Patrick Grant discusses the new series of the Sewing Bee!
From Sewing Bee to eco-fashion, we find out what to expect from the much-anticipated BBC show with judge and sustainability champion, Patrick Grant.
Find out more about the brand new series of the Sewing Bee in our dedicated #GBSB5 news feed on the website.
Was it nice to be back in the Sewing Bee workroom after such a long break?
It was brilliant, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve been in there and it felt like coming home.
It must have felt different with Joe there instead of Claudia, did he bring a different energy to the room?
He’s a very different personality, he’s equally as lovely, and funny. I think it brought a very fresh dynamic and a very new energy as you’ll see when you watch the show. I didn’t think anyone could be dafter than Claudia, it’s possible!
Do you feel like this season is offering something different to previous years?
We’ve continued to increase the difficulty of the challenges, I think we’ve consistently done that over the seasons and as sewists become far more accomplished in the broad skillset they have, it’s become commonplace. Everyone knows if they come on the show they’ve got to be able to sew wovens, jersey, stretch fabric and technical fabric, we’ve had to continue to find ways to challenge [them] and we certainly have challenged them. We always start with cottons in the first week and we set them a really difficult task in the first challenge which they all handled brilliantly – we were thinking ‘how are we going to split them apart.’
We set very difficult challenges and we continued to add new things into the mix of challenges. Both Esme and I are very concerned about the state of what is now known as the fashion industry. The clothing industry is now running away with itself in a frenzy of consumption. We’ve always done a challenge about re-using and repurposing old clothing and old textiles, our transformation challenge has always been about bringing new life to an old garment and we did a week when all three of the challenges used repurposed textiles. We believe people have to start to look at the value of their clothes in a different way. These products are not disposable or should not be disposable and so we did a lot on that in one episode which I’m really pleased about, I think it’s a really important thing for Sewing Bee to stand up for.
The vintage challenges always seem to create wonderful pieces from the contestants, is this year going to be as inspiring?
That’s firmly established as core week on Sewing Bee and we love it. For me it’s really interesting to see how little clothing has changed in the last century and how much those clothes can still be worn in a contemporary way, reinforcing the message that these things have long lives. So much of the clothing that’s made today will not exist in a useable form in 10, 20…40 years, certainly not 100 years.
We’ve heard that you’ve had input into a couple of the challenges so will we see some male clothing appearing?
We’ve got plenty of male competitors and we’ve got plenty of male clothing.
As a champion for sustainability in clothing production how important was it to introduce this message to the show?
I put the suggestion [of sustainability] forward to our producers and the producers loved the idea. There was no sense of anyone not being on board with this being a really important issue and I was very pleased that it went through. I think we constructed three really good challenges which I think viewers will enjoy, I know that our competitors really enjoyed them.
The saying goes in television, never work with dogs or children. How did you find the dog coat challenge?
It was a great challenge. Textile-based products have become so cheap that people no longer bother, people buy a tent, take it to a festival and can’t be bothered to pack it up and take it home, thousands of these things are discarded every year and so we decided to do a challenge where they had to turn that [tent] into something new. It’s making the point that we’ve got to stop throwing this stuff away, this stuff is valuable.
Do you think all the contestants rose to the challenge?
I think the general standard was exceptional. Everyone was at a really accomplished level and there were some who were absolutely excellent. They were a great bunch and really creative too, they made some absolutely beautiful things. I think it was the most fun to film and we had a really lovely time with them. The final, honestly was just the most joyous thing, it was great, I can’t wait for people to see it.
Do you and Esme get chance to see each other much outside of the show? Is there a judges WhatsApp group?
Esme, Joe and I have a WhatsApp group. Esme and I went to see Joe doing stand-up in Birmingham last week we all went out and we see each other quite a lot. Esme’s world and my world are quite closely linked, I do quite a lot of lecturing at fashion colleges, I work with some of her colleagues and Joe’s about quite a lot so we see him quite often too. It’s fun, we’re a good gang. The sewists have a WhatsApp group too but Esme and I were not invited to join that one.
Image from www.communityclothing.co.uk
For readers who don’t know can you explain how far the Community Clothing enterprise has come since you launched it?
It’s come a long way, we’ve created in excess of about 14,000 hours of skilled work in the UK. Given that we’ve spent about 50p on marketing in the last two years it’s amazing how well it’s done. I’m delighted but I’m not surprised because what we’re offering is really beautiful-quality clothing, we use exceptional quality, beautifully designed stuff made in really amazing factories in the UK. I’m so pleased that people love the idea of it. It’s about making clothes that people can actually feel proud to wear and it’s making clothes that the people who make them feel really proud to make.
Find out more
The Great British Sewing Bee will be back on our screens on the 12th February. Stay up to date on all the latest news by joining our club.
To learn more about Community Clothing, visit www.communityclothing.co.uk