I wrote this post back in October, but couldn’t talk about it until now!
I got a call on my mobile and in less than two hours I found myself on the set for The Great British Sewing Bee, rifling through the on-screen sewing supplies and marveling at the endless array of haberdashery available to the contestants! The next day I was whisked off for an emergency manicure, and before I knew it, I was demonstrating sewing techniques in front of two cameras under the bright lights on set!
Now, before you jump to any conclusions, no, I was not a contestant! (I did apply again this year, but my Mexican holiday fell right over their filming dates, and since starting my pattern business, I’m ineligible now anyway). I stepped in at short notice to help the production team with some extra “how-to” videos they film for BBC Learning, to teach people how to sew projects that relate to the challenges made in the show. Kinda like saying “You know that cool thing that you just saw a contestant make? Well, look how simple it is to make something similar!”
For this, they needed someone who could sew (obviously!), write sewing instructions which could then be translated into cues for the cameramen, editors, and voice over artists, and also perform well in front of the cameras. And those three things are pretty much what I excel at and enjoy doing, so it was a massively enjoyable day for me!
One thing that surprised me though, is that I never quite realised how fast I talk, nor how fast I sew! The first 20 minutes were an exercise in s-l-o-w-i-n-g everything down to half-speed so that the poor cameramen could re-focus onto the next object I was reaching for, or to tell them in advance “ok, I’m going to pin these together starting from my right” so they’d know where to point their lenses. I did the demonstrations on set in the Sewing Room (there’s also a Haberdashery on set, which is where the lovely Ellie was filming her demonstrations at the same time), using the same sewing station, cutting table, and pressing station that the contestants use. We were filming right before the final episode was due to take place, so I even got to see some of the winning garments up close, and they were every bit as good as I’d expect from the finalists!
It was also really fun to see the wonderland of fabrics and supplies provided on set – the tools were all of really high quality, and even I got to use some gadgets I’d been introduced to before, like the Flexicurve ruler, and a magnetic pin tray (the latter is totally going on my WishList!). We got to sew on nice (but basic – on purpose!) Janome machines, and I was tickled to see they used the same Bernina 800DL overlockers that I have at home, too. The set had the full range of Gutermann threads, more ribbons, bias tape, and trims than you could imagine, and a full stock of zippers at their disposal, too. And that’s not even talking about the rolls of high quality fabric piled everywhere!!
After a full day filming my three demonstrations (the boys shorts, peplum remake, and bow tie), I even got to witness a bit of classic GBSB tv magic – what the crew called the “beauty shots”, where the garment slowly spins around for the cameras! I’m not used to seeing something I sewed slowly spinning on a posh dressform with lots of lights and cameras focused on it!
In case you doubt that the nicely manicured hands in the videos are mine (I was asked to remove my rings and Fuel Band, after all!), I made sure to wear entirely FehrTrade clothing – my blue neopreney travel skirt, a black silk jersey top (which I never quite got around to blogging), and underneath it all, my turquoise lingerie set. So go and have a look at the videos and think to yourself, “I know those hands!”.
Go watch my BBC How To videos – You don’t need to be in the UK!
Has anyone applied for Series 3, or for the American pilot yet?