The Great British Sewing Bee(b)

I know I’m late to the party with this, but I’ve been busy having fun!


Oh GBSB…how I love thee!  To be fair, I’d probably watch this even if it wasn’t so much fun.  I haven’t shouted at the TV this much since Project Runway was last on our UK screens.

I really want to adopt Ann to be my sewing aunt.


She is marvellous.  Fabulous sewing skills and upside down yoga…what’s not to love.  I was awestruck by her calm and grace during challenges that would have had me weeping in a corner.

I’m not entirely sure why the BEEB has only done 4 programmes.  Have they not cottoned on yet (pun intended) to just how many of us are sewing these days?   And how many people are interested in learning, but just need a little nudge.

I do wonder if they intend to do a “masterclass” at the end as they do with the Bake Off…actually showing people how to insert a zip, etc.

I suspect not!

That said, as I was driving down to Devon last week an email pinged into my inbox from our local BBC radio station asking me to contact them.  When I stopped for loo breaks I carried out a lovely email conversation with them which resulted in me being invited to be a (very small) part of their morning phone-in on Wednesday morning discussing the renaissance of sewing and other traditional crafts such as baking.


It was a huge amount of fun to participate in spreading the word, even if it was in a very small way, about just how brilliant it is to be able to sew, knit, quilt and bake for yourself and your family.

I can remember when I started sewing I was the weird girl.  It delights me that the mainstream is now catching up with what we’ve known for years.  That sewing, knitting, baking and stitching in all its forms are valuable skills that not only provide a creative outlet but support our family budgets, demonstrate our love for the recipients, support small independent shops and designers and put money into the economy.  

Yes, Mr Cameron, I’m talking to you.  

I may be a stay at home mum but I do contribute to the economic success of this country.

Not only do we spend money on fabric, yarn and notions, we invest in tools and equipment…all of which has to be sold to us by someone.  We recycle fabric and yarn that might otherwise end up in landfill.  And when we make a garment for £3, £10 or whatever, it means there is another £20, £30, £50 or more still in the family coffers to be spent in other parts of the economy, supporting other businesses.

So it’s feeling good to be one of the cool kids (at last) and to be recognised as women (and men) with valuable skills.  And I can’t deny it was fun and flattering to be on the radio for my couple of minutes of fame.

23 Responses to The Great British Sewing Bee(b)

  1. StephC says:

    That’s so cool, Evie! Did they find you through the blog? How long were you on? What fun! 🙂 And yes, labors such as ours are important. (even when the labor is enjoyable, maybe especially…) Congrats!

    • Thank you. They did find me through the blog…which thrilled me no end. I was only on for a couple of minutes, but as the only other thing I’ve done of a similar vein was some voice-over work for training e-learning courses, this was huge fun.

  2. Go, Evie, go. So cool you were on radio…I will now have to look for it! I totally agree with what you say. Sewing and other crafts can contribute to the family coffers! And creativity is very important. I was also considered a weird girl…remember a friend jokingly calling me grandma Silvia (no offence intended of course…). I don´t mention that I like sewing in many circles though…

    • I’m quite the opposite and love seeing the look of bemusement on folks faces when you tell them you sew…especially those who are obsessed with labels! The Husband is going to sort out an audio file for me to add to this post…

  3. Ruth says:

    I don’t live in the UK so I am catching up with GBSB though YOUTube and I think it is a great show. I am also hoping that there will be some kind of educational follow-up.

    I am fifty and started sewing clothese when I was 11 (the less said about the first two years’ production, the better!). We had sewing lessons at school, but I distinctly remember learning a lot from a TV programme (with asscoiated kit) in the 70s. I just can’t remember whether it was ITV or BBC and what its name was. What I do remember is that the first thing (among many) the presenter taught was cutting and scissors: what kind of scissors to use, when and how.

    Watching GBSB, I am wincing at how badly the participants use their scissors and cut out their pattern pieces (through the paper, under the paper, with little itty bitty snips, aargh). I am sure they don’t even know that there is a better way to cut, and better scissors to cut with, or why it’s important. I assume that it is this “not knowing what you don’t know” that leads young bloggers who have no verified skills or training in the actual principles of dressmaking, design or fitting to imagine themselves expert after two or three years of self-taught sewing, and get teaching posts on the basis of their non-existent expertise and pass on their bad practices. Like many areas of life these days it’s not about actual observable skills, it’s all about self-marketing.

    I am sincerely hoping that Patrick and May will have a series where they actually teach something substantial. Perhaps a magazine-style show with guest appearances of happy bloggers and other sewing types would be good.

    But that’s a bit nostalgic as a wish, isn’t it? Looking back to the days when TV had an educational purpose….

    • I too had sewing lessons at school and we started learning basic hand stitches and cutting out before we were even allowed near a treadle sewing machine…never mind the electric models.
      I think one of the biggest problems at the moment is a severe shortage of quality learning opportunities if you want to learn to sew/draft/tailor properly. Yes, there is a wealth of information on the internet and some of it is excellent, some of it less so. But you need to know enough to be able to select. Not good when you’re a beginner. And trying to find a structured sewing course outside of London is really tricky. There are degree courses but, and I speak from experience here, if you’re not a trendy young thing they work really hard at persuading you to look elsewhere.
      Ah well, I’ll get off my soap box and hope that this is the tide slowly turning…

      • Emily says:

        Oh crikey – now I wanna know what I don’t know about cutting out?! Please do elaborate…..

      • Liara says:

        Yes please elaborate! I was at a sewing expo yesterday and there was a booth with probably 50 different types of scissors. I had no idea they might actually have different uses! I am going back Saturday and I will now stop and ask the guys about them all.

  4. Jane G says:

    Well done you. I haven’t seen this weeks yet, but I loved it last week, it was a very quick hour!

  5. Liara says:

    Good for you! It must have been so exciting. I’m sad I live in the US because I probably won’t be able to hear what you had to say. All of the points you make are so true. I do wish there were programs that taught sewing, because there really aren’t any places in my area that give lessons. Mostly what I learn is from reading lots of blogs, so thank you for always sharing your expertise!!

    • I’m not entirely sure my “expertise” is always worth sharing 😉 but thank you. I’m going to put up an audio clip of my ramblings…you’ve been warned…it’s not remotely erudite or informative.

  6. K-Line says:

    Evie: This is AMAZING. How cool are you? Can you link to the segment? I loved the first episode of GBSB but I can’t find a link to the second and it’s not available for streaming here from the UK site. So sad!

  7. Susan says:

    How awesome! I would love to hear it too, if it’s available online somewhere?

  8. Emily says:

    Mee toooo I wanna hear your radio segment please please please.

    How cool are you to be contacted and through your blog. Did they say how they found you? Was it literally a google search for local stitch / bake / cook / bloggers?

    Thank you too for linking to the sewing show – we won’t get it here in NZ for, well, probably ever. Thank you to the internet gods for youtube.

    • I’ve never been accused of being cool in my life 😉
      I’m thrilled the GBSB worked and will try to get next weeks. Couldn’t find last weeks for the life of me that would work here….although maybe it would work in NZ? Hmmmm let me know if you want me to try it and I’ll pop it up there for you.

  9. I loved it too (not sure I agreed on the first weeks decision and haven’t seen week 2 yet) and am so thrilled that you were on the radio and that it came about via the blog. Go Evie!

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