I was in a thoroughly bad mood at the time of the airing of the first episode of The Great British Sewing Bee. I wrote a post with exactly the same title as this one grumbling about the whole show.
“Best amateur sewers? Best demographically-rounded, easily available, photogenic sewers, more like . Light fabric? Don’t just tell me it was ‘light’, tell me what it was. Call that a technical drawing, BBC? And you’ve run a fitting challenge without mentioning a single fitting alteration?” Etc.
I don’t take back any of those comments, having now avidly watched all four episodes. But as time’s gone on, the things that annoyed me have annoyed me less.
Partly it’s an audience thing. Even though I knew that a sewing show pitched for the masses was never going to get that technical, I had too high expectations at the start. Once my sights had been comfortably lowered I enjoyed it more – and of course as they lost contestants throughout the series, they could spend more time focusing in on the garments and techniques of each one.
(I also enjoyed it more once a particular contestant had left. No, don’t be silly, I’m not going to name which one over the internet. One of the nice things about the show was the complete and utter lack of bitchiness, even if the judges and presenter did ham it up a little at times.)
What isn’t dependent on viewer experience is inspiration – I have got so much inspiration from watching what different people did with the different challenges set, particularly the alterations ones which allowed the contestants’ creativity to shine through. Michelle’s paneled square neckline, Sandra’s folded patch pockets and Ann’s use of trim are just three examples of garments that have got me thinking about the fun details that tend to be lacking from my own sewing.
If people with less experience than me are inspired to get out their sewing machines again from the dusty corner, or even look into learning how to sew – that will be fantastic. If dressmaking becomes less of a dying art, creative businesses thrive, and fabric shops stay open then the BBC will have done a bloody good job.
My three favourites from the start were the three who made it into the final (two Brummies and a yam-yam, although not necessarily all by birth!). The right person won. Her prowess was just awe-inspiring. The garments that she created were without exception, stunning.
So that is my Great British Sewing Confession – I enjoyed the series after all. And I’ll definitely be watching when they run it again next year!