Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dressmaking on the telly

I'm having a hands-off crafting April, letting my WIPs languish whilst I consider my next move. In the time freed up, I've read one Agatha Raisin book already and I have also been watching TV (don't faint!!)

I don't watch TV as a general rule, but this week, I read a review online of The Great British Sewing Bee and so I looked it up on iPlayer. How wonderful to see a "real" programme about crafting (as opposed to Kirsty Allsopp knitting a row or two). And all eight of the contestants seemed to be really nice, ordinary people. There was none of the sniping or nastiness I have previously seen on reality TV (my dd watches the Kardashians, 'nuff said) and the approach to the craft was intelligent, explaining aspects of garment-fitting, what bias binding is, etc, without patronising or over-simplifying either.


In the first episode, the participants made an A-line skirt, altered the neckline of a cotton top, and made an entire dress to fit a real model. They had 3 1/2 hours for the skirt; I might have managed that, but sew an entire dress in 7 hours? Not a chance.

I already know at least one of the participants is online: Tilly has only been sewing for two years, in contrast to the simply amazing Ann, who is 81 and has been sewing for over 70 years. She is fantastic, and totally calm under pressure. I also rather like Sandra, Mark and Lauren. Heck, I like them all. Even the judges (did you see Patrick?! Swoon. Apparently he kisses girls, so I'll get in the queue.) Only Claudia, the presenter, annoyed me, and I think that's only because her fringe is excessive, so every time I saw her, I wondered if she could see out OK.

Ditching Michelle seemed a little unfair though. Taking all the three challenges, I would have let either Stuart or Tilly go, but both of them make good TV and I suspect that may have had something to do with decision-making.

If you're outside the UK and not able to access BBC iPlayer, I hear the first episode has been put on YouTube so you might be able to find it that way, if you want to see the programme. Or, you can read this blogger's very funny review where there are also screenshots. Or, if you want to try a variation at home, try this blogger's suggestion for alternative challenges!

An enticement to dressmaking has come at quite an opportune time, as after three years of intense yarn-related activities, I'm feeling rather worn out from knit and crochet. Even with my Stashdown objective, I can't bring myself to start anything. Meanwhile, I still have unused dressmaking patterns in my sewing box.

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