The Great British Sewing Bee – Children’s Sewing Machines, Projects, Ideas and Tips for Kids

The Great British Sewing Bee 2024

The Great British Sewing Bee has returned on the 21st May 2024 and you can find the first episode of this 10th series here on BBC iPlayer. It’s a show that makes every child feel like they can sew.

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It’s on at 9pm which is too late for Floss (7.5 years old) but we watch it in sections on demand. The fact that the show has three distinct sections is perfect. There’s a Pattern Challenge, Transformation Challenge and a Made to Measure Challenge.

The Great British Sewing Bee for Kids

Floss has enjoyed watching the The Great British Sewing Bee for a couple of years and this year is the first year she’s been tempted to use a sewing machine. She’s 7.5 years old now and I remember being taught by my Nan around this age so we’ll be giving it a go.

This blog post is going to be updated over the coming weeks of the show with ideas we think of and what we try out. I’d love to hear in comments if you have any ideas or thoughts on the show for kids. You might also like to join our new Facebook Arts and Crafts – Creative Ideas for Families group here.

We’ve watched episode 2 now – it was sportswear week and got Floss interested in zips and the idea of different clothes for different sports and colours for specific countries.

I find that children often have a very different take on what they view. It was lovely to see what interested Floss and she came away with several projects she wanted to have a go at from watching week one and they weren’t based around the challenges!

Floss’s The Great Sewing Bee Project Spin-Off Ideas

My pincushion/ needle holder that I made with my nan aged 7.
  • Pin cushion project – Floss loved spotted each person’s pin cushion and wants to make her own. It’s a bit of a family tradition to make a pin cushion at around Floss’s age and use embroidery. This is a lovely little project.
  • Sock puppet – new presenter for season 10 Kiell Smith-Bynoe did a little spell with a sock puppet in the episode and this of course caught Floss’s eye! There’s a couple of cute tutorials here and here. We’ve made our own now using a sewing machine and glue gun for different parts. Here’s how we made them.
  • Making your own buttons – the haberdashery with all its pretty goodies obviously has its draw and the buttons were a big hit. Floss wants to have a go at making her own buttons. I’m thinking about using polymer clay for these.
  • Mood board – each contestant has their own screen board that acts as an inspiration/ mood board. It would be a lovely way of collecting together ideas for projects.
  • Pencil case – this idea has spawn from the zips in episode 2 pattern challenge. Zips are my nemesis so we’ll see how this one goes. Here’s a tutorial that looks good below.

The Great British Sewing Bee Challenges

Pattern Challenge

Pattern challenges can be ideal for some but a nightmare for others. Following a set of instructions, like a recipe, can be a great way to start projects with children. If written patterns are challenging then there are some great YouTube videos that can help with patterns.

I love with pattern challenges that everyone has the same pattern but with each person’s unique choices makes something different. Something where their personality shines through.

The Transformation Challenge

The transformation challenge is such a different skill to the pattern challenge and often perfect for those who don’t like structure and ‘rules’. Let children transform an old item of theirs or your clothing. It’s also a great way to open a discussion with children about the clothes industry and repurposing.

Made to Measure Challenge

Made to measure is a challenge where you are making a specific garment for a particular person. Floss has ideas of doing a made to measure challenge for her toys.

Learning History

Throughout The Great British Sewing Bee there’s lots of tidbits about the history of designs and techniques in dressmaking. It’s really fascinating and often makes Floss and me want to go off and discover a little bit more.

Learning About Sports and Countries through Clothes

Episode 2 was sportswear week and there was plenty to learn about different types of sportswear and discussing why certain fabrics and designs were important for different sports. Sewers also had to incorporate the colours of a country into their design. This led us to a little spin off learning about flags of the world and similarities and differences of colour. We also looked at the meaning of colours and symbols on flags.

Sewing Resources

I was taught by both of my Nans to sew. One did more hand sewing and embroidery and the other was a seamstress. I learnt on their sewing machines with them.

I got a sewing machine for my 8th birthday and was so excited. It was a ‘kids’ sewing machine but no matter how hard we tried there was always a problem with the tension. It meant that every time we went to use it it took over half an hour to set things up and still there were issues.

I mention this as I think it’s important to do your research before getting a sewing machine for your child. We will be using my sewing machine (my Mom got if for me for my 40th birthday) with Floss.

I am thrilled with it! I switch it on and it works straight away. I’ll write more soon about why we went for the sewing machine that I did as I was looking for something good but simple!

Looking forward to the next episode that airs on the 4th June 2024.

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