24 Apr 2013

Lessons learned from the Sewing Bee

I watched the final episode of the Great British Sewing Bee yesterday.
I must say, I really liked the Sewing Bee series! Of course, the search for 'Britain's best home sewer' sounds unrealistic (especially when some contestants never inserted a zipper before or don't know in which direction the fly of a pair of men's pants should close) but it was so much fun to watch!

I loved that the jury talked for like 90% of the time very objective about the execution of the garments and there was no such thing as liking the chosen fabric, pattern or not. Though they mentioned if the choice of fabric wasn't right because of the fabric weight or patterns. But that was just what they observed. What you see is what you judge. There were no eccentric, theatrical contestants fighting all the time and picking on each other like in most reality series, no judges who try to 'strike a pose' and make the contestants cry. Everyone seemed to be very supportive. It was not about the 'show' but all about craftsmanship. I believe that watching the Sewing Bee make people thinking about why sewing your own clothes can be such a fulfilling hobby.

The winner is (not really surprisingly) Ann. Well, she deserves the best home seamstress award for sure! Amazing that she already was sewing in the 'make and mend' period! What she did so well during the episodes is working very precise and executing the tasks perfectly. She did take almost no risks but she new exactly what she could finish well within the given time frame. While everyone was aiming high, having trouble with finishing the garments in the right way or finishing at all, she did a great job on almost every item she made.

Watching the series made me think of my own sewing skills. Could I assemble an A-line skirt in one hour 3,5 hours or finish a pair of trousers in 8 hours 4 hours? Do I pay enough attention on seam finishing and top stitching? Could I make a jacket with the perfect details just like that? Here are the lessons I learned:

1. Work very, very neat! 
Start by measuring and cutting correctly and you are halfway there!
I personally hate tracing the patterns and cutting the fabric, but spending more time on that really pays off. (However I don't mind spending hours on seam finishing and everything else.)

2. Practice the perfect topstitching!
Don't we all started once by trying to sew straight lines on our grandma's sewing machine? Just try to make even, parallel rows. Seems so easy but it isn't. At the end of the day, a neat finish still gives a boost to your garment.

3. Practice difficult things like making a fly zipper.
Never using a fly zipper on your garments can't be an excuse! You never know when it comes handy...
watch episode 1 here
watch episode 2 here
watch episode 3 here
watch episode 4 here
Click here for a list of the Sewing Bee challenges.

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