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  1. The Great British Sewing Bee returns for an eight-part series presented by Claudia Winkleman. Ten of the country's best home sewers face three challenges to make or alter an item of clothing under intense time pressure. Each week, their creations are judged by Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin, until one of them is crowned Britain's best amateur sewer.

    BBC 2 Tuesdays 8PM or Catch up on Iplayer:


    Series Trailer:

    Episode 1

    The contestants are tested on three core fabrics: cotton, wool and silk.

    The first episode tests the sewers on the three core fabrics in a dressmaker's cupboard: cotton, wool and silk. The surprise Pattern Challenge tasks the sewers with making a simple tunic top out of straightforward cotton. Some excel at producing the perfect top, some struggle to finish, and others cut corners - to their cost.

    In the Alteration Challenge the sewers demonstrate their ability to transform a plain high street woollen skirt in just 90 minutes, creating mini skirts with frills, pencil skirts with peplums, and dungarees.

    Finally, the sewers face the toughest of core fabrics when asked to fit a made-to-measure silk nightgown for a model.

    Episode 2

    The contestants are tested on their ability to match and combine patterned fabric.

    Claudia Winkleman welcomes the nine home sewers back to the sewing room to face three more challenges. This episode tests their ability to match and combine patterned fabric. First the judges, Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin, surprise the sewers with a pattern for a pleated skirt. The catch is that they must match the pattern of the fabric across those pleats without changing the size of the skirt, which catches a few of the sewers out.

    They must show their ingenuity by combining two patterned men's shirts into one garment - the results range from a little sailor dress to a boob tube.

    Finally, they make made-to-measure men's patterned pyjamas which must both match across the seams and fit their male model perfectly.

    Episode 3

    The contestants face the most fitted made to measure challenge yet.

    Claudia Winkleman hosts The Great British Sewing Bee as the eight amateur sewers prepare to do battle again in three challenges designed to test their ability to handle stretchy fabric.

    The judges - Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin - first give them a surprise pattern for a simple pair of leggings with resulting snug and saggy bottoms.

    Next the sewers are free to do whatever they like to turn an oversized t-shirt into a completely different garment - and they come up with some ingenious alterations, from a toddler's leotard to an asymmetric mini dress.

    Finally, they face the most fitted made to measure challenge yet.

    Inspired to get sewing yourself?

    Come to our weekly Stitch Classes in Brighton & Hove. We even use the same Janome sewing machines as used in the programme!

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    Interview With C&H Fabrics, Western Rd, Brighton

    C & H Fabrics Ltd was started on 1st April 1933 by C.W. Hamblin and Mr H. Closs, and has now grown into a huge store over several floors with a great selection of fabrics, wools, haberdashery products and many other household and gifts items. 

    We had the fantastic opportunity to interview Diana Hing and James Hamblin, the manager and Personnel of the store, to learn more about the store and the products it sells. 

    • What is the main audience of your business?

      Up to 5 years ago the main audience was aged 45 and over and predominantly female, but in the last few years this has lowered to age 35 and over. Also many more young people has been buying products for school projects,which is encouraged by the10% discount to products for school work. 

    • What do you think are the popular sewing products bought?

      On the whole the product sales are very even, although C&H do sells huge numbers of scissors, people really appreciate good fabric scissors. The most popular editions are the Fiskars scissors, these are very good quality and last up to 10years before needing to be replaced. They also sell a lot of velcro, Wundaweb, and fabric dyes. The increased sales in fabric dyes has been quite recent, and is probably related the rise in young people buying from the store, and also the recent tie dye trends. A greater number of dyes are sold in the Brighton store than other stores across the country, which Diana believes is due to the greater interest in crafts in Brighton, as well as the outlook of older people here is in general younger and funkier.

    • What are the different types of fabrics that you sell?

      Interestingly the customers often follow the advice and ideas of the staff, as opposed to having fixed ideas themselves. They also find that wool is very popular, which may be as it is a natural fabric and also very easy to work with, as therefore popular with less experienced stitchers. They have also seen a rise in crafts and with this a shift towards the use of fabrics for craft projects as opposed to dress making. People coming to C&H expect quality and something different rather than simply cheap and cheerful. 

    • Personally what have you sewn or made that you have been most proud of?

      James, the area manager of C&H, isn't a regular crafter and stitcher, but when training for his position he knitted a scarf with the help of other members of staff in the store. Whereas Diana sews a lot, creating a variety of clothing and pieces for the home. Her favourite creation was the silk curtains and matching silk roman blinds she made for own home, and feels very proud when seeing them within her home. She also makes a lot of clothing, particularly skirts, which she makes from scratch without any pattern! 

