“There’s no place to hide,” says a grim Patrick amidst the madness that was the final of The Great British Sewing Bee.
It’s been three intense episodes of seam finishes, couture techniques, hems, patterns and some seriously straight stitching. But we’re here – Ann, Sandra and Lauren have made it to the climax of the sewing competition, and the heartwarming final was a fitting end to an interesting and informative series.
As the editor of Cloth, a sewing magazine made for fashion lovers, I’ve watched with attentive eyes, hoping it would inspire the nation to pick up a needle and thread and discover how easy it is to create something pretty darn good with your own hands.
I’ve found the experience uplifting. There have been sewing mistakes (inevitable), creative triumphs (enjoyable) and genuinely emotional moments (surprising). The final was no exception. Before it began, I was convinced Lauren had it in the bag. Representing one pole of the sewing world – the young, on-trend creative crafters next to Ann’s old-school seamstress-like precision – it was Lauren who wasn’t afraid to take a risk. She would clinch it, surely?
Alas, it was not to be. From the off, the pressure proved too much, and she panicked making a man’s shirt (a supremely tricky task) in challenge one. Patrick was on fine form, asking her with a smile: “Have you done this before?” as she unpicked her stitching for the third time. Ann didn’t help, when Lauren frantically asked if she’d got her sleeve in ok, replying casually “Yeah, no problem.”
Sandra was her usual mischievous self throughout, flirting with Patrick for points, “You’ve got to try and woo them a bit,” she laughs. Although an underdog, she fought her way back to the top, not with charm, but with neat stitching and fancy applique, with Claudia calling her “the Rocky of sewing” – probably the best image of the series.
It was Ann who eventually proved triumphant and was crowned the winner. Of course it was Ann. 75 years of sewing every single day, how could it not be Ann? It was an emotional moment – during the finale, contestants were surprised when their models turned out to be a family member, and past contestants came along for the result, making it all the more meaningful.
I enjoyed The Great British Sewing Bee – fast-paced, charming and with a quirky mix of intrepid sewers. Not without its faults, the show did prove that it doesn’t matter about age or ability – you can make something unique with a bit of time and a tiny ounce of creativity.
Ann said it best: “I like to think that everyone who’s been on this programme has inspired people to pick up their needles, get out their sewing machines and just get on with it and sew!” Here’s hoping.
Want to get creative after watching the Sewing Bee? Here’s a quick project to get you started.
A plain white shirt is exactly what you make it. The perfect blank canvas, its fashion personality is in your hands and that’s what we love about it. Give your white shirt added style with a dash of lace. Here’s how:
You will need:
Lace in various widths
Step 1. Using different sized pieces of lace, layer them together to create two panels for the front of your shirt. Once you’re happy with the panels, sew together with a zigzag stitch using your sewing machine.
Step 2. Pin each panel to either side of the front placket then sew in place.
Step 3. Swap the existing shirt buttons for pearl or vintage buttons. Finally, add some dainty lace to the collar.
Cathy McKinnon is editor of Cloth magazine. Visit www.cloth.co.uk for more inspiration and trend-led projects.