My 4th Sewing Bee Challenge!

Readers, this post finds me a little sad as I have just realized that there are only six weeks in this years Great British Sewing Bee, and not the eight there were last year. Which means I only have two left after this one! I’ll miss it terribly, but might have a sneaky idea up my sleeve to tide me over until next years ‘Bee… watch this space!

So this weeks Alteration Challenge was all about updating an 80’s Suit and I think I may have taken liberties with this one, but it’s updated in my eyes!

I had initially thought the Suit I bought was from the 1990’s however; it was yet again the best I could do for under £10. In inspecting it closer however;  the label and disintegration as well as construction made me realize it was a little older than that which made me happy. I really am trying to keep as closely to the parameters of the Challenge as I can!

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So, what do you think of this beauty then? It’s actually super thin fabric, and I just saw Victorian when I looked at it which made me smile! I did mean that my plan wasn’t necessarily  ‘modernizing’ it, but I decided that it was changing is sufficiently and making it entirely more wearable so I ploughed ahead!


Label… *snigger*!

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Having made my sketch, I started to drape like the wind as I knew this Challenge was pushing it and I wanted to make sure I finished. Cutting the Coat around the Waist to shorten, I pinned the front where I wanted it to lie, then drew on a piece of Pattern Paper the shape of the Faux Waistcoat I wanted underneath.

I spent a couple of seconds playing around with different Lace and Sequinned Fabric to see which looked best overlaid, and decided upon the Sequin.

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I then pinned the Side and Shoulder Seams to fit, cut them back to 1cm Seam Allowance ready for sewing and cut my new Collar line.

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Using the Pattern I had draped, I used a section of the Bottom of the Coat to cut the Faux Waistcoat. The Coat was lined so luckily I also cut the backing for this section at the same time! Hurrah! I also cut the Squin fabric to size and pinned everything together ready to be stitched.

I also quickly made up and cut a Peplum Pattern… so quickly!!

Now, a few people have been asking how I work so quickly so this is a little insight… I have done all of the above, and it’s all ready pinned and waiting to be sewn. I have laid each section as I’ve pinned it on to the Sewing Table in order of most time consuming/order needed to finish the garment… so starting with the Jacket which needs Side Seams, Shoulder Seams and Bias Binding around the Collar, then the Peplum which had to be cut in three sections and joined to the Bodice, then the Faux Waistcoat which needs to be sewn up, turned out and have three Button Holes popped in. This is what it looks like about a 3rd of the way through the Challenge…


I always try to stack up my workload like this, whatever project I may be working on, as I find it uses the time most wisely and I am able to accurately sew things together incredibly speedily.

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Binding the Collar took a little more time than I had thought- despite ‘ghetto fixing’ it with a Zig-Zag and not pinning! However; I was pleased with it when it went on the mannequin.

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Next in my pile of Sewing was to sew together the Faux Waistcoat, cut back the excess, trim the corners and turn out. After ironing I put three Button Holes in too.

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As each piece of my pile is sewn I pop the back on the mannequin… which can look a little odd!

After piecing the Peplum I pinned it on to the bottom of the Bodice including Pleats at every seam for a little fullness.

At this point I was still hoping to Bias Bind the bottom of the Peplum.


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I had also wanted to cut down the Sleeves a little as they’re quite large however; I was in the last ten minutes at this point and panicking! Instead, I sewed above the hem of the Sleeve, which meant I could cut the lining away then pinned the Sleeve back in to the Armhole with a large Pleat at the top (which I love!).

In the last few minutes I over-locked the Bottom of the Coat- stretching the Bias cut Fabric slightly so at to create a Lettuce Hem- and sewed on Buttons, as well as a couple extra Buttons to catch the Front of the Peplum back, which I think looks extra fancy!

As I was sewing on the very last Button my Brother Ast and his Son Errol popped through the door but I didn’t stop and sewed to the…   very…   last…      second!!

(I think they though me quite, quite mad!!)

But, ta daa!! What do you think of my 4th Sewing Bee Challenge?


