NB- If you haven’t watched the show, and are planning to, then please don’t read any further as I will be discussing some of the show’s content and don’t want to spoil it when you watch!
Last year I worked as The Sewing Consultant for BBC 2’s new show The Great British Sewing Bee, which has just aired in the UK tonight at 8 PM. Wow, what a lot of talent on that show, wish you could have seen me rooting for all of them behind the camera!
Challenge 1 –Was all about following a pattern. Since most women own a skirt, and as an A line shape is universally flattering, this is the perfect choice of skirt. Making an a line skirt is also the first building block of most classic dressmaking courses. The Biggest challenge facing some of the stitchers was inserting a zip. If you’ve never put in an invisible Zip, and fancy having a go, then this is the best online tutorial I have found from Colette patterns. I recommend all my students read this post!
Challenge 2- This is all about transforming a high street garment. As a professional Costumier, much of my work is altering and transforming garments and altering a neckline would be a challenge for me in an hour. It was amazing watching 8 stitchers grab bundles of haberdashery, thinking, creating and coming up with lace inserts, fringe trimmed scoops and applied collars.
Challenge 3- This challenge is the only one that the contestants didn’t do blind and were able to prepare for. They were instructed to make a “Made to measure dress” which would need to fit a real life person. Real figures involve Busts that are not in proportion to waists and hips, Waists that are thicker than standard and full or no hips! ARGH!
The biggest issue when fitting women, is making the garment fit the bust, without making the whole garment too broad. This takes practise and a teensy bit of knowledge.
One route, and the one that I personally use, is to do a “full bust adjustment”. If you have a small frame and cut the size applicable for your bust size, then the shoulders, armholes and necklines are all too big. If you cut for frame or chest size alone, then your boobs get squashed like Lauren’s dress. However if you cut for your Chest (frame) and do a Full Bust adjustment,you’ll get a really good fit. I’ve found an excellent blog post from inspiring dressmaker Alana that shows you how to do this.
Another route is to use a pattern which is cup sized, although there is a limited selection of styles