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Amy's Trio of Tees

Thursday, 5 March 2015 15:30:32 Europe/London

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.  Amy chose our soft pink lace. Take a look at the fantastic results below - 3 brilliant projects, all in one post!

 GBSB Lace Challenge

GBSB Lace Challenge

Lacy Trio of Tees – a make for White Tree Fabrics


One of the benefits of being part of the White Tree Bloggers Network, is that they sometimes ask if you’d like to be involved in a fun challenge? When that challenge involves sewing, and one of your favourite sewing based TV programmes, there is only one sensible answer. Yes please!

Some of the fabric used on the Great British Sewing Bee was supplied by White Tree Fabrics, who have the most excellent selection of lace I’ve come across online. You can find vintage lace, lace trims, stretchy lace, printed lace, bridal lace, guipure lace, the list goes on! White Tree sent me something similar to what was used on the show, and I had to create an item of clothing.

I was kindly supplied with a pretty pink leaf pattern lace. I felt a little deflated when I saw the colour. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely colour, but when pink and lace combine you just get something so feminine, so romantic, and so floaty that it’s just miles away from any style I would actually wear, or more importantly feel comfortable in. So therein the challenge lies, how do I use this fabric to create a garment that feels me?

It was exactly like being on the sewing bee, only without the time limits, the tomfoolery and the well turned out Patrick grant. So OK, maybe not exactly like being on the show, but I was given a challenge to create something wearable in a fabric that I’m not that used to working with, in a colour I wouldn’t wear. It didn’t feel easy, and I wasn’t sure how to go about it.

When I thought about a dress, I ruled it out for being too pink and bridal. A friend suggested a dressing gown, but again, it all felt too Mills & Boon. It wasn’t until I was scrapping about in my T-shirt drawer that I realised I was really short on tops, and the eureka moment struck. I’d make a T-shirt, and not only that, I’d make three T-shirts, a trio of tee’s! Surely if I make three garments I’m bound to like one of them. My reasoning felt sensible, and after all I did really want to win garment of the week. *Reality check* Amy you are not actually on the sewing bee. Oi! Who burst my Patrick bubble?

T-Shirt 1 – Lacy Crop Top using Megan Nielsons Briar T-Shirt Pattern


The Briar pattern is an incredibly versatile pattern which includes a cropped and full length top with 3 sleeve lengths. It is designed for stretchy fabric and knits so I took a bit of a gamble using it for this lace, which has no stretch at all. I tested it out in a jersey first, and then went up a size for the lace, cutting a size large. I modified the pattern slightly to accommodate for the scalloped lace edge, that I wanted to make a feature of for the hemline and the sleeve hems. This just meant changing the scooped hems to a straight one at the front and back. Easy peasy stuff, and it turned out great, plus it was massively time saving when it came to hemming, hurrah!


This was the first top I made, so I was still getting used to working with the lace. I cut my pieces out on the cross grain, so that I could used the scalloped selvedge edge as my hemline. I decided french seams were the neatest (after many failed overlocking attempts), and worked really well with the delicate fabric. I used them at the arm and side seams. As the fabric is semi sheer, it’s worth the effort, as they can be seen from the outside.


The garment only consisted of 4 seams, so went together in a flash, which just left the neckline to finish. A friend suggested I try satin bias, which I thought would work really well. My other option was to use the lace itself, but I wasn’t sure how well this would work, and thought the satin would make a nice contrast. I found a good match for 40p a metre.


I’m happy with how it turned out, the fit is good and the neckline looks pretty. My only gripe would be that the satin bias is heavier, and stiffer than the lace, so it does sit a bit rigidly when on. If working with the lace again I’d try and find something more lightweight to work with.

All in though, a success. I like the length of this top, and how when combined with a colourful tank it adds a nice splash of colour. I’ll definitely wear this again, and I feel I learned a little about working with delicate lace along the way.

