Wearing a tank top made out of old socks, Hull’s Andrew Aspland was primed for the challenges posed by reduce, reuse, recycle week, on The Great British Sewing Bee.
Last night’s BBC One craft show saw the seven remaining stitchers tasked with making a man’s waistcoat, any garment for a woman and a dress made from scrap denim, with all the items having to be created from second-hand clothing.
Judge Patrick Grant introduced the programme with the “shocking” fact that millions of tonnes of clothing were being thrown away in the UK every year, explaining why the sewing room’s haberdashery – normally full of new rolls of fabric – had been replaced with pre-owned clothing for the contestants to use.
The tricky pattern round to make a five-buttoned man’s waistcoat, which Patrick said was a great tailoring challenge and ideally suited to recycled fabric, was made all the more complicated by most of the construction taking place inside out.
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But maths teacher Andrew calculated his time well, even being able to lend a hand in the final seconds of the four hours to fellow competitor Farie who was struggling with the buckle on the back of her waistcoat.
Savile Row’s Patrick said of Andrew’s creation: “I very much like the choice of colour, it has a very traditional English waistcoat feel.”
Fellow judge, fashion designer Esme Young, declared Andrew’s waistcoat “overall, pretty good” and he was placed third.
The transformation challenge gave the stitchers 90 minutes to turn up to three military-surplus garments into a piece of woman’s clothing, with Esme saying she wanted “impact and drama”.
Andrew said of his make: “It’s starting off as a top but then it’s going to transform into a dress, I’ve pleated it on the shoulders and what I have done here is cunningly use the pockets to be like a little fluff of sleeve, but since they want a bit of wow factor I am thinking of doing a bit of boning and making this stand out.”
Appraising the garments without knowing their makers, Esme said of Andrew’s creation: “This person has gone to town”, while Patrick said he thought the outfit, which he could not make out whether it was a sort-of poncho, was “rather potty”, with its sleeves stuffed with bits of camouflage netting.
It earned Andrew fourth place as the stitchers went into the final made-to-measure round, for which he patched together 16 different pieces of recycled denim for his geometric Pythagoras’ Theorem dress – he had brought along his “trusty” set square to ensure a crisp finish with his right-angles.
Andrew now goes through to winter week in the bid to reach the quarter finals of the show.
The Great British Sewing Bee is on BBC One on Wednesdays at 9pm.