Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Massive Patriotic Stripey Crafting Insect

Not a sewing bee.
Hands up who watched the first episode of 'The Great British Sewing Bee' last night?

Keep your hands up if you started watching with the intention of going "pffft, I could do that". Quite a few of you? Yeah, me too.

Now keep your hands up if you still thought that after the first round of judging? Yeah. Not so tough now, are we?

The challenges sounded pretty simple - make an A-line skirt from a pattern, alter a neckline, fit a dress. But that was before the scariest HE teacher in the world (who looks like she might have swallowed a bee herself), and her sharp suited friend stepped in with their eyes for microscopic detail. Those poor contestants are going to be having nightmares about slightly puckered zips and unbalanced hems for years. I'd have run away, crying, trailing bias tape in my wake within the first half hour.
Also not a sewing bee.

But let's not be downhearted, fellow sewists. Because we all know that what the GBSB contestants face is not a patch on the challenges we face every day of our crafting lives. In order to really give them a fair test of what the real-life home sewist has to cope with, I think they should add the following tasks:

The All-Nighter
Contestants must create a school nativity costume/theatrical prop/fancy dress outfit/party dress from only items they can find in their own house. The challenge will be presented to them at 8.45pm the night before the item is due to be needed. Extra points awarded for sewing quietly and not waking up the house.

Speed Unpicking
Contestants must race to unpick a sleeve from a garment which has been put in upside down. Extra points given for creativity of swearing.

Pin Management
Contestants must tip a box of pins on the floor and attempt to collect every single one within a two minute time limit (the maximum amount of time one realistically has before a barefoot child/spouse/family pet comes in and treads on them all).

Bumblebee does not sew.
Additional Rules

  • For maximum realism, contestants are allowed a constant supply of tea (however, any contestant seen finishing a cup, rather than letting half of it go cold, will be disqualified). For the All Nighter challenge, wine may be substituted for tea.
  • At irregular intervals, several cats will be released into the studio to walk all over the tables and sit on the ironing boards. 
  • And, most importantly, no matter how tight the deadline, contestants must spend at least twenty minutes of every hour procrastinating on Facebook and/or making toast.

 Yeah. That's more like it.


  1. Brilliant. Even I've done the All-Nighter. I made a dragonfly costume, with wings made from sheets of coloured tissue paper squares stuck on sticky-back plastic we had left lying around from a DIY project (wanted to make the inside of a rabbit hutch waterproof, or at least wipe-clean). I also inadvertently made a bat costume from an old umbrella in the same session....abandoned that tho' as it was July, and nowhere near Halloween. Why do these things have to happen overnight?

    1. Because overnight is when all the Ideas occur. You know when you wake up in the night and you've had an amazing idea and then in the morning you realise that it was actually a stupid idea about making shoes for unicorns (for example)? If you stay up and work, you have all those nighttime ideas and MAKE THEM HAPPEN at the same time. That's my theory, anyway.

  2. Don't forget the addition of damp cotton wool to try and make you look as though you had a decent nights sleep when the family come downstairs (just before you start putting the Christmas dinner together or some such - oh and you had five minutes to get changed, again so you don't look as though you were up all night!)

  3. What a fun article. I didn't watch it, well to be completely honest I forgot to watch it. I am also rather hesitant to watch it if the judges are going to be super critical. I don't see how that will encourage people to sew. It's like being taught maths by a man who throws board dusters at you; you ain't gonna learn because you're terrified of being hit when you get something wrong :-)

    1. It's on Iplayer, and definitely worth catching up on, if you have access.