T-Shirt 2 – Lace/Jersey top using Simplicity 1424


I picked this pattern up in one of the simplicity half price sales, so I think it was only about £2.50. I liked the A and B versions, and didn’t have any plans for it other than it might make some nice summer tops. For this make however, I decided to give view C a go, as I could visualise this working with the lace as an overlay. I wasn’t sure about the open back on this pattern. My instincts told me to modify it, so it was similar to the front, but I decided I’d give it a go as it was, just because it was different. The pattern asked for lightweight woven fabrics with drape, but I wanted to try it with a jersey I had that provided a good contrast with the lace.



I enjoyed making this top, as I got to experiment with a few techniques. The narrow hems on the front and back pieces were done using my double needle, and required some focus to keep the curves precise. The jersey hemline looked fab (apart from I used 2 different colour grey threads in each needle, which was a bit lazy of me and I won’t do again), but the lace hemline didn’t work so well. It was neat enough in places, but where the weave was very loose it bunched up a little and I think I’d do it differently next time.


Attaching the 2 pieces together at the arms and neckline was fun, and I was really excited to flip it over for the big reveal. I couldn’t wait to try it on. Unfortunately when the moment came I really hated it on me. The fabric just ballooned out over my ski jump chest, and there was really no way to tame it or make it more flattering. I don’t have many loose fitting clothes in my wardrobe, and perhaps this is why. A family of 4 could camp out under that tent. Perhaps with a drapier fabric it would look nicer, but I’m not sure if I’ll make it again. We all have styles that don’t work for us right?


So I’m afraid this is a bit of a fail for me. At least I enjoyed the make and can take away a few lessons with me. This may be one of my first handmade garments off to the charity shop!

T-Shirt 3 – Lace/Chiffon top using Vogue 8877 Misses’ top


I came across this pattern whilst browsing theVogue patterns on White Trees website, which they have a fantastic selection of. I thought it could work with a lace yoke, and as the pattern recommended lace, crepe, georgette or jersey I thought I’d give it a go. I picked up a cheap georgette from Leeds market for £2 a metre. I actually struggled to get a good colour combination. What do you think of my choice? I liked it when I put the fabrics next to each other, but now the top is made I’m undecided. In terms of weight though, the fabrics are well matched, so in that respect it was a good choice and the yoke seams look neat and tidy.


The pattern is described as ‘very easy Vogue’ and it lives up to its name. Not much to go in to detail wise with this pattern, but I think it’s got the potential to be a good wardrobe builder, and I’d like to try a long sleeve jersey version sometime.


This uses the lace cut on the grain, so the sleeve hems are finished as narrow hems, as is the main hemline. I think I prefer the pattern of the lace when cut on the cross grain, as I did for the first Briar version.


Again I decided to use satin bias to finish the neckline, but this time opted to use contrasting stitching. But alas, the time had come for me to learn another lesson. See below:


Notice those holes? They were left by the pins when I attached the bias to the neckline. Unfortunately no amount of pressing will get them out. I’m confused how this happened this time round and not when I used the same techniques on the briar top. In future I will test out if pins leave marks in the fabric, and when I feel like treating myself, I’d love to buy some wonder clips, a handy little alternative to pins that would have prevented this problem from occurring.

Judging time! How did I do in my own Great British Sewing Bee Challenge

Well, in the absence of any real judge I guess it’s up to me to cast the final assessment. I set myself the challenge to create something that I would wear, from a fabric I would never really buy. The winner for me is easily T-shirt 1, the Briar Lacy crop top. I think this is partly down to the pattern, which is very simple but so wearable. It’s the closest fitting garment out of the 3 I made, and I just feel so much more comfortable in it, and that it can be really versatile depending on what I wear underneath it. In second place I’d choose vogue 8877, which I’m happy with as a garment, but I think it’s a bit on the purple/pink side, and well, a bit Pat Butcher. This obviously leaves Simplicity 1424 in last place. Pretty well made but it’s just no good on me. I wonder if the other style of t-shirt included in this pattern would work any better for me? What do you all think? Which is your favourite out of the three?

