My GBSB Quick Sew challenge

posted in: Finished projects | 11

I had this idea, after watching a few episodes of the Great British Sewing Bee on my iPlayer, that I might try to sew against the clock. On GBSB they usually get three hours to make a garment. I asked you to estimate how long it would take me to do the jacket and skirt.

Here are your views:

Mrs Mole: Jacket and skirt 6-8hours

Sew2Pro: 6 hours

Sewniptuck: Thought 3 hours for skirt, and 3 for jacket

Lyn guessed: 6 to 8 hours

I used a tried and tested fairly simple pattern for a jacket and I worked as fast as I could. Here are the timings (to the nearest five minutes).  I did not baste unless it was necessary (collar attachment), used no markings beyond the notches, CF and key pattern marker, and worked as quickly and steadily as I could.How did I get on? Hopeless!

Cutting out

The added complication of pattern matching slowed me right down. I don’t find it particularly easy, to tell the truth. I don’t know a quick way to do this. I cut each piece separately, having to remember which direction we were going in all the time, checking where the seams would join and ensuring I had enough fabric left over for a skirt, so being as economical as possible.

Time taken: (cutting out and tacking the main seams together to ensure a match);  1hour 55 mins

Kate's Kimono Jacket with seams tacked
Jacket with seams tacked

Sewing the jacket together

Apart from two bust darts the jacket had just four main seams. Although I had to do one twice this was a quick job, followed by pressing and cooling.

Time taken: 45 minutes

Creating and attaching the collar

The collar has a stand and fall. The collar needed interfacing. Then I stitched together, top stitched the joins, trimmed, pressed, and pinned to the stand so that it dried into shape. Then it was attached to the jacket, pressed and overstitched. Finally I stitched the revers, timmed, pressed,  folded them out, pressed some more and then hand stitched the inner collar to the inside of the jacket

Time taken: 1hour 35 minutes

Kate's Kimono, collar
Collar, ready for attatching



Kate's Kimono jacket
Deciding on sleeve length

I trimmed, measured and hemmed the jacket and sleeves by hand. Pressed.

Time taken: 55 minutes

Cutting out the lining

I decided to use up some cheap, inferior, exceptionally lightweight silk for the lining. It was a false economy (£5 a metre) from Simply Fabrics. But the colour was good (navy) and I couldn’t bear to not use it up, so in it went.

Time taken: 20 minutes

Sewing together and attaching the lining

Kate's Kimono lined in blue silk
Adding navy silk lining

Time taken: 1 hour 5 minutes

Total: 6hs 35mins

What could I have done to make the task quicker?

Obviously using a plain fabric would have helped. And I could have done a machine stitched, bagged out lining. I could have left out the top stitching but it helps support the collar and the hemming may have been easier with a plain fabric. Maybe I could have shaved one hour off. Now to spend another five minutes pulling out the tailors’ tacks….

Kate's Kimono jacket in Roland Mouret fabric
Kate’s Kimono jacket in Roland Mouret fabric



11 Responses

  1. Sewniptuck

    But so worth it Kate; you’re iconoclastic! We all get this idea that we can sew quickly, we see it in TV and we see it in footage of factory workers. The factory workers aren’t cutting or pattern matching and there must be a huge time economy in that. The real questions are will you wear what you’ve made and would you rather sew the same 3 seams all your working life to achieve speed? I’ll have to stick with slow sewing I need variety and wearability. I think we’ve all learned a lot from your experiment. Thanks for being the crash test sewers dummy!

  2. Maude Estwick

    I know for sure it will take me one hour to sew a skirt,. That’s cutting and sewing. Total completed one hour fifteen minutes.
    For a jacket depending on the type, tailored 6hrs and free hand 3hrs. How about that? I know that I can do it.

  3. lynbromley

    It looks great! Do you think you can squeeze the skirt in 1hr 25mins? I imagine you are more practiced at that pattern. I’m all for taking time and getting an expert finish rather than rushing it (as is my way!) Especially with a piece of fabric as fab as this one.

  4. Beth

    Your jacket would certainly not have turned out so nice had you rushed it. I have seen on GBSB that they don’t finish their seams, don’t press.. All that kind of vital stuff that makes a make perfect. It’s a shame they have to rush. I imagine your hand sewing slowed you down a lot but of course that neatness is what would win you the competition… Hmm it’s hard!

  5. Stephanie

    This looks so great and would have taken me waaay longer. I can’t wait to see it on you! I hope one day I have some of your skill. I have to admit though: I hate rushing anything or being timed. I like to work steadily and correctly, whether or not quickly. Brava to you for taking this on.

  6. maryfunt

    I have been playing GBSB episodes on my ipad while sewing. They are rushed into getting projects done and don’t have the time to really do things properly. I guess the drama of seeing them rushing to finish with the clock ticking away adds to the audience appeal. I haven’t timed how fast I could finish a jacket but it would be an interesting experiment and fun to see how I would do. For now I’ll stick to my slow sewing.
    Great job on your jacket! Your extra steps of pattern matching and hand sewing show.

  7. Chris @ makeandwear

    Very interesting results! I agree that machine sewing the lining would shave a little time off, and could you have managed without tailor tacks? For pattern matching, I’m not sure if there’s a speedy way to do it. I normally trace the main elements of the fabric (the obvious check lines for example) onto my first pattern piece close to the seam lines, then match this up with the other paper pieces and mark a few places where the patterns meet. I really love the kimono shape of your jacket -is it a pattern that’s available to buy anywhere?

    • fabrickated

      Thank you Chris. The tacks were just on the CF which I always seem to need, and I put a horizontal on as well just to help with the pattern matching.

      The jacket is self-drafted.

  8. sew2pro

    You’ve done extremely well and that collar looks impeccable. In the latest series I spotted fraying on an unfinished facing and thought A-ha! It could also be that behind the scenes there are people winding up the bobbins, picking up scraps, etc! I hate how the show makes it looks easy and makes people assume you can ‘run up a skirt’ for them in a couple of unpaid hours.

    ‘You charge £1000 for a coat?!?!?’
    ‘Yeah. How much do YOU earn for 100 hours of work?’

  9. symondezyn

    First off, the jacket is looking AWESOME!! Second, I have no earthly clue how anyone could make a tailored jacket in 3 hours, even in a non-patterned fabric and a TNT pattern. On my current jacket, it took me two hours to just do the cutting and marking of fabric and lining (mind you, there are a lot of details, like welt pieces and tabs and such) – in total, I’ve racked up almost 17 hours on this project and that’s without buttons and button holes, also not including fitting and pattern adjustments! Granted you’re much more experienced and faster than I am, but I still think 3 hours is a real stretch – your total is still VERY good, IMO 🙂

  10. Brenda Marks

    Those times are so interesting and the jacket looks great. Imagine if there had been a set-in sleeve (with a sleeve head or shoulder pad)!

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