Last night, like many other craft addicts, I was sat in front of the TV eagerly awaiting the start of The Great British Sewing Bee. After The Great British Bake Off saw a boom in baking, The Great British Sewing Bee is setting out on the same mission for sewing. At 8pm last night the first episode of the four part series hit the screens and in minutes #GBSB was trending on Twitter.
Hosted by Claudia Winkleman, the show features two judges; Patrick Grant, designer and owner of Norton & Sons of Savile Row and May Martin, a teacher of sewing for the last forty years. There are eight contestants in the competition, with two contestants leaving the competition each week. This was challenged in the first episode however, when one contestant had to leave early due to illness, but it set to return to the competition, although only one contestant left last night.
The episode was broken down into the following three challenges:
The Pattern Challenge: This tested the contestants’ ability to follow a pattern accurately to make a simple but professional quality A-line skirt in just 3 and a half hours.
The Alteration Challenge: The contestants were all given the same white tee shirt with the only instruction to alter the shape of the neckline. From there on, it was up to the contestants to customise the tee to their personal style and produce something amazing. They didn’t have long for this challenge though…just 60 minutes!
The Made-to-Measure Challenge: This was the most difficult challenge for the contestants, they were told to make a causal dress of any design they chose, but it had to fit the model that was assigned to the perfectly! And they only had 7 hours to complete the whole dress!
From the moment the programme started I was hooked and I loved watching the garments come together. It was amazing to see how the items reflected the contestants’ individual tastes, and they were all completely unique! After trying to predict which contestant would be leaving and the competition and changing my mind after every round I was surprised to see Michelle leave the competition after her reversible dress unfortunately didn’t go to plan.
I cannot wait for the next episode and, after feeling inspired myself, it isn’t hard to imagine that people up and down the country will be booking themselves into sewing classes over the next few weeks! Having only completed a few sewing projects in the past, none of which have been dressmaking, I am now impatient to try my hand at something new! I think the sewing machine will be coming out shortly!
In preparation for the series I treated myself to the book that goes with it and I’m so glad I did! The book dedicates over 70 pages to detailed instructions of the basic sewing skills needed to complete the projects in the book. Each instruction is accompanied with large photos to illustrate the steps and it is fantastic for a beginner or a more experienced dressmaker who could use it as reference.
The book contains 28 stunning projects that are rated from 1 to 5 for the skills requires, 1 being an absolute beginner. There are plenty of projects fr beginners to tackle, which they can then build on as the progress through the levels as they gain more skills and experience. There is a good range of projects for each ability rating so it is easy to find projects that you want to work on.
The main thing that I love about this book is the fact that it has lots of lovely projects that you can make for men. Having my Dad, brother and boyfriend to make Christmas presents for, I was thrilled to see a stunning range of projects for men that are really simple but would make great gifts.
The programme featured a ‘how to make’ section, which featured one of the projects (the laundry bag) from the book. This was the one thing that I didn’t like about the programme, as the section was incredibly short and not very detailed, without directing people to the book if they wanted to make the project. Nevertheless, both the book and the programme are fast becoming favourites of mine and I am eager to get sewing after being inspired by them.
My absolute favourite project from the book is the ‘Hacking Jacket’, which is rated at 5, the highest ability level, but it is giving me something to aim for and I am looking forward to building up the skills that I need to make it.