After a nail biting finale, the culmination of 6 weeks hard sewing, the Great British Sewing Bee winner has been crowned. Congratulations go to Matt for a cool performance under pressure. The ‘sewing soldier’ Neil was hotly tipped to take the converted trophy with Lorna hot on his heels but Matt held his nerve for a worthy win. I can only guess at the stress of making to a deliberately short time-span in the glare of lights, camera’s, judges and Claudia – I am full of respect for all the contestants.
I admired Matt’s vision for his final garment. With a wiff of Paul Poiret about it, it answered the brief of avant-guard and testament to his ability to match project/pattern/fabric/time scale.
Neil’s ‘skankle’ was part of his downfall when he lost sight of ‘wearable’. To try an combine so many different materials in one final garment was always going to be difficult. Time also conspired against him on a garment that had so much going on.
Lorna’s alteration was a triumph but she struggled with the Japanese pattern. I thought it was interesting that no instructions were included. This tested the contestants ability to visualise a flat 2D pattern as a completed 3D garment. It brought back memories of my ‘A’ Level Textiles and Dress final exams. We were given a jacket pattern the week before the practical exam and had one hour to not only write a shopping list of fabrics, haberdashery and components (a disaster if you forgot something like the thread as you would have nothing to sew it together with) and had to write a construction plan which had to be stuck to come what may. The old fashioned ‘O’ and ‘A’ level were such fantastic qualifications giving high level practical skills!
Whilst Lorna’s finale dress was well made, the concept didn’t quite work. Both Lorna and Neil’s finished outfits remained too close to the commercial pattern whilst Matt had cut his own for the skirt.
In our own studio each episode has been the hot topic of conversation. Whether it’s been on a specific technique, pattern, garment or judging decision.
Everyone agreed that to sew under such tight time restraints is stressful and that this is sometimes reflected in the finished garments. That fit is key and that, while the programme has raised the profile of home sewing, it could give new sewers an unrealistic expectation of what can be achieved in a very short time span.
The T work (tacking and toile to the uninitiated) has featured heavily in discussions. I felt duty bound to point out that Neil’s fabulous pleats on his kilt were only so fabulous because he’d tacked them!
The Walkaway dress has been a huge hit and a number of versions are in production including my own. If you fancy making your own unique version why not book for our Walkaway Dress day on
Our next project is the Japanese one-seam top from the final episode – watch this space for a pattern review and class.
My other thoughts on the series? Firstly, why is a programme full of passion, fun and creativity tucked away on BBC 2 on Thursday nights? Is it my theory on the art v artisan, designer v maker debate – that art and design are valued over practical skills? Dare I say that is why the painting version is on BBC1 Sunday prime time 6pm?
That perhaps a broader range of sewing disciplines, perhaps quilting and other crafts could be included to test more skills and open it up to viewers who are interested in needlecraft but not particularly dressmaking. This could introduce some guest judges.
Sorry, I’m going to be just bit controversial now. As much as I love May and Patrick, I think the programme could do with a Craig Revell-Horwood to shake it up a bit – in the nicest possible way of course because, as we know, people who sew are the most generous of spirit, passionate and sharing people I continually have the absolute pleasure to meet!
The BBC have yet to announce whether there will be series 4. I hope so and that some of our own amazing sewers take the plunge and apply.