GBSB6 – Exclusive interview with week 5’s eliminated Bee!
To test the sewers’ handling skills, judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young kicked off the pattern challenge with a boned basque. The task required sewing together small pattern pieces for a precise fit and creating a tricky hook and eye fastening. Next, in the transformation challenge, the sewers transformed pyjamas and nightwear into summer dresses. Finally, the models returned to be fitted for two-piece ladies’ sleep set, each of which had to incorporate lace somewhere in the design. They needed to fit comfortably, and the luxurious fabrics had to be finished precisely and expertly!
While Therese’s outfit won garment of the week… it was Ali that left the show this week.
Here Ali talks about sewing and her experience on the show:
When did you first start sewing and why do you love it so much?
I think I was about 10 years when my mum showed me how to sew and we made an underskirt. It was beige nylon trimmed with blue lace! No I haven’t still got it! I can’t remember if I ever wore it!
I dabbled with the sewing machine through my teenage years but it wasn’t until I left school and started working at the tax office that I really got into sewing. There was a fantastic haberdashery in a department store in Leeds and I’d buy fabric from there and use the free patterns that came with magazines. I really got the bug and loved being able to go out knowing that no one would be wearing the same clothes as me.
I was always really methodical when following patterns so most of my makes were generally successful, but my mum was always on hand if I ever got stuck with anything.
What is your favourite garment to sew/or your speciality?
I think my favourite garment to sew would be a golf skirt, and I have been known to decide to make a new one just a couple of hours before I’m due to play!
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?
I wanted to be on the GBSB because every time I have watched it I’ve always thought ‘I could do that!’, mainly because I’m good under pressure due to my job as a paramedic. I wanted to be able to impress both the judges.
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 into the sewing room for the first time was so exciting! It was really weird because I felt like I had already been there with seeing previous shows. The sewing room was bigger than I imagined and so much busier because of the all the TV crew being there – I couldn’t believe how many were involved in the filming of it.
The worst challenge for me was definitely the transformation challenge. I’d say my mind went completely blank!
What was your best and worst moment?
I didn’t really have a worst moment. I was slightly nervous to be meeting all the other sewers, but I just knew we would all get on. I think all sewers are lovely! It must be what brings out our creative juices!
I had lots of amazing moments in my first week. I kept a diary of my experience so have just read through it to refresh my mind. I loved meeting my model for the first time and was so excited to make the tea dress for her, it suited her perfectly, and we just gelled straight away. I also loved meeting the judges and of course Joe – they were so easy to get on with and definitely put everyone at ease during the challenges.
How did you try and stay calm when things were going badly wrong or you ran out of time?
When things weren’t going according to plan I just kept saying to myself …‘it’s only sewing!’. I wasn’t in a life or death situation and I reminded myself I was doing this for fun.
Do you have a special attachment to a sewing tool?
I have favourite tools, like my clapper, but I wouldn’t say I have any special attachment to any of them.
In your sewing life: What has been your worst sewing disaster – and your biggest triumph?
About four years ago I made the Drapey Knit dress from one of the GBSB books. It was so unflattering on me and is probably my biggest sewing failure, but some of my blogging friends liked it and I ended up posted it to a friend in London who loved it and wore it to work!
My biggest triumph, now that’s tricky. I have three dresses which I made from a pattern. When I made the first one I took my time and made three toiles to perfect the fit. I still love these three dresses and now after perfecting the fit if I need a new dress for a special occasion that would be my go to pattern.
Do you make for family and friends as presents? And most asked for garment?
One year I made all my families Christmas presents, except for my son. I’ve made peg bags, make up bags, sewing kits, crocheted hats and scarfs. And for my mum, sister and niece I’ve made them Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dresses. My sister asked for one again for her birthday last October. The only problem I find when making things for other is parting with them – I love everything I make.
Describe your style, and how much of your own clothes do you make?
I wear a uniform for work so on my days off I dress fairly casual but love going out with my friends and having an excuse to make something new. I make casual tops and bottoms, dresses and jumpsuits, and also I really love making unique outfits to wear when I’m playing golf. I’ve also made quite a few outer wear garments – denim jacket style, lined coats and hooded jackets. I would say about 80% of my wardrobe is ‘me-made’.
Can you give a sewing tip for amateur sewers who have been enjoying the show?
I would say to take your time cutting out and prepping your fabric before you start to sew and you will find that the pieces fit together more accurately, and make a toile in some cheap fabric if your making something which is more fitting and might need slight adjustments. Also… PRESS PRESS PRESS! A well-made garment will never look good if the seams aren’t well pressed, it so important and can really take your sewing to another level.
Was it hard to keep a secret that you were going to be on the show?
It was hard to keep it a secret during filming. It felt like it was just a dream and I can’t believe that I was in it!
What is the best way to describe the relationship between this year’s Bees?
There was a real friendship between us. We were all so supportive of each other, I did think before I met them that I would make friends for life and I really did.
What will you take away from your experience of being on The Great British Sewing Bee?
That I can do anything! Some of the challenges really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I made garments that I would never have otherwise make.
Next for you in the sewing world?
Sewing is such a rewarding hobby, but it can also be a lonely one too! I’m also hoping to start making and selling golf clothes, at some stage. Most likely skirts initially. Lots of people have said to me in the past that I should and I’m hoping being on the Sewing Bee has given me the confidence to pursue this.
Paramedic Ali’s twin passions are sewing and golfing. These two worlds collide on the range where she showcases her colourful homemade golf clothes. In 2013 she started a sewing blog; its popularity led to her arranging meet ups with followers and one person has even travelled from Germany to be part of the action.
Aside from sewing, Ali’s been a paramedic for 23 years which has seen her deliver countless babies.
Follow Ali on Instagram at thimbers