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?


5 thoughts on “Speed Sewing, in which I attempt to make a skirt in 4 hours.

  1. Emily Popek says:

    That skirt is adorable! I am so envious of those who can sew quickly — I am very much still a beginner, and worry and labor over every little thing (including pattern markings, etc.)

    • izychampion says:

      I am definitely the same usually! I think with a simpler pattern (like the Clemence Skirt!) it’s a little easier to push yourself to finish things within a set time. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone though! It’s a great sense of achievement and then you can wear your new project the next day!!

  2. Hilde says:

    I’m way impressed at how far you got in 4 hours! I feel just cutting out the fabric alone would take me a few hours haha. Sounds like a fun challenge though!

    • izychampion says:

      It was really fun 🙂 I too am normally really slow at cutting out, ironing everything and taking my time. But letting loose and trying to be speedy was actually quite freeing!

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