Wednesday, 26 February 2014

This week I have been sewing ... the box-pleat skirt from the Great British Sewing Bee book 2

This week I wanted to make something from the new book to accompany the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee.The book comes with lots of patterns including leggings, anorak, pencil skirt, 1960's coat, wrap dress, 1930's blouse, men's trousers and a couple of patterns for children. It also comes with a separate folder containing 5 sheets with all the patterns in the book. It is quite different in layout from the book that accompanied the first series because this time the sections are divided into basics, masterclasses and fitting, where you are guided through equipment, basic sewing skills and then projects that use skills such as inserting a zip and different fabric types. Following this is the fitting section, with the most complex patterns that may require adjustments to your own body shape. Although there aren't patterns to sew everything you might normally find in your wardrobe at home it certainly has a variety of patterns and with the different levels of difficulty it will have something of interest for complete sewing beginners to more accomplished seamstresses.After much procraftination I decided to start with something simple and make the box-pleat skirt, which was one of the challenges in episode 2. I decided to modify the skirt by adding a concealed zip instead of a lapped zip and satin lined pockets from a pattern I drafted to match the shape of the skirt.

The material I chose was a medium weight red and blue floral cotton. It was originally a table cloth belonging to my Granny, although i'm not sure when she originally bought the fabric. Unfortunately it had a large tea stain in the middle so I decided to make it into something I could use and treasure.

I copied the three piece pattern onto dot and spot paper and then used the front skirt piece to draw a pocket pattern. I made the pockets quite deep to ensure I could rest my hands easily in them (the box pleat skirt has a waist band that sits on your waist so I measured the pocket length from just below the waist band to where I wanted to comfortably rest my hand).

I only needed to cut one pocket pattern as I could use this to cut both front and back pocket pieces for the left and right of the skirt.

I decided to use a matching blue satin for the front pocket pieces to add detail and to make the pockets feel nice and soft.

The next stage was to press and pin the pleats into position on the front and back skirt pieces before securing them within the seam allowance using a staying stitch.

I then pinned the satin front pocket pieces, right sides together, to the front skirt piece. For the matching fabric pocket pieces, with right sides together I pinned the right hand pocket only to the back skirt piece.

On the left hand side between the matching fabric pocket piece and back skirt piece I inserted a concealed zip (leaving a 1.5 cm seam allowance from the top to allow for the waist band).

With right sides facing for the front and back skirt pieces, I folded the pocket pieces out and sewed them together along the outer edge and then pinned them along the top of the skirt to the front skirt piece (so the pockets will be positioned towards the front of the skirt and my body). I then finished sewing the sides of the skirt together (below the pockets) to the hem.

To secure the pockets in place, I did a stay stitch along the top of the front skirt piece.

I ironed on fusible interfacing to the waist band and with right sides facing attached the waist band to the skirt.

I folded the waist band and pressed it into place and sewing from the front along the waist band seam a.k.a. 'stitching in the ditch' I secured the waist band in place.

I left enough of an overlap on the waist band to allow room to hand sew a skirt hook. Finally, I machine sewed a 1 cm hem.

Overall i'm really happy to have given new life to an old piece of fabric. I hope my Granny would be proud : )


  1. This skirt is so nice! I love GBSB, it's so inspiring!

    1. Thank you so much! Has GBSB inspired you to make anything?

  2. You did a beautiful job! Was this pattern in the book?

    1. Thank you! Yes, it is from the GBSB book 2 (although I added the pockets myself).

  3. How do you find the sizes in the book? I'm usually a size 10-12 but have just cut out the pattern pieces ( only on paper so far thankfully) for the 12 and there is no way the waistband is big enough. I'll have to do a 14 at least... seems weird. I guess it's better to make it to big ad then adjust as necessary, but I'm only a beginner and am not entirely confident with that.

  4. How are you finding the sizes in the book? I'm only a beginner so thought I start with the Box Pleat Skirt. i'm usually a size 10-12 but just cut the pattern out (only on paper thankfully) and there is no way that the waistband will fit me. It's not even close. I think even a 14 might be a push. It's really confused me. I guess it's better to start big and adjust down if necessary, but I'm not really confident about how I would do that.
    Love your skirt thought.

    1. Hi, I think a few people have struggled with the sizing for this skirt. I made a size 12, which is what I usually am and it fitted okay. The first thing to check is that your printer has printed the pattern at the right size and not scaled it, making it smaller. Secondly, I would measure your waist (about at the point of your lowest rib) and you probably need to add about 4 cm on for the fabric at the back to do your seam allowance and space to add your skirt hook. With this final measurement, put your tape measure on the waist band pattern piece and see what size it comes out as - this should give you the most accurate size to use for making the skirt. Hope this helps x

  5. Lovely skirt! I am planning on making this soon, I will seriously think about adding pockets now!