As the editor of fashion and sewing magazine Cloth, I anticipated the first episode of The Great British Sewing Bee with interest, hoping for it to champion a creative lifestyle and pastime I’ve long admired. Gone are the days when sewing was something your nan used to do; it’s become the cool girl’s way to rejuvenate her wardrobe. Dare I say it, it’s actually fashionable again. There’s a handmade resurgence rumbling and it’s heartening to see sewing’s finally made it to primetime.
The lineup of nifty stitchers includes 81-year-old Ann, a lifetime sewer and archetypal crafter, stylish Tilly who’s been sewing for two years and pony-tailed and pierced Mark (yes, men sew too). In place of the Berry/Hollywood duo is WI seamstress May Martin and dapper Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant, who provided much amusement after revealing a sewing mistake in the tailoring world is called making a “pork”– our new favourite term at Cloth HQ. And then there’s Claudia Winkleman who navigates the contestants through the process while making quips about nipples (yes, really).
With three challenges to flex their sewing muscles, including an upcycle and a make-from-scratch, what I enjoyed most about the Bee is it reflects the mood of the moment – that sewing is about revamping clothes as much as it is about making a detailed dress from a pattern. I applaud this modern approach, and while some of the hastily formed pieces aren’t exactly trend-setting (ahem, a certain lioness tee springs to mind) they do mirror the eclectic mix of styles, tastes and values that form the crafting community right now.
If the first episode’s anything to go by, I’ll be watching with intrigue over the next three weeks.
Has the Sewing Bee given you itchy fingers? Here’s a simple project to get you going on your craft journey. Visit www.cloth.co.uk for more inspiration.
Get your glitter on and bring some dazzle to a plain top using a black sequin motif. The subtle glamour of this upcycled top makes it a perfect day to night item.
You will need
How to customise the jumper
1. Try on your jumper. If it stretches in the place you intend to put the motif, get a friend to pin it in place while you wear it. If it doesn’t stretch, lie it flat and pin the motif in place while you wear it. If it doesn’t stretch, lie it flat and pin the motif in place on the front. Make sure you avoid pinning all the way through to the back.
2 Using cotton thread the same colour of your motif, hand stitch around the edge (above right). Whip stitch is a good stitch to try. Insert your needle into the front of the fabric, then bring it over the top of the edge and back to the front (see below).
Cathy McKinnon is editor of Cloth Magazine
The Great British Sewing Bee continues on Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC2