Myself and my friend from Liverpool Sewing Club Jan visited the first ever Great British Sewing Bee Live at the Excel in London a fortnight ago and it was AMAZING!
We travelling down in the Friday, visited Liberty and went to see Kinky Boots the musical in the evening. The show is fabulous and we have brilliant seats in row B so had a great view. I’d definitely recommend seeing it and if it goes on tour and comes to Liverpool I’ll definitely be going again!
We then spent the whole weekend at GBSB Live and am very glad we bought two-day tickets.Although I do kinda wish we’d waited till closer to the time to book them as we paid almost £30 each and there were some great discounts later. At least booking so far in advance meant we got spaces on two great workshops: The Maker’s Atelier Origami Top with Claire Tyler and Perfect Piping with Celia Banks, I’ll go into more detail later in this post.
I wore the new dress I’d made specifically to visit the show, using the amazing Alexander Henry Home Sewing is Easy fabric from Fabrics Galore!.
As we were wandering along the waterfront from our hotel to visit The Great British Sewing Bee Live at the Excel, we met the lovely mother and daughter Julie & Stacie:
We had a plan to work our way round the stall methodically but got distracted by shiny things, oops! I did have fun over at the Love Sewing Magazine who had a magazine cover to pose in front of and become a ‘cover star’
We also bumped into the lovely Paul Clarke (season 3 GBSB contestant) and his partner Neil. Paul does a lot of demos at my local fabric store Abakhan Fabrics in Birkenhead, so I’ve met him a few times and he’s a fab bloke with rather similar taste in fabric to me!
More random wandering took us to the ‘Absolutely Fabulous – Creating the Costume!’ exhibit, which I browsed whilst Jan chatted to Debbie Shore on the Create & Craft stand.
Met up with the lovely Kara and wandered round the stalls, spending way too much money and enjoying the fabulous displays on goods on sale. How stunning is this dress and dolls from Sew La Di Da Vintage!?
Also had to pop along and see Stitch Fabrics after being one of the first to tell them about the show and make sure they were visiting!
I also saw the lovely folks and Fabrics Galore and met my headless twin!
We then spent the afternoon doing a workshop with Claire Tyler making the Makers Atelier Origami Top. I’ll blog about the workshop and the pattern at a later date, as I need to do a little finishing off on the top. Claire is a great tutor and can happily recommend her classes. Myself and Jan enjoyed making the top and they came together so quickly that we actually ended up running out to Doughty Fabrics, buying another meter of jersey and making a second one!
After the workshop we popped round to see the lovely Melissa of Fehr Trade and her stunning sportswear pattern range. I even ended up buying the ‘Knot-Maste Yoga Set’ pattern! (although it could be a while before I make the trousers as my bum’s too big for the pattern, oops!)
We then met up again with Kara, Julie, Stacie and Beatrice and went to the pub for tea (of course)
We tried to be more logical in our approach on Sunday and started at Melissa’s stall then worked our way round, however 11am was quickly upon us and we had to take our seats for the Super Theatre. Jenny Eclair was an amazing host as she introduced the alteration challenge contestants, each working with a former Sewing Bee contestant. The GBSB judges Patrick Grant & Esme Young were then interviewed, and Lauren Guthrie provided a demo on using snaps. The winners of the alteration challenge were announced and the hour was over!
A little more wandering, a bit of lunch and it was time for our second workshop. This time with Celia Banks of Sew Fundamental – Perfect Piping. Having never done any piping before I was a tad nervous but it was great to see a familiar face in the form of Harriet and her mum Lindsay who were my sewing buddies at The Sewing Weekender
The workshop went really well, Celia is a great teacher and I learnt loads and found that piping wasn’t as scary as I thought and I’m looking forward to adding it to any future projects.
We visited Love Sewing Magazine , so I can be a coverstar again and I decided to sign up for a subscription.
Wandered round a few more stalls and had a lovely chat to Laura from Sew Different and bought her Everyday Chic Dress pattern.
