The Great British Sewing Bee

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?



44 comments

  1. I watched one season of it on YouTube, but they took it down before I could finish. I guess copyright infringement issues. Sometimes it is hard to tell where those YouTube videos are coming from. Anyway, it's a wonderful show. Why can't they offer more of these types of shows? I would think the production would cost a lot less than what they pay some of the stars.

    Hugs
    Jane

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  2. I will hunt on You Tube for the Sewing program as I love to sew and be inspired. Did you make the two aprons....love both of them. Saw the bunny on your machine,must be a Christmas gift?? I just sent a box to Montana(where our 3 youngest grandkids live)and sent all three a Christmas pillowcase that I had made. I also made each a snowman ornament that I had found on Pinterest. Wish that I could see their sweet faces when they open the box. Must get busy on a few more handmade gifts for Christmas. Have a happy day. Carolyn in Florida

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    1. Yes Carolyn, I made those aprons for our apron swap a few years back.
      I checked You Tube this morning and the sound on the sewing bee has been distorted. :- (

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    2. watching it on NOW. I found it through google.It was aired on Gem andits an offshoot of 9.i guess.Had to log in to watch. So far so good

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  3. The show sounds lovely! Oh, how I would love to be able to sew! I don't watch Television but that show I would make an exception. I do so admire someone who can just whip up something on the sewing machine and it looks fabulous. Sadly when I have tried in the past things don't come out looking too great.
    Have a wonderful week.

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  4. Hi Rhonda, this is the first time I have ever commented. I have read your Down to Earth Blog for what seems like forever. I too watched The
    Great British Sewing Bee and loved it. I am not a sewer yet however my daughter is moving out in a few weeks in to her own home so I am turning her room in to a sewing room. I have a sewing machine and most importantly interest and determination. I cannot wait for more episodes.



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  5. My friend bought the book from the series complete with the patterns . Tracing the patterns caused much head scratching , be for the cutting out and sewing even started . The garments when made did not live up to her expectations at all

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    1. Not surpriced! Very few will find a pattern that is right for them even if it's their size.To be safe you should have a groundpattern that is made for you - with your own measures. This pattern can be changed into different models, but of course you must know how to do it, so that your own measures do not dissapear. I like to follow these programs myself, but few of the models would look good on me.

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  6. I'm so excited the show is on here. I have wanted to watch The Great Sewing Bee for ages but there was no access to the program. I find all those kinds of shows comforting too. The Great British Bake Off is my favourite too.

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  7. Great minds think alike Rhonda. I watch the Great British Sewing Bee each season, as well as the Bake Off, both British and Australian. I pick up lots of good tips from these shows, but I think one of the highlights is the friendliness of the contestants and how they don't think twice about helping each other. So refreshing and so different to the culture of a lot TV shows. Love the photos of Gracie.

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  8. It sounds like a wonderful show! I watched The Big Allotment Challenge on Youtube and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it's been taken off the site. I wish there was a website that would stream shows like this. I'd even pay a small sum to see this type of programming vs. the things most sites broadcast. I'm like you...I love to see shows with older people giving their input and experience. There's so much to learn from them! Kristina

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    1. Right after the sewing bee, there is a program called The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge. It's great too.

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  9. Oh! I wish I had known it was on . I`ve tried to watch it on youtube but they keep blocking access. I will definitely be watching it next Saturday. Thank you so much for alerting me to the fact that it is now on free-to-air television, Rhonda. You`re a gem (wink wink !)

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    1. Corrine - you can still watch the first episode -it's available on the nine website to watch as well :)

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  10. I have watched every episode of The Great British Sewing Bee and they have been a delight. I like the fact that they have men and women of all ages taking part with differing levels of experience. Some of the finished articles are just amazing. There are rumours here in the U.K. that they won't be making any more but I hope that isn't true. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series Rhonda.

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    1. I like the diversity of contestants too, Sarah. And they're not all blonde! LOL

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  11. I had no idea this show existed! I love the Great British Bake Off; I've been working on lean-dough breads and cheesecakes, and someday hope to take on an Opera cake, or something with ganache. Project Runway is a guilty pleasure, but this sounds like more fun. With the tutorials and explanations, I will enjoy learning better ways to sew. I will definitely look it up on Netflix or YouTube!

