english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

Freehand Fashion Blog Tour: Pencil Skirt & Giveaway


Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

I’m very happy to be the first stop on the blog tour for Chinelo Bally’s new book Freehand Fashion. The fun thing about the blog tour is that each participant is making a different garment from the book; I’m kicking things off today with the Pencil Skirt.

Freehand Fashion Book

The book is divided into two main sections: a section covering how to create blocks (bodice, dress, skirt, flare, sleeve), and a project section which shows you how to use the blocks to create 15 garments (plus a couple of variations). The book also includes a small illustrated techniques section which covers key techniques used within the projects (inserting different types of zip, seam finishes, rolled hem, etc.).

Freehand Fashion Book

The blocks section has detailed information on taking a large range of measurements which I really liked and which is usefully generally, not just for the projects in the book. It includes space to jot down your measurements, but as an ex-librarian that’s beyond the pale for me;)

Freehand Fashion Book

It isn’t necessary to create the blocks before starting the garment projects, instead the relevant block steps are referenced in the project instructions (so you’ll need to flick between the two sections when cutting out). However, the blocks could be created in isolation as a starting point for your own designs – allowing you to move beyond the projects included in the book. One key difference from most pattern blocks is that the blocks in the book include seam allowances.

Freehand Fashion Book

It isn’t mentioned in the tools section at the start of the book, but I found having a french curve (or similar) helpful. When drafting the blocks or projects you’ll mark your measurements at key points (e.g. hips, waist) and then draw between the points. Obviously it is possible without, but having a french curve and long ruler helps to achieve neater lines.

Freehand Fashion Book

I’m not including pictures of the other patterns in the book as you’ll see quite a few of them during the blog tour this week! Project instructions are detailed with clear illustrations.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The projects section encourages you to draft the pattern directly on your fabric, which is one of the interesting elements of Chinelo’s drafting style. However, if you are wary you can of course instead follow the instructions with a large sheet of paper and end up with a paper pattern.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The fabric requirement information for the projects is given as a calculation based on your measurements (e.g. hip measurement plus a specified amount for the fabric width) which means you could choose to buy exactly the fabric you require for a project and not have leftover fabric sitting in your stash. It does also mean it is not as quick to check the fabric requirements as you are dashing out of the house, as I am prone to do;)

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

I made the Pencil Skirt project from the book as per instructions, with the exception of leaving off the belt loops. The fabric I used was wool from my stash which I previously used to make an Oslo Cardigan, and I couldn’t resist teaming them up for a few photos (below).

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The fabric wasn’t ideal for this pattern since the pencil skirt doesn’t include a waist band, and the loose weave of this wool could really do with being held in place with a well interfaced band. It would be simple to add a waist band if using a similar fabric, or i’d advise choosing a more structured woven fabric. Near the end of the construction process the book asks you to mark your measurements on the partially constructed skirt to confirm your sewing line; due to the loose weave of my wool I ended up trimming quite a bit off the sides to achieve a nice close fit.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

In keeping with the focus on drafting, the books asks you to decide how high you want the back slit. I should have measured another pencil skirt but just guesstimated (at 5 inches) and it has ended up a little short. I can walk fine but I wouldn’t fancy trying to run.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The construction method for the skirt is different from any I’ve seen; it has you attach the lining to the main fabric at the top and bottom, but sew the main fabric and lining separately at the side seams. It resulted in a really neat inside finish.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

Now for the giveaway!

Pavilion and Chinelo have kindly provided an extra copy of the book to give away (UK only)! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Let me know your favourite thing about the Great British Sewing Bee (or your thoughts about sewing on TV, if you’re not a viewer). Please make sure to include your email address in your comment if it is not easily available in your profile. The giveaway is open until midnight (UK) on Monday 16th November, after which I’ll randomly pick a winner and announce it on social media. Giveaway now closed!

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

Make sure to look out for seven other garments from the book over the next week, including the Maxi Skirt and Box Top tomorrow on the Pavilion Craft blog.

Friday 13th November
Frida and Amy at Pavilion Craft

Saturday 14th November
Marie at A Stitching Odyssey

Sunday 15th November
Rachel at The Foldline 

Monday 16th November
Lauren at Lady Sewalot

Tuesday 17th November
Amy at Almond Rock

Wednesday 18th November
Rachel at House of Pinheiro

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Freehand Fashion in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own.


