Sunday, 6 April 2014

Freehand pattern cutting with Chinelo Bally, Great British Sewing Bee finalist

So this weekend has been very exciting! I spent yesterday with Chinelo Bally, finalist in the Great British Sewing Bee, at her first freehand pattern cutting class. I was really excited to learn how she creates her garments in the series without using patterns.

The class was for 5 hours in Bow, East London and all materials were included (fabric, zips etc.). There were plenty of fabrics to choose from including some bold prints Chinelo is well known for using in her customisation projects in the GBSB. We were making a bodice with a peplum (either short for top or longer for skater dress).

To start with we took loads of measurements and this was a really useful exercise to know where and how to measure yourself properly.

We made a note of these and then began by folding our fabric to allow for zip seam allowance and then folded the fabric again so all the pieces can be cut out together.

Next we did various calculations with our body measurements and marked these onto the fabric with chalk including markers for the neckline, bodice length, dart positions etc. This can get a bit complicated but all makes sense once you have your points joined up and can see the bodice taking shape!

We then cut out our front bodice and two back bodice pieces, being careful to cut the correct neckline and armhole size for front and back bodice pieces.

We then pressed the darts into position, cut out our peplum frill and were ready to begin sewing!

I didn't quite have time to finish off the sewing in the class but i've included a few photos here, which allow you to see how it comes together.

All the seam lines and darts were in the correct places and the pieces were really easy to sew together. The final stage, after the zip is inserted, is to correctly measure the side seams for a perfect fit! In most paper patterns it usually suggests you sew the bodice together before adding the peplum or skirt but this method is better for freehand cutting as it allows you to get a good fit.

Overall it was a great day, where I learnt some excellent tips for altering patterns and fitting them for my body shape. Chinelo was a patient teacher and made sure we all knew what we were supposed to be doing, it was great to meet her and all the other sewers and bloggers who came for the day. Here is Chinelo with the lovely Rachel (House of Pinheiro).

Chinelo is running another course next weekend and possibly more courses in the future.

It's only two days until the Great British Sewing Bee final and despite our best efforts at persuading Chinelo she's didn't let us know who wins, so i'll just have to wait until Tuesday to find out!


  1. Looks like a great day. So jealous, wish I could have been there.

  2. its so lovely meeting you and I cannot wait to finish my dress.