Things I learnt about working with lace

  • French seams work marvellously
  • Overlocking seams didn’t work at all. Because of the fairly loose weave of the lace, there was nothing for the loopers to sit against. I think you’d get better results with a denser/stiffer lace perhaps
  • The fabric easily catches. Any piece of rough skin or loose nail easily snagged it. Work with care and moisturised hands :)
  • Binding works well for edges, but consider finding a fabric of a similar weight for best results
  • Be careful when pressing. Use a low temperature and a press cloth. Sometimes you can just get away with finger pressing seams
  • It’s a really fun fabric to sew, and not too difficult on a machine at all. When combined with a similar weight fabric or as an over-lay it can totally come in to it’s own
  • Experiment with cutting on the grain and cross grain, as you may prefer the pattern one way to another, and get to make use of a detailed edge if the lace has one

Other musings

You may have noticed I’ve had my hair done. Not looking especially polished in these photos, but I love it. I’m really happy with the colour and might even be brave enough to go shorter on the length next time. I’ve also started up my running routine again, and with the help of some acupuncture (which is brill!) I think I might have my achy hip under control. I’m really feeling the oncoming energy of spring, which I’m sure will manifest in many creative ways. I’m currently thinking about whats next on my sewing table. I think it will either be this lovely Alexander McQueen style Burda #6062 blouse, or this Issey Miyake Vogue 1320 coat.

Happy sewing people! I hope the lighter evenings and longer days are blessing you with more sewing opportunities.

Amy's cropped jacket

Tuesday, 2 December 2014 10:45:21 Europe/London

And now for something a little different - and we love different, inventive, ideas. This garment is definitely an exercise in thinking outside of the box and coming up with something truly unique and fantastic! Over to Amy!


Wow, am I happy to bring you this project! It’s my first make as part of the White Tree blogging team, and it’s taken me four months from receiving the materials to completion. I did intend to have it finished earlier, as it’s really a jacket with more of a summer feel. But hey, sometimes life has other plans for us and there is no point worrying about not finishing projects as quickly as we’d like to. Apart from life getting in the way, it was a time consuming make for a number of reasons. The first was that I self drafted the pattern, and it took awhile to get it right. I also then wanted to create a prototype before cutting in to the gorgeous Tilda cotton. My practice garment was my tape cassette jacket, which I wore to Bestival festival. When I was happy with my basic pattern I hacked about with it a bit to allow for the lace insert. It was inserting the lace that made me feel nervous, and I needed to be in the right frame of mind to tackle this part of the project. (i.e not mind boggingly tired and driven crazy by a toddler who wants to watch Thomas the Tank Engine on repeat). I haven’t worked with lace before, yet alone such a stunning, special and expensive guipure lace. I really didn’t want to mess this part up. I had a vivid image of how I wanted this jacket to turn out, and I spent a long time working out how to achieve it. In the end I think I had to compromise my vision with what I could practically achieve. There were a few moments in this make that I wished for instructions to follow, but eventually my instinct got me there.

Tilda jacket stats

Fabric: Tilda Jane Blue Grey CottonRandom flower guipure, A pink poly-cotton for the lining, Cotton elastane ribbing for collars/cuffs
Cost: The Tilda cotton and Flower Guipure was kindly donated to me by White Tree Fabrics, The poly cotton was £3.50 from Leeds Market, and the Cotton elastane ribbing was from Plush Addict and left over from a previous project
Pattern: Self drafted cropped jacket. My first version is the tape cassette jacket blogged here
Time: Could be completed in a day
Difficulty: Medium, because it involved some intricate hand sewing



Tilda Jane Blue Grey Cotton

I hadn’t heard or used Tilda fabric before, but as soon as I had it in my hand you could tell it was a premium quality cotton, which is soft and buttery to the touch. Tilda is a craft brand founded by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger in 1999, best known for its whimsical and naive characters in the form of animals and dolls. The prints are delicate, with a county cottage / shabby chic style feel. They feature quaint floral designs, polka dots, stripes and are typically very feminine and pretty. Now this isn’t my signature style, but I thought I’d branch out a little. I can see the Tilda range of fabrics really lending themselves to a lot of home furnishing, toy clothing and dressmaking style projects.

Random Flower Guipure

Guipure lace is a firm, stiff lace, without a net background. The shapes in guipure are typically large patterns, that are held together by large connecting stitches. It’s perfect for garment cut outs because it has enough structure to hold its shape nicely. It cuts really easily without falling apart, and I’ve heard, but not tested that it also dyes well.

