Hull maths teacher Andrew Aspland, whose miscalculations on detachable bows and darts saw him eliminated from The Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB) this week, has said he now wants to promote sewing for men.
Andrew, 54, has been reflecting on the events surrounding the BBC One craft show, after making it all the way through to week seven – winter week – before being cast out of the sewing room.
“I want to promote sewing for men – both men sewing and making things for men. It can be really difficult sourcing suitable patterns and materials,” said Andrew, explaining what was next for him in the wider world of sewing.
“My own style would be a ‘Gentleman’s Wardrobe’, classic clothes made to fit me. I love making shirts – easy fabrics to work with, opportunities to add features and create interest and, with a bit of precision sewing, a garment which is better than bought.
“At the moment about a quarter of my clothes are home-made but this is set to increase as I sew more in the future.
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“I like a bit of sparkle and it is great to be able to add something special to your wardrobe.”
Describing his relationship with this year’s Bees, the seventh group of competitors to bid for the title of top amateur stitcher in the UK since GBSB’s inception, Andrew said: “We were thrown in together for both filming and living. You get to know so much about people and yet realise there is so much yet to know.
“We got on well despite our different backgrounds – sewing can unite communities.”
He said filming the series was “intense” and he did not have any particular strategy for keeping calm, only pushing himself to finish.
“It was great to be sewing as part of a team – it can be a very solitary experience otherwise,” said Andrew, who lives with his partner, Paul, a priest, and pet rabbit Aiden.
Outlining why he applied for the show, Andrew said: “I have been inspired by watching the GBSB, and having made outfits for my parents’ diamond wedding celebration, there were several friends who said I ought to go on the show – I resisted!
“However, the lockdown and watching GBSB series six, nudged me in the right direction and I applied.
“I wanted to impress Patrick (Grant) while not getting slaughtered by Esme (Young). Joe (Lycett, the show host) is such a kind person – his good humour and encouragement certainly helped when the going got tough.”
Deliberating on his best and worst moments of the series, Andrew said: “The worst was watching the bow fall off my winter festive dress in Episode 7 and realising that I wasn’t going to make it to the quarter finals; the best was smashing the transformation challenge on more than one occasion.
“I think my favourite challenge overall has to be the transformation challenge, in children’s week, and making the crab.”
And the outfit he loved the most?
“I think the reversible coat for my child model was my favourite – I loved the finished look.”
Largely self-taught, Andrew started out started making clothes for his teddy bears at a young age, having a go on his mum’s sewing machine while still at primary school.
“I love being able to sew things which I wouldn’t be able to buy – bespoke curtains and clothes which are unique are my loves.
“I don’t routinely make clothes for others but it’s great to be able to make something for a special occasion when I am more than happy to pull all the stops out.
“I have made a couple of stage costumes for friends and hope to make more of these.”