We then decided it was time to watch the final fashion show of the day, with patterns from both the ‘Big 4’ and the independant designers with stands at the show:
Caught a quick glimpse of Lauren in the Live Demo Theatre:
By this time myself and Jan were all shopped out, so decided it was good time to take advantage of the Champagne Bar:
The Vintage Gallery was amazing, full of amazing Liberty garments, I’ve picked out a few of my favourites:
A quick wander round the Bees Gallery was great to see some of the garments from the show up close.
Then time for the return train trip home! Although I can’t finish this without showing you all my purchases from the show.
My fabric purchases:
The purple embossed scuba is from Simply Fabrics;
The colourful peacock feathered jersey is from Stitch fabrics,
The Christmas jumper & buttons cotton are from Sew Sew fabrics;
The galaxy jersey is from Girl Charlee UK
The purple flecked jersey is from Doughtys.
How AMAZING is this Alexander Henry ‘Frida La Catrina’ border print from the lovely Fabrics Galore (poor lighting sorry, the background is actually a dark blue not black)
My pattern purchases:
The Sew Me Something Bianca coat;
The Sew Different Everyday Chic Dress
The bottom 2 patterns from The Fold Line’s swap. I’ve been after a jersey blazer pattern for a while & the Debbie Shore bag is cute 😊
The practical purchases:
1m of fusable fleece from Empress Mills;
Boot socks from Community Clothing,
A subscription to Love Sewing Magazine.
Myself and Jan had a great weekend at The Great British Sewing Bee Live, it’s so good to see a dedicated dressmaking only show, finally!. I loved every minute and am really hoping to be able to afford a visit next year. Although I do wish they would follow in the style of The Knitting & Stitching Show and have one up North as well, so I can spend more money on fabric and less on travelling and accommodation! 🙂
On Sunday (23rd November) I organised a day trip for some of the ladies from Liverpool Sewing Club to the Knitting & Stitching Show over in Harrogate. It was a very full on & long day and now I’m feeling sufficiently recovered to be able to write about it! This is the third time we’ve attended and a tip to the show, fooling by dinner at Betty’s Team Rooms is now starting to become a sewing club tradition.
Rosie, me, Nele, Pollie
The drive over to Harrogate took a few hours and after a little drama finding somewhere to park we got started on a visit to the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show. The show can be a tad overwhelming as there is so much to see with the exhibitions and stalls split across a number of different halls on the ground floor and then downstairs to the workshops, university fashion students display areas & refreshments area.
There were lots of exhibitions to see and unless you visit for a couple of days there just isn’t enough time to visit all the exhibitions and stalls. As I’m a dressmaker I felt drawn to the ‘Black Sheep – The Darker Side of Felt’ exhibition, especially as the lead item was this purple felted dress.
The exhibition explores the edgier side of this extraordinary and versatile material. More information about the show can be found on their blog: https://blacksheepfelt.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/about-the-show/
Downstairs there was a number of displays showcasing the fabulous work of fashion and textile students from a number of different universities and colleges:
The wide range of stalls at this years show spanned 3 different large halls, offering a wide range of knitting and stitching supplies and services. Nele was looking to buy an overlocker, so spend a fair amount of time at the sewing machine stalls and eventually managed to get a great deal on a Janome, which she is very excited about being delivered soon! A few of my favourites stalls:
Helen, me & Lisa on the Simply Solidas stall
I love the rainbow of bright solids on display here as well as the textured basics. Pollie bought some of the 505 spray for basting as they’re one of the cheapest around for this and it can difficult to buy online due to legal restrictions on posting aerosols! Had a good natter with the lovely Lisa and Helen who was helping out due to Justine’s rather recent delivery of her daughter
M Rosenberg & Son
I always make sure I visit these at any sewing shows as they usually have bold bright abstract fabrics, according to the staff they are Italian silk designs printed onto high quality cotton. I love these designs and the cotton is soft and silky, an example can be seen in the back of this photo. Unfortunately as this visit was in the afternoon of the last day of the show they’d sold out, so no purchase for me this time!
I love the fabrics available from Japan Crafts, so unusual with beautiful intricate designs. They also sell great craft kits to make some unusual bags and brooches. I’ve bought the Kanzashi Flower Brooch Kit and some of their unique mini charm packs from previous shows which I’ve made into the flap on a messenger bag and an autumn themed cushion. I bought another one from the show as it was really pretty but not sure yet what it’ll be come!
