I’ve been really enjoying watching the latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee, although strangely enough I am not at all interested in making clothing. I don’t know if it is because I lack the confidence to make something for someone that has to fit right and not make a right hash of it, but I’ve just never looked at clothing patterns and gone ‘oooh I’d love to make that!’
My Mum is a really great sewer, she has been doing it pretty much all of her life. Back when she was at school in the 1950s girls just did sewing as part of their normal lessons. Mum did dressmaking and often made her own clothes, she made her own wedding dress – purposefully made a short dress to annoy her future father in law who kept going on about her having a long floor length dress. She then some years later chopped up her wedding dress to make a little dress for a doll to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. (A doll I later had and promptly scribbled on her face with a Biro…)
My Mum has made me and my siblings clothes when we were kids, she was always on hand to fix things if they needed mending (like when my hamster chewed a hole in the collar of a very expensive coat I bought!) She made outfits to wear to parties and to my sister’s wedding and made me a skirt to wear for my A-Level leavers dinner. She also knits a mean little dress…
So she is not a stranger to the dressmaking pattern, to sewing in concealed zips, box pleats, darts, rolled hems and bias binding. She also makes curtains for people and cushion covers, and has made bedspreads and drapery for four-poster beds. In short my Mum is a very talented seamstress. It doesn’t mean she never makes mistakes, we often have a laugh talking about the times she has had a bit of a paddy at the machine when it has decided to eat up a load of thread or voile, or the times she panics thinking she has cut the fabric out wrong for something when there isn’t any spare fabric to do it again (99.9% of the time it turns out to be totally fine and she has just got herself in a tizzy.)
So why do I watch The Great British Sewing Bee if I am not into making clothes? It’s all about making clothes. I think it is just to learn a few bits and bobs in general about sewing. I was never any good at school, and haven’t ever had proper lessons. I am impatient and not mad keen on having to measure everything out perfectly!
I’m not a mega fan of the presenter Claudia Winkleman (who my mother lovingly refers to as a ‘Bumhole’) but she makes me laugh sometimes and I like seeing how different people can make something from the same pattern or item of clothing.
But, one of the main reasons is probably for Patrick Grant, one of the two judges on the show. Tall, well presented, with a beard (my husband has a beard so according to him I must therefore fancy any other man with a beard…) He is a designer and Savile Row tailor, although his background is in engineering which surprised me when I Googled him the other night. He knows his stuff and has a good eye but also a good sense of humour (which is the sort of thing that attracts me to someone – rather than facial hair alone.)
So I’m never going to be putting myself forward to be a contestant on the show, definitely not. Not just because of my lack of interest (and skill) for sewing clothing, but because I hate to be the centre of attention, hate having my photo taken so being on TV would be horrible for me! So I’ll just carry on making my weird little bits and bobs and perhaps just encounter Patrick in my dreams so he can tell me off about misaligned darts and then whisk me away for some naughtiness on the fabric cutting table…