GBSB6 – Meet the Sewing Bee finalists and the eliminated contestant
It was the all important semi-final of the Sewing Bee! Only four contestants remained so the pressure was on! First, the semi-finalists had to follow a pattern like none they’ve encountered before, to make a dress inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s in The Seven Year Itch. Next, was the transformation challenge, with the haberdashery transformed into a futuristic scrapyard. From the junk, the sewers had to create a science fiction-inspired outfit in just 90 minutes, making imaginative use of the hardware supplied. For their final challenge, the made to measure, the sewers took on the Jazz Age with a flapper dress inspired by films like The Great Gatsby. But only three of these four incredibly talented sewers could make it through to the grand final so one Bee had to leave the workroom… but first there was time for a quick dance!
— Sewing Bee (@sewingbee) June 17, 2020
GBSB6 – Exclusive interview with week 9’s eliminated Bee!
Sadly at the end of the episode Liz had to leave the show. Meaning Matt, Nicole and Clare proceed to the finale of series 6!
We spoke to Liz about her time on the show.
When did you first start sewing and why do you love it so much?
I first started sewing when my daughter was born. I made a quilt for her, and after that I realised I didn’t want to carry on making never-ending quilts so I bit the bullet and started making children’s clothes. Then I graduated to adult clothing, corsetry and lingerie in more recent years! I’ve been sewing seriously for about five years now.
Who was your mentor?
I didn’t have a mentor as such. I’m completely self-taught from sewing pattern instructions, YouTube tutorials and the wonderful social media sewing community (without whom I’d never be where I am now). My best friend Josie also sews and we will often ask each other if our outfits are handmade when we meet up.
What is your favourite garment to sew/or your speciality?
I particularly like sewing lingerie and corsets. I really enjoy the precision and focus needed for bra sewing. I also like working with stretch fabrics and making quite a lot of cosy jersey garments for myself and the kids.
Why did you want to be a Great British Sewing Bee and who did you want to most impress of the Judges?
I wanted to go on the Sewing Bee to really push myself to expand my horizons! I’d sewn mostly children’s clothing and underwear, with a few other garments here and there. I felt that taking part in the competition would really push me to try sewing things I had never considered sewing before, and expose me to new techniques.
Of course, having an alternative fashion sense made me really want to impress Esme, as she’s somewhat of a punk sewing idol! Both Patrick and Esme are tough to please, so it really gave me goosebumps when they were positive about something I’d sewn. Joe was an absolute sweetheart and really funny.
Describe your experience on first walking into the sewing room on this year’s Sewing Bee, and which challenge were you fearing the most?
When I first walked into the sewing room I was terrified and excited in equal measure! You really get the sense of being thrown in at the deep end and the reality of it all sinks in.
I was really dreading the transformation challenge the most, and maybe even the pattern challenge to some degree for the same reasons. The idea of having to think on your feet so quickly and with such challenging materials was really daunting for me. I like to spend a lot of time planning my makes, so to do things on the fly makes me uncomfortable. It has taught me that sometimes it’s better to just go for it without dwelling for weeks on what you might make. And to just go for it.
What was your best and worst moment that first week?
I think my best moment in the first week was the moment that the judges walked in and I realised “this is it!”
The worst moment was being judged for the pattern challenge. It takes so long and you’re stood waiting for your turn. I had a few moments where I was stood and realised I was unconsciously holding my breath and had to remind myself to breathe before I passed out.
How did you try and stay calm when things were going badly wrong or you ran out of time?
I didn’t do a great job of staying calm when running out of time. Having to remind myself to breathe seemed to be a recurring issue!
Do you have a special attachment to a sewing tool?
I actually don’t! I feel like I’m a pretty pragmatic sewer and tools are just tools. I try to splash out on the best I can afford, mostly just to preserve my own sanity.
In your sewing life: What has been your worst sewing disaster – and your biggest triumph?
I wouldn’t say I’ve had any huge sewing disasters that weren’t fixable given enough time. Very boring I know! I think the worst thing that has happened to me (Bee disasters not withstanding) is the time I made a bra and realised the band was somehow about 3″ too small. That was disheartening!
Do you make for family and friends as presents?
I’m a very selfish sewer and only sew for myself, my partner and my children. I have sewn baby clothes for friends and family before, some were appreciative, some not so much so I don’t bother these days.
Describe your style, and how much of your own clothes do you make?
I have an alternative gothy-punky-skater style. I rarely wear dresses and skirts, as I prefer my skinnies and big boots. I’m trying to move towards mainly wearing me-made clothes and underwear, although I don’t imagine I will be phasing out my store bought clothes for quite a while as I wear my clothes until they’re dropping to bits. I’m pretty stuck in the same style of dressing as I was since I was in my early 20s so the things that last (like jeans) have really lasted. I still have a pair of jean shorts from my early 20s (yes they still fit).
Can you give a sewing tip for amateur sewers who have been enjoying the show?
A tip for an amateur would be “Just have a bash!”. Some people (myself included) can get really stuck in the anxiety procrastination of “what if I can’t do it/what if it goes wrong?” Sometimes you just have to get stuck in. It’s the only way to learn.
Was it hard to keep a secret that you were going to be on the show?
It was SO HARD to keep the secret.
What is the best way to describe the relationship between this year’s Bees?
This year’s Bees are an eclectic bunch who all got on really well!
What will you take away from your experience of being on The Great British Sewing Bee?
I’ll take away some friends for life (my fellow Bees) and a massive sense of accomplishment. I learned new skills and met some fantastic people. I had the most fun time and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
What was the highlight for you in the series so far?
Having Patrick tell me that the fit on my sleepwear was “perfection” in Episode 5 was really an amazing moment. I was worried about the fit of the shorts because they were self-drafted, and when they fitted well, I heaved a huge sigh of relief!
What was your favourite make?
My favourite make was the tennis outfit in Sportswear [Episode 4]. It was just such fun to design and sew, and when my model was wearing it she just looked so amazing!
Which week challenged you the most?
This will come as no surprise but the rugby shirt in Sportswear week just had me on the back foot from the beginning. I don’t know why I had such a hard time with that, because looking back on it the placket probably isn’t as complicated as it felt in the sewing room. Struggling with the placket just snowballed into making other silly mistakes, which made it into a really bad day.
Sportswear week was by far and away the worst week in the sewing room for me. Lots of tears and frustration with myself for having sewn such a perfect collar and then having to rip it off and make a dogs dinner of attaching it the right way up. I don’t even know what I was thinking about in the transformation challenge. Least said about that the better I think.
How has sewing helped you throughout Lockdown?
Lockdown has been surprisingly busy around here! Working from home full time, trying to home-school the children, feed everyone, get enough exercise, do the housework and gardening…it’s non-stop. So sewing time feels very precious indeed. Sewing (and making in general) is always very cathartic for me. When I feel like the world is going to pieces, it helps me to feel like I’m making progress on sewing projects and have something to show for my time.
Liz loves goth punk style and through being creative with patterns and using a palette of black and grey she’s been able to build her own homemade wardrobe.
After graduating from University Liz went into product management and currently works for an outdoor power equipment company. She lives with her partner Andy in a happy blended family with their children from previous relationships.
Follow Liz on Instagram at x_sewingpunk_x