Speed Sewing, in which I attempt to make a skirt in 4 hours.

Hello my lovely readers! In case you hadn’t noticed (and if you read a sewing blog, you probably have) the Great British Sewing Bee is back for it’s third series. It’s officially Bloody Brilliant.

I still think of Linda's sign-name for Patrick <3

I still think of Linda from Series 2’s sign-name for Patrick ❤ (BBC)

One of the things that amazes me is how quickly these guys can sew. I mean, last week’s challenge was to make a child’s waistcoat. IN THREE AND A HALF HOURS!!

Seriously, how is that even possible.

I felt your pain, Alex! (BBC)

I felt your pain, Alex! (BBC)

I was discussing this with my flatmate on our way to the pub, and he suggested that I give myself a deadline to try and get something made by. And so, in the spirit of GBSB, the four-hour skirt challenge was born.

I had this lovely, honeycomb-inspired fabric in my stash, that I had bought from Frumble a little while ago, and immediately knew I wanted it to be a cute, lined skirt. I have also had my eye on the Clemence skirt pattern by Tilly and the Buttons for a while. It’s a cute drindl skirt that is really easy to cut. It’s also designed as a really simple introduction to fitting a pattern to your size.



After an early morning trip to John Lewis to grab some last minute supplies, including some silky polyester lining, I was ready to go. Before starting the clock I worked out the lengths of the pattern I would need to draw out and I ironed out all the fabric and lining. And then, I went for it!

Starting out by drawing out the pattern and cutting out the fabric and interfacing, I then french seamed both the outer fabric and the lining of the skirt panel. Everything was going swimmingly, and I had stitched the outer and lining fabrics together with three lines of big contrasting stitches to start doing the gathers. Gathers, it turns out, do not work very well on the fraying, knotty lining fabric. I just about managed to gather everything and secure it down, but trying to take out the gathering stitches was horrible! Everything had become fluffy, knotted together, and all in all, it drove me mad. I think I must have spent at least an hour taking all the contrasting stitches out.

It became clear to me at this point that I was definitely not going to finish the skirt in four hours. But I kept going and when the timer finally went off, here’s where I had got to.

skirt innit

Almost there!

In four hours I managed to get the lining in, skirt gathered, and half of the waistband attached with the back edge overlocked and half of the zip in.

Although the skirt would not have impressed Patrick or May, being very much unfinished, I was quite pleased that something that might ordinarily would have taken me a couple of days was coming together in a few hours.

Half a zip is better than no zip?

Half a zip is better than no zip?

At this point I carried on at a more leisurely pace, and managed to get the rest of the skirt done in another hour and three-quarters.



I have to say, I really like this pattern, and I’ll definitely be making more Clemence’s! My only alteration for future makes will be to make the waistband a little smaller. Tilly’s pattern includes 3cm of ease (i.e. extra room) across the whole waistband, and I don’t think I need so much of it. I’ll be taking it in a little at the waist to make it a little snugger, but honestly that is the only alteration I’d make! I will also not be using the awful, awful polyester lining again. It made me quite cross, and even though it does look nice inside the skirt, I don’t think it’s worth it for the pain!!

I really felt like I learnt quite a lot about my sewing style through doing this challenge. I think I worry too much some times about the teensy details that only I ever notice, but trying to finish in the time made me more focused on getting the overall skirt looking good. It was also really nice to both start and finish a project in one day, and to challenge myself to sew a bit quicker than I normally do. Whilst I definitely enjoy taking my time over a project (see the Anna dress I’m still working on), it felt really good to have something to show for my hard work by 9pm on Sunday!

What do you think? Does timing your sewing work for you?


The Beast aka Anna progress.

My Anna dress is slowly but surely coming together.

In all her glory...

In all her glory…

I am nicknaming my Anna dress ‘The Beast’; a floor-length, blood-red, thigh-split, hyphenation-inducing beauty.