Author: Charlotte

Sewist, crafter & blogger, based in Birmingham, England. I'm spending the year growing and gathering to create natural dyes and enhance my sewing projects. Find me at www.englishgirlathome.com

44 thoughts on “Freehand Fashion Blog Tour: Pencil Skirt & Giveaway

  1. That looks great. I’ve added the book to my Xmas list!

  2. What a result, and looks great with your Oslo cardi. My favourite part of the gbsb is Patrick! Oh and I also loved watching contestants whose blogs I already followed. Of the different sewing challenges I enjoyed the refashions the most. Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s creations ✂️✂️

  3. How elegant! The lining method is quite intriguing. My favorite thing about the sewing bee being on TV is that it’s highlighted the fact that sewing has become more popular again. I might be imagining this, but since it’s been on there seems to be a lot more dressmaking fabric available in shops that previously only sold quilting fabric

  4. For me the Sewing Bee re-ignited my love of sewing and made me get my sewing machine out again after a very long time. Also glad to see so many young people taking up dressmaking , embroidery etc, thanks to the show (and the BBC).

  5. I think my favourite thing about GBSB is the diversity of people they choose as contestants- people who wouldn’t necessarily blog their projects so it’s nice to see the kinds of things they make.

  6. Watching sewing bee is completely absorbing ! It take me back to my teenage years when I made a skirt in an evening after buying a length of fabric on the way home from school, watching the contestants you can feel their ,excitement,anticipation and tension .ti put their whole selves into a garment, I was hooked! I loved it!

  7. Love your fabric and lining combination! What I really like about the Great British Sewing Bee is it really brought home sewing and dressmaking to people’s attention, and I think enthused a lot of people to take up the hobby. When the first series was on, I didn’t watch it as I didn’t sew then. But my housemate at the time introduced me to sewing not long after and now, I cannot imagine my life without it!

  8. I really love seeing sewing on TV – you learn so much from watching others that is sometimes hard to glean from a book! It’s also nice to see what people can achieve in such a short amount of time! Makes me want to do timed challenges haha!

  9. I’m so glad that the Sewing Bee has brought sewing into the mainstream again. Now if we could only get the sewing equivalent of a cookery show… “this week I’ll be showing how to insert an invisible zipper, make a revered collar, and discuss the best type of interfacing for shirt collars”.

  10. I love the re-fashions best, especially the way all the contestants come up with such varying ideas from the original.

  11. It’s come out gorgeous! I was blown away by Chinellos unique methods in the sewing bee, I’m definitely adding the book to Christmas list! X

  12. Aside from sitting down to watch one hour on my favourite hobby, Claudia Winkleman. She’s a riot.

  13. I love your skirt, what a good job. I would love to be able to do this. I love that the great British sewing bee is introducing sewing to more people, I can actually have sewing conversations with non-sewing friends.

  14. What a lovely skirt and cardigan combination. The Oslo is looking more like a casual jacket – it’s a great outfit. I’m really glad Chinello has come out with a book. I find that I end up doing a lot of pattern adjustments. With some patterns I end up changing practically every dimension and it does leave me wondering sometimes whether it wouldn’t be better to draft my own. I have tried working from my own blocks, but I’ve been a bit haphazard with this and it is definitively something I’d like to get to grips with.

  15. That skirt is great, I love the colour. My favourite thing about the gbsb is watching everyone’s different methods. I always try to follow the pattern to the letter (lack of confidence and experience ) but seeing how others adapt patterns and draft their own is inspiring me to try it myself!

  16. That skirt is great. I love the colour. The best bit about the gbsb for me is being inspired by watching the contestants adapt, change and draft their own patterns. I’m a bit of a stickler for following a pattern, but I’m being inspired to try something different when I watch the show!

  17. I am in love with the color of the lining of your skirt! Lovely!
    I’m glad the British Sewing Bee has become another way sewists of all levels can connect and discuss their hobby. Also the show has given me a more discerning eye to the quality of my sewing, watching the contestants go through the process (and mishaps) of making a garment.
    Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!

  18. I don’t own a TV!!! But stumbled on the GBSB on the Internet, so I watched it on YouTube. I only got to watch the first season, but would read about the following seasons. It was great to see both genders participating.

  19. Looks a fab book.
    The best bit about the sewing bee is that my teenage son now knows what under stitching is.

  20. I love watching Great British Sewing Bee as it inspires me to try projects that are out of my comfort zone and how it is possible to upcycle garments within a short time frame. ahsh.frampton at gmail.com

  21. Gorgeous fabric and lining!
    I like almost evrything about the Sewing Bee. My absolute favourite was in a previous series when Chinello made clothes without patterns – that’s what I’d like to do. Otherwise I realy like the refashions.