Lots of Leather choices from Simple Way
Simple way sell unique leather kits so that you can make your own leather bags and accessories. I’ve already made a purple and green leather satchel from one of their kits which I love and get lots of compliments on. The kits are great value and work out a lot cheaper than a mass produced, machine made commercial leather satchel. Plus you get to say “I made this” and get all the compliments! The kits come with everything you need, even including the blunt needle and leather thread to sew with.
I decided to treat myself to another kit at the show but wanted something a little different from the satchel, so went with the Monet Messenger Bag Kit. You can also buy these on their website and just choose a colour and it’ll be sent out to you in the post. However as they make these kits themselves and the staff are lovely and friendly they’ll let you customise he kit, which is what I did last time by ringing them. This kit I have chose the bright pink leather as the body and then they’ll add a buckle to the flap for me as I’m not comfortable without a proper fastening on a bag. I chose both the buckle and strap to be in black leather, and added a shoulder pad top make it more comfortable as I tend to put loads of stuff in my bag! The shoulder pad will be in the pink to match the bag body. All of that for just £44, isn’t that great value! So excited for my kit to be delivered in a few weeks.
Simple Way’s Monet Messenger Bag
The Virgin Of Guadalupe fabric
I always like to have a look at this stall as they always have a great selection of Liberty Fabrics and Alexander Henry Fabrics. I love both of these designers, the abstract designs of some Liberty and the soft luxurious feel of their tana lawn whilst the unusual, fun and often daft designs of Alexander Henry always keep me intrigued. I just loved this “Virgin Of Guadalupe” design of Alexander Henry’s and was very tempted to buy half a meter as I reckon it’d make a fabulous messenger bag flap!
Workshop – Perfect Fit & Finish, Bust & Neckline
This year I chose to do a workshop along with Nele. The workshop was run by Gillian Hargreaves from The Yorkshire School of Sewing. Gillian is a very good teacher, patient, well spoken and happy to explain things. However I was rather disappointed with the class. I expected to learn how to fit a bust and neckline, and all I really learnt was how to sew a curve and how to under stitch, both of which I could already do. The fact that the sewing machines provided by the show clearly weren’t checked or in full working order was also disappointed. A number of them still had the free machine embroidery feet on from the previous class, so students had to waste precious time changing them back. Also my machine had been left on an odd stitch, so didn’t sew properly at first. After a ‘reboot’ it started sewing correctly but the started skipping stitches and gathering the fabric so badly that I had to unpick it twice and ended up missing what Gillian was saying! Another lady had left the class early, so I was able to use her machine and Gillian was very happy to help me catch up.
Me at the workshop
Nele at the Workshop
Gillian assisting Nele
My ‘completed’ bodice front
Therefore I would recommend investigating thoroughly what is to be taught in a class before signing up and I don’t recommend taking a class on a Sunday as the sewing machines don’t appear to be very well taken care of over the weekend and by Sunday afternoon, are too tired!
This least amount I’ve ever come home with from a sewing show, partly due to time spent at the workshop, having an injury to my foot, which meant walking slowly round as well as M Rosenberg not having any of the Italian cotton left. However I did also make a purchase from Simple Way who will deliver my kit in approximately 3 weeks.
Little purse kit from Simple Way, dress stand cotton fabric (can’t remember who from), stained glass stretch lace from The Shuttle, mini charm pack from Japan Crafts and Gutterman threads from Elna
After a long day the Knitting & Stitching Show it’s great to retire to Betty’s Tea Rooms for dinner and of course a glass of mulled wine and a selection from the dessert trolley! This visit is now becoming a sewing club tradition and was greatly enjoyed by all of us. A great way to finish up a great visit to Harrogate.
My meal at Betty’s Team Rooms – mulled wine, pork schnitzel, mocha toret adn finished off with Christmas coffee
Our desserts – raspberry macaroon, engadine torte, praline & chocolate eclair and mocha torte
Enjoying our desserts at Betty’s Tea Rooms
Did you visit the show this year? What did you think? What were your highlights? Please go share in the comments below.