February 8, 2017 posted by littlewhitecottage

Why I won’t be signing the petition to save the Great British Sewing Bee…

Now I LOVE sewing.

I think those that know me well will know this and those that don’t know me from Adam will know this now.

I LOVE sewing.

I love the creativity, the challenges, the fact it tickles my brain like a puzzle to be solved learning the skills I don’t have. I love it because it’s given me a job in that for the past 5+ years I have taught lots of lovely adults and equally lovely children how to make things. Things that they never thought they could make, things that they are so proud of themselves having finished them. Things they’ve worn, given as presents and used themselves. I’ve given well over a 100 children and adults the confidence to try something, to achieve something and to come together as a social group and have a jolly good old chat over a sewing needle.

One of my favourite quotes from one of the ladies who came to learn to sew:

‘I walk past my son’s room and see the cushion on his bed and overtime I see it I think I made that…’

I love the ‘wing its’ and the ‘that’ll do’s’ as they speed their machine through yet another project. They don’t mind how it looks so long as it just stays together. They are happy with ‘just about’ and fine with ‘it’ll be okay’ and they love every session they spend at the sewing machine.

I also love the ‘It’s not perfect’s’ and the ‘I’ll just unpick it…’ as they are the ones who strive for perfection and nothing is ever quite good enough. The deep sighs that emanate from their area of the workroom as their corners haven’t quite met or their concealed zip is still visible.

And the ‘Oh my god I did it!!!’s ‘ are just the best to teach. They are the ones who arrive before the start of each project with armfuls of fabric and patterns and not quite enough confidence to know they will finish it.

I’ve had a great few years and all this time there has been a program that I love to chat about called the Great British Sewing Bee.

I watched the first program and loved it. At last here was a program where sewing was made to be something that should be given a TV program all of its very own. Each episode of the first series I watched with huge enthusiasm. I bought the book, grumbled at the patterns not being ‘right’ and made copious notes all over the pages so my pupils would have help as to how to fix their issues.

The second series I watched but as each program came on I was slowly loosing enthusiasm.

The buzz in the workroom was lost. People watched it but they weren’t enthused by it anymore. It didn’t inspire anyone more just tell them that they were never going to be good enough so please don’t even try.

This last series I haven’t even watched.

For me there is so much more to sewing and I think that the Great British Bake Off know this and that is why they are still succeedding. If Bake off had contestants merely baking a different cake each week I think we’d all have tuned out long ago, but they don’t. They have different themes and challenges on all aspects of baking each week. I watch because I could have a go, I learn stuff and I love to see how the contestants do.

With the Sewing Bee all they make are clothes. I find this very sad as there are so many different aspects to sewing that are just not being covered. This program could be used to inspire, motivate and educate but for me it doesn’t. It assumes a level of skill many people don’t have and there is no starting point for them.

I know I may have upset you. The Sewing Bee is a well loved program. I hear you say ‘So what would you do Emma?’ and I’ve thought this through I really have. Please do feel free to share my idea with the BBC and we may just get Sewing back on the telly.

My idea for ‘The Real Great British Sewing Bee’

Week 1


Week 2

Textile art

Week 3


Week 4


Week 5

Sofa coverings

Week 6


Week 7


Week 8


Week 9


Week 10 -2hr program

The grand finale!

The contestants get a blank room and have to fill it with with items they have made BUT they get to remake items they want to. They are judged on their finished room.

Each week is a different theme and an ‘expert’ introduces the theme and we, the audience, get to learn about it and see projects we could make. The contestants have to make a given project and the expert helps to judge.

I would like the workroom set to be actually a real workroom that the BBC put in an area of the country that could benefit from such a thing and it would be left to the locals with a person employed to coordinate lessons and classes (this is my utopian idea people so I’m just going for gold). The workroom would change to a new place each series.

The book that would inevitably accompany the series would be filled with projects that are useful and have been tested and the patterns would work. There would be so many different types of sewing to try that it really would be a good buy and not just a quick book knocked out off the back of a bandwagon.

So there is my idea.

I told you I had thought about this.

Sewing is so much more than dressmaking and I really want everyone to know that.

Sewing is more than a posh (it is beautiful) sets, fancy presenters with clever banter (Claudia is fab and I do like her) it’s about real people using real fabrics and patterns who, occasionally get shirty with their machines but make fantastic homemade things for the people they love.

I’ve enjoyed teaching my ‘wing it’s’, my ‘It’s not perfect!!!’s’ and especially my ‘Oh my God I did it!!!!!’s’ You have all been fabulous.

But I can’t sign the ‘Save the Great British Sewing Bee’ petition because, I’m so sorry to say, that I really don’t care if it’s on the telly or not.

And that, as a sewing teacher, I find really sad…



  • Thank you! I thought it was just me. I didn’t even get to the end of the first series.
    I am a home dressmaker but I too make so much more.

  • As a dressmaker too, the show actually drove me mad!
    Think your ideas for the show would be great to move it forward and more watchable xx

  • I couldn’t quite work out why I was resisting signing the petition, but I think you’ve summed it up perfectly!

  • Fantastic post and I would definitely sign a petition to get your idea on TV!

  • Excellent. Well said. So much more useful and constructive to make ” things” instead of rather useless ( for most of us) garments.

  • I have signed it but reading your blog I wish I hadn’t now. I don’t make clothes but I do do lots on your list. Much better format. Here’s hoping

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