It’s finally back! The Great British Sewing Bee has returned to our screens with a particularly tricky first episode, in which the contestants (meet them here) tackled cutting striped fabrics on the bias to create a chevron top, a maternity frock refashion (which new judge Esme wasn’t too impressed with) and fitting a skirt to a model.
Here we take you through a few of the key sewing techniques featured in The Great British Sewing Bee episode 1. Bring on next week!
1. Cutting on the bias. This technique gives garments a flattering draped fit, and, as shown on episode 1 of the new Great British Sewing Bee series, can also be used to experiment with one-directional prints like stripes.
When cutting out pattern pieces on the bias, lay them at a 45-degree angle, with the grainline of the pattern parallel to the selvedge – this is where the warp (length of the fabric grain) and weft (the cross-grain of the fabric) intersect. Staystitching the cut edges will ensure your pieces will not stretch out of shape while you sew them together.
2. Adding piping. Judge Esme was pretty taken with Angeline’s (pictured above) pencil skirt with piped detailing, which won garment of the week (she even used the words “sexy” and “arse”, which has to be a Sewing Bee first!).
To add piping to your next project, you’ll need bias tape (which you can either make or buy), piping cord and a piping foot for your sewing machine. Place your bias tape wrong side up and the piping cord in the centre. Fold the tape over the cord and pin along the long edge. Fit the piping foot to your machine and stitch the piping in place as close as you can to the piping cord.
Now the piping is ready to add to your garment. Place the piping on top of the seam on the fabric piece you wish to add it to (it will be sandwiched between two pieces), with the raw edges aligned, the right sides facing and with the piping 1.5cm (or the seam allowance detailed in your pattern) in from the raw edge. Attach a standard zip foot to your machine, and pin then stitch the piping into place.
Take the second adjoining fabric piece and place it on top of the piped piece, with right sides facing and raw edges (and any notches) aligned. Attach the piping foot to your machine and pin then stitch in place, stitching as close as you can to the piping cord. Open out, and you’ll have a beautifully piped seam.
3. Inserting a godet. A godet is a triangular panel of matching or contrasting fabric that is inserted into a skirt to add fullness and flare.
To insert a godet into a skirt, start by sewing the skirt panels together to the point marked on the pattern where the godet will be inserted. If godets are not included in your skirt pattern, decide how long you would like your godet panels to be (measuring upwards from the skirt hem) and how much flare you’d like to add to your skirt, and create a godet panel pattern to suit the look you want, ensuring you add a seam allowance on all sides of the godet. Mark the seams of your skirt pattern where the godet panels will be inserted, and then sew your skirt panels together to this point.
Press open all seam allowances on your skirt panels, right the way down to the hem. With the wrong side of the skirt and the wrong side of the godet facing you, pin your godet to one of the open sections of the skirt seams, with right sides together and the widest part of the triangle lined up with the hemline of the skirt. Sew into place, ensuring that the stitching meets at the top point.
4. Sewing a rolled hem. A rolled hem is used to finish hemlines on garments made with delicate or slippery fabrics, as on Jamie’s (pictured above) ruffled creation (and the frill cami and jumpsuit pattern from last series’ accompanying book, available as a free download here).
First, press a 1cm fold to the wrong side, then sew approx 5mm in from the folded edge to hold it into place. Trim the excess fabric close to your stitching line. Fold and press the hem to the wrong side again to hide the raw edge, stitch into place and press to finish.Tune into episode 2 of The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2 on Monday 23rd May at 9pm and watch the sewists try their hand at making children’s clothing.
All Great British Sewing Bee images copyright BBC/Love Productions/Charlotte Medlicott.