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As you can see, I didn’t Bias Bind the Bottom of the Coat- no time!- and the Sleeve still looks a little full however; I’m happy with it. The Fabric is draping quite nicely in the Peplum and Pleats on the Sleeve too. I actually think the shape and fall of the Peplum is rather lovely.

So, as I am a little late this week with the Sewing Bee Challenge, I already know that my next is a Wet Suit! Eep!! Can’t wait for that but I’ll try not to think about it too much, and await the delivery of my Wet Suit!

Have you been inspired? Tried any UpCycles recently? I’d love to see, feel free to share below.

If you have been inspired to learn to sew, or would like to try your hand at the mysterious world of UpCycling, why not pop along to a Sunday Sewing Bee?

Happy stitching!

My 3rd Sewing Bee Challenge!

We’re cracking on lickity split over here at The midnight Atelier with these challenges, and this weeks one was brilliant! Loads of fabric, and a Vintage feel, heaven!

I’m a bit late posting my Challenge this week though, it’s been a mad week here again. Fella and I were very sad to learn of the demise of two of the greats this week. LLAP Leonard Nimoy, and indeed Friends In Your Head. I think you will both be missed verily in this household.

If you want to see what all of this Sewing Bee Challenge nonsense is all about check out the original (and best?) Great British Sewing Bee here… I’ll be holding a glass up and toasting to those we have loved and lost.

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As usual, I made a little sketch right before I began, and draped the entire challenge as I sewed. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what I had thought of would work, and I went into this Challenge a bit panicky! I knew I wanted to play with the Pattern of the Curtains I managed to find, they have flowers in a stripe and I thought it would be really cool if I managed to ‘decorate’ the design with them, which is how I ended up at pleats. Add pleats to Vintage and I naturally came to the conclusion I wanted to do a pleated ‘shelf’ bodice!

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I first outlined the shape of the Bust piece with Pins in the Dress Form, than folded a section of the Curtain fabric so that the design made stripes of floral, then plain. Well plain-ish anyway!

I wove the folds together at the Centre Front for a little visual flair which made me very happy.

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Pinning the sections in to the Mannequin, I then draped the ‘shelf’, which is actually from the hem of the curtain!

I was shocked this worked so quickly. I literally have very little photos because this was so quick.

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Pinning everything together away from the Mannequin was a bit tense- and I held my breath!- but then I sewed it super duper quick, popped it back on Lady and voila! I was pretty pleased with the result!!

I quickly draped the back which was a walk in the park compared to the front, and looked at the time furtively. To my surprise I had accomplished all of that in half an hour! Win!

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I used every last scrap to cut the Skirt so I could gather a lot of fabric in to it so it was nice and ‘swingy’ (technical word alert), then hemmed it with a stitched Zig Zag so it didn’t fray, but still looked ok.

I spectacularly broke a needle too… well okay, okay, I broke three! Curtains can be thick, and I was left wondering why we didn’t see any of the contestants break one!

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I slightly underestimated the amount of gathering folks! Here’s a tip though, lay a Tape Measure out and Washi Tape it to the table to mark the length you need the Gathered section to be, then Gather away. Much easier than trying to compare it to the Bodice every few minutes.

I had to get about four meters in to 80cm and I gathered like the wind!! Then attached it on to the Bodice… you see no pins ‘cos there were no pins. I don’t seem to pin anything any more, and on a timed project like this there’s no time.

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Looked pretty good though, and I was on to the Zip. I only had a Grey Concealed Zip (boo), and inserting it with that much Gathering was interesting. This is where I knew I had started to panic as I had just a few minutes left!! Eeep!


Thanks (obviously real, and totally there) Claudia!

I finished dead on my time, literally sewing through to the last minute of time allowed…


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I’m pretty happy with it though!

Actually, I’m really, embarrassingly, head over heels proud of this look… 90 minutes peeps! I was reminded of my Costuming and Filmmaking days, and damn I was good if I say so myself! Have you noticed how the back matches in Pattern all the way down? Oh yeah!

Now, if you would like to make a similar dress, pop along to the Sew Anything Course ‘cos I have a Pattern.

Next week… 80s Suit (eep!)

Confused? See my first Sewing Bee Challenge here, and my 2nd here.

Happy stitching!