Sewing Competitions

Sewing competitions. Why do I enter? Because I love the community feel of being part of something bigger than me and my sewing machine.  Not so much because I think I could actually come first. The skill of entrants in these competitions is truly humbling.

Plaid matching and excellent grading and looking as good inside as out? And everything else fabulous about sewing? Love it. But not anywhere near as much fun when it has to be done to a deadline and someone else’s schedule!

Tessuti Fabrics runs a competition every year and the fabrics are always interesting and often very desirable.  I didn’t participate the last two years and regretted this, either when the fabric sold out while I procrastinated, or after the competition ended and I saw what could be done with the fabric in the hands of fabulously creative sewists. Or both.

This years competition fabric was a cotton linen viscose spandex blend plaid. It wasn’t instantly appealing… but FOMO struck so I purchased.

Then, what to do? I fell down a Vivienne Westwood early nineties Anglomania rabbit hole. Pinned lots of inspiration and potential patterns.

Draping would be so much fun. Ruth of Corecouture has made some fabulous garments this way. Studio Faro is another inspiration.

Then reality hit. Very busy at work. No way I had time to play with draping and pattern making if I wanted to make the competition deadline. I should have stopped there and realised the competition was the problem. I didn’t.

Even my sewing machine was trying to warn me with this project!

I wanted something draped and maybe a bit twisted to have fun with the plaid.

What about Burda? Surely Burda had some skirt designs over the last ten years that were Westwood-esque? I could make a top too. Combined they would look like a dress, but I’d have options with other garments. The colours should work with my sort of summer corporate wardrobe SWAP. Good plan I told myself!

Burda didn’t disappoint. Several options, but I kept coming back to this.

Flat pattern measures told me I needed to draft a size up. Bit tricky with the strangely shaped pattern piece, but a competition should have some challenges shouldn’t it?


Decisions, decision, decisions. Should I put the waistband on the bias or straight grain? The back skirt is on the straight grain, so I went for bias for the waistband. Love how this looks.

I love the bias binding finish on the inside of the armscye too. What can I say? Simple pleasures!

But what about the front of the skirt? It’s a mix of directions. I went for the front waistband on the straight grain. Hindsight says it would be better on the bias too.

I shamelessly copied Ruth and made a matching top using Paco Peralta’s draped front top pattern. BTW this is a fabulous pattern. I already have several versions in my wardrobe and wear them a lot.

So, how do they look together?

Hmm. Interesting. Almost like a dress.

The top will probably get worn more often on its own. Like this. Perhaps with better shoes. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE these shoes. But I do  wear them way too much.

Also I added about 5 cm length and next time I won’t. I know. I could just reduce the hem on this one right now.

But then I’d lose most of that lovely upside down V on the side seam.

And what did everyone else make from this fabric? Some absolutely spectacular things. On Pinterest here, and on Instagram with #tessutisklinescomp.

Note to self. Buy the competition fabric if it appeals. Sit back and watch what everyone else does if unsure or uninspired or time poor or all of the above. Make something later, when I feel like it.

32 thoughts on “Sewing Competitions

  1. Your outfit will definitely be a contender for first place. The creativity of others always astounds me – it is interesting to see the same fabric made up in so many ways and of course in the end everyone wins anyway with a new garment. Good luck.

  2. Ah yes, the thrill and anxiety of deadlines… do remember what lots of self-help books and gurus tell us: it’s about the journey, not the destination. But in your case i think you got both, because the outfit is awesome! The two piece dress is genius for its versatility. Each garment showcases the plaid beautifully, and together i definitely get irreverent westwood vibes. Plus it is office appropriate, my holy grail! If you’re still ambivalent, let it hang in your closet a bit. once the stress of the competition fades you’ll wear it with more gusto. I guess this is not a voting competition? If it is, you get my vote!

  3. I think you have done a good job. Very interesting. I wasn’t impressed with the fabric when the competition was announced but boy there have been some great creations. Obviously I didn’t have the vision.

  4. Gorgeous! I made myself a spreadsheet of all the challenges/competitions I planned to jump inot this year…and have made progress on nothing…except SWAP. I’m wearing the things I’ve made a lot, so it’s still a win overall! Love all the check directions on this.

      1. I do in my head, but don’t play well with other people’s deadlines. Also, way too many are Instagram based lately, which rules me out, as I don’t have a funky phone!

  5. I love what you have done with this plaid. And I don’t know how they are going to a pick a winner – there’s some fantastic entries. Well done, and good luck.

  6. I love sewing challenges too. I always find they give me other ideas on what to make, whether I am able to finish the challenge or not. I’m just going to have to quit my day job! 😂 You made some lovely choices with this one. I always like a top and skirt than looks like a dress- so many possibilities! Nicely done!

  7. I love your work! I did not have the vision to make anything from that rather awkward fabric but I think you have nailed it (the Westwood vision, not the awkwardness!). Sew impressed with the perfect innards too.

  8. That looks wonderful. I’ve never been tempted to enter a sewing competition but have great admiration for anyone who does. Good luck!

  9. Well thanks for the shout out but I think you have the edge on the design elements. Good pairing.
    BTW – always a bias waistband with a check – it’s the easy way out as it saves you having to match up the stripes and looks like a ‘design feature’.
    You’ve given the others some stiff competition – those insides are immaculate and must make you smile every time you see them.

  10. Hello! I’m a sewing enthusiast (still learning) and I also work as an editor for a sewing industry magazine! Love your blog, and would love to touch base via email about reprinting a few of your blog articles – all credited to you/your blog. My email is – hope to hear from you!

  11. I haven’t sewn for about five years so I’ve been reading some of the blogs in my feedly to get some inspiration to get back into it. Your blog was one of the first I chose to read because I love, love, love so much of what you make.

  12. I love how you matched up the plaid pattern on your seams…you are incredible. Sewing season begins for me in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait. I start getting the itch as soon as the pumpkin spice latte’s hit the stores. yum. Fall is the absolute best!

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