Great British Sewing Bee Weeks 4 & 5


I am trying to write about the Weeks Bee a few days after it has happened because I think a couple of times I have given away the ending to people! Oops!! Having said that, I missed last weeks- Midnight Atelier is very, very busy at the moment!

So, what did we all think of Week 4, and the departure of Cerina? I liked this week, we saw a variety of different skills and problems the sewers had to think though, and some really varied outcomes! Who among us has made little people clothing? I have done my fair share however; it’s always been for historical costumes! What a fantastic little make those Dungarees were, they really reminded me of Dungarees my Mum made me and my Brother when we were little. Not so fashionable these days, but really lovely I think!

Whilst making up the Dungarees, the Sewers used a variety of Skills including attaching Snap Fastenings, Top Stitching, Flat Fell Seams (which I find delicious!), much talk was had about finishing off the inside of garments and some of the extra details the Sewers attempted like Cerina’s contrast Top Stitch and Tamara’s odd Piping detail.

Watch this space for a Flat Fell Seam- or Run and Fell as it is sometimes called- Tutorial. It’s a super strong Seam which you’ll find on Mens’ Shirts, Jeans and clothing which needs to be strong and durable. If you are hankering after a pair of them Dungarees, you’ll find them in the Great British Sewing Bee Book, which is well worth a peek. I shall also be posting about neatening the inside of your garments as there are several options!

So, on to Week 5, and the surprising departure of Jenni. To be honest, I think the larger issue this week is: what was Tamara wearing?! What a strange T-Shirty over top thingamy!! That being said, what an interesting week this was. The main lesson being: never make a man a pair of Velvet Trousers tee hee! But seriously, this week saw sewing a Cagoule up with Waterproof Ripstock Nylon- the pattern for which is in the Sewing Bee Book, sewing Leather and finally, Velvet.

Nick named the ‘Tricky Fabric week’, I am not entirely certain all of these were actually tricky. Having the Walking Foot would have helped them with all of these fabrics, and in fact my beautiful, wonderful, amazing Pfaff Industrial Machine has an in-built Walking Foot and I hardly ever sew anything without it. Fantastic machines Pfaffs, they are stuffed full of German engineering, never need servicing and mine can sew up to 10 layers of Denim and 8 of Leather without batting an eyelash! Highly recommended!! Any way… why don’t I think these fabrics are tricky? Because any issues the Sewers had were entirely down to handling and fabric choice.

Ripstock, whilst it shouldn’t be pinned in the traditional sense, can still be pinned in the Seam Allowance as you sew but parallel to the seam instead of at the more traditional angle. You will need to remove the pins as you reach them however; this will enable you to concentrate on feeding the fabric and stop it slipping. The Pattern for the Anorak is on the Sewing Bee Book and I think, with their instructions and watching the Sewing process from this week you would be able to stitch one up in a trice!

Leather is beautiful to sew, and has the added advantage that Patrick pointed out- it doesn’t need to be hemmed and can be left as a cut edge. I think that Jennis use of the Leather was the best. Didn’t the back of her Top look divine? Working as the sewers were, just on the two layers, the Sewing Machines should have had no issue stitching. I was left completely baffled as to what David was doing with that sticky tape. This isn’t a product I have ever heard of, or would use as Leather marks terribly when anything sticky gets near it! My advice for sewing Leather would be, don’t pin, take it slow and try to use simple shapes when seaming. Also, if you are sewing by hand, please do not use Chinelos ‘tip’ of using your teeth to pull the needle from the fabric!! Use a leather sewing needle, and small jewellery pliers!

With both of the above fabrics, cutting out can be tricky so you may want to employ Pattern Weights instead of the more tradition Pins. Take a peek at my Tutorial here to see how to make yourself up a few!

weight11 pattern weights

Velvet was the final challenge, and again I think the Sewers who excelled used the correct Velvet for the job. Cotton Velvet is perfect for making trousers as it makes up like a Drill or Denim would and you only have to worry about the fabric walking. What Jenni had to content with was too much for the time constraints of the challenge. With a slippy Viscose Velvet she had to worry about stabilising the fabric, it moving about as it sews and walking as it sews. Too much!

Velvet has a definite nap, which is the direction the cut threads lie in. When you run your hand over the fabric, you will be able to tell whether the nap feels smooth to the touch (the Nap is down) or pushing against the pile (the Nap is up).

From Threads Magazine

Traditionally Velvet is sewn so that it feels rough as you stroke down your body (the Nap is up),  this way will show off the deepness of the colour as it is non-reflective. If the Nap is smooth (or down), as you stroke down your body it will look shiny but have a paler colour. Click the above article by Threads Magazine to find more handy cutting tips for Velvet.

zip pic

Lots of really handy information about using and inserting Zips can be found in my Zip Zine, available from Etsy now.

One last thing I’d like to share, is Chinelo’s Blog. She explains exactly how to cut garments using measurements, and cutting the fabric without a pattern. Whilst this method is perfectly fine (and is in fact how I cut costumes, Saville Row operate and a lot of Upholsterers work), I would explore it with care if you are considering it and are a beginner. Maybe follow Chinelo’s instruction on paper first, or use cheap and cheerful fabric! If you would like to see how I approach this method you can take a peek at my A-Line Skirt and A-Line Skirt Hack Tutorials. Each teach basic Pattern Cutting methods and, if you make them up on paper first, you will have a pattern to use again and again!

As ever, I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy stitching!

Comments 4

  1. Lucy

    To be fair, I think if you haven’t seen the relevant episode of the Sewing Bee then you should wait to read a post about it! 🙂
    It sounds mean but Jenni’s crying was starting to get on my nerves – I understand there is a lot of pressure but the others made mistakes and didn’t burst into tears every time. Obviously the best sewer should win, but I do have a soft spot for David, his dungarees and anorak proved he is more than just the “token bloke”. Totally agree about men in velvet trousers though!

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      Yeah… I got a bit told off by a follower for posting too early and giving the ending away too, so I thought I’d wait a bit 🙂 I liked that Jenni was younger, but I too get annoyed by crying like that. It takes up time! Cry at the end lol! David is definitely winning me over, I am a little scared of Tamara at this point- she is competitive!!- but my fave’s are Lynda and Chinelo xxx

      1. Lucy

        Haha yes, Tamara is a bit scary, my other half looks frightened of her outfits alone! We don’t do so many bright colours and crazy prints in this house, he doesn’t know what to make of it! I think the winner is between Chinelo and Lynda, Chinelo’s method of pattern making gives her a clear advantage on the fit side of things for the final challenges, but Lynda has made some really lovely things too. It will be a close one! A bit undecided on who the third person in the final will be.
        Younger contestants are fab, hopefully encourage even more young women to sew. Some of my friends were amazed that it was popular enough to be on tv and be on a second series, I’m sure they think sewing is just some kooky little hobby! 🙂

        1. Post

          Well, I’m with him on that one- Tamara’s clothing takes home made to a whole other level!! It is nice to have something I have been doing suddenly be deemed ‘cool’… so glad it’s a bit more prevalent though because now I get to do it as a job yayy!!! xxx

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