A stitch in time
Hampshire Life|August 2020
A stitch in time
Winchester’s Clare Bradley has been crowned Queen of the Sewing Bee, showing a passion for 1940s style and a ‘make do and mend’ attitude can be the winning formula
Rebecca Fletcher

From pattern challenging palazzo pants to transforming laundry bags into ready-to-wear garments, viewers hailed the return of series six of the BBC’S Great British Sewing Bee at a time when distraction and inspiration proved a welcome antidote to lockdown.

With the highest number of contestants in the show’s history, 12 of Britain’s best amateur sewers toughed it out for ten weeks wowing audiences with their creations before the series reached a tense finale. Emerging victorious to be crowned ‘Queen Bee’ was our very own Winchester woman Clare Bradley, a respiratory consultant specialising in lung cancer at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Swapping the operating theatre for the sewing room, Clare’s journey to the final round culminated in many triumphs, including a Madonna-inspired top for 80s week and revamping a Provençal tablecloth into a child’s party frock. However, it was her handmade kilt of pleated precision and flawless 1930s made to measure gown which saw Clare winning the coveted trophy, much to her surprise.

“Going through the final with Matt and Nicole, we all had very different styles and very different strengths. So, the idea of knowing who was definitely going to win wasn’t there and seeing their dresses in the final made to measure, I thought this could go any of three ways. I was preparing myself to be a gracious loser. I genuinely hadn’t prepared my gracious winner face.”

Having been taught to sew by her mother as a child, Clare only returned to sewing in earnest a few years ago as she struggled to find clothes that fitted properly.

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August 2020