A crab costume and a child’s reversible jacket helped Hull’s Andrew Aspland through to the next round of BBC One’s The Great British Sewing Bee.
Andrew earned high praise in last night’s show from the judges, Savile Row’s Patrick Grant and fashion designer Esme Young, as he set to work on his creations for Children’s Week.
After the first round of the show, a four-hour pattern challenge to sew a toddler’s romper suit, things were not looking good for the Hull maths teacher and stained-glass window maker.
The white background of his chosen fabric was “not the most practical for a toddler”, said Patrick, and the poppers all pulled free when Esme tested them during their appraisal, placing him seventh out of the eight remaining stitchers.
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This was after Andrew admitted he had never sewn clothing for a child before, that there was not enough fabric to make himself “a decent pair of shorts” and that he was not good at fiddly sewing.
But Andrew came into his own in the transformation round, when the contestants were given old neoprene wetsuits, and an assortment of swimming and flotation aids, to create a fancy dress outfit on the theme of under the sea.
Show host Joe Lycett said: “I think this is my favourite thing I have ever seen in the sewing room.”
Placing the crab first, over a close-second jellyfish, Patrick said: “It’s fantastic, it is such a good idea and really well executed.”
Esme said: “It’s a fantastic fancy dress outfit, you couldn’t mistake it for anything else.”
Andrew was delighted to have retrieved himself, saying: “I am very happy, my inner child came flooding out for me today.”
With the sewing room now down to eight competitors from the original 12, the judges said standards were now pretty high – “we’re looking at fine margins between top and bottom” – and there was all on in the final challenge to make a waterproof raincoat for a child.
Andrew wanted to ensure the coat was roomy. “I spent my childhood in clothes that there two sizes too big because we were told we would grow into them,” he said.
Opting for a tricky reversible design in red and blue, he said: “I do quite like this red, it has a slightly more adult look to it, you don’t want rainbows and unicorns when you get to a certain age.”
Patrick said: “The level of difficulty in making a reversible coat is very high, but Andrew has handled it so well.”
And he said to Finlay, who was modelling the jacket for Andrew: “How cool, two jackets in one, like magic.”
Andrew now goes through to week six, which is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Week.
The Great British Sewing Bee is on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One.