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The Great British Sewing Bee Live – ExCeL, London

I wondered if the The Great British Sewing Bee TV show had still been on, things might have been different?

BRING BACK ....“The Great British Sewing Bee” ....... lol

I did think Live Show just lacked that bit of a buzz – It might have been nice the hear the upbeat, very catchy recognisable theme tune to the TV show being played somewhere around? I was surprised it being a Saturday and in the capital that the show wasn’t a lot busier than it was.

Yes it was nice to have the Catwalk Shows inspiring you with garments made from patterns from the big commercial pattern companies (Vogue, McCalls, Simplicity, New Look, Burda), as well as the smaller independents (By Hand London, Colette Patterns, Christine Haynes), after all who doesn’t like a fashion show?

Firstly the ExCeL is a first class, modern, relatively new conference centre (opened in November 2000), in a great location in London Docklands with the Emirates Air-Link cable cars linking the ExCeL with the 02. But I accessed it via the DLR (Dockland Light Rail). I love passing some of the Docks, my favourite being Limehouse with it Yachts in the marina and its nice living apartments as it brought back memories as I used to work for a company that their Head Office was Harbour Island, next one on from Canary Wharf and used to go down their to work once in a while.

The exhibits were well spaced out, with plenty of distance between each stand, which was good, so this made it easy to manoeuvre around the show and easy enough to get right up to and in the stands. In comparison The Knitting and Stitching show at Harrogate which is really cramped and when it’s busy which it usually is, you can hardly walk down each row and sometimes is difficult to even get anywhere near a stand (stall).

I got to say hello with Patrick Grant whilst at the London Sewing Bee Show when on his clothing-brand stand, whilst in-between one of the hour long talks (two a day) along with the TV shows other presenter Esme Young and some of your favourite contestants from past series. #PatrickGrant

These were in the Super Theatre where they shared their perspectives on dressmaking, tips on sewing, cutting etc although this was an extra £5 - £8. I didn’t do this. I thought as I’d travelled from Leeds and arrive at the venue at just before 11am i might be pushed for time as I had to leave at approximately 5pm to catch my train home at Kings Cross Station at 6.30pm. The Show opens 10-5.30pm. But I have to be honest I’d seen everything and been round twice and finished by 2pm. Perhaps if I’d done one of the Super Theatre talks I’d of got my Great British Sewing Bee buzz/fix. It was nice though to see a few of the contestants from the show mozing around afterwards and got to have a quick chat with Heather.

There’s some free live demo’s going on in the Demo Theatre which were very good and numerous workshops which where open to view around the perimeters but to me they look a bit bland and not hey didn’t look that impressive.

I’d say the majority of the show was fabric suppliers, I’d definitely like to have seen more of the Sewing Machine brands and equipment there. There were the odd educational institutes sections where they promote there courses, but again this was lesser and more insignificant then Harrogate. I didn’t see any sewing schools or sewing cafe’s there promoting. I found it surprising at this Show to have stands with skin technology and skin care and jewellery stands which have no relevance.

It was lovely to see a local fabric retailer #Fabworks from Dewsbury there with a rather large stall selling their wares. I was lucky enough to bump into Debbie from Fabworks on the train going down, so a lovely start to the journey down there. Harrogate definately has more fabric suppliers and a wider selection of haberdashery.

#Adjustoform Dressmakers Dummies where there, which was one of the exhibitors I wanted to see, so it was great to see their full range, see the quality and be able to speak to one of the companies staff to explain the different functions of each model.

As well as the Live Theatre Demo which were accessible with your standard entry ticket, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the selection of Liberty in Fashions #LibertyinFashion that were on exhibit from the Fashion and Textile Museum #FashionandTextileMuseum

There’s definately at distinct difference audience between the ExCeL “The Great British Sewing Bee Live” and “The Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate” which tends to attract a older crowd – more the country bumpkin type, although saying that Harrogate it’s more of a family day out with Mums, Aunties, daughters and Grandma all attending together. They go armed with wheeler shoppers for their buy and it does appear to be one in the diary to go stock up on fabric and supplies. The ExCeL age group was the 30s – 50’s.

I suppose it’s wrong of me to compare the two, as Harrogate is both Knitting and Stitching and has tonnes of exhibits related to Knitting so it does seem bigger.

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