The Pattern

Did I already mention this pattern was self drafted? I did? Oh well, high fives anyway! It consists of a standard bodice back, front and sleeve pieces with rectangular strips used for the cuffs, neckline and hem. To create the lace insert I cut out the desired shape in the back bodice piece, which left a big hole to fill in later! When creating it I was certain I wanted to make a garment with a lace insert (White Tree have a great selection of fancy laces, and I couldn’t resist giving one a try) but I was toying between two ideas. The first was an elegant blazer, with a see through lace back, and the second was a more sporty jacket with a feminine lacy twist, like a mix mash of sporty and baby spice in one. Probably difficult to put in to words my vision but there you have it. I decided on the sporty option because I was intrigued if it would work or not.


Initially I didn’t want any lining behind the lace at the back of the garments, so that you could see through to skin. I couldn’t quite work out how to sew it like this though, and on reflection I would probably always wear something underneath it, so just decided to fully line it. I hope the lining I chose compliments and contrasts the lace successfully.


Garment Assembly

Guipure Lace Insert

This was the trickiest and scariest part. I couldn’t afford to make a mistake. I made myself a super charged vegan iced coffee (do ask if you’re interested) and got to work with a caffeine fueled bravado. You can see on the image below how at the selvedges the lace has beautiful teardrop shaped lobes. I wanted to incorporate these in to my triangular panel at the edges, but to do so would be a challenge that involved cutting in to the fabric and sewing back together again.


I took a long hard look at the lace and tried to visualise if I could cut it in a way that I would be able to sew up again, without it looking too obvious. This was the result:


I then delicately sat and hand sewed the two pieces together as invisibly as I could, trimming off any excess lace as I went along. I held my breath, without daring to think about what could go wrong. Luckily I seemed to be pulling this off, and ended up with one piece I was really happy with.


I needed to tidy up the teardrops at the point of the triangle, and had slight concerns about how it would fit with my other pieces along the neckline, but I’d winged it so far hadn’t I. Someone or something was on my side.

Sewing together

I hand sewed the lace piece to the back bodice, and then machine stitched the neckline piece to the top of the lace. At some point, my back bodice piece had become a little distorted, where the shoulders were different widths, and didn’t fit well with the front bodice piece when sewing together at the shoulders. To rectify this, I had to sew at the shoulders a little lower, and then re-shape the armholes by cutting in to the fabric, to replace the lost height at the shoulders. Oh golly, it all sounds a bit drastic, and it was, but I had no spare fabric so I did what I could.

On reflection – a better option would have been to complete the lace panel first, before cutting out any of the back panel pieces. This would have meant I could have cut out the exact sized shape, rather than try to fit my lace in to a hole that was too large and left the rest of the garment mis-shapen.

I continued to sew up the garment. The sleeves were tricky because I had *reshaped* the armholes and the set in sleeves didn’t fit properly. You can see on the photos there are a couple of puckers, but nothing so awful it would stop me from wearing it. Once it was together, I tried it on, and it didn’t look half bad. Hells bells. I then went ahead and put together the lining in a similar fashion.


I knew that the general rule of thumb is to cut ribbing 2/3 to 3/4 of the length of the piece it’s being applied to, depending on how much you want it to hug that area. With this in mind I worked out the dimensions for my rectangles and cut out shapes for the neckline, cuffs and waistline.



I attached the zip using my zipper foot, and sewed through both the lining and main fabric, so that you could see the stitching from the front. I then hand tacked the back of the zip to the lining of the garment to keep it flat.


Do I have something that looks handmade? Probably yes. But do I have something with an awesome hand-sewn guipure lace panel that I can be proud of? Hell yeah! I must admit I think it’s a slightly odd garment, that doesn’t match most of my wardrobe. Did I pull it off? What do you all think? When I wear it however, I feel proud, and that equates to lots of happiness in my book. It was a challenge to make, and one that I acquired some new skills and learnt from. What more could I want?
erm … easy! More beautiful guipure lace please.

So what do you think of this fantastic make? We love it! You won't find anything like this on the high street!

Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team Bloggers Creations By Lisa Washington
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