A stitch in time wasn’t enough to save Simon Cantrill from losing his place on TV’s Great British Sewing Bee – but his appearance has put Bradford Industrial Museum on the map.
Simon, 26, was one of ten contestants on the BBC2 show which judges amateur dressmakers on their sewing skills, and was eliminated last week.
The day after he appeared on the first programme, Google hits at the Industrial Museum in Eccleshill, where he works as a receptionist, went from a 1,500 daily average to 6,000.
He managed to keep his TV appearance secret from his friends for months. “I wanted it to be a surprise,” he said. He applied about a year ago, after a friend tweeted him a link looking for contestants for the show. “I thought, why not? I was between jobs, and it was something to do,” he said.
A former apprentice at Abraham Moon’s in Guiseley, Mr Cantrill has been making his own clothes for several years.
“I bought a shirt that fitted me quite well so I decided to make my own reproductions in material I liked. I made about three. I’ve since gone on to make my own trousers and several waistcoats – I even made one out of an old pair of curtains,” he said.
“I’m not fond of the disposable wardrobes we have these days; it wasn’t that long ago that our mothers and grandmothers would make whatever we needed using whatever lovely cloth we liked. These days of identikit high streets and throw away T-shirts trouble me. I want people to be able to wear whatever we want and not be dictated to by trends and labels.”
He was invited to London to audition for the programme. “We spent a day with sewing consultants who looked at our handmade samples. Then we had a screen test and interview and a mini sewing challenge,” he said.
The first episode saw Mr Cantrill relegated to the bottom three in the first task – following a pattern to create a sleeveless top. He then shot up to third place with his customised woollen skirt, which presenter Patrick Grant commented had “the history of Bradford” in it.
But Simon’s luck didn’t last and he went back to the bottom with his nightdress. In the second episode it was his ‘shirt dress’ - where contestants had to make a new clothing item out of two shirts - which didn’t cut the cloth and led to his elimination.
Mr Cantrill may be out of the show but he’s not too disheartened. “I disappointed myself by not doing better in the competition but I’m glad I took part and I will be even more pleased if people are inspired to sew,” he said. “It is so much about being the hobbyist sewer to me. I have a job I really love.”