    Thank you!

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  12. I love the Great British Sewing Bee and the Australian and British Bake off series, they are my favourite shows. I record the episodes off Foxtel and watch them when I have the time. My 10 year old daughter has recently started to do some hand sewing and some basic machine sewing and looks forward to sitting down and watching the episodes with me.

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  13. I came across the show on TV the other night and I also hadn't seen it before. It is very interesting and I will be watching the rest of the series. There is certainly a variety of contestants.

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  14. I didn't know this show existed, so thank you for sharing Rhonda! When I googled it up, I got a big surprise as the host's name is Claudia Winkleman - not a common name, but it's my maiden name. I wonder if we're related! I shall watch it on Youtube today.

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  15. I really enjoyed the show - I hope along the way I might just get a few ideas - not often we get a show about sewing - it's a great concept -will be watching again on Saturday.

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  16. Oh my goodness! I went and looked up the Great British Sewing Bee and watched he first season. (it took me most of the day, because I had to do other things as well) What a wonderful show! I loved watching it and getting to know the sewers. They were all so charming and warm! Thank you for sharing it with us. I will be watching the other seasons as well. I learned a lot from the show!

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  17. There have been 5 seasons of the GBSewingBee and every episode was good.
    We live in the US and watched them all on with Roku via a subscription to PlayOn.
    I have been sewing for almost 50 years. My husband doesn't sew but he has watched me and grew up with a sewing mother, He likes the Sewing Bee as much as I do.

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  18. Loved this entry and seeing your workspace!! I am going to have to get a different machine...I have felt for a long time now that this Bernina 830 I purchased a couple years ago is actually some kind of copy and not the real deal...it has tension problems...I have sewn on about 4 others of this type and NEVER this problem...so I am looking for a different type...is your machine still available, and if so, do you feel it was a good purchase? I do not care to have a million different stitches nor a computer type sewing machine...simpler is best for what I enjoy doing. Elizabeth in WA

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    1. Elizabeth, I bought my Janome Quilters Companion 4618QC sewing machine on ebay about 10 years ago. I think I paid around $200 for it. The lady said it was due for a service, which I had done, and it's been working well ever since. I have it serviced every three years. The lady who sold it upgraded to a computerised quilting machine. Mine not computerised, it's just a basic machine but it sews very well and it has a selection of about 18 stitches. I've had very few problems with it. I'm not sure they're still being made now but they have the newer models. I hope you find a sewing machine you like.

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    2. Thanks so much for answering my question, Rhonda. I will begin looking for such as yours!!

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  19. The sewing machines have been whirring non-stop here too as calico bags are trimmed with lovely red and cream bands for Christmas bags and also bows for the tree are 'whipped' up

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  20. Thank you for reviewing this program Rhonda. I've just started sewing again, I made some baby clothes for my new little grandson and was thrilled to finish a shirt for myself after a bit of a drought in that area. I must watch this series as I also find learning from creative people inspiring and relaxing. There is so much to learn from knowledgeable and creative artisans.

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  21. Rhonda I have bookmarked the show on 9NOW and will watch it as I can find the time. Thanks for the recommendation. I wouldn't have thought about watching it but what you have written about the show has whetted my appetite.

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  22. Yes, love love love the GBSB! As well as the wonderful diversity in contestants, I adore how supportive and kind they are to each other. Very unlike many of the other shows on TV 🙂

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  23. Thanks for the highlighting the Great British Sewing Bee. Just finished watching the first episode and really enjoyed it. I recently decided to try making myself an A-line skirt using an existing skirt as the pattern. The show gave me lots of new ideas!

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  24. Oh yes! I have not seen the latest season, but I did see two of the others and am waiting to see the current one. The winner of the first season really impressed me; she is in her senior years (Anne)and was so wonderful. At the end she too pointed out that everyone in the group impressed her strongly; She felt that they influenced people to get out their needles and sewing machines and just SEW again! These programmes are indeed delightful,and they get people to start doing things that are almost lost arts now.