  22. Am quite new to sewing. Looks like a great addition to anyone’s library. I’ve just had a go today at her batwing pattern from simply sewing magazine. Good fun.
    GGSB has encouraged lots to have a go (both sexes). But also hopefully these skills will transfer to make do and mend and treat clothes as less of a disposable item.

  23. That book looks great. The first job I had was on a Saturday working as a “hand” for a couple of ladies that had a tailoring and alterations shop. They never made a pattern for anything and just marked out their pieces straight onto the cloth. I liked TGBSB and always liked the refashions. They looked like a lot of fun. Xx

  24. I think this book looks awesome!
    Opinions on seeing bee!
    – Neil was robbed!
    – as was chinelo! Although i did like the winner

  25. The Sewing Bee was the reason I got back into sewing after a 28-year break! I love everything about it. I was so amazed by everything Chinelo created on the show and would love her book.

  26. Well obviously Patrick is quite a draw, but also the range of things they make, and it can be reassuring to watch other people struggle like I do!

  27. this book totally appeals to me! The GBSB isn’t readily available on free to air TV over here – however what I do love about sewing or any types of craft on mainstream TV is how it opens up public discussion and acceptance about these activities as a viable and interesting hobby. I think anything that encourages sewing is positive for the sewing community as it opens up more opportunities for businesses to provide a great diversity of notions and fabrics as the marketplace and appetite for products grows.

  28. Your skirt/cardi outfit looks fab, especially now it is getting colder. I’m definitely interested in this book, for Chinello’s elegance as well as the opportunity to learn some pattern drafting. kimlimdickson@live.com

  29. I enjoy watching The Great British Sewing Bee to see other people sew and pick up tips and tricks that they use. I don’t know any sewers in real life so it’s great to see others who are passionate about sewing!

  30. Oh my what a lovely skirt! Love the lining. I’d love a chance to win the book too. I love how inspirational the Bee is. Every time I watch it I walk away filled with excitement for my craft☺.

  31. That skirt is amazing! Congrats!
    I really love the Great British Sewing Bee, it was quite instrumental in me deciding to give sewing a try. I especially loved Chinelo – all those amazing makes and not a pattern in sight!

  32. I love that sewing bee makes my hobby seem a bit more “normal”! Plus its such an inspiration I often can’t watch without at least pinning my current project at the same time. Louise_m_reed@yahoo.co.uk

  33. I’ve been lusting after this book ever since I heard it was going to be released! I love everything about the Great British Sewing Bee, the way the sewers improve so much throughout the series, the fact they help each other out, that it inspires me to try new techniques, and of course Patrick adds a bit of glamour! 😉 megandotparkinsondotukatgmaildotcom

  34. Love how your skirt turned out – such a good fit. I love seeing how much the Gbsb contestants can get done in a short time and how creative they are in the refashion round!


  35. Ahhh the GBSB… I’ve loved it from the beginning as it’s inspired me to start sewing. As dressmaking is a relatively recent passion of mine I find it fascinating each series to see how the contestants grow in their confidence and ability as the weeks go on, tackling projects they never would have attempted if not for the show. It challenges me to do the same and push myself in my sewing too. This book looks a fab way to do just that!

    Skirt looks fab by the way!

  36. Loved Chinelo on GBSB so would love to win this book x

  37. I do love the sewing bee, it feels like tv just for me!

  38. The book looks like a really good read.

    I love the gbsb because I can watch how others do certain things eg installing a zipper and pick up good hints and tips to try out.

  39. Lovely! I love the contrast of the outer fabric with the lining, really gorgeous together.

  40. What a great skirt!

    One of my favourite things about GBSB is watching the different ways contestants approach the same patterns, and getting ideas of how a garment can come to life in a variety of fabrics and treatments and look brilliant in very different ways. It’s hugely inspiring!

    Another favourite thing is seeing contestants making or wearing garments from patterns I’ve made or even just recognise from blogland.

  41. I’m so interested to find out more about this way of dressmaking! That’s one of the things I love about GBSB – seeing techniques i’ve read about brought to life on TV & learning new ways of doing things.

  42. I’m so excited for this book! Chinelo is one of my all time favourite contestants. I love GBSB especially for what it’s done for home sewing. So many more sewers and resources!

  43. This is a really good fit, and such a great wardrobe staple. My favourite thing about GBSB is how much the contestants help each other out, even though it is a competition.

  44. Pingback: PAVILION CRAFT | Freehand Fashion blog tour: Box top and Maxi skirt

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