I’m not sure if you will have seen the rumors about the Great British Sewing Bee on social media over the last week, but it looks like it may be no more. The reason for the potential cancellation hasn’t been very clear or forthcoming, but after four seasons of giving people inspiration and the confidence they too can learn to sew, it looks like they’re about to close the doors on this great TV program.
When I was returning from Vermont this Summer, and I was on the plane in Boston doing a mental review of my trip, one thing that popped into my mind was “why is the sewing and craft industry taken more seriously in America than in England?”. It was a fleeting thought, that I didn’t really pick up any further on, but when I saw the potential cancellation of GBSB, I found myself thinking exactly the same thing again.
Is sewing and crafting an industry really taken seriously here in the UK?
In a world based on economic realities, the simple fact is that a majority of the people (women) who work in the industry struggle to get appropriate pay for their work. Until the industry has matured to that level – and really worked to promote it so that reasonable pay is the norm not the exception – I think it will always be seen as a “soft” industry. And then by default, not taken seriously.
About a year ago, I joined an American trade group, the Craft Industry Alliance.
Having joined that group, one thing that has struck me is that they are working really hard to pull back the covers on the “making” industry in an attempt to give it the credit that it deserves. We ask questions and share openly, we aren’t afraid to talk about money and work really hard to help each other out. A rising tide lifts all boats is the feeling that is banded around.
We don’t treat our profession as a hobby – we want to be able to use it as a mechanism in which to earn a reasonable wage, doing what we are good at.
But if I turn to our UK shores, I see a much different landscape. We don’t have a specific industry body, which I feel really is an effective one, whose aim is to help those in the industry learn and grow. They CHA (Craft Hobby Association) is the closest that I can think of – but they have struggled to get off the ground and really prove to be a force for change.
So back to the possible cancellation of the Great British Sewing Bee and how this affects the sewing and crafting industry here in the UK. GBSB created a new generation of sewers, many of them who will have gone on to start their own small businesses. Each small business that is created will help the industry be seen as a way to earn a living, not just a hobby. And this can only be good for those, like myself and possibly you, as there are more boats to help to be lifted from the rising tide.
So with no GBSB to inadvertently promote the industry, I can’t help but think it will be an even slower journey for our industry.