The Great British Sewing Bee

5 December 2016
I've never watched Game of Thrones, the Kardasians or a hundred other popular TV programs, but give me The Great British Sewing Bee and I'll be sitting there, glued to the screen, until the cows come home. This wonderful show started here last Saturday night with the first series. I've watched a few episodes on YouTube over the years but I've never seen the first series and I've never watched a full series. As is my habit, I don't watch live TV. I record what I want to watch and look at it later when I can fast forward through the mindless advertising, or stop at certain places to examine what's been done and listen, again, to an explanation.

Sewing Bee is a sister program of The Great British Bake Off. That program has lured non-bakers into baking and helped with the overdue resurgence of scratch baking and cooking. And just as in the Bake Off, Sewing Bee has an elderly woman and a younger man as judges. I love seeing older women on TV or anywhere in the public domain. There is so much wisdom there to be shared, and they usually do it with grace and tender care.

On the first Sewing Bee program, contestants were asked to cut an A line skirt using a pattern, change the neckline on a shop-bought blouse and make a casual dress to fit a live model. There were explanations about why, what and how all through the show, as well as the judging of each garment. There was also an excellent tutorial on how to make a laundry bag which demonstrated the ease of the process.  Watching competent sewers choose fabric, pin and cut darts, insert invisible zippers and listen to them discuss why they do what they do, is inspiring and thought-provoking.  It was wonderful seeing the detail of the stitching, the seams and darts being constructed and the fabric patterns up close on the big screen. I also loved looking at the personal bits and pieces each sewer brought with them and how they organised their sewing spaces.

When you see expertise, creativity and work of this standard, it's so inspiring you just want to get your scissors and needles out and start a project.  I often wonder why it is so that we are often inspired and motivated to get up and work when we see others working. It must have something to do with our collective past of working in groups to survive.  Whatever it is, I hope some of the people here who don't sew watched the program, or may have watched it in the past. If ever there was a program to light the flame of sewing inspiration and see the end results of methodical creation, it is this program.

I'm comforted by shows like this. They're heartwarming, generous and valuable to those of us who aspire to live by the work we do with our own hands. They show me that what many of us are doing in our lives is becoming increasingly popular and that mindfulness, appreciation of simple things and traditional skills are needed in today's world just as much as they ever were.

Did you see it?