Sew Creative Challenge 2017 using McCalls patterns

Winners of the Sew Creative Sewing Bee challenge 2017
Heidi and Grace, winners of the Sew Creative Sewing Bee challenge 2017

I had the pleasure and pain of  being part of the final day for the 2017 Sewing Bee Challenge for Sew Creative last weekend. I say pain because all the entries, without exception, were so good, it made picking out winners devilishly difficult! So not just a challenge for the entrants, one for me too! I also gave a talk about my career and responsibilities as Brand Ambassador for the McCalls Pattern Company.

 

Sew Creative is a lively fabric shop in Petersfield, Hants which is always abuzz with activity, classes and happy customers. So it’s no wonder that the aptly named annual Sewing Bee challenge attracts so many entrants.

The Sew Creative Challenge

Customers buy a Challenge box put together by Jo, Sew Creative’s owner, which has the materials needed to make the three challenges. This year it included two co-ordinating fat quarters, one with a whale print on it, a plain tote bag and a McCalls pattern.

McCalls 6095 used in the Superb Stitching Challenge by entrants to the Sew Creative Sewing Bee challenge
McCalls 6095 used in the Superb Stitching Challenge by entrants to the Sew Creative Sewing Bee challenge

Superb Stitching Challenge with McCalls 6095

The entrants were given a McCalls craft pattern (6095) and tasked with making a sewing machine cover, apron or circular organiser from the pattern. They had to use one piece of Bee fabric provided in the Challenge Box, but could add co-ordinating fabrics, trims and embellishments.

The challenge was to stitch superbly and add techniques to embellish such as appliqué, piping, quilting and binding etc. What an array of choices – from multi-pocketed craft aprons to organisers trimmed and filled to sewing machine covers with beautiful embellishments.

This was probably the hardest category to judge because the entries were so diverse but the same! (The same three options, but with so much individuality).

My chosen winner was beautifully embellished with appliqué and hand embroidered lettering, finished inside with quilted lining and bias binding around the edges.

The Fat Quarter challenge produced amazing and diverse results
The Fat Quarter challenge produced amazing and diverse results

Two fat quarters Challenge

Contestants could add trims and embellishments and make anything they wanted but had to use only the two fat quarters for fabric. The collection of projects submitted was outstanding – ranging from cute lined waistcoats for tots to soft toy Whales, bags, wall hangings and booties. Picking out one to win the Category was very hard, but in the end I plumped for a Wash Caddy – with pockets and straps for all sorts of lotions, potions, toothbrush etc. I liked that it was different and well stitched, but when I then found out it had been made by Matt, who is visually impaired too, I was amazed all over again!

My favourite tote to... entry is a lampshade, hand painted and stitched
My favourite tote to… entry is a lampshade, hand painted and stitched

Tote to…. Challenge

The next challenge was to make-over a calico tote. Again the range of ideas was fabulous – many creating something so different its origin was hard to believe! I loved the wall tidy with lace pockets – very vintage inspired. Some had deconstructed the bag, dyed the fabric and then turned it into something else. Others had added amazing hand stitching, bargello panels down the sides etc.

Pat made a cute doll with clothes for the Tote bag challenge
Pat made a cute doll with clothes for the Tote bag challenge

The winner for the Tote Bag challenge was a lovely doll with clothes by Pat. Such a beautiful doll, very cuddly and I can imagine it will be loved by a little girl.

I also chose a ‘Wendy Wow’ winner for this category –  a lampshade created from the bag front and back. It had been hand painted and then hand and machine stitched creating a beautiful scene which was then turned into a lampshade.