I had been looking for fabric for the Anna for a while, and had originally thought a cool geometric print could work well (something I still may create). But when I saw an almost shimmery, crimson red chiffon for £1.50 a meter in Brixton, I couldn’t resist! I’m using a lightweight red cotton lawn for the lining, because the chiffon is SHEER, as demonstrated below.



Another reason why this dress is The Beast is that it has given me a lot of pain. I decided to overlock the back seam; you won’t see it so I figured that the white thread that came with the overlocker would work fine.

At this point I was feeling smug about my overlocker skills

At this point I was feeling smug about my overlocker skills

And then, I realised that I had missed a little bit of the chiffon when overlocking. No worries I thought, I’ll just go over it again. And then, disaster.

I sliced right through the dress.



After a minor period of swearing at my stupidity, I set about fixing it, by creating a little dart in the back.

It ended up looking ok, I think?

It ended up looking ok, I think?  Apart from the hideous overlocky mess.

I then finally put the zip in, only for it to break.

frayed zipper tape

I got a bit cross at this point.

Invisible zips are my nemesis, so I’m going to buy another one and try again.

Once that’s done (and because I am a sucker for punishment perfectionist), I’m going to blind stitch the armscye and thigh-split of the chiffon. The lining won’t really be seen, I’ve machined those. I’m also going to do a teensy rolled hem on the chiffon.

I will tame The Beast eventually… She just needs a bit more work!

Hello, hello.

This weekend has been really exciting for a lot of reasons.

And not just because I bought this amazing Norwegian knit cardigan

And not just because I bought this amazing Norwegian knit cardigan

1) I’ve finally got round to starting up this blog

One of my (many) new year’s resolutions was to start a blog about my adventures in sewing. I’ve been a long-time stalker of many a sewist’s blog, and I thought it would be a good way to get writing about sewing – something I love, but that not many people I know in real life find as exciting as I do. I’m also hoping it might be a way of nudging myself into finding a bit more time to actually sew some things. Which brings us onto…

2) I‘ve finally had some time to get sewing

I’ve been sewing for about a year now. Back in January 2014 I signed up with a friend from work to go to a sewing class run by a friend of hers, Alice formerly of Holloway Smith Noir, now running the Little Black Pants Club. But since the classes finished, I’ve only finished two things: this lovely By Hand London Elisalex in an OTT paisley polycotton bought on Goldhawk Road, and a rushed Simplicity 1726 Kimono-ish Jacket I made for a holiday to Spain with very cheap chiffon-y type material bought in Tooting.

It turns out polycotton doesn't hold pleats that well...

It turns out polycotton doesn’t hold pleats that well…

Paisley + flowers  = heaven

Paisley + flowers = heaven

I even tried pattern matching on this one! It kind of worked.

I even tried pattern matching on this one! It kind of worked.

One of my excuses for not sewing has been that I’m currently part-way through a part time masters degree. For the last three months I’ve spent weekends in the library writing essays, so handing the last one in for a while last week filled me with joy; both that it was done, but also that I could blow the dust of my little Singer and finally finish my BHL Anna dress that I started in September (more on which in a future post). I hate UFOs (or unfinished objects), so coming back to Anna (and sewing) has been really fun, especially now I’m so close to finishing it!

3) I may have bought myself an overlocker

From the first time I used an overlocker in the class that Alice ran, I wanted one. I find finishing seams to be a bit annoying. Although this may be because I keep using chiffony materials which I can’t help but french seam, the thought of having a delicious overlocker to do all that work in 5 minutes is really exciting.

The overlord

The overlocker is a Brother 1034DAV, and it came in the world’s biggest Amazon box.

I’m really excited to play with some knit fabrics. I have this unknown stretchy jersey-type material that I bought on Goldhawk Road, that is going to become a low-back Closet Case Nettie, with any luck.

so pretty

so pretty

I should also have lots left over to play with so suggestions on a postcard please!

Now, to start hand-stitching some Anna armscyes…