The Great British Sewing Bee - Bridging the Gap Between Domestic and Industrial Sewing
The Great British Sewing Bee has been just the kind of feel-good TV we needed. Not only has it provided a welcome distraction from current events, but it has also inspired people to take up sewing or to advance their home stitching to the next level. With the final episode of the Sewing Bee airing tonight, we decided to take the opportunity to give a quick overview of some of the equipment used on the show and how it would translate into a professional context. The jump isn’t as big as you might think. Although industrial sewing machines might sound intimidating, a surprising amount of our customers are actually home sewers. Read on to learn more about how the industrial textile equipment we supply compares to the show’s domestic equivalents and find out why you just might find an Octopus in a garment manufacturing workshop!
Which sewing machines were used by the contestants on the Great British Sewing Bee 2022?
The Sewing Bee contestants use one sewing machine for the majority of their sewing, which shows how versatile domestic machines are! As it is aired on the BBC, the make and model of the sewing machines is hidden in line with their no-advertising policy. Eagle-eyed viewers have, however, made an educated guess based on the appearance and functions of the machines that these are the models used:
Janome 5060 QDC (for general sewing)
Janome AT2000D Air Thread Overlocker (for overlocking)
You have to hand it to them, these little machines have put up with a lot over the course of the competition! They are just domestic hobby machines designed for occasional use, but they rise to the challenges on the show admirably. We see the contestants using them to sew all kinds of garments, from Halloween costumes to ball gowns. They even use them to sew heavy materials such as denim and tackle multiple layers at a time by switching to a walking foot, although this is not without some frustration and a few broken needles!
What would the industrial equivalent of the Janome 5060 QDC be?
It is difficult to answer this question, as there is no one industrial sewing machine which can do everything that modern domestic models can! Domestic machines like these have many different stitch settings and are something of a jack of all trades. This is ideal for hobby sewing and for the challenges we see on the Great British Sewing Bee, where contestants are frequently switching between materials and stitch functions. Industrial sewing machines, however, are designed to be used in a professional context and are fine-tuned for a specific application based on years of experience within the textile industry. They don’t have the same flexibility as the contestant’s domestic machines, but are more efficient, produce higher quality and more consistent stitches, and are durable enough that they can easily be used all day without having to worry about the motor overheating or plastic parts degrading.
For general sewing of light to midweight materials, the closest equivalent to the machines used on the Sewing Bee would probably be a lockstitch such as the Juki DDL 7000A-7. This model has digital functions and automatic features such as an in-built thread trimmer, which make it a great choice for a first industrial sewing machine.
For general sewing of thicker fabrics such as denim and leather, we would recommend a more heavy-duty walking foot lockstitch such as the Juki DU-1181N.
To learn more about the differences between domestic and industrial sewing machines you can read our previous blog post on the subject here:
What would the industrial equivalent of the Janome AT2000D Air Thread overlocker be?
Domestic overlocker machines like the ones we see on the Sewing Bee are essentially just smaller, less powerful versions of industrial models. They are cheaper and less durable due to their mostly plastic parts and the fact that they don’t have a professional standard motor. The Sewing Bee contestants use their overlockers in the same way a professional sewer would, to trim the edges of the fabric whilst producing a secure, multi-thread stitch which covers both sides. These distinctive looping thread seams prevent the raw edges of the fabric from fraying. Overlocker stitches also elongate well, which makes them ideal for working with stretchy fabrics and activewear.
One of the most popular overlocker machines which we supply for professional sewers is the Juki MO-6814S super high speed overlock machine. Whilst the Janome model which the Sewing Bee contestants use sews up to 1,300 stitches per minute, this industrial version sews up to 7,000spm! As the industrial model needs to be built into a table (which houses the motor) it is possible to set it up as either raised or submerged to suit your required application. We also supply cylinder-bed overlockers which are ideal for sewing items like sleeve cuffs, which can be fiddly to work with on a flat-bed machine!
What about the cutting tools?
The contestants on the Great British Sewing Bee have to cut out all sorts of different pattern pieces, and sometimes it can be a real challenge for them. We see them using scissors and wheeled fabric cutting tools which resemble pizza cutters. These are both great options for individual garments, but in professional workshops a solution is required which is not only quicker but also comes with less risk of causing a repetitive strain injury over long periods of time!
We supply a wide range of different handheld cutting machines, our most popular models for cutting out pattern shapes are Dayang rotary handheld cutters, which are available in different sizes to suit your requirements. They are lightweight and suitable for working with a wide range of materials, from extra-light silk to synthetic fibres up to 10mm thick (RSD-50)!
Honourable mention – the tiny ironing board!
The tiny ironing boards we see used by contestants on the Great British Sewing Bee became a fan favourite this season! They were used to iron awkward areas like the insides of sleeves and for small items such as children’s clothing which can be tricky to handle on a standard ironing board. The tiny ironing board is an ideal (and adorable) solution for a home sewer or small business, but for all day usage a sturdier setup would be required.
The professional ironing solutions which we supply aren’t as cute as the ones we see on the Sewing Bee, but some of the options are surprisingly not that different! The closest equivalent to this on a professional scale would be an ironing table set up with different attachments known as “bucks”. These bucks are shaped working surfaces specially designed for specific ironing and pressing applications, such as ironing sleeves, shirt collars, jacket collars, and other potentially awkward or fiddly areas. The Primula Octopus is one example of a compact ironing table which is perfect for small garment manufacturers and workshops. It has the flexibility to mount up to 5 different bucks which can be worked on simultaneously and is suitable for ironing all kinds of garments!
Although the world of industrial sewing machines may seem overwhelming at first, they are essentially just machines which are designed to carry out one job to an exceptional standard over prolonged periods of time. Domestic machines like those used in the Great British Sewing Bee are a brilliant option for hobby sewers, but if you’re an avid sewer hoping to run a business using your skills then an industrial machine is definitely an option to consider.
If you’re looking to invest in your first piece of industrial sewing, cutting, or pressing equipment, we can help! Our team are happy to recommend suitable equipment for your requirements based on years of experience, and we offer continued support if you have any questions as you’re getting started. We supply every sewing machine fully built, set up, and tested; with everything you need to get started. Let us do the hard work so you don’t have to!