#sewgoodintentions2019 project 2: the #GBSB tea dress!

#GBSB tea dress
#sewgoodintentions2019 project 2: The #GBSB tea dress

I finished sewing my Great British Sewing Bee tea dress recently!; this gorgeous fabric was gifted to me, and it is a 70s vintage inspired bright floral and apple print (very in keeping with this series’ 70s themed episode). The original pattern which I have hacked with an inverted pleat and a contrasting polka dot facing, was part of a Daily Mail promotion of the Sewing Bee called ‘Start Sewing’ and is taken from one of the earlier series. I’ve been saving the pattern and fabric for a special occasion – I wore this dress to a Salsa night, and boy did she spin on the dancefloor.

This project had an interesting start. I got a concussion which caused me some problems – the fabric has some stretch and a slippery, silky texture – and the invisible zip just wouldn’t go in as I wanted. I tried interfacing the opening around the zip to stabilise it (I interfaced the wrong side in my concussed state!). But all was not lost, I took the dress to the Make at 140 Sewing Sewcial and Vanessa helped me to fit the dress. We figured out during a fitting that it was too big anyway, and I took the seams in. I haven’t fitted a zip in this dress this time, as the stretch and room in this dress allow for me to take it on and off without (if I was more well endowed, I think I would have struggled though!).

The neck opening was far too big on me at the back neckline as I have a narrow back, so we made an adjustment. With Vanessa’s guidance I sewed in an inverted pleat in the back neckline (pictures below) which was incredibly simple and I think the finish looks really professional. I then hand finished the neckline where the excess fabric sits. I love the shaping and the fitted look the pleat creates at the back of the dress. I finished the seams with pinking shears for a complimentary vintage look.

Finally, I added 2 metres of one inch wide red velvet ribbon from Hobbycraft to sinch in the waist, and a friend suggested I wear the dress with a red tulle underskirt for volume! The ribbon was a success, but I wasn’t too keen on the underskirt when it arrived  – for the first time I’ve included a little video of me wearing the dress in my Instagram post, and for comedy value an extra special clip of me wearing the dress with the underskirt! Undoubtedly the first time I’ve looked like a very brightly coloured milk maid…

Want to sew an inverted pleat? here’s how:

  1. Try your garment on inside out, have someone find the centre back (half way) by pulling the two halves of the neckline together to fit, and create a fold (right sides together), then pin that fold in place. Sew about two inches vertically downwards from the top of the neckline (this will look like the stitching on the left below). Next measure and pin exactly half way along the excess fabric and press the right edge flat;


2. Fold the excess fabric towards the neckline (your pressed line is your centre marker);

IMG_8419 (2)

3. Check that the back neckline looks like this on the right side:

IMG_8422 (2)

4. Pin in place and hand sew the top edges of the excess fabric to the back neckline facing. Press the excess fabric in place. Pin and hand sew a label to the back neckline facing to hold the sides of the folded excess fabric in place.


Et voila, your first inverted pleat is complete! The inverted pleat is really useful for those with a narrow back, particularly for tops and dressed with wide necklines. I’d like to experiment with inverted pleats at the neckline and waistline in future projects.

Bye for now, I hope you enjoy the video – in my next post I hope to be sharing my first attempt at sewing trousers with you! For more updates, follow the hashtag #sewgoodintentions2019 and my Instagram posts @shelovestomake.uk




#sewgoodintentions2019 project 1: the Deer & Doe Plantain tee

#sewgoodintentions project 1 is my Deer & Doe Plaintain tee, with twin needle hems and cuffs! I also made Rose @sewingforthesoul‘s too cool for school ‘turband headband’ with the scrap cotton jersey fabric left over from the project.

For the images in this post, I decided to give a proper glimpse at my new sewing corner, as I usually take my sewing photos in front of a neutral wall – this is truly where the magic happens!

Here are my tips for first time twin needle sewing:

  • Read the pattern carefully to identify the distance from the hem you’ll need to sew before you start (this will have been calculated exactly to create the effect you need, bridging the hem inside the garment to create a slightly raised edge);
  • Check the needle type (i.e. jersey twin needle) and the mm distance you need to sew between the two lines of stitiching before purchasing (the gap between my needles was 4mm);
  • Read Sewessential‘s blog post and watch their twin needle video tutorial, and a more in-depth twin needle video tutorial by Easy Sewing for beginners;
  • Let that knowledge settle and practice threading, and sewing on some scrap fabric (ideally from the project you intend to sew);
  • When threading from two spools thread the first spool feeding left from the bobbin or spool in the usual way into the left hand needle, then thread the other emerging right from the spool in the normal way to the right hand needle (don’t thread this into the thread guide directly above the needle -see my picture above and the video tutorials for further guidance;
  • Use a steam iron on a high heat to even out your sewing at the hem, run the iron over the ‘bumpy’ stitches a cm or two from above (there’s no need to press), run your finger over the hem immediately after sewing (make sure that the fabric has cooled a little first – we don’t want any burns!).  This action will remove the gathered effect of the hem you’ll notice when sewing – see my image above. You can press the hem and sleeves later;
  • Don’t panic if your bobbin jams or if you come to the end of the thread on any spool or bobbin, pause, trim the ends and re-thread, you can neatly sew over the stitching you have already made without causing problems, it appearing unsightly or noticeable.

Thoughts on the pattern – this is the first Deer & Doe pattern I have used, and it was excellent. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, the steps preparing you for sewing and diagrams to ilustrate the steps were really useful as I prefer visual instructions. The top is a very flattering style for my shape, it creates a nice silhouette at the bust and flows out at the waist and hip. The gorgeous (and very soft) pink cotton jersey fabric was purchased from Harriet @sewmesunshine.uk. I can’t wait to sew another Deer & Doe pattern in the future, I have my eye on the Chardon skirt and the Belladone dress…

I am very glad that I launched my challenge #sewgoodintentions2019 this new year to improve my skils, and looking forward to sewing my first pair of trousers and a coat. I’m still looking for flattering patterns for a pear-shaped body, if you have any suggestions?

Thanks for reading my post, and happy sewing!