All hail, Queen Ann! The Great British Sewing Bee final.
It’s Tuesday, it’s 8pm… and there is a massive hole of despair in the TV schedule that could only be repaired with needle and thread.
The last time I so completely and utterly gave myself over to a television programme in this way, the year was 1991 and the programme was Knightmare.
Fast forward 22 years (how many?!) and I am less interested in dungeoneers and goblins and more keen to learn how to sew a French seam. (finally becoming a real girl…)
The Great British Sewing Bee was everything I wanted it to be and more. I knew, before I’d even seen the opening credits, that I was going to enjoy this. A televised clothes-making competition hosted by Claudia Winkleman? They would have to get that very, very wrong to make it boring to me.
However, I could never have predicted the warm, sparkling, loveable personalities GBSB would bring in to my living room every Tuesday evening.
L – R Jane, Stuart, Mark, Tilly, Michelle, Lauren, Sandra, Jane.
Every week brought beautifully understated moments of comedy, usually courtesy of mischievous brummie Mummy Sandra, magnificently feisty-yet-old-fashioned Ann or twinkly-eyed charmer Stuart.
So now, having watched the final of GBSB, I am bereft! At the same time, I have just watched one of the most enjoyable pieces of television I can remember, and have already vowed to make every Tuesday a designated Sewing Day from now on.
I can’t describe the joy I felt when my beloved Ann was crowned the winner! Lauren and Sandra thoroughly deserved their places in the final, but in the end, the right person won.
Ann didn’t drop a stitch the whole way through the competition, actual or proverbial.
Every single piece of work was finished to an impeccable standard, with challenges and criticism met with grace and stoicism.
Watching her work in the final challenge – making a made-to-measure evening dress – was to witness a masterclass in meticulous workmanship.
Each and every piece of the dress was tacked into place – the entire garment was basted together – before fitting it on her model (perfectly, as always) and only then did she sew the whole thing together and then painstakingly remove each and every guide stitch.
Poor Lauren was an emotional wreck throughout the final – her men’s shirt, the pattern challenge, was a self-proclaimed “mess” (I disagree, it was lovely) and this plunged her into a whirlpool of stress and panic.
As she dissolved into tears at the end of the customisation challenge, Patrick commented that the talented sewist had “no reason to be despondent” but it’s clear Lauren is a perfectionist, passionate about sewing and her own worst critic.
Her evening dress was wonderful – the multi-panel silk bodice was exquisite and perfectly tailored to her model’s body, who just happened to be her big sister! I loved the decision to secretly bring in family members as the contestants’ models for the final challenge – Sandra and Ann each made dresses for their daughters.
This was definitely Sandra’s strongest week and had she shown Ann’s level of consistency in previous stages, may well have won this competition herself.
Her blue silk evening dress with draped detail was stunning, and not an easy design choice.
For the customisation challenge, they were each given a handbag to decorate using only hand-sewing techniques. Anne used couching to affix a wavy line design with embellishments and Lauren created zigzag lines in sewn-on sequins, embroidery threads and fabric.
Sandra was the stand-out winner here, with her appliqued flowers and berries – I would buy that handbag!
So GBSB is over for now…but I’m delighted to be able to say it will be back next year! The BBC announced last Thursday that the series will return for a six-part run in 2014.
In the meantime, none of the series one contestants will be resting on their laurels.
Particularly wonderful was the news that Sandra is to sell clothing under her own label, although try as I might, I cannot find it online. Do any of you know where you can buy her clothing?
Tilly is writing a sewing blog, which I am already a massive fan of.
Stuart has been given his own column at Popular Patchwork magazine, beginning in June.
Lauren and her husband opened their haberdashery on Saturday, joined by some of the Sewing Bee stars, and were mobbed by fans!
Everyone else is simply continuing to sew, loving it, with renewed vim and vigour. I intend to do the same.
If this show continues to a third series, I fully plan to apply for it – but in the meantime, if you are a bit more accomplished than me, why not have a go yourself?
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