Will the nation be a-buzz over the Sewing Bee?

If you're an international reader please imagine "The Apprentice does Sewing" and you'll have a pretty good idea of the new prime-time TV show which started tonight across the UK.  The Great British Sewing Bee is a four-part series in which eight amateur sewers compete each week to remain in the competition with a view to being crowned as the series winner.

Image Source: BBC
For tonight's episode the contestants were challenged to make an A-line skirt from a standard pattern within 3.5 hours, to transform the neckline on a shop-bought top in 60 minutes, and finally to make a dress of their own choice (which they would have practiced) but for a previously-unseen model. Experts May Martin and (the perfectly bearded) Patrick Grant provided a critical evaluation of the techniques and finishes to decide who should proceed onto the next stage and which garment should win the weekly accolade.

The judges, neither of whom I'd seen before, are a perfect mix - one is a serious WI traditionalist and the other a charming - and award winning - Saville Row Designer, without formal training. The show is hosted by "half woman half fringe" Claudia Winkleman who asks the experts all the right questions on our behalf. The contestants range from Ann an 81 year old "yoga nut" who sews all her own clothes to Mark, a tattooed and multi-pierced HGV mechanic  in his 40s who makes steampunk costumes for his family from the sofa, and various (stereotypes?) in between. There is something for everyone. 

As I have proven several times over, I really am no seamstress, but I've been really looking forward to this show and wasn't disappointed. In addition to the competition the show explains various sewing techniques, some history (did you know paper patterns were popularised my Mr Beeton - husband of the famous Isabella?) and also a step-by-step guide to sewing your own weekly project.  This week's is a laundry bag, and you can find the full pattern on the Radio Times website

The series looks set to be every bit as good as the hype for those interested in sewing and also fans of this format (The Great British Bake Off was a huge success although I didn't watch it) so it has been set to record and the accompanying book is on it's way. If you missed the first episode and you are able to get BBC iPlayer in your region, you can find it here for the next 4 weeks and if you did watch I'd love to know what you thought. Will it inspire you to get out "grandma's" sewing machine as Michelle suggested? 


  1. It sounds like a good show! Too bad there isn't one like this in US!
    Julie -USA

  2. I can't believe this completely passed me by. I'm definitely hitting iplayer in the morning!

  3. I would so watch that. What a great interesting show. I am trying at the moment to learn to sew and I would have to say I too am no seamstress. But I'd love to watch this what a shame I can't get it over here. Will have to wait to buy a copy of dvd from you guys over there. xx Thanks for pointing it out.

  4. It sounds great! I'm definitely going to try and watch it. Hopefully I can pick up some tricks as I want to learn sewing!

  5. I watched and it was fantastic fun. Lots of very talented people showing how much fun making stuff was and also how much work goes into making clothes. I'm hooked.

  6. I also watched and loved it. Slightly disappointed to learn that they would have practised the dress before the show. Definitely watching the rest.


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