Diary of Spain in Lockdown - Welcome back Sewing Bee

Monday 27th April

On the rare occasions we manage to all sit down together in front of the telly, it’s usually to watch a cartoon or something on Disney Channel. Saturday was a prime example; Frozen II with popcorn, no mobiles and the lights off. So, I was delighted yesterday evening when I managed to get my four girls to join me to watch The Great British Sewing Bee. Admittedly the five-year-old spent the entire time playing with the tablet, but at least she was quiet and let us all enjoy being transported to the sewing room in Bermondsey in peace. And enjoy it we did!

We had great fun commenting on which wrap skirts we liked best in the pattern challenge, and which tea-dress was our favourite in the made to measure section, although I have to say that not one of the items in the men’s shirt transformation challenge was as good as the little nighties I made for my eldest daughters some 10 years ago from their dad’s old shirts. Although to be fair, I probably couldn’t have made them in the three hours that the contestants were allowed.

After an hour of swooning over fabrics, patterns and haberdashery, my fingers were itching to unroll some fabric, get out my scissors and start stitching something new, especially now as we can’t go out shopping. And it seems to have had a similar effect on the girls because María has been asking me when the next episode will be. We’ll have to wait until Wednesday at least.

It just shows the great quality of BBC programmes. To all intents and purposes the Sewing Bee is a reality show, but at the same time we can learn things from it, get ideas, be inspired. I thought I knew most of the sewing terms out there, but it turns out I don’t, two words: rouleau loops!

Yes, the show has an element of competition and there’s the rather unpleasant business of the weekly elimination of one sewer, but that is kept to a minimum, with not too much build up and over-egging of the pudding. It isn’t about divas and egos, it’s about sewing. As it should be.

By contrast, a few years ago a similar programme began here in Spain: Maestros de la Costura but, having been spoilt with the Great British Sewing Bee I was sorely disappointed. This Spanish version of the programme takes three hours to show what could probably be shrunk into 45 minutes tops. The focus is sadly not on the designs and stitching and fabrics, but on the arguments and fights between the sewers who clearly have little genuine talent other than being a bit gobby. The result is a sort of Big Brother meets EastEnders in the sewing room.

Hardly a fair reflection on sewing in Spain because during my years in here I have met many extraordinarily talented sewers and learnt a lot from them.

But with lockdown set to continue for some time yet, the new series of Sewing Bee could not have come at a better time. I just hope we have enough fabric and thread in the house and that we can find time in amongst all the home-schooling to get sewing.


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