We're back at the Bee and this week we've gone back in time to our childhoods. In children's week the contestants had to miniaturise their sewing, crafting beautiful garments for tiny people.
Pattern Challenge: Smocked Girl's Dress
The first challenge asked contestants to make a sweet girls dress with a smocked waistband and a Peter Pan collar. The judges were looking for even gathers in the smocking and a neatly sewn collar.
The contestants were asked to use a machine smocking method, where the fabric is gathered with a long stitch and then decorative embroidery is used to secure it in place. The name of the game was accurate sewing, as keeping the lines parallel allows the smocking to sit flat. Therese began with a lot of confidence, being the only one in the sewing room to have ever made a smocked dress before. She was let down however by the fact that she took too much time cutting out and ran out of time when it came to the sewing.
The standout winner of this task was Mark, whose gorgeous dress was neatly sewn with a perfect Peter Pan collar.
We've found some great tutorials written by other talented sewists if you fancy having a go at these techniques yourself. First up is the Sewing Directory who show you haw to do smocking on a machine (traditionally it was a hand sewn addition).
If all of that gathering and embroidery doesn't suit your fancy, why not have a go at shirring. Elisalex from By Hand London has done a wonderful tutorial on how to add shirring elastic to tops and dresses.
Sew it with Love has written a wonderful tutorial showing you how to draft a Peter Pan collar for any garment with a round neckline. Her instructions are easy to follow and comprehensive.
Refashion Challenge: Children's Fancy Dress
In this week's refashion challenge, the Bee's were given sleeping bags to turn into food-themed fancy dress. This was an opportunity for imaginations to run wild and we loved some of the creations that the contestants came up with. Ali's pizza, whilst not recognised by Esme, was something any mini-me would be glad to wear to a party, whilst Fiona's watermelon paled in comparison to Clare's meaning she came last in this challenge. The judges criticised the fact that her watermelon shape did not hold when worn. We thought Peter's sushi was inspired, although he used very little of the sleeping bag provided. Therese redeemed herself in this challenge, with her excellent depiction of a bunch of grapes, making the judges very happy.
We love the idea of recycling sleeping bags into costumes, they are comfy and squishy and nice and warm, plus they come in loads of fun colours...what would you make?
Fitting Challenge: Dungarees
The fitting challenge this week was children's dungaree's. Whilst at first this may not seem very difficult, as dungarees are loose fitting garments. However the challenge lies in making them fit the mini models with room to grow, as well as room to move when playing. Fabric choices were varied in this challenge, from cord to denim and chambray. Therese originally attracted questions from judges about her choice of a lightweight shirting fabric, but in a complete 180, she stole the show, winning the challenge.
Judges loved Ali's painters dungarees in her tie-dye cord with added paint splat, and commended the neat sewing on Liz's American punk dungarees. They also loved Peter's addition of a hand-drawn bee to the pocket on his colour-block dungarees.
In a turn of events, Matt, winner for the first challenge, came up short. His dungarees were too small for his model and the legs were evenly hemmed and sat awkwardly.
Overall, we loved the creative combinations that the sewers used in this challenge, showing hw diverse dungarees are for our growing princes and princesses.
Winners and Losers.
This week, Therese won garment of the week with her squishy grape fancy dress. The judges loved the creativity and unique flair that she showed in this challenge and were equally impressed by her summer dungarees.
It was Fiona that we said goodbye to this week. The judges decided that her timing was letting her down, and that her sewing lacked accuracy and finesse.
Smocked girls dresses:
This is a style that dates back centuries, and has always been popular in children's garments. You can add a smocked panel to almost any garment, but there are some lovely patterns made especially for this technique. We've found that the best come from Children's Corner Patterns, who design traditional children's clothes.
For dungarees, we love the Two Stitches Frankie pattern. It was used by a few contestants on the Bee and has lots of variations and additions that can add flair and style. We sell the PDF of the Two Stitches Patterns, which you can find here!
Fabric Choices: Children's Week
Children's week gives us a great opportunity to snap up all of those fun fabrics that we otherwise wouldn't sew with. The all make for excellent children's wear, but also make lovely tops and other garments for grown-ups (see Alex's galaxy coco top). Our Sewing Bee Specials this week are a range of fun prints and plains, suitable for a range of childrenswear.
Overall we really enjoyed this week's episode of the Bee. We loved seeing the contestants sew for mini-models and thought that overall they all took to it really well. We still think the judges are being very kind, although we are starting to see some of Esme's fire come out, we hope this carries on! We are really starting to see where the strengths and weaknesses of the Bee's lie, and with the theme of stretch in store for next week, some might come unstuck.
Don't forget you can get 10% off our Sewing Bee Specials this week with code Bee Happy at checkout.
Keep Safe and Happy Sewing, the Sew Creative Team x