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GBSB #6 - British and Irish Week

The competition is heating up as we get closer to the Sewing Bee semi-final. This weeks episode celebrates the best of British and Irish textiles, educating us on the rich history of our country's relationship with fabric. Each challenge was a real step up for the contestants, whilst still bringing us stunning fabrics and innovative design. All the contestants have improved in their own way along the series, and this episode really showed that off.

Linen Jacket - Sewing Bee

This weeks episode kicked off with the sewing bee's very own Patrick Grant's jacket pattern. This beautifully tailored pattern celebrated Irish Linen Fabric, testing the sewers ability to handle this fabric. Linen is a natural fiber, beautifully breathable and light, however it does crease easily. To avoid lumps and bumps, the contestants need to press neatly and cut accurately. The judges were looking for precise sewing and a beautiful lapel (cue Patrick's tape measure). Most of the contestants struggled with the soft tailoring, leaving Jen the triumphant winner of this challenge.

Pro Tip: To avoid the dreaded 'two left arm' situation, cut notches in your sleeve head to mark the front and back. I usually put one notch to mark the side facing to the front, and two for the back. Keep placing the patterns on yourself to remember which piece goes where...you'll look a little mad but it's worth doing!

Canvas Ticking Transformations

The transformation challenge took on a seaside theme this week, celebrating the Great British Seaside. Each contestant receive a canvas ticking striped parasol and deckchair. Canvas ticking is a heavy cotton canvas fabric, known for it's structure and durability.

Each contestant displayed clever pattern cutting; playing with stripes can be much harder than it looks. Riccardo's Victorian Bathing Suit inspired bloomers were a real hit with the judges; they were definitely a personal favourite of mine. However, it was Leah's cleverly constructed top and skirt combination that won them over.

Our Canvas Ticking fabrics are incredibly popular here at Calico Laine. If you aren't as daring as our Sewing Bee contestants, this is a great bag-making or crafting fabric. Canvas is an incredibly versatile fabric and, as seen in this challenge, can create some really beautiful garments.

Made-to-Measure Wool Coats

Wool Fabrics are a British and Irish staple; coming in beautiful varieties and weights for all occasions. This week's made-to-measure challenge asked the sewers to create a beautiful wool coat. Wool is notoriously difficult to sew due to the thickness and bulk, making it harder to get clean edges.

Each contestant produced something totally different, from Leah's 60's swing coat to Juliet's minimal chic camel number. Some struggled more than others in this challenge. However, it was Riccardo's red and yellow 70's-inspired coat that took garment of the week. The gorgeous waist tie and yellow reverse-pleat made this a true masterpiece.

Sewing along at home? We have a stunning range of wool fabrics for you to choose from. Why not take inspiration from Leah with a luxurious Melton; a lovely soft slightly lighter weight fabric. If you fancy something a little fancier; why not try our Grey/Ochre Winter Wool or our Brown/Fawn/Pink Herringbone. Even the simplest of designs can create a chic winter coat to last for years to come.