Grace, winner of the Children's Sewing Bee tie-dyed the tote and turned it into a little dress
Grace, winner of the Children’s Sewing Bee tie-dyed the tote and turned it into a little dress
McCalls 7551 pattern was used by the the children to make Alphabet cushions for their stitch challenge
McCalls 7551 pattern was used by the the children to make Alphabet cushions for their stitch challenge

Kids can sew too

Of course, there was a Children’s competition running alongside the main one and there were six excellent entrants for this. They also restyled a tote and used fabric provided to stitch a cushion from a McCalls pattern (7551). Their pattern included alphabet cushions which involves sewing around curves and corners, and being able to clip and turn through smooth edges.

Again the tote challenge showed their creativity. The winner Grace had tie-dyed her tote and turned it into a baby’s dress with patch pocket and tie shoulder straps. But as always, all of the entrants deserved to win a prize and of course, all did – a bag of goodies from Jo and Sew Creative.

The overall winner, Hazel made cute fabric booties, top hat from the tote and appliqued, patchwork embellished sewing machine cover with piping and quilting
The overall winner, Heidi made cute fabric booties, top hat from the tote and appliqued, patchwork embellished sewing machine cover with piping and quilting

Overall winners

As well as having category winners, there had to be an overall winner. Fortunately for me, there was a short list but even so it was a task and a half! Finally I chose Heidi who had made a pair of cute booties from the fat quarters with decorative stitch detail, a top hat from the tote – with black keyboard and notes and an appliquéd machine cover. The top had had a tune around it which Heidi later said was ‘Let it Bee’ – so appropriate!

Sally Ann created a collection that we all considered Outstanding
Sally Ann created a collection that we all considered Outstanding

We then had an Outstanding Entry winner- Sally Ann whose collection of Challenges were fabulous – with a fish metal frame bag made from the fat quarters, ice-dyed baby dress from the tote and bee-hive machine cover from the pattern challenge.

So a fab day in a great shop that is understandably a very successful enterprise. Indeed, the collection of delicious fabrics tempted me to add to my stash! I bought the softest, cuddliest double sided fleece to make a blankie and a new flower printed cotton to make a full skirted dress.

It had to be done!

Enjoy sewing, Wendy

Butterick by Gertie Vintage style Dress

B6380_aI made this fabulous vintage style dress from Butterick 6380 which has a sweetheart neckline created by the tabs on either side. A nifty idea!

 

I made up the pattern to check the fit and finish for this design. Usually I have to do a full-bust adjustment before I can cut into fabric, but first, I always check what the finished garment measurements say (on the pattern envelope) and what the garment measurements say on the pattern tissue. Noting that there was a generous extra 5 inches between actual bust and finished garment measurement, I didn’t think I’d need to do the full bust adjustment but I did double check by doing a tissue fit – pinning together the front and back pieces, gathering the fabric below the bust as shown on the tissue etc. It was fine without the FBA so I launched into the fabric!

Gertie dress 1I’ve used a red cotton print with white spot that I’ve had in my stash for some time. It is  a lovely medium weight fabric so holds the shape of the skirt well. I also lined it with a poly/cotton – not only do I prefer a cotton lining, especially for summer dresses where a polyester lining can get hot and sticky, but again, it helps hold the shape better I feel.

I also decided to use the Surface Mounted zip insertion method because I had a pretty red zip with lacy edging that fitted the bill perfectly. I blogged about how to do this insertion in June’s Zip Tricks – Surface Mounted Zips so do take a look if you want the step by step instructions.

gertie dress2To hem the dress, after allowing it to hang for 24 hours, I cut the edge straight, overlocked it and then turned up a narrow hem of just 1cm and top stitched it in place. This is a quick way to deal with a curved hem such as this and avoids having too much excess fabric in the hem allowance. The alternative is to stitch with a long stitch length (4.5-5) about 13mm from the edge. Turn up the hem allowance tucking raw edge under and pin in place, slightly gathering the hem allowance where necessary to ease in the excess. The excess gathers should only be in the hem allowance and invisible from the right side.

gertie dress 3I’m pleased with my Gertie dress and luckily have a pair of red and white spot shoes that match exactly!

 

Enjoy sewing. love Wendy