I need to talk about the Great British Sewing Bee

So the Great Britsh Sewing Bee is over for another year, and while I loved having some sewing on my TV every week, there are a few things that are starting to grate.


First of all, ‘they was robbed’. Both this year and last I feel the rightful winners were robbed by one person who snuck into the final on lesser merits and snatched the crown with one good performance. While I can see how this theory works in single performance events such as running races where it is all about one criteria such as speed, the programme repeatedly claims to be looking for ‘Britains best sewer’. Sewing is not a one variable skill – I would not call someone a good sewer if they had sewn one couture standard garment, and a whole wardrobe of wadders, or could sew perfect garments with zips, but not with buttons. Therefore, Chinelo, and Neil/Lorna were robbed – they performed consistently throughout the programme and deserve to have that recognised, even if they weren’t best in the very final challenge of the final episode.

Not testing key skills

Related to my previous complaint – the programme themes are not making sure they test all the skills that are core to sewing. Off the top of my head this year the sewers were not forced to sew using knit fabrics, do any handsewing or tailoring. I would deem these key skills of a well rounded sewer.

Where are the men? (and pets, and bags, and home etc)

No I don’t mean the male sewers, I mean the sewing for men. And the home. And bags. And pets. And any other sewing projects we can come up with. The show repeatedly tells us they are looking for ‘Britains best sewer’ not ‘Britains best women’s (and occasionally children’s) dressmaker’. And yet, every single project this year was dressmaking. And the vast vast majority were explicitly for women – the kilt was the only men focused fit challenge, and the alteration challenge was mostly about women – there is a limit you can do for a man with flowered curtains (but kudos to Ryan for doing a great job anyway).


This one is probably a common complaint for reality shows, but the time limits imposed are RIDICULOUS. At least with the Great British Bake off it takes a certain amount of time for bread to rise or a cake to bake, so they have to be given that. The time limits on many of the challenges made me cringe – can you honestly be surprised that poor fabric choices are made, or patterns not matched when such appalling time restrictions are applied? I’m sure every sewist has been asked if they are going to enter – my answer to this is that even if I was good enough, I have no desire to put myself through such a ridiculous and unachievable ordeal.


And finally the ‘fit’ challenge. This looks good in principle, but if you think about it, it is massively unfair. We know different fit challenges present different levels of challenge, yet all the sewists use different models. How can they be sure all of these models present the same fit challenge? It’s easier to fit something where fabric needs shaved off somewhere, rather than a FBA where the pattern needs adjusting and volume adding before cutting. And on that note, how can they possibly get a good fit for challenges where they cut the pattern pieces before they even meet the models? Why not try to standardise it a bit, for example giving the all a model who needs an FBA one week, swayback another week, and plus sized the next week. Or why not all share the same model each week with identical fit issues?

Rant over, I needed to get this off my chest. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show and couldn’t wait for each new episode, but they really need to think about what they are trying to do.

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One Response to I need to talk about the Great British Sewing Bee

  1. Sharon says:

    Yes would love to see plus size sewing especially altering a pattern to fit a large cup size. This would defiantly be a challenge. I wish the walk away dress went up to my size.
    Also structured bag making with zips pockets and shape. (I love making complicated bags). Perhaps a tuxedo for men or woman or a dress shirt with pin tucks and a bow tie.
    I agree about the time limit. It can take me 4 – 5 hours just to cut out some patterns. I think some of the first to leave are always due to not finishing in the time. I know I could not.

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