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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee (part 2)

Hello there, and thanks for popping by. If you've just stumbled upon my little corner of the internet for the first time - a specially big hello. I hope you'll enjoy reading my waffle about sewing and come back again for more.

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Three minutes to spare...

So my Friday night went like this. 

I got the three littlest ones to bed. After being stuck in the house with them all day long because of the sick bug, boy was I grateful for bedtime when it came. 

My hubby was in London and not due back for a couple more hours or so, and, the biggest girl was at the school disco.

So, at exactly 7 pm, it was time to `Ready, steady, sew!'. I'd been plotting my own little version of one of the Great British Sewing Bee challenges - the 90 minute pair of leggings. Sad, or what. But I was quite looking forward to it!

Having paid close attention to the episode (3) when it was on, I had spotted they used a Kwik Sew pattern. I had vague intentions of getting hold of one. This didn't happen in the end, as I decided to just hack apart the leggings I already had. They had a hole in the knee, after all, so I thought I didn't have much to lose.

As for the fabric, I bought one metre of black jersey from my local fabric shop for £6.99. With the thick elastic, I had enough supplies to make myself two pairs of leggings for just under a tenner. Bargain. And, if the whole thing went belly up, I have only lost a tenner, which is not the end of the world if I learn something in the process, I thought. 

Upon closer inspection of the fabric at home, I was a bit dubious about the quality of it. It is okay - and a lot nicer than the now almost thread bare black leggings I've quite happily been parading about in, but a bit stretchier than I would like it to be for leggings. But, I thought to myself that I would use this as an experiment, and move onto something more expensive if it worked out well.

So, I cut up the old leggings, and flattened out one of the legs on top of the doubled up new fabric. Oh my goodness, I thought. The knees on these old leggings are really baggy and thin! I felt the pressure coming off even more - it shouldn't be too hard to produce something that looks better than baggy leggings with a hole in one knee, I told myself.

Next, I needed to get my over locker out of its box and change the thread. This got me thinking about the Great British Sewing Bee. I wonder whether they make the contestants thread up their machines as part of the timed challenge, or, do they have secret behind the scenes sewing elves to help them on that? It would be really mean to make someone who hasn't used an over locker before try and thread one under the pressure of timed conditions, wouldn't it? Thankfully, on this occasion, there were no big disasters on changing the thread - I got away with just knotting the new colour to the old and gently feeding each thread through the machine. 

Having done a couple of test pieces, it was time to sew the leggings together. I had no instructions, but, having watched them being made on the programme, I had a pretty good idea of how they were made. What I had no idea about with my black fabric and dark night, was which was the right side and where the grain line was. Still, clock is ticking, I thought (yes, I really am that stupidly competitive with myself when I set my mind on something), no time to waste and all that. 

I probably shouldn't admit this, but, I only used one pin. I sewed the front and back centre seams, and then popped a pin in the centre of the long inside leg seam, held the edges and ends together and just went for it with the over locker. At this point, I tried the leggings on, to check the fit. I adjusted it slightly. As I lined them up to get ready to put the elastic on, I noticed how remarkably huge the bottom looked! These could fit an elephant, I thought. I decided not to dwell on the fact I had been happy with how they fitted my own bottom thirty seconds prior to this observation.

The rest of the make was fun. The tip of portioning up the elastic and stretching each segment to fit the equivalent amount of the jersey on the top of the leggings worked a treat. I used my normal sewing machine for the rest of the leggings, folding over the elastic and twin stitching it down, and then finishing off the seams at the ankles.

And it was job done. By the time I'd got to the ankles, the big girl had returned home from her dancing fun. 

I put her to bed, headed downstairs for a Diet Coke and Smug Cake to celebrate the leggings being decent enough to wear out. And then, upon realising there was nothing but rubbish on TV, decided I may as well make a second pair. I did. And they took half the time that the first ones did. Which, I guess, goes to show how much more efficient it is to make clothes in factories (if you're just making boring black leggings that look the same as every other pair of boring black leggings). 

So I guess it begs the question, what was the point of this particular make? It hasn't fulfilled the criteria of being unique, which is usually my reasoning for making my own clothing. Granted, the leggings worked out a bit cheaper to make than buying them (although, I think I'll hold judgement on this until I work out the cost of making them with jersey I really like the quality of). So, what was the point? Well, for less than I might normally spend on a Friday night takeaway, I have enjoyed the fun of setting myself a mini challenge that has resulted in something I can wear with loads of my other clothes, and, has boosted my confidence to go ahead and make this kind of thing in the future.

In fact, I have been inspired by looking at Scruffy Badger's running kit. Maybe now I will splash out on some fancy breathable sports fabric and a decent pattern to follow. We'll see what the neuro surgeon says about my back when I go and see him for my follow up appointment on Monday, first... (am keeping my fingers crossed he will say I can return to running).

Is the Great British Sewing Bee inspiring you to sew anything specific? I'd love to hear about your GBSB inspired projects.

Have a great weekend!


  1. It is inspiring me sew sew much !!
    On my second make of the weekend...glad you like your leggings!
    bestest daisy j x

    1. Ooooh, what are you making? Looking forward to the next episode tomorrow!

  2. Glad GBSB is inspiring you. I'm struggling to find the time to do fun sewing at the moment. But the leggings looked so fun and easy. I was similarly inspired by the dungarees.

    1. Yes, they were great, weren't they? I fancy making a pair with edging like Tamara's ones. Hope you get time to do some sewing before long :)

  3. I am utterly inspired by the sewing bee but seem to be hugely running out of time! Roll on end of term, looking forward to reading more of your blog xxx