Great British Sewing Bee Sleeveless Shell Top, Shirred Top pattern hack, and Camisole Top – A Review

Three patterns sewn so far from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book  and it’s been a great sewing journey! I’ve been doing the “easier” stuff first as I’m now full-time at home looking after Boop so it’s a little difficult finding blocks of time to trace and cut patterns. To date I’ve sewn the Sleeveless Shell Top, a pattern hack off the Shirred little girl’s dress, as well as the Camisole Top which is a hack off the Jumpsuit.

First off, the sleeveless shell top. I chose a flower mosaic cotton fabric to make this top but added bias tape for the hem of the top as I wanted some contrast. I will be honest and say that I had to refer to Angela Kane’s tutorial mid-way through sewing this as I got a little confused over the bit about turning the fabric inside out. Also, my darts were too high on the bust as my measurements there were off the chart but otherwise, this proved to be a really effective pattern at rustling up a great, everyday summer top that’s still decent enough to go to church in.


I am planning to do this again as I think it’s a timeless Audrey Hepburn-esque classic top. Espeicially when you can choose a lovely fabric covered button to pair it with!

The shirred top was a hack off the shirred little girl’s dress. I decided to do another top instead of a dress for myself as the fabric I chose was rather transparent and there’s nothing worse than a see-through maxi dress unless you’re on a beach. I’ve always loved The Hungry Caterpillar children’s book and hope that Boop will as well when he begins to speak and read, but for now I have YARDS of Eric Carle’s Hungry Caterpillar fabric with long-term ambitions of making a quilt for Boop…the fabric is so fun! And it can be sewn to great effect for an adult as well with the right pattern such as this shirred top.



This was very fun to sew although I cussed a couple of times when I dropped the bobbin while hand winding it for the shirring (fat fingers!).


It’s a fun, cute, top to sew. Definitely one for wearing when bring baby out for some playgroup fun.

And finally, the camisole top that’s a hack off the jumpsuit. This was much easier to do than the sleevless shell top. I’m not entirely convinced the interfacing was necessary for the neckline but then again I guess it depends on what end of the scale your fabric sits on. The pattern called for a drapey fabric so I chose a polyester rayon fabric with a blue roses print. This is drapey but relatively ‘thick’ and  so, I’m willing to wager a bet, might still sit well on the neckline without interfacing.


This pattern is very versatile and depending on the fabric you choose, can go from sweet/innocent to fun/flirty to elegant/evening. I can easily see myself sewing this pattern in all three themes. But most of all, as pointed out in the GBSB book, the camisole top is like a your own dirty little secret when worn under an office jacket. Naughty but nice. Deliciously decadent.


So in review, I think all three tops from the GBSB book are great and I have already worn them to go out (sleeveless shell top has already made its foray into the solemnities of Sunday mass!). I would definitely make the sleeveless shell top and camisole top again in different fabrics. For the shirred top I’m going to try making a maxi dress with it next time round. Any fabrics to recommend for this then? 🙂


7 thoughts on “Great British Sewing Bee Sleeveless Shell Top, Shirred Top pattern hack, and Camisole Top – A Review

  1. Great post. I made the sleeveless shell top recently ( – in retrospect the fabric could have been a bit more lightweight to make it hang right but works ok enough (just not well enough with a cardi) – and wanted to make the camisole top but thought it looked a lot harder, so inspired by your thoughts it was easier I may well give it a go. Just a matter of finding the right fabric for it now! I’ve not used elastic before so putting the other top off as you have to wind the bobbin yourself – never done so afraid!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your Sleeveless Shell Top looks wonderful!!! love the fabric choice! What is it? I’d also like to try Lauren Guthrie’s sleeveless top pattern as you can add a different fabric at the hem and her fabric choices always are so pretty!
      Definitely try the camisole top it’s very easy to do:) Would love to see how your’s turned out.
      Don’t worry about shirring, it’s not half as tedious as it sounds. Once you get past winding the bobbin, it can be somewhat of a zen experience shirring away on the machine. And there is something strangely appealing about seeing your fabric pop up at the back of the presser foot suddenly 3D-ish 🙂 Do let me know how your tops turned out 🙂


      1. Thanks – the fabric is a cotton (not sure what type, medium weight?) From Simply Fabrics in Brixton. I would do some adjusting for the next one – lengthen and narrow at the bottom for a closer fit.
        I also like Lauren’s one but got other patterns to use/try first before buying more!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Very kind. I was a little worried it would look frumpy as it can sort of go either way sometimes with these big flowery prints. Thankfully it turned out well 🙂


  2. Hi Mel–what a cool blog!!!! Love your fabric selection of the sleeveless camisole. I can envision the same fabric in a cool summer outfit. Happy sewing.


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