UP student wins Bernina Fabric Fun sew-off competition

Posted on November 15, 2019

The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Xander Pretorius, a consumer science student in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences specialising in clothing retail management, recently won the Bernina Fabric Fun sew-off competition for final-year students.

Pretorius, who won a Bernina 535 sewing and embroidery machine and a Bernina L 450 overlocker,  is the third consecutive student from UP to win this prestigious competition.

He shares his experience: “To enter, final-year students could submit a garment made from natural fibres that should fit their own body measurements. From the pool of participants, they chose the top five to participate in the final sew-off competition over the course of a week. Accommodation, food, the machines to work on and all the sewing tools and fabrics were included. We only had to bring along our block patterns and our general sewing necessities.”

South African designer Gert-Johan Coetzee (centre), Bernina Managing Director Spiro Pefanis (third from right), competition winner and UP student Xander Pretorius (second from right) with the other contestants.

An elated Pretorius elaborated on his exciting journey to becoming the winner: “When we arrived at the Bernina SA head office in Johannesburg, where all the magic happens, we were handed our assignment for the sew-off. We had to design and make a ‘young and funky streetwear’ outfit to fit ourselves, using four different fabrics, to showcase our sewing abilities.”

The judging criteria included pattern drafting, use of different fabrics, general sewing and finishing techniques (these aspects received the most marks), fitting of the outfit and the overall impression, as well as how well the students understood and implemented the assignment.

“At 14:00 on the last day, all sewing tools were put down and the judging began. The main judge was renowned South African designer Gert-Johan Coetzee, who is also a brand ambassador for Bernina SA. For the judging, we first lay out our garments alongside our patterns so that Gert-Johan could evaluate our work, after which we put on our garments to evaluate the fit. Once all evaluations were done, the winners were announced, and so the competition came to an end.”

Pretorius says, “I would recommend any clothing student partake in this competition in the upcoming years if they have the chance. It really is a great experience; you learn a lot, and you meet like-minded people who might be able to assist you in the future.”

- Author NAS

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