The Great British Sewing Bee

The following is a guest post.

I remember my Grandmother telling me that civilian life during the Second World War was very much a community pulling together, even the in the main towns and cities you helped your neighbours and friends and friends of friends.

I guess a part of me believes that is the absolutely the right thing to do, although now in a 21st Century with the news showing daily horrific events of innocent people being duped by those who want to cause harm even fatal harm to others. So do I help people, even strangers? Yes I do, if I can although I never put myself into a situation where I might be compromised, hurt or sued. Yes, we live in a let’s sue everyone culture. Perhaps accountability has taken a step too far?

Whenever there is a crisis of some description, somewhere in the world we see images beamed into our living rooms of people, strangers helping each other. The recent tornado in the USA immediately springs to mind, as does the tragic events of 911.

Here in the UK there has been a TV show produced by the BBC called “The Great British Sewing Bee”.

Sadly, I missed the show, but recently on my visit to the local library I selected the book that was produced to accompany the show and instantly I was transported back to my childhood when my Mum often made my clothes. Back then it felt to me as a child that it was seriously not cool.  I did not see the skill, effort and determination to produce something that was lovely and unique, even if a pattern was used. Oh the world through a child’s eyes.

Furthermore, I read that the Queen at the time (the late Queen Mother), had held Sewing Bees at Buckingham Palace during the Second World War, to show her contribution to the war effort, and to bring back and produce a continuum of community to the country.

The Blue Room at Buckingham Palace was opened up and women who worked at the Palace were invited to join the Queen to “Stitch for Victory” at the twice weekly event. The actions of the Royal Household inspired thousands of women across the country to join forces and participate in similar events.

So in these times of austerity, programmes such as these bring back our focus to wider society and perhaps inspire us to pick up a needle and thread, inspire us to have conversations with our family members who sew. Indeed, perhaps you have a relative who joined the Stitch for Victory at Buckingham Palace.

Do you belong to a sewing bee or alike? Leave a comment on why you enjoy it.

Julie Goucher is a Surrey girl, transplanted in Devon, where she lives with her husband and Border terrier called Alfie. Julie has a real passion for history and genealogy, antiques and book reading just to name a few. She can be found on her blog Anglers Rest. Read more of her guest posts here.


  1. says

    Despite being marked (not by me!) episode 1 is actually episode 4. I will investigate further & see if I can locate the correct episode 1. Apologies!

  2. Liz says

    I also haven’t seen this programme, most likely because I don’t sew! I know, what a pity. :( I can manage mending, and if I was really pushed, could produce a decent skirt…

    What I do watch, although not regularly, is The Great British Bake Off, Master Chef and presently I’m enjoying Hairy Bikers’ Best of British (which combines my love of humour, history and food).

    There was a series out awhile ago called Supersizers Go (to different periods of history). It was great fun, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins were the presenters, dressed in period costumes and sampled cuisine from those times.

    Oh dear, I’m terribly off topic. O.0

    Um, as far as austerity, one could make the argument that preparing meals at home is more frugal and healthy. Read a statistic that, on average, the British people spend £1,320 per year on takeaway. That translates to 12 meals a month!!

  3. Debs says

    I watched a couple of episode when I was visiting my friend in London in April. Another great british show….really enjoyed it. I bought the book as well.

  4. LESLIE says

    I HAD THE BOOK “MAKE DO AND MEND” lol you what happens to stuff you put up so nothing will happen to it “twlight zone’ if i can find it i’ll let you know , it was full of good things to help tide one over. im a diy person as well lol. sewing bee’s can be fun too.

  5. says

    Liz, I don’t my; go off topic! Supersizers Go does sound fun. As I was reading this bit of your post, It reminded me of the BBC programme (with book to accompany of course) of Victorian Pharmacy.

    The team dressed up and lived and worked just as those in Victorian pharmacy did. It was a fascinating series and a great historical and comparison tool to my profession.

    Meals at home are great and much better for you. 12 meals a month, wonder how old that stat is as takeaways are typically disposable cash. In actual fact, when I compare to the time I have spent in Australia there are less takeaways because eating out is actually cheaper.

    Shuffling off to see if I can find Supersizers on YouTube

  6. says

    The book is lovely! I have read it through twice and need to get a few more jottings down, things I recall from childhood etc and watching my Mum sew and purchase items ready for her next task. I do wish I had some photographs of those items she made, but sadly no.

  7. Helen Jones says

    I enjoyed Thek Great British Sewing Bee, I was pleasantly surprised to see that younger people have sewing skills, Lauren was brilliant!!!! she really tackled her tasks well and I was so pleased to see she has her own haberdashery shop, good for her. Even MORE pleasantly surprised to see men sewing. I am SERIOUSLY impressed!!!
    Everyone did an amazing job, it must be very hard to work under pressure, I know I would just fall apart!!!!