The Final Great British Sewing Bee – a great night in for a great night out!

Vogue 8889 is a fabulous smart shirt pack
Vogue 8889 is a fabulous smart shirt pack

The end of the road is here – but it’s been a great trip along the way! Throughout the series the Great British Sewing Bee set tricky challenges to test the contestants skills and indeed, help them develop and grow along the way. It has been wonderful to watch as each progressed through the weeks – young Jade blossomed, Charlotte continued to quietly produce beautifully sewn garments and Joyce gave us a few laughs along the way as she occasionally went ‘off piste’ but always with flair and style.

Kwik Sew 3883 - Make a shirt with or without front pocket
Kwik Sew 3883 – Make a shirt with or without front pocket
Kwik Sew 3422 might look casual, but add pin tucks and make in a cotton or linen and it will be tres chic
Kwik Sew 3422 might look casual, but add pin tucks and make in a cotton or linen and it will be tres chic

This week the final three had to make a man’s evening shirt with pin tucks, collar, lined yoke and cuffs with plackets. No mean feat when working against the clock. It was nice to see a garment for a chap – we don’t often make for the men in our lives as most dressmaking (and doesn’t the name say it all!) is for women or children. So a shirt was a refreshing change. If you fancy giving him indoors a treat, you too can make a shirt from a selection of McCalls, Kwik Sew and Vogue Patterns. Take a look at McCalls 6613, Kwik Sew 3422, 3883 or Vogue Pattern 8889. All have lovely shirts, with or without front pockets (and of course you can leave them off and add pin tucks instead).

Pin Tuck Tips
If you are going to add pin tucks, which do create a fabulous texture to a dress shirt, do so before cutting out the shirt fronts as they will alter the width slightly, depending on how many tucks you add. Trace around the pattern piece onto your fabric and stitch the tucks, then lay the pattern piece down again, check and cut out.

Twin Needle and Pin Tuck Foot
Stitching pin tucks is made so much easier if you use a twin needle and pin tuck foot. The double needle ensures two perfectly parallel rows of straight stitching, an even distance apart stitched side by side at the same time whilst the foot enables you to ensure row after row is parallel as it has grooves on the underside through which a tuck slides as you sew the next one. Just make sure you start with the needles in the centre position, in line with the gap in the foot, stitch the first tuck and then move the fabric across so the tuck is in one of the grooves of the foot before sewing the next. Whether you position it so it is in the first groove right next to the centre, or leave a gap so the tuck slides under an outer groove is up to you. I prefer a bit of space between them – try it on a scrap of fabric to see what you like best.

Threading
Attach the spare spindle for the second reel of top thread and then thread them together through the thread path until you reach the last hook above the needle. If you have a hook either side of the needle shaft, slip one thread behind the left and one behind the right. If not, just slip one of the threads behind the hook and leave the other hanging. Thread through the eyes of the needles by hand (sorry, auto needle threads do not work with twin needles). Increase the tension to highest, 8-9 and you are ready to sew. As you stitch with a twin needle, the bobbin thread moves between the two top rows on the underside creating a sort of zigzag – having increased the tension pulls this up a little to create the tiny ridge/tuck on the top. The more tucks you stitch, the more pronounced they become. Personally I like to work in odd numbers, so tuck 3,5,7 or 9 times. For some reason, it looks better (or so I think!).

Vogue 9097 a suit that James Bond would be proud to wear!
Vogue 9097 a suit that James Bond would be proud to wear!
Vogue Pattern 8988, great for day or evening wear
Vogue Pattern 8988, great for day or evening wear

More options
Of course you can go the whole hog and make your man a suit such as Vogue 9097 or 8988 – both will certainly ensure you of brownie points!

 

Vogue Pattern 9053 is very easy vogue but also very elegant
Vogue Pattern 9053 is very easy vogue but also very elegant


Evening Elegance
I loved the evening dress challenge. Nothing beats having something glamorous to wear on a special occasion. The very beautiful Vogue 9053 used is a case of a Very Easy Vogue design looking gorgeously elegance and expensive when actually it is easy to make. Because it is easy, you can use a luxurious fabric and make it look stunning. Just make sure you read the instructions through from start to finish before beginning and start with a fresh new needle so you don’t snag the fabric. Same goes with pins – it is something we often forget to replace but blunt pins can also snag delicate fabrics causing runs or holes. Reading the instructions through before starting will also help you plan the project.

Butterick 5969 includes a corset and full length skirt with bustle and train
Butterick 5969 includes a corset and full length skirt with bustle and train

Another great make for evening is of course a corset such as Butterick 5969, which is a Costume pattern in the Butterick range. It includes the costume and skirt with bustle. Of course, the challenge with a corset is definitely the fit – it has to be snug – indeed, often a corset will have a finished size slightly smaller than your own measurements – so that the lacing pulls you in! So do check sizing carefully before making one up, and compare the finished garment measurements with your own measurements.

Whatever you decide to make, enjoy the experience.