The Great British Sewing Bee – semi-final review

As the four remaining contestants competed for a place in the final, it was Stuart and Sarah who had it all to lose - plus, pimp your own floral jacket

Three episodes in and things are getting serious in the sewing studio. With places in the final up for grabs, the pressure was on to perform in tonight’s episode.


Ann, who has 75 years of sewing experience under her belt, and sweet Lauren – the show’s youngest contestant – were front-runners from the off. With a 54-year age gap between them, they each represent a very different part of the sewing community and I like to think they’re enjoying their own fierce unspoken rivalry.

It was Sandra and Stuart who had it all to lose. The porks were a-flying – Sandra changed the pattern in the first challenge (May’s horrified face almost made it worthwhile) and in the second round, Stuart upcycled his dress with way too many zips, prompting Patrick to term it “bonkers”, which we all knew meant hideous…

It all came down to round three and the most technical of tests yet – making a tailored jacket. Tension ran high when Lauren lost some fabric (where was Ann, that’s what I want to know) and we met Stuart’s model, Alfonzo, who, let’s face it, didn’t do him any favours with his dropped shoulder. Patrick pointed it out with relish before he’d even started stitching.

After six hours of frantic sewing and a tense discussion about skill versus showmanship, fitness instructor Stuart was the latest contestant to leave. Although he wasn’t the most accomplished sewer of the four, I’ve enjoyed his creativity and innovation over the course of the series. After all, that’s what sewing’s all about – having a go, getting it wrong and enjoying yourself. And Stuart’s parting words? “If you want to sew, do it, enjoy. Anyone can be creative.” Amen to that.

Feeling crafty? Update a lacklustre black jacket with some colour pop florals… 

Floral jacket

An old jacket and a little bit of floral fabric are all it takes to create this striking jacket.

You will need

Black jacket
0.5m (19in) silk fabric
Iron-on paper adhesive

Step 1

Back the floral fabric with a paper adhesive. To do this, place the glue side of the paper onto the back of the fabric and iron on a low heat. Leave to cool, then peel back the paper.

Step 2

Using a sharp pair of fabric scissors, carefully cut around the flowers printed on the fabric. Cut out a number of different sized patches so you have single blooms and clusters.

Step 3

Pin the floral patches onto your jacket, until you’re happy with the finished look. Iron them in place using a low heat. Ensure all edges are bonded well to the garment.


Cathy McKinnon is the editor of Cloth magazine. Visit for more fashion inspiration.