The great skanklet debacle 

skanklet-300x181I did so much enjoy watching the Sewing Bee this year, that was until the final episode. So I’m going to stick my neck out a bit and tell you what I think.

Just to be clear, Matt is, by all accounts, a super chap and he is the one who went home with the gong so fair play to him.  But is he Britain’s best amateur sewer? Errrr… no.

All three contestants made an absolute dog’s dinner of the final garment.  Not one of them was either well constructed or sophisticated enough to give you sewing envy, let alone have the catwalk wow that Heather Jack‘s did in 2014.  Neil’s was just too complex to complete in the time; Lorna’s lacked finesse; and Matt’s was simply a repeat of the corset challenge with a poorly executed lampshade attached to the bottom.  images

So backwards to the alteration challenge.  Lorna’s was simple but reasonably well sewn; Matt just added a bit of stiffening to the hem to do something, though not entirely sure what; and Neil made the skanklet. 

Ah yes, the skanklet. It was after all, avantgarde week, so surely we were looking for out of the box solutions.  I’m not sure what side of the bed Patrick got out of on that morning, but it clearly wasn’t the right one. In previous week’s he would have chuckled, admired the chutzpah of the maker and then commented that it was well sewn. Surely ‘wearable’ means you could go out in it without it falling apart, so it fitted the brief.  And you could imagine Lady Gaga strutting her stuff in one (there’s an idea) . It certainly didn’t deserve the vitriol poured upon it, nor was it a final losing garment. Backwards again to that fabulous Japanese asymmetric top. Good on the boys for helping Lorna out (unlike poor Chinelo last year who struggled with the tie pattern challenge). Once again the only person who executed it well was Neil.

Screen-Shot-2014-02-28-at-4.35.21-PMLast year there was a hue and cry that Chinelo Bally didn’t win, but there was a clear reason for that because she was amazing at free form cutting and beautiful fitting jersey garments but bumbled along the bottom in the pattern challenge, so the title went to someone who was consistently good and then pulled a rabbit out of the hat.

Matt on the other hand, although he improved consistently, never rose above good into great or exceptional. Producing the least worst garment in the final challenge does not make you the best overall.

I suppose the biggest proof of who really is Britain’s best amateur sewer is who you would ask to sew an item of clothing for a special occasion to make you look a million dollars. And we all know who we would choose…

Cat x

 

It’s the little things

unnamedIt isn’t always easy to find the time to make a whole new garment, but there are other ways to create clothes that are extra special and that little bit different.

I have been known to buy myself a bog-standard t-shirt from a well-known supermarket and adjust the length or add buttons and other trimmings to make it into something that differentiates it from everyone else’s.  I’m still plucking up the courage to do a full-scale alteration challenge – I think that potentially this is something I need to do with a friend which would force us to do something in a specific time-frame.

I do have a large stock of buttons, but I’m always on the lookout for more and I came across these from Kate Holliday on Friday.

As it happens, I know Kate through mutual friends so it was lovely to catch up with her at Olympia. But I was also completely blown away by her hand-made buttons.  And they are completely hand-crafted. Starting with a lump of clay, Kate flattens, cuts and fires these gorgeous little pieces of loveliness.

I couldn’t resist this little chap – and he will definitely be featuring on a garment at some point.  I also fell in love with the shirt buttons Kate herself was sporting so I am going to be investing in some of these as well at some point in the very near future.  Bye bye plain white shirts forever!

Cat x

Three dimensional stitchery

I love the Great British Sewing Bee, not least because it inspires me to do stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily try (or buy sewing equipment that I really need!).

I haven’t done much three dimensional or constructive sewing, other than felt animals of various sorts at school or the now famous Bob the reindeer. I have seen letter cushions before and liked the idea of them so I thought I would give it a bash.

The choice of letter was really easy as it was for a present so I set about creating a pattern with the help of a well known Sunday newspaper. Getting the proportions right was surprisingly difficult. Either the uprights were too skinny or the distance between them too large or the crossbar too thin. I can understand now why font design is such an art form because there is a lot to be considered.

Having finally reached a size I was happy with I cut out the front and back, taking a great deal of care to ensure that I got the stripes in the right place and parallel. I then attached premade bias binding around the whole perimeter of each. As a scientific exercise (probably not the best thing to do on a gift!) I sewed one binding on by my old method of using a zipper foot, and one using my fancy pants new binding foot. Unquestionably the latter produced the much better result, and it was considerably easier to use.

Deciding on the width of the joining piece of fabric also required significant thought. Once again it was important to get the proportions correct. And also to decide whether the stripe should go vertically or horizontally. My biggest mistake though was that I sewed it on all in one piece rather than creating sections which matched each junction on the letter. This meant that although I sewed it all on pretty accurately and neatly, when the two sides were joined together there was a twist in the final product.

All that said, I’m pretty pleased with it as a first attempt and the recipient liked it, so I’ll definitely be having another go.

Cat x