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A Breton tee dress

The origins of this dress are a bit “chicken and egg” – did I think about making the Breton tee dress from the latest Great British Sewing Bee book first, or did I decide I finally wanted to cut into the hefty black and white striped ponte in my stash first? I’m not entirely sure of the order, but I do like it when a plan comes together which doesn’t involve me buying anything more!

A neon cropped tee

As you heard earlier this week, I bought this eye-wateringly n-e-o-n peach, 100% polyester pique jersey at Abakhan in Liverpool to pair with some grey scuba to make the Triple Triangle Dress from the new No Patterns Needed book.

But I really only used the pique jersey in strips to bind the armholes, neckline, and waist, so there was quite a bit leftover. Now, I must point out that this pique jersey is craaaaaaazy bright in real life. Like, “it hurts your eyes to look at it for too long” bright. So most women would probably shy away from both wearing it near their face and wearing it in big blocks of colour.

I am not most women.

Cycling 120 miles with bacon and ikat

The Dunwich Dynamo isn’t a race – it’s not even an organised event. It’s much more a rite-of passage – an annual 120 mile bike ride from London Fields in east London to Dunwich, on the Suffolk coast. It’s been going for over 20 years and the route is just “known”, and the date is the Saturday closest to the full moon in July. Riders set off sometime between 7 and 9pm, and generally don’t make it to the beach at Dunwich until sunrise, or some hours thereafter.

I’ve written a full report on my ride over at my RiverRunner site if you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to cycle for 9.5 hours on a heavy mountain bike having previously only ridden 30 miles. It was tough, and some parts were more enjoyable than others!

This post is more about what I sewed in the leadup to the race, both for James and myself. My copy of the latest Sewing Bee book arrived two weeks ago, and I knew I wanted to sew up the men’s cycling jersey, just to see how it compares to my Surf to Summit men’s top, if nothing else! I did a bit of work behind the scenes on the show and book this year, and I helped out a bit with the instructions for this one but never had the pattern to sew it up myself until my finished book arrived.

Sewing Bee Activewear week! (and Flash Sale!)

Before you read any further, if you haven’t watched the latest Sewing Bee episode yet, I just want to inform you that there are screenshots from the challenges in this post, but I don’t reveal who won or who lost any of the challenges, so you’re safe to read on!

This week’s episode was all about activewear, and I’ve been SO excited ever since the theme was revealed in last week’s preview. I mean, how could I not be excited! The pattern challenge this week was to sew a men’s cycling top, and it was revealed that none of the contestants had much experience with sewing lycra, either!

“Perfect”, I thought, “what a great opportunity to show the 3 million viewers that sewing activewear can be really accessible, even on your first try!” But Patrick and Esme had other ideas, pretty much talking nonstop about how difficult and fraught with peril sewing activewear is. Umm, guys, it’s really not that hard! I’ve taught loads of people to sew their first leggings and they practically dance out of the room!

A Great British Baby Grow

If you are in the UK, you doubtless are already aware that the latest season of the Great British Sewing Bee is well underway! Not only have they got a new location (which looks uncannily like the old one in Wapping, but is now coincidentally located right by my office), but also a new judge, with Esme Young replacing May Martin as Patrick Grant’s wing-woman.

I wasn’t able to be as involved on the production side for this season as I was last time around due to my working four days a week at my office job, but I was able to help out with some sewn samples for the latest Sewing Bee book, instructions and illustrations, but also make the odd “Perfect” for the show, too!

A Slate blue Drapey Dress for Keeps

I have sewn so many Drapey Dresses that I could pretty much make them with my eyes closed. I made the first prototype version for the Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion in Fabric book last summer, and I even got to cheekily wear it out for a weekend before returning it for pattern development purposes. Then I sewed something like 6 more over the next year, including both the blue and stripey versions seen in the book, and the lovely pink one CL wore to promote the book during her February “Bee Mine” challenge.

But I still didn’t have one in my wardrobe to call my own! It’s definitely saying something about the greatness of this pattern and design that I still even wanted one – I mean, I’m usually sick of a pattern after making it 2 or 3 times!

Having seen this dress in all colours and prints imaginable, it made it all the harder to pin myself down to this “duck egg blue” ponte from Truro Fabrics. Theirs isn’t the cheapest ponte out there, but it’s really nice quality and doesn’t tend to bobble as quickly as others I’ve bought elsewhere. I made this Burda vintage wiggle dress using a Truro ponte three years ago and the dress still looks great, despite constant winter wear.

A blue and white jumpsuit

As you may recall, I spent quite a lot of time last year working behind the scenes on the Great British Sewing Bee, first for the third series, then for the Children in Need specials, and finally, for the book which accompanies the series. I personally worked on about 60% of the patterns in the Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric book, either by sewing up early samples, measuring yardages or trims, or assisting the illustrators with the construction. So it’s probably quite funny that the first pattern I make from the finished book (not counting the green pencil skirt, which I made from the book before release!) isn’t one I really worked on at all – just one I admired across the studio while others made adjustments.

It’s a pattern for a jumpsuit with an elasticated waist and spaghetti straps with a flounced neckline edge. There’s no fussy closures – you just pull it on and off by stepping into it, and I’d definitely say it’s beginner-friendly, especially since the instructions are fully illustrated. The bonus is that you can also make a pair of casual trousers or a camisole top using the same base jumpsuit pattern (also explained in the book).

In my experience, the trickiest part of this entire jumpsuit was finding the right fabric! It needed to be something hefty enough for the trousers, but also lightweight enough to drape nicely at the neckline frill, and I eventually found this blue & white crepey viscose from Ditto Fabrics that’s the perfect weight and resists wrinkling so it should be perfect for travelling. It did fray like crazy though, so I constructed this mostly on the overlocker (serger).

Doesn’t this just scream summer?? In terms of size, I made Size 14 according to my measurements, and it fits really well – no alterations needed (I should point out that the top/camisole has bust darts so should be easy to do an FBA if you need one).

I wore this out to a pub lunch with friends on Sunday, followed by a little walk in St James’s Park (where these photos were taken) and then more pubbing! It was a little chilly, so I layered a grey cropped jacket over top.