I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying watching the second series of The Great British Sewing Bee. I literally watch it from beginning to end with a great big smile on my face. It’s filled with such enthusiasm, creativity and joy from the contestants and this year, they are all just a bit bonkers. Brilliant!
Not all of the contestants are the best dressmakers, but they are all amateurs and their passion for their craft is infectious and I’ve caught their bug, I can’t wait to get my sewing machine out again, dust it down and make something new to wear.
In the second show, the challenge was to make a pair of pyjamas and many of the contestants chose to pipe the garments. Piping is a real skill and not easy at all. I learnt how to do it on a one day course, run by Bernina, when I bought my new sewing machine and it was invaluable as the class sizes are small and there is more than one tutor on hand on the day, so you get lots of expert tuition and help and come away, from the course, with a finished article. I attended a few years ago so it’s worth checking on the link above what courses they are currently running.
Piped cushions from Not on The High Street
If you live in the Manchester area, as I do, there are lots of other short courses available, from just learning your way around your machine, to more skilled techniques. Check these two out.
As well as all this great camaraderie between the competitors and the judges, we are treated to a history lesson in textiles every week. In the first show, we were told about the beginning of the silk industry in Britain, with the arrival of the French huguenots, some of the first immigrants in Spitalfields London. This is an area filled with a sense of its textile history, from the names of the Streets, Silk Street & Petticoat Lane to the huge warehouses lining the Thames, where the fabric was transported down the river ready to be exported.
I was lucky enough to visit a silk weavers house in Spitalfields a few months ago. Dennis Severs house, was bought by an artist of the same name and restored back replicate the time a huguenot family would have lived there in the early 1800’s. It is a fascinating and atmospheric experience and most definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.