Great British Sewing Bee Semi Final

Great British Sewing Bee semi final
1st place and through to the final, what a week on GBSB

The “tricky” Great British Sewing Bee semi final

It’s the Semi Final….hang on a second SEMI FINAL!!! How the heck did that creep up on us?!

In order to celebrate this momentous occasion (I mean punish us), it seemed like a great idea to give us a lace, satin, neoprene and leather all in one week. I mean seriously people, why would you do that? Added to this was the early announcement from Claudia that a further two people were leaving the sewing room at the end of this weeks challenges. So soon after saying goodbye to Ryan and Amanda too. Sewing really was about to get brutal.

First up this week then. A racey lacey little number, consisting of a pencil skirt with a lace outer and a satin inner, complete with darts and an invisible zip (because we all love an invisible zip right…Right?). Even though we’ve had waistcoats and corsets in the previous weeks, this design felt as if they’d really upped the bar on the pattern challenge.

The feeling and intensity in the room really changed this week, Maybe it was because our 10 was now 5, but the room certainly appeared emptier. I think we’d all realised what it meant to be here, and the immensely talented people we’d seen leave our group over the weeks, we had to do them proud. The pressure was on to deliver the high standard of stitching that May & Patrick where looking for to reach the final.

It was pretty tricky stuff putting invisible zips into lace and satin, this was going to be all about precision and accuracy. Which would be great….if we didn’t have a blimmin’ hard time constraint rushing up on us! During the challenge we had some little chats between us and tried to help each other where we could, but it was also time to put your head down and concentrate.

Somehow the hours just whizzed by, they really did. But with the lace skirt made, satin lining done, zip in, facing on, it was now for the moment of truth, lets go get them judged.

Now I’m well aware of the stiff competition I was up against, but I really am not a competitive person, which my brother finds quite frustrating when it comes to playing stuff like monopoly.

So when the judges were inspecting, critiquing and ranking our makes, imagine my amazement when my name claimed the No1 spot. I mean, me, number one, not Neil, but me!

I think my face may give away how stunned and proud I was.

There was only one word that would do it….BOOM!

Next up was the alteration challenge. It’s one that can alway stump one or two of us, and this one was a particular brute, just imagine, if you will, being given a wetsuit and told to change it into a ladies dress, Seriously?

So back I go into the mind fog of what the heck to do with this rubber number. I was thinking halter neck and some layered skirt element, and in my mind it was quite good, however on the mannequin it wasn’t quite working. So I opted to chop off the straps, a bold strategy and one that I don’t really think altered my fourth place ranking too much. Unfortunately in doing this I accidentally took the zipper clean off the top of the zip. So had to quickly do some extra securing in order to ensure it still fitted the mannequin.

We all had a good dose of laughter therapy when Lorna chopped the bust out of her wetsuit. She was really going for the bold design statement this time. Madonna eat your heart out. At least there was no cape for the model to be pulled off the stage with :)

I thought rather than throwing the offcuts to the floor, why not slip them on to remain warm. Again I’m truly glad that Lorna didn’t do this.

I have to say I really felt for Paul during this challenge, he had a tough time with the sleeves and the clock was rapidly ticking down. I think we both struggled a little to be honest.

But what a transformation Debs made. It was pretty awesome and showed some great vision plus some gorgeous fabric. It just worked perfectly. Well done Deborahhhhh.

With that out of the way, off we went for a nights rest. Well actually it was off for a night spent cutting out pieces of leather ready for tomorrows challenge.

After what felt like 5 minutes after closing my eyes, it was time to get up for the big day, here we are ready to make a ladies leather jacket in just 6.5 hours.

I’d selected to make a smoke grey jacket from pig skin. This was a bit nerve wracking to begin with, having never stitched leather before, but it’s actually not as tricky as you first think. In fact the hardest part is that you can only stitch it once, as the needle you use slices rather than punctures the leather, so if you make a mistake, it’s likely to show up forever more.

I chose a collared biker jacket with a diagonal zip and popper fasteners. The collar was by far and away the toughest part of the jacket, and it took an age to get the stitch just right and the corners turned out. So my time spent on this meant that I didn’t quite have time to put in the lining, which was actually made up, but I figured I’d just do what I could as well as I could in the time remaining.