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  25. My favorite show is The Great British Bake Off. I have watched the Great British Sewing Bee and also the one with the people doing pottery that I thoroughly enjoyed as well. So nice to watch programmes that are encouraging.

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  26. I have watched all seasons over and over, Rhonda, and still enjoy them! Another good one for being inspired with making from scratch is Kirstie Allsopp's Handmade Britain. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/kirsties-handmade-britain/episode-guide/ Absolutely LOVED this.

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  27. Hi Rhonda, great post! I don't watch tv but I've seen the bake off programs on YouTube. Like you I love both the baking and the sewing versions. There is also a pottery version of the show (called the great pottery throw down I think), and another one about allotment gardening in which the contestants grew vegetables and flowers, and then cooked and did flower arrangements based on their produce. That one was actually my favourite of the lot since they had tutorials on various aspects of growing from seed and doing your own arrangements etc. As you said, these programs are much more likely to cast the not-so-young as judges and contestants, as well as just regular looking people of all backgrounds. I like that.

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  28. I have loved watching the Great British Baking Show on PBS and was sorry to hear about the controversy with the show leaving the BBC. It sounds like if it comes back, it will be without Mary Berry and the women hosts - very disappointing! I have not heard of the Great British Sewing Bee, but would love to watch it, so I'm glad to know that it exists. When I was in high school I sewed a lot and actually took an advanced sewing class where I made a woolen winter coat from scratch, complete with handmade button holes and a silk lining. Now I wonder how on earth I ever did that! I got away from sewing when I was in college and have only gotten back to it recently (just basic hemming on the machine, and an attempt at darning by hand). I hope some of the skills will come back to me when I get the time to try sewing a garment from scratch again. That saying is right - use it or lose it! Beth in MN

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    1. Beth, it will come back after a bit of cutting and stitching. It's like riding a bike, you don't forget, it's in your brain somewhere. :- )

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  29. Thanks so much for speaking about this show Rhonda. I've watched several series on Youtube but am so excited it's available on tv here. My daughter messaged me to tell me it was on the other night and suddenly everything stopped in our house. We even had to have dinner with the tv on - unheard of! I'm so happy that having the show on here in Australia may encourage many more men and women to take up the craft of sewing or to rekindle their love. Thank you.

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  30. I love watching the Great British Sewing Bee. I definitely motivates me into getting going with sewing again. I love the idea of creating and making your own clothes. It has been awhile since I last did some sewing, but that is on my list of what I intend doing in the new year.

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  31. I saw some of the British and some of the Norwegian sewing bee. Loved both! Like you say, so inspiring. My husband bought me a new sewing machine for my birthday, I am thrilled to bits as I love sewing. Pam in Norway

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  32. I love this programme, it caused me to get the sewing machine from the attic down. My parents gave it to me when my children were small twenty years ago. I never got to grips with it but determined to have another go this time. I have made several japanese aprons, some as gifts, and also tried a little patchworking and have plans to do more. My spare bedroom is now my craft room (until a child needs it for a while that is!!)

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  33. It's a wonderful programme Rhonda and my sister and I are huge fans of it (and of Bake Off); I love the mix of experience and enthusiasm and Claudia is a wonderfully host. I'm not normally star struck but I was at a quilt show over here in the UK several months after Series 1 and turned around only to bump into Stuart from that series. He was charming and allowed me to take a photo, I then rushed round the corner to text the news to my sister and the other ladies from my quilting group. Excitement all around.

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  34. I too watched the program and thought how inspiring it was and for the young. I sew Art Textiles but after watching the program thought I would get back into sewing clothes or even altering them. I also shared this program on my facebook page.

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  35. Yes! I saw it and loved it too.

    I am currently making some pin cushions (for little gifts) and have just completed a queen sized quilt (just a simple one made with puffed pockets of stuffing so it looks much like a vintage eiderdown).

    I also sewed and covered some garden furniture last week with fabric (ordered from the US_), I made pads that tie on (weather proof) ... it has completely changed the look of the dowdy old covers.

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