The machines have been threaded, bobbins are at the ready, and the mannequins are standing by. It's time for Season 4 of The Great British Sewing Bee!
The first three seasons of The Great British Sewing Bee have caused a sewing renaissance throughout Britain. During season one, John Lewis reported a 54 per cent increase in sales of simple patterns, while one line of sewing machines was up 180 per cent, according to the Daily Telegraph.
“Few people think that a homemade dress is really better than one bought at Topshop – unlike shop versus homemade cake. We’ve sought to turn that around,’ says Anna Beattie, creator of the show.
“People who make their own clothes can make sure they fit perfectly and express their personality so much better with them than with things bought off the peg,” she says. “I think the timing is right: there’s a huge online community around quite trendy sewing, and the show has encouraged people who haven’t done it for years to start again.”
If you’ve been hooked on the first two seasons, then season three won’t disappoint. Have they got an eye for fit and structure? Can they tackle the delicate fabrics we all love to wear? Our sewers will be put to the most demanding challenges yet – will they crumble under the pressure?
If you’re inspired to sew, then there’s no better time than now - there’s nothing more satisfying than turning a piece of flat grab into a stunning 3D creation made especially for you. We’ve trawled the series for the little known secrets, tips and tricks that will help you on your way!
1. Make sure you have the right needles for the job
It will make your work infinitely easier and quicker. Needles should be kept in a needle book as they can blunt when left to rattle around in a box or tin.
2. For contestant Matt, stones and a rotary cutter were a good alternative to pins
“It gave me a really neat precise cut, especially when working with sheer fabrics,” he told Thesewingdirectory.co.uk
3. Never tried French seams? Give them a go
It does a really neat finish to garments plus it makes them stronger and more comfortable to wear. It may take longer, but the result is so much more professional.
4. Always remember: measure twice, cut once
Double-checking measurements before making that important snip is well worth it. If not, you may regret it.
5. Always begin with a full wound bobbin
It takes a few extra seconds to wind, but there’s nothing more disappointing then realising you’ve done a whole run of non existent stitching.
6. Always use the correct point style and size needle, otherwise it may break and damage the machine
Machine needles come in four point styles: sharps for general sewing, light ball for fine jerseys, medium ball for heavier weight jerseys, and cutting point for PVC and leather. They range in sizes from No 60 (o.6mm) for silks to No 120 (1.2mm) for canvas. No 80 (0.8mm) is the size for medium weight fabrics. The imperial equivalents are sizes 8 to 20.
7. If you’re a beginner, it may be worth avoiding synthetic fabrics at first
They behave in unexpected ways! Instead, go for natural fibres such as cotton for a first project.
8. When taking up jeans, change the machine to a zipper foot
This will help you stitch very closely to the original hem fold.
9. Use the wheel manually for thick fabrics
When sewing denim or other thick fabrics, if the side seams are lumpy and difficult to sew through, use the wheel manually to get through so you don’t damage your machine.
10. Sewing doesn’t need to be a solitary task
Sew with like minded friends or family, it’s good to have another pair of hands for fitting.
11. Don’t be tempted by the cheap sewing machines from catalogues or supermarkets
Ask around friends and family and see if there is a machine hiding in a cupboard that can be serviced and brought back into use. Failing this, go to a sewing machine shop and ask for advice and a demonstration.”
12. Finding it hard to thread a needle? If you find it hard to thread a needle, it could be worth investing in a needle threader
It’s a fine wire loop that can be pushed through the eye of a needle for easy threading.
13. It’s almost impossible to do a good fit on yourself, says judge Patrick Grant
For example, with a pair of trousers, as soon as you bend down to tack the hem, the trousers ride up. You’re trying to fit something around all sorts of curves in different dimensions and it’s almost impossible to get a really good fit if you’re doing it on yourself. This is why a ‘fit buddy’ or a mannequin is imperative, if you want that perfect fit.
Make sure you tune into the nail biting new season of The Great British Sewing Bee - starts August 23 at 8.30pm on The LifeStyle Channel.