One thing WhiteTree fabrics are proud of is our extensive selection of laces. Stretch, rigid, with a scalloped selvedge, without, floral, geometric, all different colours and designs.....we have over 700 designs to choose from. So when we saw that The Greart British Sewing Bee were going to be featuring a Pencil skirt challenge where the contestants had to work with lace, we reached out to our bloggers and challenged them to make a garment of their choice, the only rule being that that had to work with lace too.  Marie chose a lovely plum lace. Take a look at the beautiful results below.

 GBSB Lace Challenge

GBSB Lace Challenge

It’s All About the Lace - GBSB lace project My first properly formal dress ever to share with you here! I love it, and can’t wait to wear it.

 Great British Sewing Bee Purple Lace Dress
Lilypad dress (Vogue 8766 in White Tree Fabrics' lace)

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Lace Dress
I swear that hem is straight in real life!

This project is part of a White Tree Fabrics blog series linked to the Great British Sewing Bee's new series, which I think most of you will have been watching. I’ve loved it, but the series seems so short! Is it really usually this short? Word has it that the GBSB contestants are going to use a lot of White Tree fabrics in the lace challenge. I'm wondering if I'll spot my lace!

There are a group of bloggers making garments with the laces featured on GBSB. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has made!

White Tree Fabrics very kindly provided me with this lace and satin for this project, along with the pattern, Vogue 8766. I decided to make view C, the strapless, full skirted version.

I recently realised I don't have very many fancy frocks in my wardrobe, and this seemed to be the perfect chance to change that!!! I do regret that didn't have the time I would have liked to spend on this project. A bit like the GBSB then! Having an actual countdown of hours and minutes must be so stressful. I'd hate that. I'm slow! So, I went ahead and toiled the bodice of V8766. It needed a lot of fitting work. No biggie, most patterns do, but just as I was about to hack into my traced pattern and start adjusting, I realised I had JUST completed a lot of fitting work on an almost identical princess seamed strapless bodice (Butterick 4443). Doh! At least I realised at this point and saved myself a lot of time. So this is my convoluted way of saying that this dress does look exactly like the pattern envelope of V8766, but it is actually the bodice of B4443 with the skirt of V8766 (which is a circle skirt, but I was glad to have the pattern pre-drawn rather than having to do the piece-of-string-tied-round-a-pencil circle drawing).

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Dress

There are so many beautiful lace dresses out there. I just adore the feminine, fancy look of lace. I pinned about one hundred lacy ideas here - I would like them all please. This particular lace is quite heavy, is corded and has a pretty scalloped edge. It would've been nice to use the scallops on the hem but obviously that's impossible with a circle skirt. I tried using them along the neckline but it looked a bit weird! While we're on the lace, I have to say I was really impressed with the quality. This is £9.25 per metre, which I think is excellent value for money. I'm very tempted to buy some of the red and make a fiery backless number at some point. I am quite new to working with lace, but you might be seeing a lot more of it on my blog soon (my wedding dress!). I tried a bit of lace appliqué initially, to hide the princess seams, but I couldn't get it right, and the corded lace is quite thick. So I followed the pattern and sewed the lace and underlining together in the princess seams. I'm not sure Patrick Grant would be happy with my decision but I don't mind! Most RTW lace frocks I've seen are sewn this way, and quite pricey ones at that.

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Dress

The underlining is lightweight satin. Both fabrics behaved well, but presented their own challenges. My tips if you’re working with the corded lace:

  • thread trace the seam lines of your pattern. It takes a long time but is much more accurate and is really the only effective way of marking this type of fabric! 
  • the lace will stretch on the bias (quite a lot). I hung my dress overnight before hemming so the circle skirt could drop where it’s on the bias, and didn’t expect the lace to drop very much, but it dropped a lot. 
  • be careful with the iron! I burned a hole in my hem trying to press it. Oops.

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Dress

And the only tip I have for the lightweight satin is to pink everything if possible, even if you’re finishing the seam another way afterwards. It frayed like a good ‘un. I moved the zip to the side, and decided to put in a lapped zip. Under normal circumstances I would have liked an invisible zip but that would have been absolutely impossible with the thickness of the corded lace, so I went lapped. It’s a bit bumpy in the end but I’m happy with it. My underlining hem wouldn’t win any prizes, but it’s the underlining so I’m not losing any sleep over that. I love a circle skirt but man I hate hemming them. Especially when there are two to do in one dress! I did a (far from perfect) baby hem on the satin by machine, and turned up a 2” hem on the lace and sewed it by hand. I much prefer hemming my hand, even if it does take hours on a circle skirt. The lace has so much give in the open parts of it that it’s easy to ease it in when turning up the hem.

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Dress

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Dress

Anyway, I’ve gabbed enough. Can’t wait to see the GBSB final and see who wins! I'll leave you with some more shots of my lovely purple lace dress. I adore it. Now I just need an occasion to wear it!

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Dress

Great British Sewing Bee Purple Plum Dress