The Great British Sewing Bee – week two review

"An overuse of the word 'crotch' and the manhandling of Patrick Grant to see how his kecks were put together kept things interesting"

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“If I don’t get this topstitching done, I’ve had it,” said Sandra, Wolverhampton’s answer to, well, May Martin, in the second installment of BBC2’s Great British Sewing Bee, while fighting with a stubborn patch pocket.

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Drama prevailed in last night’s jam-packed episode, as the remaining six contestants vied for a place in the semi-final. Round one was men’s trousers – an overuse of the word “crotch” and the manhandling of Patrick Grant to see how his kecks were put together kept things interesting. “It was just an excuse to look at his bum,” laughed Sandra.

Project number two, adding a pocket to a high street skirt, kept the pace up. I enjoyed watching Lauren craft her beautiful gathered pocket, while Patrick came out with the quote of the episode – “If in doubt, flower it out”. And who said sewers were twee.

Moving swiftly on, we arrived at the technical challenge – to make a blouse from silk. A fabric well-known for its trickiness. Many contestants floundered, with Mark nervously stitching the collar onto the wrong side of his 18th Century chemise and Tilly running out of time to finish her adorably cute polka dot top.

While the sewers struggled with the time pressures, I found the rate at which the Bee moves kept me on my toes, too. The instructions for the cushion were so fast they could give Usain Bolt a run for his money and many of the tricky techniques were skimmed over. It’s enough to make a newcomer head for the hills. Ann put it best: “I’d rather do something simple and do it well, than do something complicated and fall flat on my face.”

Early signs are that my worries are unfounded, however, with the Telegraph reporting soaring sales of sewing machines at John Lewis. With only two episodes to go, I’m interested to see how the contestants progress. If the preview’s anything to go by, it’s getting tougher – next week, there are tears…

Inspired to make your own patch pocket? Give our jeans a try…

Patch pocket shorts

Get ahead of the fashion pack this summer in these stylish denim shorts. Using an old jumper to make the patch – it’s time to get your upcycle on.

You will need

An old jumper
Denim shorts
Lining fabric
Seam picker
Thread
Scissors
Pins

How to make the shorts

1.     Following the shape and measurements of the existing pocket on your shorts, cut out a new pocket out from the jumper. When doing so, make sure you add 1.5cm around the edge for your seam allowance. Cut one pocket from your cardigan and one from the lining fabric. 

2.     Pin both pieces of fabric together, right sides facing. Sew them together using a hand running stitch – to do so, make a small stitch, pushing the needle up through the fabric so the gap between stitches is the same length as the actual stitch. Begin your second stitch the same. Leave a 3cm gap at one edge, in which to pull through the pocket through to the right side. Once pulled through, hand stitch the gap closed. 

3.     Pin your new pocket to your shorts. Once pinned, sew in place, either with a machine or by hand, leaving the top side of the pocket open. Use a leather needle when sewing onto denim or leather shorts.

Cathy McKinnon is editor of Cloth magazine. Visit www.cloth.co.uk for more gorgeous makes. 

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The Great British Sewing Bee continues on Tuesdays at 8:00pm on BBC2