Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee

It's great. As someone who got really into the Great British Bake Off and regularly sews, I was bound to love it. And I do. Sewing is something that hasn't translated well to TV before (at least not in the UK) but this show does it perfectly.

The show follows the format of the Bake Off, with eight home sewers set three challenges a week: following a given pattern, adjusting a particular high street item, and making a garment for a model (each contestant gets to pick their own pattern on this one). The judges are WI sewing teacher May Martin and Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant, who so far seem to have a pretty similar dynamic to Mary and Paul from the Bake Off. I was disappointed at the lack of Mel and Sue - Claudia Winkleman just isn't the same - but I suppose you can't have everything. But, oh, the sewing room! All the contestants have their sewing stations, similar to the Bake Off, but they also have access to shelves of fabrics and rows of ribbon and zips and buttons and interfacing and oh my! Some of their challenges are only an hour long and, frankly, I could spend that much time just gawking at the trimmings!

We've only had one episode so far but the contestants seem great. My favourites are Tilly, whose blog I already enjoyed reading, steampunk enthusiast Mark and Lauren (though, to be fair, a pretty face and a Scottish accent can already turn my head, even without those mad sewing skillz). Like most reviewers have pointed out, the group of contestants is really representative of home-sewers as a whole, and the level of execution is high, especially within the tiny time-frames! What really impressed me about this show, though, was the way it managed to be accessible enough for a non-sewer while not getting bogged down in the details. In the same way that the Bake Off explored traditional recipes, this show gave a bit of background information on patterns, so that viewers who were entirely new to sewing knew what was what, while giving sewists a bit of history they might not have known.

One of the challenges this week involved inserting an invisible zip - something I'm about to do for the first time on a dress I'm making for a friend (yes, I'm doing some sewing, not just watching TV). I'm all fired up for zip insertion zipsertion now, just I should be able to post pictures soon!

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