY SEAMS on the inside!

At this point you may be thinking ‘where is the whale I was promised?’. Weeellll…..

I didn’t necessarily intend to copy the whale from Raph’s dress but I’ve always loved whales, ever since I did a project on them since I was in the Brownies! I especially love blue whales. Because they’re the biggest! So my whale is based on a blue whale. Seems fitting colour-wise too!

As you can hopefully tell, I also cut the collar in 2 different colours and added seam allowance so that it would be super contrasty and I actually really like it as a design feature.

This was a stash only make, which seemed in keeping with the idea to use up my scraps. The buttons were in my stash – I feel like I took them off a rtw garment at some point but I don’t now remember when or from what. The fabric I used for the underlining was the leftover fabric I used to line my By Hand London Victoria coat hack.

I have worn this jacket a good few times (when it’s not quite as freezing as it is this week in Britain, brr!). I even got a compliment when I went to the Shakespeare Birthplace museum in Stratford Upon Avon – one of the tour guides told me she loved my style and my jacket specifically. I love getting random compliments from people – I want to try to do that more myself, because who doesn’t want to be told something nice?!

I don’t know if you can really see (I forgot to take a close up photo, sorry) but the whale has a little eye. I used a tiny bit of the black denim and zig-zag stitched all around the edge. It might be my favourite detail. And now I’m just going to spam you with loads of photos. Sorry not sorry.

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!



Wardrobe Architect Week 9: The Capsule Wardrobe

After covering all the things that have been covered in the previous few weeks of the Wardrobe Architect, Colette say now is the time to put it into practical terms by coming up with a capsule wardrobe.

“A capsule wardrobe is a small, manageable subset of your wardrobe, and it usually is something you can plan seasonally (twice a year, or perhaps 4 times a year).

A typical capsule wardrobe consists of between 20 and 33 items, depending on who you ask and what kinds of items you’re including. It doesn’t have to include every single thing you might wear for the season, but it is the foundation for the rest of your wardrobe. The idea is that once you have the capsule wardrobe figured out, the rest is gravy.”

I feel like I’m getting slightly better at knowing what I wear and making accordingly, but I do have some gaps in my me mades and some alternative silhouettes I think I could explore.

The original post gives these handy prompts:

  1. Choose one to six silhouettes for the season.
  2. Create a color palette.
  3. Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.
  4. Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.

1. Choose one to six silhouettes for the season

Since Summer is so short in the UK I tend not to focus so much on warm weather clothing, so I think my silhouettes will be for all year around – just maybe in different fabrics or without tights and cardigans in the Summer. Also I’ve covered a lot of this before in the week about exploring shapes, but it helps me to see things visually.

a. Skinny jeans/trousers with looser tops and shirts – I’m particularly drawn to button ups at the moment

b. Looser trousers with loose tops

I’m liking the coulotte trend at the moment, and I think they would be comfortable when it does get hot. Again I like them with loosers style tops.

c. Shift/swing dresses

d. Mini skirts with loose and/or cropped tops.

e. Cardigans, jackets and coats have pretty much been summed up in the above photos (which can all be found on my Wardrobe Architect Pinterest board).

2. Choose a colour palette.

I’ve covered my colour palette in the week about my colour story and the one about choosing a palette, but I’ll recap here.

3 & 4. Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.

I’m going to cover these 2 together in terms of planning what to make, and looking at what I’ve already got. I’ve got more tops I think that anything else.

My blue patterned Melilot shirt (left) and my blue spotty archer see quite a lot of wear and they fit my palette and silhouettes.

Blue Patterned Melilot ShirtBlue Spotty Archer Button Up

I’ve got some short of cropped, and boxy-ish tops too, which I wear quite often, such as my silver toaster sweater and my mustard astoria top.

Mustard Ponte Seamwork Astoria

I have some nice shift/cocoony dresses, like my new Marianne dress, my electric blue peppermint magazine jersey dress, my drapey knit dress and my rushcutter.

#SewDots GBSB Drapey Knit DressNavy Spotty Rushcutter Dress

So then in terms of what to make, here are my plans (which will probably take a year to complete!)

Ginger Jeans in black and dark blue (and possibly mustard if I’m feeling bold in the future) and Morgan Jeans in dark blue and a lighter shade of denim.

I’ve got both the Papercut Guise Trousers and the Butterick B6178 (which came free with one of the magazines I’ve bought recently) and I think this has me pretty much covered to recreate the silhouettes above. I don’t have any specific fabric or colours in mind, but I think with the coulottes I want some more summery colours/prints. I might copy the stripey ones above too. And I like the spotty trousers above which I could copy with the guise pattern. I like the idea of patterned bottoms – I tend to wear plain bottoms and patterned tops.

I recently treated myself to both the Sew Over It Nancy Dress and the Pauline Alice Xerea Dress, so I should be able to make dresses in my dream silhouettes. I have some nice navy, grey and white patterned viscose which I’m planning for the Nancy and I’m thinking some colour blocking for the Xerea.

I’ve got the Closet Case Patterns Ebony Tee and Dress and the Named Patterns Inari Tee and Dress so between them they should cover most eventualities of tops (and dresses as alternatives to the ones above).

I also want to make 2 coats – one proper winter coat, maybe in a 60s style like the one from the 2nd Great British Sewing Bee book, and one a rip-off of Seasalt’s lovely duffle coats using the Colette Albion pattern.

Sea Salt Yellow Duffel Coat

Well I think that’s probably enough things to be getting on with for now! Maybe eventually I’ll reach peak capsule wardrobe. I’ll probably also still always make random things that don’t fit into the capsule!







GBSB Boyfriend Shirt

One of the advantages of my job is I can get free books, including a copy of The Great British Sewing Bee Book.

JacketYou can download pretty much all of the pattern for free from the Quadrille website and although it’s a bit of a pain to assemble a printed pattern, there were quite a few I wanted to have a go at – the first one being the Boyfriend Shirt.


I eventually want to graduate to making shirts for my boyfriend, so I figured this was an easy, cheaty way to start. The shirt doesn’t have cuffs (the sleeves are just hemmed and turned up) and the yokes are sewn on to the top of the front and back pieces, rather than being separate structural parts of the shirt, and there is no interfacing so the button bands and collar are super easy too.

I made a size 10, because I wanted it to be quite roomy (though I guess the pattern is designed with a lot of ease so it would be anyway). I bought the fabric in one of the many shops in Goldhawk Road and it’s some cheap basic shirting cotton. I was worried it would be a bit see-through, but it’s actually fine. I love the fabric – I don’t wear much green at the moment, but I want to make more things in bright greens!


I didn’t make a muslin as it isn’t a very fitted pattern, so I figured it would all turn out okay. The only changes I made were to sew a 2cm (instead of the standard 1cm) seam allowance around the shoulder seams as I felt the sleeves were joining on too far down my shoulders, which are already quite wide, so they don’t need help looking even wider with an ill-placed seam! I also hacked 12cm off the length, as it was almost a shirt dress! I left myself 2cm for hemming (it was 14cm too long altogether). The only other thing I did was to sew 2 buttons onto each sleeve, to give myself a short-sleeved as well as three-quarter-length sleeves, specially for the summer.


I have one word of advice for this shirt – make sure you sew the sleeves the right was for the tabs to be in the right place. When I first started making it, I figured they needed to be sewn to the inside of each sleeve so they can come to the outside for the button. But it was probably about 2 weeks between me having this thought and actually making it, so I forgot and carefully sewed the sleeves onto the shirt the wrong way round, meaning I had to unpick the tabs and try to sew them back on to an already made sleeve. I’ll just say it’s not my finest work!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt looks really frumpy from this angle, but I don’t feel frumpy wearing it.

I wasn’t sure when I was making this whether it was really my style, but I quite like wearing looser fitting tops with skinny jeans on the bottom, and it was a great addition to my wardrobe for the heat wave we’ve had/ are having (I can’t tell if it’s over yet or not!) as it is loose, and therefore quite cool. I love the little pocket too!




I am definitely planning to make more of this pattern – they’ll be great for going under jumpers in the Winter.

Book: Great British Sewing Bee

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been obsessed with The Great British Sewing Bee! So much so, that as soon as I knew there was going to be a book, I had to get it. The advantage of working in a bookshop, is that I can get sneaky free books from the publishers sometimes. I may have done that with this book……


There are definitely a few patterns that I want to make in here!

The boyfriend shirt: (I especially love the fabric choice and styling!)


This tea dress is really cute – again good styling!


This camisole is cute. Not sure it’s my style, but I might give it a go once day.

IMAG0571I like this apron, might be a good thing to make as presents for people.

IMAG0569I love the hacking jacket that Lauren made in the show! Definitely going to give this one a go! And maybe in exactly the same fabric……


This top is pretty – I’m always  sucker for a peter pan collar!

IMAG0572The patterns are all printable PDFs, downloadable from the Quadrille website. I’ve printed off all the patterns I think I might make, now I just have to tape them all together…..