Monday, 8 April 2013

Great British Sewing Bee

How brilliant was the Great British Sewing Bee? If you missed it, think The Great British Bake off but with sewing, it’s even made by the same people. Eight contestants take on sewing challenges set by the suitably scary judges, sewing teacher May Martin and Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant. In the first week the challenges were, to follow an A-line skirt pattern, alter the neckline on a plain top and make a dress for their allocated model.
Claudia and the judges (Picture: BBC)
The show is presented by the fabulous Claudia Winkleman (love her!) and set in the wonderful sewing room which is jam packed with fabric and ribbon. At the end of each show two contestants are sent home until the winner is crowned in the final episode.
The contestants (Picture BBC)
The contestants came from a rich variety of sewing backgrounds and while they were of course brilliantly skilled at completing the challenges, they also made mistakes like normal people and I found that reassuring.

Of course the show got me thinking about my past experiences of making clothing. It’s been a long time since I attempted anything more complex than an appliqué cushion but at college I made a shirt for myself by copying the pattern of a readymade shirt. Then in my second year at sixth form college I designed and made my own ball gown.

It's probably a good thing that I couldn’t track down any photos from 14 years ago, however it did mean I had to put it on for a photo.
Miss Chaela Boo: handmade dress
So here is the dress made by 18 year old me, I still love the colours and from a distance it doesn’t look too bad. The original idea was that the yellow part would be a lightning bolt but in the end it was more of a splash.

The execution however, is shocking; I’m even a little embarrassed to admit that I was responsible for such terrible handiwork. The ‘hidden’ zip just isn’t and the stitching is mostly not very straight.
Miss Chaela Boo: dressmaking
The good points are it has a fitted bodice with boning and because it’s made from organza (very see through) it’s also fully lined; there is also some very neat stitching on the inside too! Overall, I’d say not a bad effort for a first attempt and made entirely without a proper pattern.

It’s a good reminder to me that with a decent template, either a proper pattern or another item to copy, I could probably manage to put together something respectable. It also serves as an incentive to have a go at making something else since I feel like I have redeem myself, so watch this space!

You can catch the second episode of the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2 tomorrow (Tuesday 9th April) at 8pm and if you missed the first one catch up on the iPlayer!


  1. This is amazing! 18 or now! This gives me hope to make something from my lovely floral material won from wi last summer!! Keep us updated on what you make next... xxx

    1. Thank you Lovely, you should definitely have a go with your lovely fabrics. X

  2. I think that it is amazing that you even attempted to make your own prom dress. You are being much too hard on yourself! I made myself skirts at sixth form but not a lot since. The Sewing Bee got me thinking again though in the same way as you.

    1. Thank you so much, you are too kind. I'm really looking forward to finding some good patterns to try out. :-)