Little T’s Haberdashery | Happy Sewing!

The Great British Sewing Bee – Week 4 – Come Fly With Me….

Week four and half way  already and it’s time for International week! This weeks challenges may prove to be particularly difficult for the contestants in the adverts and teaser clips have been anything to go by.

The Pattern challenge this week was for a Chinese silk brocade top with a mandarin collar and frogging fastening. The fabrics available for the contestants to choose from were stunning, absolutely beautiful. Chinese silk brocade is super luxurious, made using silk and gold thread. However it’s tricky to work with, is slippery, hard to mark and frays like there’s no tomorrow!

The pattern itself was also fairly advanced, with an asymmetrical opening cut against the grain, it needed to have level (and not ‘pokey’ – love Esme!) darts, a collar cut and sewn precisely, an invisible zip and it needed to be top stitched accurately.  Phew! Quite the challenge itself, nevermind the tricky fabric!

Many of the contestants chose to use both pattern weights and pins when cutting their pattern pieces, to help ensure their cutting was as accurate as possible, given the slippery nature of the brocade fabric.

I loved how rebellious Joyce decided to go against the pattern (and Patrick and Esme) and leave her binding showing, even if the judges didn’t think to kindly of it. She’s mind kind of sewist! She likes what she likes.  I felt so sorry for poor Charlotte when she managed to stretch out her top trying to put it on the mannequin but had forgotten to undo her zip, I know Angeline said ‘it’s only sewing’ but I know I’ve been found to cry over ruined projects myself once in a while.

My favourite was Tracey’s garment, I especially loved her choice of the bright blue brocade.

Next came the Alteration Challenge, it had been revealed in adverts for tonight’s episode that the contestants would be working with a Sari! Perfect I thought, so many options for beautiful garments and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The judges asked for an Eastern inspired garment, Esme advised the contestants to focus on traditional shapes of rectangles, squares and triangles.

The contestants needed to use both the plain and embroidered parts of the Sari’s. There was a wonderful array of garments produced, including a couple of pairs of Harem trousers (some more successfully than others), tops and Josh’s particularly ambitious belly dancer outfit!

Whilst fitting their garments to the mannequin, both Angeline and Joyce were using a wrist pin cushion, they’re super handy for sewing and fitting on the go. I use mine all the time! If you’d like to give one a try, you can buy one here.

My favourite garment was Rumana’s dress, loved the colours and the shape of the panelled skirt.

Last but not least was the Made to Measure Challenge. The contestants were asked to produce a garment inspired by West Africa, using a traditional wax print fabric also known as Ankara. The fabric was stiff and heavy, with large prints and bold colours. A definite step out of the comfort zone of the contestants.

The garments created were well fitted, emphasising hour glass shapes, featuring bodices, peplums, ruffles and even a cape! Lining of the fabrics proved to be key to making the final garment look ‘finished’ and also making sure, as ever, that they perfectly fitted the models!

My favourites were Angeline’s dress with the matching choker and Rumana’s dress with a cape! Who doesn’t love a good cape. Even if Patrick did remark that it was ‘like something from another planet’.


And it is revealed….next week will be….The swinging 60’s! ‘Till then, Happy Sewing!



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