Bobbins at the ready, this year’s Sewing Bee contestants are poised to pin, chop and taper. The knitting needles, embroidery hoops and pinking shears are coming out in force for the third series of BBC2’s hit craft competition The Great British Sewing Bee.
This year will see 10 new amateur sewers go head to head to win the praise and approval of Savile Row designer Patrick Grant and experienced sewing teacher May Martin.
We’ve got an artisan cheesemaker, an IT consultant, an army Lieutenant and the youngest ever contestant: Ryan, a fitness fanatic who was inspired to take up sewing by his crafty granny.
Let’s meet the contestants…
Corporate Sustainability Manager from London
“I’m an obsessive compulsive sewer. When I’m making something I want to sit there until it’s done. Often I sew till 1am or 2am because I want to wear it the next day.”
Romanian-born businesswoman Alex has lived in London with her fiancé Carl for the last five years. She started teaching herself to sew in 2009 after buying a cheap sewing machine, beginning by upcycling her mum’s old clothes.
Alex is “ridiculously competitive” and says if she could “she would be at the machine all day and dream about sewing all night!” She is passionate about recycling and using sustainable fabrics.
Retired Air Hostess from Kent
“I tend to make most things because I’m 6ft, I like things that fit properly. When I worked in uniform I bought it a size bigger to fit my length and then altered it.”
Married mum-of-two, Lorna had her first sewing lesson aged 11 and practised new skills by making clothes for her dolls. It was her favourite subject at school, where, being dyslexic, she found it to be the only class she really excelled at.
Lorna “likes the pressure and adrenaline of sewing to a time limit.” She’s worked as a dental nurse, an air hostess and a Eurostar Customer Representative, but now spends her time sewing glamorous gowns for the cruises with her husband Ray.
Studying for a Degree in Menswear at Central St Martin’s
“I tend to sew when I’m sat watching a good movie so I’ve got something in front of me. I have the worst taste in films, I love fashion and things like that so I like sewing to Sex and the City!”
Student Ryan is credits his sewing-whizz Granny for his love of dress-making. He taught himself to sew at age of seven by methodically following patterns to improve his skills. Ryan is a self-confessed fitness addict, and likes to make his own sportswear.
He was the youngest sewer to ever step into the sewing room, aged just 20 when the series was filmed. And he’s now a full-time fashion student, studying Menswear at Central Saint Martins in London.
Former Dairy Farmer & Cheese Maker from Scottish Borders
“Sewing is just so satisfying. And it’s so different from all the other things I do in life. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s my “me” time.”
Annie is a retired Scottish dairy farmer, teacher and artisan cheesemaker. She was an avid sewer in her younger life, having been inspired by an enthusiastic teacher at school, and she’s recently redisovered her passion for craft.
Annie describes herself as a ‘larger lady’ who often finds it difficult to buy well-fitting clothes that fit well in shops. Instead of struggling on the high-street, she decided to make her own clothes, and now sews every day.