I am absolutely hooked on The Great British Sewing Bee!

(BBC 2  on Tuesday evening at 8pm)

Last night the competitors had to make a child’s dress with a ‘smocked’ top.

I have always wanted to try this as I have two girls of my own and I would love to make more clothes for them. Luckily this dress is made using the modern machine sewn technique, with shirring elastic in the bobbin, rather than hand sewing the smocking (which let’s face it a working mum does not have time for!)

I rushed in early to work this morning and decided to give it a go. As I was working with very little technical information (ie no pattern!) I thought I would make a doll sized dress as a practice,I know it will get well used as the girls both love dressing their dolls!

I decided on pink gingham fabric, the girls both love pink and I thought the lines on the print would help to guide my lines of shirring.

Pink Gingham Fabric

Pink Gingham Fabric

I joined the  two pieces of fabric with my first French Seam which worked a treat! The next job was to start the lines of shirring, I loaded shirring elastic onto the bobbin, being careful not to wind it too tightly.

I did try a couple of sample pieces first and I was glad I did as I had to play around with the settings a bit before committing to the main article, I set the stitch length to the longest available option which helped too. The fabric does gather more the more lines you add so don’t give up if you think it is not working after the first couple of lines.

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt - Sewing straight lines

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt – Sewing straight lines

Using the gingham pattern I was able to keep the lines relatively straight.

A good tip is that the fabric needs to go under the foot as flat as possible, so try to hold the fabric either side of the foot to ensure it does not pucker as it feeds through the needle.

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt - Sewing the Shirring Elastic

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt – Sewing the Shirring Elastic

Next I had to hide all those straggly bits with a second French Seam,

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt - Shirring

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt – Shirring

and then hem the top and bottom of the dress. By this time I had to open the shop and so I cheated a bit with the straps and used ribbon (as this is only for a doll I thought this would be OK!).

I added some white buttons to give it a nice finishing touch and there we have it!

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt - Finished

Great British Sewing Bee Skirt – Finished

I am sure with a bit more practice I will get better but I really enjoyed my first attempt!

If you want to give something like this a go why not look at our list of Sewing Workshops or join us at our next Sherborne Sewing Bee!

Happy Sewing!

Ali x

 

 

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