GBSB6 – Behind the seams with the fourth Bee to be eliminated

Well sports week was ACE! To test the sewers’ ability to create practical and stylish sportswear, judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young kicked off the pattern challenge with a man’s rugby shirt. The task required a tricky combination of hard-to-handle stretch fabrics and a fiendishly difficult-to-construct placket. Then, in the transformation challenge, the sewers had to turn cagoules into miniature waterproof onesies for toddlers. Finally, the made-to-measure challenge involved tennis outfits! These needed to be perfectly fitted but allow enough freedom of movement to win a grand slam.

While Ali’s outfit won garment of the week… it was Hazel that left the show this week.

Here Hazel talks about sewing and her experience on the show:

 When did you first start sewing and why do you love it so much?

I first started sewing when I was about 10 years old as machine sewing was introduced to me at school in textiles class. However, before that I’d always been able to hand-sew things. When I was about 16 I tried to continue it as a hobby, but just made very simple things, basic waistcoats and skirts. I fell back in love with sewing out of necessity about a year and a half ago as I had what felt like a million weddings and I couldn’t afford to buy new outfits for all of them as I was on maternity leave. There, the passion was reignited. I love sewing because I’m at a stage where I can look at clothing and think I can definitely make this, which is a really empowering feeling.

Who was your mentor?

My unofficial mentor is my Aunty Sarah. She is my mum’s cousin and a seamstress and I was always fascinated by the things she would make for family members as she is not just a seamstress, but also a designer. You can take a piece of fabric in to her with no concept of what you want and she will design something phenomenal! Since starting to take sewing seriously she’s always there to answer any questions, help me redraft patterns, or just listen as I talk through the theory of what I want to do.

What is your favourite garment to sew?

My favourite garment to sew I would have to say is skirts, but that’s probably because I’m a lazy sewer! They for the most part are quite easy but very versatile. This year I have set myself a number of challenges to push me further out of my comfort zone.

Why did you want to be a Great British Sewing Bee and who did you want to most impress of the Judges, or both?  And when the sewing got tough, was Joe a welcome ally?

Honestly thinking back I didn’t really want to be on GBSB! I’d really enjoyed watching the last series with my mum, whether that meant her coming over to my house and watching, or watching in our respective homes and then calling each other for a debrief of the episode! Anyway my husband would listen to me as I’d tell him enthusiastically about a new technique I’d picked up because of the show, and at the end of the series he was the one who told me to apply for it. He thought that it would be a good confidence boost for me as I was suffering with postnatal depression and anxiety, and although I was attending group sessions and had improved greatly he thought that this was something that would just be for “me, Hazel” as opposed to “mother Hazel” or “wife Hazel” (if that makes any sense!). He was right, going on the show was the best decision I could’ve made during that time period as I got a bit of the “old Hazel” back and remembered that I’m good at something and have a talent and shouldn’t waste it!

It sounds rather silly but honestly, I hadn’t even thought about the judges, for me it was the concept of being in a TV show and sewing within a timed capacity. Patrick and Esme only became a reality during filming! Joe was definitely a welcome ally, he just broke the tension, and really helped to make not just myself but the whole team feel comfortable, and a reminder that it’s just a show.

Describe your experience on first walking into the sewing room on this year’s Sewing Bee, and which challenge were you fearing the most?

Walking onto set I was extremely nervous the room looked very strange with all of the cameras in it as on TV, you obviously don’t see any. So it was interesting seeing how many there actually were.

I was most nervous about the Made to Measure challenge as I felt that you didn’t have an excuse to get it wrong because I’d had time to practise it and pick out my fabric etc. It was a real demonstration of your skill and creativity against everyone else.

What was your best and worst moment?

The best moments for me were probably the transformation challenges, looking back I really enjoyed those challenges and the creativity that had to be used in order to get through them.

The worst moment for me was when I could see  where it had gone wrong.   Alas, when it airs I’ll just hide under a duvet when my tears are shown on national tv…

 How did you try and stay calm when things were going badly wrong or you ran out of time?

Most of the time I got through by thinking what will be will be –  Hazel you can’t stress, it’s amazing that you’re even here.

Do you have a special attachment to a sewing tool?

Nope not in the slightest, which made me really laugh when we started and a lot of the other contestants came with sewing boxes full of different needles and who knows what else because I’d never seen half the things before!

In your sewing life: What has been your worst sewing disaster – and your biggest triumph?

Probably the first thing I started sewing was for my best friend’s traditional wedding and it was terrible. It was meant to be a simple midi length lace dress. It was baggy and I felt not flattering. So I decided to cut it in half and make a top and skirt. The day before the wedding I realised I needed an open ended zip as a fastening and couldn’t find one so had to use hook and eyes, it was terrible. At the same time my friend had an issue with her tailor and begged me to make her a dress despite me telling her I’m not good enough. The dress I ended up making her was SO GOOD in comparison, everyone complimented her.  My outfit was definitely a disaster in hindsight, but it was the beginning of my sewing journey again!

Do you make for family and friends as presents?  And most asked for garment?

This year to develop my skills, I’ve said to my friends that I will make them an item of clothing of their choice for their birthdays. Currently I haven’t made anything… Whoops, but I have been asked to make, two dungarees; an outfit for my friend’s traditional wedding this year and a circle skirt using Ankara fabric.

Describe your style, and how much of your own clothes do you make?

My style is comfortable and practical. My new year’s resolution was to not buy any new clothes and to make my own clothes. If I can do it in 90 minutes with cameras and no time to plan, then I can do it with no time restraints!

Can you give a sewing tip for amateur sewers who have been enjoying the show?

My piece of advice would be to focus on mastering one type of garment. Initially I started making skirts, as you can’t really go wrong. Also when buying pattern pieces, they are usually labelled, pay attention to that and buy ones that say novice or easy.

Was it hard to keep a secret that you were going to be on the show?

Honestly, no, because I  didn’t believe that it was actually happening to me, and I’m naturally a very shy person so it’s not within my nature to big up my achievements.

What is the best way to describe the relationship between this year’s Bees?

Like a little family. Honestly the mix of ages and experience is amazing. I can go to anyone and ask for advice and not just with sewing, with life in general. It’s fantastic!

What will you take away from your experience of being on The Great British Sewing Bee?

That I can do anything if I put my mind to it, and you can’t grow if you don’t first get uncomfortable. However I am so glad as it’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself to date.

Finally, what’s next for you in the sewing world?

Go out of my comfort zone in regards to the things I make, currently I have an unfinished coat; and just continue to push myself creatively.

It was after the birth of her son that Hazel, 26, started sewing again having been taught by her aunt when she was a child and she loves to make matching outfits for herself, her husband and son. Sewing’s a creative outlet that’s given her confidence and allows her to carve out her own time and keep hold of her identity.

When she’s not sewing, or with her family, Hazel works for a charity that encourages social mobility by connecting young people with major companies. We really enjoyed watching Hazel on the show and if you’re keen to keep up with Hazel’s sewing progress after the show make sure to follow her on Instagram at helba_sews

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Categories: Great British Sewing Bee Series 6, Interviews Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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