Posted 20 hours ago

Behind the Seams: The perfect gift for fans of The Great British Sewing Bee

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I am quite nosey about people and it interests me to find out how people have arrived where they are and that's how I decided to read this book. Her own voice comes over very strongly, and she had a most interesting life: at the forefront of fashion in the 60s and 70s with her Swanky Modes, a tutor at Central St Martins, and then a judge on Sewing Bee. Their clothes were out there, just at a time in the early 70s when people were looking for out there, and when punk was just around the corner (Esme and the gang were at the heart of this, and it's the bit of the book that I hoovered up, it brought so many evocative memories of myself in those days and my early attempts to create something a bit out there to wear . The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products.

She's humble too - she lives in a Peabody housing association house, and works well into her twilight years because she never sorted out a pension, and has been so generous with her money. Esme is an inspiration, not just because of her career, but also in the way she is 100% her authentic self - what you see is what you get, zero f’s given! I had no idea who Esme Young was, I got the book as I enjoy crochet, crafting and occasional sewing, and I thought there might be some good tips on sewing/clothing repairs. I loved the tales of being young in London in the 60s/70s and how she’s would rock up to events in these outfits she had made.

I felt, as a reader, almost as though she was sitting with me, telling her story - it's that immediate. Her life is astonishing, from the radical fashions she created with Swanky Modes, to the daring decisions she made as a young girl living in London and enjoying the swinging 60s. I loved learning about Esme’s childhood, foray into fashion and her Great British Sewing Bee experience.

The material is squandered - interesting detail about the times and personalities is given no more weight than the vast amount of family detail. I remember reading about her 70’s/80’s label Swanky Modes back in the day and being so influenced by the London punk, New Romantic and new wave scenes. Initially when I saw her on the TV she seemed rather 'strict' but you read about her life story and, although she is honest with people which, I guess, can come across as brusk she sounds like the most amazing, kind, loyal woman. I could have taken it easy, and continued to teach at college part time, and make costumes for the rest of the time… but where would be the jeopardy in that.It documents key times, and it documents the highlights of those, all the positive things for example, about four women working together, managing families and other commitments, doing it for the love of clothes and not for the money.

She teaches fashion at Central St Martin's, and declares that she learns just as much from her students as they do from her. Esme followed her heart and lived a rebel with a cause life, supported by so many people along the way that also shared in her enthusiasm and dreams. Esme is over 70 now and has lived a fascinating and creative life, there’s just not enough pages for her to go into great depth but gives you just enough. It brings back memories of wonderful, creative times in London — our friend's final fashion degree, endless parties, and unique people we met.While he is the dapper, sartorially precise voice of the pairing, she's always had a cheeky glint in her eye, and the occasional allusions to her past career and life made me reach for this book - I listened to her read it herself via Audible. She has one of those lives that just seems to natural and brilliant, she met the right people in fun places and is very humble and gorgeous. I am aware, however, that the home sewing fraternity has greatly enjoyed it, so perhaps the fault is in me!

The style of writing was also all over the place that I started to loose interest and finally gave up. It's straightforwardly told, with a few chapters on sewing skills too (eg, pattern cutting which is Esme's own speciality). I love how Esme talks about Swanky Modes, a London collective in the '70s, and the key times when these four women worked together for the love of fashion and clothes, managing families and other commitments. Her cheeky wit and flare for the unusual explain the transformation challenges in the show but also show her dedication to being one step ahead of the trend.I love the Sewing Bee and I love Esme's eagle-eyed critiques of the clothes, and the fun relationship she has with Patrick. Born into the very early era of punk, and then raised in the difficulty of the early 1980s, I always saw fashion as a huge important element of society - a reflection of what the masses wanted to be, and in many cases what could be afforded and imagined as a result of the restriction. A celebration of a creative life lived differently, Behind the Seams is a reminder that it’s never too early, or too late to pick up a needle and start stitching in a new direction. What a character, the people she has worked with in the fashion and film industry was mind blowing, as well as partying with so many celebrities.

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