To get plaudits from Patrick, and I’d just like to quote “The precision with which you’ve sewn this is unquestionably incredibly high” gave me a great sense of achievement, even if the final fit was a little snug on the shoulders.


Paul’s leather was pretty darn tough, so much so that he broke at least 4 needles stitching it, but it was such an awesome shape and colour, I just loved it. Remember people, this man brought Pink Snakeskin Leather and Glitter denim to GBSB!!!

Poor Debs though, when that zipper came off the top, just like it did on my wetsuit, there was very little any of us could do. It was one of those moments when I could see the despair in her eyes, but we were all helpless. It truly was a very hard time for us all, but especially for Debs.

But again a huge congrats to Neil on winning garment of the week, with his fantastic “lined” jacket. Whats that now…7 challenges he’s won?!

So after a very very long pause, Paul and Deborah’s names were read aloud, and to be honest, part of me sank, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, that room most definitely will never be the same!!

….but believe me, we went out and partied hard that night ;o)

If you are feeling inspired to give leather a try, then checkout my beginners guide to leather.


Well done Daddy we are SOOOO proud of you!!

The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!


  1. Li-Ann 4 years ago

    On the other side of the globe in Melbourne, we were both completely inspired by you Matt, well done! That corset on that dress!! My IT consultant husband has actually sewn some Austrian blinds but I’m the one with the sewing room. The heights to which a self taught amateur can rise are frankly dizzying, so leather here we come! Love your blog partnership and all the very best to you and Gemma!

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      Thank you for the message, I hope you guys enjoyed the final.
      We were over your way a good few years back, we loved it. Spent a whole year in Australia, but mainly in Sydney. I bet the crafts scene in Melbourne rocks though.
      Lucky you with the sewing room, I know a lot of peeps who’d give their “free arm” for one.

  2. Sara 4 years ago

    **Spoiler** I must agree with the above comment. The best man on the night won. Actually I think that generally you were all pretty good. Your final dress was brilliant. Your wife is lovely by the way. I was very charmed by the warmth you both showed each other and the support she gave you. You were obviously a very popular choice in the sewing room. I enjoyed watching you work over the past few weeks. Neil was good – very good when he was, but sometimes he went right off the boil. So a deserved winner. Well done Matt! A great really good natured series that I enjoyed as much as the first one. Last year was a little bit too competitive for me and detracted from the show. Enjoy your win!

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      Hi Sara,

      Thank you very much for your kind words. It was fantastic watching it back with my friends and family, none of whom knew how I did. I had such a fantastic time in the sewing bee and have truly made friends for life in there. I have to say my money was on Neil too, he is exceptional and so very precise, he’s a very tough competitor. I’m just happy that I produced what I could on the day, and having Gem by my side certainly made me stronger.

      May go and make something a little more practical for her today.

      Matt x

  3. Josie 4 years ago

    SPOILER ALERT ~ Fippin’ heck Matt, I’ve just watched last night’s final and talk about leaving the best until last! Our whole family has been placing friendly wagers on the outcome and the smart money was on Neil, given his consistent performance throughout the entire series. However if a title is going to be given on prior performance, then culminating points would be the deciding factor. The Sewing Bee has a ‘FINAL’ people and the best performance in THAT wins, the clue is in the name ~ You absolutely smashed it Matt, and we were all delighted that you were victorious, you even won over the Team Neil’s amongst us!! I have to say that I was also really rather touched by the adorable hug full of complete love and affection that you and Gemma gave each other when the models were revealed. This moment encapsulated the whole feel of The Great British Sewing Bee, thank you x x

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      Hi Josie,

      Yeah, that was a bit of a turn up for the books hey ;o)

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I have had so much encouragement along the way and its showing no sign of stopping.

      Its a format that works well on TV, but occasionally people find it tricky to accept. I am the first to admit if it was “points based” we’d only have done 3 episodes as Neil would have had an unassailable lead in those early weeks.

      Certainly having Gemma in the room gave me great support, but knowing I was making for her made me give every ounce of effort I could muster. Good teamwork.

      Thanks again
      Matt x

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