GBSB · refashion · self-drafted · Sewing · Thrifting

Great British Sewing Bee Challenge – it’s as tough as it looks

Take one sandy afternoon, one men’s shirt


and a dash of Great British Sewing Bee inspiration. Engage elation, energy and excitement.  Warm up the iron, start the clock and off we go!!

11:12 Oh gosh, this is soooo exciting, what am I going to do?  Let’s have a bit of a think and a bit of a scribble:


I’ve decided roughly what I’m going to do.  I turn the shirt inside out, pin the side seams of the shirt together and fold the front and the back together at the centre ready for sketching a shape and cutting.  The checks are proving very useful for ensuring my centre front and my centre back folds are spot on.



12:12 1 hour in.     There’s too much fabric at the underarms… the first doubts begin to bubble to the surface, however I’m still riding the new project wave so I carry on regardless.  Scissors at the ready!


13:12 2 hours in.  A productive hour has passed I’ve completed the cutting and I’ve decided on some innovative shaping – part dart, part tuck.  A duck maybe, or a tart?  I’m still hoping to retain the original side seams and the hem as this will save me time.


14:12 3 hours in. There has been sewing, there has been French seaming (the shoulders), there has been a fitting….  I’m tiring and I’m hungry, the quality of my work begins to plummet.

15:12  4 hours in.  I’m met by my first proper stumbling block: the neck is not fitting correctly even after taking darts down each side seam.  I’ve also had to waste precious time eating (wimp!) and breaking up a fence-based feline fracas.  If this was the telly show maybe Claudia would have been able to settle the cats’ border dispute.  Cutting my losses, the finish line in sight, I decide to gather the excess (making a mental note to stay-stitch the neck next time), take a final fitting, grab some satin bias binding and make it up as I go along.

16:12  STOP THE CLOCK!!  Put down the iron, pick up the camera my work is done.  Tired, mostly satisfied and with red, white and blue checks before my eyes, ta da!


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My goodness, that took much longer than I thought it would, it really is as tough as it looks on the telly.  I’m not sure that I would recommend working to any sort of deadline that can be measured in hours, I found it jolly hard to keep my quality consistent.  I had to fight an inner voice that began to shout ‘Oh heck, that’ll do’ increasingly vigourously as the hours swept past.  If this hasn’t put you off entirely and you think that you might want to try a shirt re-fashion here are my top tips:

  • Choose a large (wide) shirt.  You need to have room for all your lady bumps and curves.
  • Before you get anywhere near your fabric have a good idea of what you want to see at the end.
  • Measure yourself or your recipient carefully.  Want to know how to do this?  Chinelo’s YouTube tutorial is a great place to start .
  • Take time to pin your side seams together carefully, the underarm section is tricky so I found it easier to start at the hem and work upwards.
  • Watch the button placement.  If you are putting the buttons at the back, as I did here, you might want a button to sit at the top of the neckline.  If so, make sure that you allow enough fabric to finish the seam above neatly.

Thanks Sew 2 Pro for setting such a brilliant challenge!  I can’t wait to see what everyone has made, and I wonder who will win the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee?  Not long now!


4 thoughts on “Great British Sewing Bee Challenge – it’s as tough as it looks

  1. Excellent challenge you set yourself there and it was very disciplined of you to keep an eye on the time- I didn’t do that and my project stretched on forever.
    It does make you wonder, doesn’t it, how the contestants made such quick progress. Did Claudia tie the loose ends/finish seams/clear up for them? And how did they manage to stay so friendly and polite with the cameras in their faces ruining their concentration?!

    Thanks for taking part!

    1. Thanks, I did enjoy the challenge.
      I was *very* glad to see The GBSB back, it seems to be gaining wider attention and support: More episodes and larger viewing figures this year. Soo exciting!!

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