The Great British Sewing Bee.

The Great British Sewing Bee starts this Tuesday and, I’m quite looking forward to it, especially after reading this blog post from Tilly and the Buttons, who makes beautiful stuff and is one of the contestants. And here’s a link to the other contestants. I hope the program encourages people to look at sewing in a new light but what I’m really curious about is who will watch it.

Sewists? (Not sewers for obvious reasons) People who watched The Great British Bake Off? Actually, I’m unsure about the comparisons that keep being made between this program and the Great British Bake Off in all the promotional reviews. Apart from being “traditionally women’s crafts”, how are baking and sewing similar? I’m not saying one is better than the other but just wondering why there is this constant comparison in all the reviews. I realise it’s a spin-off but the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Baking or cooking is more likely to be something that we do, or at least are the recipient of, every day. As much as I’d like to sew daily, it just doesn’t happen. We don’t see other people sew the way we see people cook. Also, you can casually pitch in and help when someone is cooking, chopping veg or whatever. People don’t usually offer to thread my machine for me or iron on interfacing, and, to be honest, I’m quite happy about that. We have a room dedicated to cooking, I sew wherever there is enough floor space.

So, to get to my main point, does this lack of exposure to sewing mean people will be less likely to watch a program about sewing? Who’s their target audience? Me? I’ll watch it but, like most TV, I’ll probably be watching it while I sew.

I really hope it’ll help demystify the whole sewing process for someone who’s never touched a sewing machine and if it encourages people to pick up a bit of fabric and get started, that’s a great thing. Even if it doesn’t encourage people to sew,  perhaps it’ll make us re-think our relationship with fashion. By seeing the effort and time involved in making a garment, perhaps we’ll be less likely to treat clothes as disposable and less likely to buy things that fall apart after two washes. More importantly, it might make us think about the people who actually make our high street clothes. I’m not talking about the high street store “collections” by whomever, I’m talking about the people sat behind the sewing machines. In an ideal world, finding ethically-made clothing would be easy and, while most retailers have upped their game in this respect, they don’t label their clothing in an way that makes it obvious for the consumer. We have labels all over our food, granted that’s a health as well as conscience issue, but perhaps we should label our clothing in a similar way. Or maybe we should be more savvy as consumers and learn how to read labels properly. I wouldn’t buy battery farm eggs, why would I buy a t-shirt made in appalling conditions?

Gone a bit off topic in that last paragraph. Still, I’ll be watching this Tuesday, sewing and/or tweeting (@smittenness) and looking forward to seeing what happens.


About Vanessa

Sewing and assorted nonsense. For reasons that escape me, I left the sunshine and beaches of Australia for the crisps and glitter of London in 2001. I now live in the middle of some kind of feline drop-in centre in East London battling for space to make costumes and clothes. Over on twitter and instagram as @smittenness Email over here ------>
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3 Responses to The Great British Sewing Bee.

  1. MadeByMeg says:

    I liked this post. It will definitely be interesting to see who watches. For Project Runway, I feel they have focused more on the ‘fashion’ of the garments they made at the expense of quality and sewing skills. This, of course, makes it more appealing to larger audiences, but a little less palatable to people who know how to sew.

    In terms of the comparison to the Bake Off, I suppose it is because the format of the shows is so similar, but who knows, I haven’t read the reviews.

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