Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Behind the Scenes at the John Lewis Sewing Bee!

Following on from my post at the weekend about the dress I made at the sewing bee to celebrate the 150th anniversary of John Lewis I thought I'd share some pics and info about what went on during the day. I don't want to speak for everyone but I'm pretty sure that we all had an awesome time! Thank you to the John Lewis team for looking after us so well and Brian Doherty for taking the majority of the beautiful photos included in this post. It's so lovely to have some photos of me and the girls sewing!


On arrival at the Oxford Street store that morning we spent a bit of time deliberating over our fabric and pattern choices then set to cutting out straight away. Lots of ladies cutting full skirted dresses meant we took over the haberdashery department slightly! Once we were cut out and ready to sew we all settled down around one large table which was a really enjoyable set up. I was so engrossed in sewing and chit chat I almost forgot where we were at points! It was great chatting to the John Lewis customers about what they sew, how they/we learned and our preferred techniques and tips. A few familiar Spoolette faces popped in to see us too!

How much mess can seven seamstresses make?!

As if sewing and chatting all day with some of my favourite sewing ladies wasn't enough we were given a delicious lunch plus each provided with Cath Kidston aprons to sew in and fabulous Prym tool kits packed with sewing goodies to help us along in our challenge.


I was delighted to get the chance to try out some tools that I've been tempted by for a while. I've always just grabbed a chopstick or blunt pencil for pushing out points when turning things through, I really didn't believe that a made for purpose point turner could make that much difference. But it really does!



The washable pen is amazing for marking on darts, pleats and in my case boning placement lines incredibly accurately. It obviously won't work on all fabrics and I'd definitely recommend testing how well it washes out on a scrap before marking a garment but it's still my new favourite thing! For more sensitive fabrics the chalk dispenser is another fantastic marking tool. It produces a nice clean and most importantly bold chalk line to follow and you can get different coloured refills for it.



We all used the Janome DC3050 which, despite being computerised and therefore a fair bit more fancy than mine, I got on really well with as I also have a Janome (this one in case you are interested!). From the limited experience that I have of them I'd very much recommend a Janome to beginner seamstresses and more advanced alike. They are easy to use and maintain and also both the machines and the feet are in my opinion very reasonably priced. I can't see me being able to bear to part with my current machine any time soon but if I were to the DC3050 would be a definite contender.


Lisa and Freia from Sew Over It did an amazingly good job at keeping us chatty lot on track throughout the day. Lisa spent a fair bit of time in the staff toilets helping to fit the dresses! Above she is very generously helping me with the most tedious part of the day - turning through the casings for the elastic which were to hold the shoulders in place.




I love this series of pictures of Emmie and I! The person you can see behind me in the top picture is my Mum who dropped in for a surprise visit! She was obviously amusing both of us, but I'm blaming her distracting me for not getting my dress finished!


Clare and Emmie both picked Lisa's Betty Dress pattern so teamed up to speed along the cutting out. You can see Emmie is working on those lovely full circle skirt pattern pieces above. Clare was wearing her gorgeous floral McCalls shirtdress which I just love!


Amy and Charlie look like they are having some sort of speed sewing contest here with their heads down over the machines! Charlie is using the Janome 9200D overlocker which was set up for our use during the day to finish off our seams. It was the perfect choice of finishing for the cotton and means all our dresses look super professional inside!


Even a maternity-appropriate garment was made at the Bee! Elena (above) was the only participant I hadn't previously met and it was such a pleasure to get to know her over the day. She adapted Lisa's Ultimate Shift Dress pattern to accommodate her (not insignificant!) baby bump.


At the end of the day we got the opportunity to venture on to John Lewis's gorgeous roof garden which is only there until the end of the summer. It's beautifully decked out with flowers and provides a great view across the rooftops of London and along Oxford Street! Above are Emmie, Clare and I in the garden modelling our Cath Kidston aprons!


Roisin (a.k.a The Dress Lady) lived up to her name and proved that she is one of the speediest seamstresses in the blogosphere by being the only one of us to get close to finishing her dress. It's the perfect shape and colours for her don't you think?!


Here we all are looking very happy and colourful at the end of the day! From left to right: Freia, Lisa, Me, Elena, Clare, Charlie, Roisin, Amy, and Emmie.

Thanks again to John Lewis for having us and giving us the opportunity to sew with your beautiful new collection of prints!

12 comments:

  1. It looks like so much fun! Imagine if every department store was filled with lovely ladies sewing, it would make for such a fun place.

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    1. I'd spend my life in department stores if that was the case! It was such a great day

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  2. Oh, looks like you had so much fun! So jealous! :)

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    1. It was a wonderful day! I highly recommend getting together with some sewing pals to sew! Even if it's just a bit of hand stitching to accompany your while you chat!

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  3. This looks like so much fun!
    xx

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  4. oh how i wish some store in NYC would copy this!!! after all, we do so love to coy our brits...

    i love your finished dress, by the way. i've had a window open for days and still haven't typed that!!

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    1. Thanks! I really love that pattern! It's made me want to try some more Vogue designer patterns just to try out one different construction techniques.
      I think you should march into a store over there and persuade them that it needs to happen!

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  5. Wow, this just looks so amazing! What a beautiful store, and what a fun day!!!

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    1. The John Lewis haberdashery department is pretty awesome! It was a fantastic day, you guys need to sort one out across the pond like Marcy says!

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  6. Seems like a fun event! And the dress looks great!

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    1. Thanks Miriam. It was so great to sew along with friends, really relaxing!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!