Nostalgia and all things vintage have continually grown as trends in the fashion world and now it seems to be exploding on to our screens, and I’m not just talking period dramas and remakes of old series. It is undoubted that The Great British Bake Off was a huge success and reminded the viewing public that traditional baking is a skill to be proud of, not just something that we should leave to the professionals and our Grandmothers. The genius producers behind this hit show have now found another skill that was in danger of becoming extinct among the younger generations and turned it into a new television concept – sewing. The Great British Sewing Bee sees eight amateur sewers attempting various tasks that will be judged by top tailor on Savile Row, Patrick Grant, alongside WI legend May Martin. Although DIY crafting and sewing has been steadily on the rise recently, Sewing Bee is set to catapult it straight to the mainstream, leaving the Granny-ish stereotype trailing in its wake.

Counting sewing as one of your skills can be a huge asset when it comes to turning fashion into your own style as it enables you to customise anything to your exact taste or preferred fit, especially when it comes to genuine vintage pieces. Many fashionistas will know how crushing it can be to find an amazing vintage piece that just doesn’t hang right on your body, rendering it a no-buy, unless you could afford to have it professionally altered. However, if you knew your own way round a sewing machine, a once feared taking-in would be as easy as ironing the dress before you wear it.


I have had a ‘travel’ sewing machine for years now – not sure why it’s called a travel machine when it’s actually quite a hefty piece of equipment – but I’ve only recently begun getting it out to make alterations, it being particularly useful for taking in clothes that I bought before I started losing my baby weight. I would, of course, love to be the proud owner of an original 1940’s Singer – it might even be less prone to coming unthreaded than my current machine! I’ve also started practising the embroidery and appliqué skills that I first learned in secondary school, with a view to updating some of my plain tees, and made plans and purchases for adding vintage-look buttons to a simple brown cardigan. I do think that the easiest way to customise or update an item is to change the buttons (or add buttons!), as it doesn’t even involve amazing sewing skills, apart from the threading of the needle, which can seem to require somewhat of a qualification at times!


The Great British Sewing Bee began early this month on BBC2 and I shall endeavour to continue to watch with great interest and will of course be on the lookout for new ideas that I can sew into my own style.

By Louise Hayward

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