Last night we saw the first episode of The Great British Sewing Bee, Series 4. All of the team members here at Croft Mill were eagerly awaiting our first look at the new judge Esme Young, who has replaced May Martin. (You can read about Esme Young in our other blog post here.)
Esme Young, seems like a lovely women who has high standards. While the contestants were sewing she offered tips to both Claudia and us home sewers, but also added some bite to the show. We feel she may be the one to push the contestants to achieve their best this series, and we know that any praise from her will be well deserved.
Esme called the first challenge of the episode ‘simple’ but personally we think she may have been just trying to make it sound less daunting. The challenge was all about working on the bias and pattern matching, with the contestants asked to use a striped fabric to create a chevron design on the front and back of the top. The actual pattern used can be found on page 38 of the new Great British Sewing Bee book – though Claire Hardie, the show’s producer has written a wonderful post full of tips for sewing bias top.
As we watched the contestants pick a fabric to use for their tops, we hid behind our sofas as one of the contestants opted for a chiffon. Surely one of the most flowing, and therefore difficult fabrics to sew (you can read our tips for sewing it here, if you are feeling brave you can shop our delicate fabrics here.) would not be a wise choice in such a time constrained environment. Another contestant also had a panic, when half way through she took the judges advice and changed fabric half way through.
Despite our initial concerns, the chiffon top turned out spectacular – even with the self-made bias binding. Most of the contestants seemed to cope fairly well with this challenge, although Rumana, a junior doctor from East London, did run out of time and left her sleeves unfinished.
For the second challenge, or the ‘Alteration Challenge’ as it is known, the contestants were given a blue maternity dress to make into anything they wanted. Normally the alteration challenge is a chance for all the contestants to showcase their individuality and creativity. It is often not unusual to see every garment look completely different; that was not the case with tonight’s episode.
Maybe it was nerves? Or maybe none of them wanted to be the first person to push the fashion boundaries. Either way, a lot of the items looked almost identical, with nearly everyone making a skirt (and the same style of skirt at that.) Patrick was clearly less than impressed with the lack of variety… as Esme Young muttered “another skirt…” her eye-rolling was almost audible.
As we live tweeted the show and discussed how the challenges were progressing, a few people also voiced their disappointment.
@CroftMillFabric I was very disappointed in the alteration challenge.
— Jude (@Viafairyland) May 16, 2016
For the final challenge, the ‘Made to Measure’ challenge the contestants were asked to create a skirt for their model. They had been allowed to choose their own pattern and practise it for a week in advance, tonight was the first time they had met the models or learnt their measurements however.
Going on the performance in the last round, we knew that skirts would not trouble them too much. All of the contestants created something individual to them, with a variety of styles and fabrics. Esme and Patrick both seemed more than impressed with their efforts this time round. Jade, the youngest ever contestant in the Great British Sewing Bee excelled herself with a two-toned skirt. Esme took full advantage of the new later airing time and slipped in a naughty word, much to the surprise of the views.
Did you watch the episode? What were your thoughts on the contestants and the new judge?