All About Fabric Croft Mill Sewing

The Great British Sewing Bee Final: Japanese Sewing Patterns, Skanklets and Surprise Winners

Although it has come round far too quickly, last night was the final episode of The Great British Sewing Bee. We are feeling a little bit lost now, how else are we supposed to spend our Thursday evenings?

For the first challenge, the sewers had to use a Japanese pattern to make a casual a-symmetric top. Japanese patterns are notoriously difficult as they have no diagrams, and it did its job by flustering the contestants. Another tricky part to the pattern was that it used bias binding around the neck, however the bias binding had to be on the inside and be hidden.

All of the contestants looked troubled through-out this challenge, with Matt looking the most worried of the lot. While all of the garments were to a good standard, they were not as well made as other garments in the competition. Matt came third, with Lorna second.

It was while Lorna was being placed 2nd that she stole our hearts. She told Patrick that she shouldn’t be in second place as she had received help from Matt, who had ranked lower. While Patrick gave Matt “1st place for gallantry” he wasn’t moved enough to bump him up a place or two. Neil won the round but his sewing success was not to continue…

For the alterations challenge, the contestants had to alter a floor-length pleated dress. Matt shortened his, and gave it a wavy bottom with the help of some boning. Lorna transformed the neckline and the structure of the dress (with more boning). However the one thing we have to talk about – that we could dedicate a whole blog post to was the Skanklet.

Great British Sewing Bee skanklet

The pressure of the final had apparently made Neil loose the plot as he created skirts for ankles… otherwise known as skanklets. He attached them to some shorts by boning, which confused us a little; sure if you sat down the boning would mean the skanklets would spring outwards?

The strange design split Twitter, some thought they were a monstrosity. Patrick indeed seemed to side with these people stating “I’m not speechless. I’m appalled.” However other people were more generous, praising Neil’s creativity. They were certainly creative things, these skanklets. To be honest, I think Neil knew he had lost this one, as soon as his design was stood up among the others.

The third challenge saw the contestants asked to make up an avant-garde dress. Neil was drawing inspiration from his army tours, using jersey fabrics he planned to ‘put the desert in the dress. Just like that.” Whilst Lorna went for a ‘high-low’ dress. High low, in that it had a high hem at the front, a low hem at the back and masses of tulle. Matt was apparently channelling James Bond, with a diamond shaped dress – which had us all singing ‘Diamonds are forever.’

While all the dresses were great, we thought that Neil might win, purely because he had been so strong throughout the competition. He possibly thought that too, as when it was revealed he was third he looked genuinely gutted.

Matt on the other hand looked so surprised when he was announced as the winner. He beamed with pride as he stood with the dress he had made for his wife. We had thought Matt was good, but we had discounted him from winning, purely because of who he was up against. He really came good at the end though, and we couldn’t be happier for him.



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  • Reply
    Jane Ford
    13/03/2015 at 12:26 PM

    Somehow it seemed fitting that Matt won, as thinking of the competition as a whole, it would be so hard to separate Neil and Lorna as they were equally good, I reckon. Matt had improved so much too.
    So close though, and I too will miss the programme which I loved.

  • Reply
    Wendy Duncan
    18/03/2015 at 2:27 PM

    I had a lovely surprise on Saturday night. I went to a show in reading and bumped into Matt outside the theatre. I was so surprised . I congratulated him and he said how much he’d enjoyed it and had I enjoyed it. He said filming ended last May and he hadn’t been able to tell his brother who was with him until last Thursday when it was aired. Made my night. He was so friendly.

    • Reply
      18/03/2015 at 3:26 PM

      Wow you lucky thing! It’s nice to know that he is nice in person and not just on the telly. Haha! That must have been a hard secret to keep, he did well not to let it slip.

  • Reply
    23/03/2015 at 9:05 AM

    Where can I get a pattern for the Japanese blouse ?

    • Reply
      24/03/2015 at 11:19 AM

      Hi, I’m not too sure where you would be able to find that exact pattern, however you can get authentic Japanese patterns here

    • Reply
      Julia High
      18/06/2015 at 1:52 PM

      The pattern comes from a book called Drape Drape 2 – you can get it from Amazon – it’s part of a series of books that have been translated from japanese so make sure you get the version in english 🙂

      • Reply
        22/06/2015 at 9:22 AM

        Oh thanks for the Julia, it was such a lovely pattern… I think I will have to add that book to my wishlist 🙂

  • Reply
    Jane Ford
    24/03/2015 at 11:27 AM

    If you are a member of Sew Today magazine, you can find Vogue Issey Miyake patterns which are delightfully asymmetric – I have collected quite a few over the years. (Members get patterns half price)

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