    • Sewing, knitting and crafts are very fashionable hobbies now, what do you think has sparked this?

      Crafts and sewing became fashionable when celebrities like Julia roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow started knitting 6 years ago. Kirsty Allsopp has also been a massive influence, especially following her an episode of 'Kirstys Homemade Home' in which she made pom poms, C&H sold out of pom pom kits. Also Gok Wan brought embellishing into fashion, helping to set trends, and also increase the sales of materials to embellish clothes from home. Usually as well as materials for dress making, C&H also sells a lot of fabric and wool for creating dog beds and coats, which mimics the trend of pet fashions and clothing.  

    • Do you think that the Great British Sewing Bee has had a big major affect on the sales of sewing and craft materials? And how?

      The Great British Sewing Bee has been a great influence on sales of fabrics and dress making materials. People nowadays want to be different and individual, especially with the increase in mass produced cheap fast fashion.  

    • How do you think that young people could become more excited about sewing and crafts?

      Diana believes that by getting young children to touch and feel fabrics, such as angora and velvet, they would become more interested in fabrics, craft and sewing from an early age. Also teaching people more about the background of fabrics and the technical aspects, for instance that silk draws up more colour, thereby looking more vibrant. We also need to raise awareness that young people can create something and get a result they are pleased with , they just need to go for it! People are put off be crafts and sewing as they see it as complicated, but Diana says people ought to “just get a lovely fabric and go for it!”.

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    Last week we had a chat to students on the Tuesdays & Thursday Stitch Mornings, our weekly 'make whatever you want' sewing classes. This is what they had to say...

    Keely (40) from Hove is currently creating an exact copy of a vintage 40’s dress she is already owns.

    She says ‘I enjoy the independence as I can make what I want to make’ and that the teaching is ‘helpful and flexible and I can work at own pace and can do something different.’
    To create the dress she has mocked up a basic dress from the Burda 7137 pattern, then adapted the design with Kat’s help. She is interested in returning, to learn garment making and how to use a sewing machine. She also wants to do upholstery for her business. 


    Louisa, 27, Brighton, who sells clothing in Brighton’s Snoopers Paradise (Kensington Gardens BN3) is currently making stretch jersey knickers from our pattern, with a view to making and selling them in her collection.

    She says ‘I have never done this before, but it’s easy with professional guidance for each step. As a complete beginner I expected to make a lot of mistakes but with Kat’s guidance I had a lovely pair of knickers in 2 weeks, I enjoyed it so much I am definitely going to come back for more.’
    She is interested in returning to add more for her collection or to make something completely different.


    Ingrid Drinkwater, 41, Hove is currently making cushions.
    She says ‘I enjoy everything and the teaching is very good, I would like to make a bag next.
    She will be returning this week to copy a thick felt & leatherette Ipad cover which she saw in a magazine.


    Stephanie, 31, a Youtuber and musician from Hove is currently working on the pattern measurements for 90’s style trousers.

    She says ‘She enjoys cutting the fabric and the final stages and result’ and that ‘Kat is really good, patient and the teaching is not awkward.’
    She will be booking onto our tailoring techniques course next.


    You can make anything you fancy in our 5 times a week all year round classes – now on Tues and Thurs mornings, Sun afternoons & Mon and hurs evenings.  Let us know by email before you come along what your project is and we’ll advise you what to bring.

    To see more details or to book click here.

  4. How To Make a Hair Corsage!


    A step by step guide of how to make a hair corsage - perfect for wearing at formal events and weddings, or as a gorgeous gift!

    I used a selection of fabrics, ribbons, lace and a button, but the beauty of these corsages is that you can use any similar materials that take your fancy! So your new hair corsage can be for any occasion or match any piece of clothing! 


    STEP 1

         hair corsage 1 

    Create long folds with a length of ribbon into a fan shape, sewing the folds into place as you go.


    STEP 2

        hair 2      hair 3      hair 4

    Repeat STEP 1 several times, but instead using different ribbons or fabrics for each layer. Ensure that each new layer is smaller, therefore not covering the layer underneath. The hair corsage ought to begin to look similar to a rosette. 


    STEP 3

          hair 5

    Cut a length of lace or ribbon that is long enough to tie around your head. Turn over the corsage and sew this onto the back. Ensure that the stitches cannot be seen on the front. 


    STEP 4

          hair 5

    Sew or glue a button, or any other small item you wish, into the centre of the corsage.


    Finished, your new hair corsage! Its that simple, and looks gorgeous!