The Sewing Bee is back and it's better than ever. To catch up with the new series head over to our Great British Sewing Bee guide but if you want to learn more about the legendary Patrick Grant then you've come to the right place.


We sat down with the one and only Patrick Grant to get all his thoughts and feelings about the latest series of the show. But first, discover more about Patrick's sewing background…

Who is Patrick Grant?

Patrick Grant has been with the Sewing Bee since it began in 2013. He was chosen to judge alongside May Martin and later Esme Young, thanks to his experience in designing men's fashion.

He was born in Edinburgh and studied at the University of Leeds and New College, Oxford. Before turning to fashion, Patrick was an aspiring rugby player whose rugby career was cut short by a shoulder injury.

He later moved to the US where he worked in a surprising variety of jobs. His first job there was as a ski instructor, but he also worked as a nanny, camp counsellor, landscape gardener and model agent. He returned to the UK in 1995 to pursue a career in marketing.

In 2005, Patrick sold his house and car (as well as seeking loans from family and friends) to buy Norton & Sons, a struggling Saville Row bespoke tailor. He threw himself into restoring the 200-year-old business to its former glory and was able to turn its fortunes around.

Patrick went on to revive the E. Tautz brand in 2009 and acquired Cookson & Clegg in 2015, saving the 160-year-old business from closure.

He was awarded an Honorary Professor of Business from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2013 and was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) in 2016.

How old is Patrick Grant?

He is 50. Patrick Grant was born on 1st May 1972.

How tall is Patrick Grant?

Patrick Grant is 1.9m (6"2).

What is Patrick Grant doing now?

Patrick is the owner of Norton & Sons and Cookson & Clegg, as well as the menswear label E. Tautz. He is the king of artisanal suits with an eye for detail and precision which he brings to all his judging.

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But it's not just high end tailoring that's keeping Patrick busy, he set up Community Clothing to support ethical clothing manufacturing practices.

Patrick is also a supporter of HRH King Charles III's charity Future Textiles. The charity aims to educate young people and sustain Britain's traditional craft skills for the next generation.

All this and judging in our favourite TV show? How does he do it!

Now we've given you a bit of background on Patrick, have a read of our interview with him about the latest series of the Sewing Bee.

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Meet The Great British Sewing Bee 2023's judge Patrick Grant!

Here's what the amazing Patrick Grant has to say about 2023's Sewing Bee series...

What's the standard of this year’s sewers?

Absolutely excellent. They're very good – as ever – and we have a few who emerge as phenomenal. Last year, there were five people that could easily have won.

This year, it's maybe a little tighter than that. And I don't think we've ever had a group that’s just nailed transformations from the very start. In the past, it’s taken a couple of goes to get into the swing of it.

The Great British Sewing Bee S9,PORTRAIT,Sewers Maria, Tony W, Lauren, Lizzie, Vicki, Catherine, Fauve, Matthew, Gillie, Mia, Tony R, Asmaa ,Love Productions,James Stack
The Great British Sewing Bee 2023 contestants Photo credit: Love Production/James Stack

Is it hard to come up with challenges to test them to a greater degree after so many series?

There are always harder things to make. We had three spectacularly difficult challenges: a smoking jacket, a trench coat and the made-to-measure in the final was way beyond anything we've asked them to do before.

In the past, you’ve asked them to make perhaps surprising items like trainers, parkas and origami clothes. What about this year?

Making a rucksack was a really fun challenge. Obviously, it’s a sewn item you kind of wear, but it's nothing like anything we've asked them to do before. They mostly did a really good job.

Past sewers struggled more with the high tops than this year’s lot did with the rucksack even though there was more complication with the rucksack. Attaching the upper to the sole on the trainer seemed to baffle people. Well, not baffle them, but the way you sew trainers is certainly not something they would’ve ever tried before.

Whereas the rucksack was mostly using the sewing machine in a quite normal way – albeit with very unfamiliar bits.

What were your favourite challenges this year?

I really enjoyed Art Week. The transformation challenge in Art Week was extraordinary – turning a painted canvas into a garment. That’s not easy. It feels easy because you have to make something out of a flat piece of canvas, but the challenge was to incorporate the painting on the canvas into the overall design of the clothing.

Two people did spectacular garments – couture-level amazing. The sewing room was filled with giant canvases. It looked like an art gallery with a load of bewildered home sewers in it. I really enjoyed West Africa week, too. It was really fun having another judge in the room.

Tell us about that…

Last year, we did Japanese Week. Both Esme and I have travelled to Japan a lot and know a lot about Japanese clothing. And Esme and one of her Japanese colleagues came up with the pattern challenge.

This year, we thought it would be fun to have somebody from the region of West Africa helping us judge – Banke Kuku, the Nigerian fashion designer. It’s challenging people's preconceptions about what West African clothes are all about and what they look like. That was why it was important to us to have somebody West African help us. We want to celebrate it in the right way.

Photo credit: Love Productions/James Stack
Photo credit: Love Productions/James Stack

A transformation challenge involving mop heads, dusters and rubber gloves sounds interesting…

Oh, yeah, that was really fun. You could tell what they were made out of – it’s hard to disguise 24 rubber gloves or however many it was one of them made a dress out of – but it was cool-looking. That challenge could’ve gone either way, but happily it passed off fantastically.

Last year’s contest was so close you ended up with four finalists. Did you have similar issues this year?

No, it was much more clear, but there were some very difficult decisions along the way.

Last year, any of the four in the semi-final could’ve won, so they all deserved a chance to win. Marni, who went out earlier, could’ve easily won as well if she hadn't had a wobble.

This year, we didn't have such a difficult decision choosing the final three. The final is spectacular. One of the garments is mind-blowingly brilliant. It will take your breath away.

One theme is the 1990s. What were you wearing then?

I was a real fashion kid. At the start of the 1990s, I was at university in Leeds and saving up all my pennies to buy bits of Vivienne Westwood, bits of Issey Miyake and the Japanese designers and a bit of Jean Paul Gaultier. My favourite jeans were a pair of Intarsia Jean Paul Gaultier jeans with faces all over them.

You weren't in your MC Hammer pants then?

No, I wasn't doing MC Hammer. I did own loads of cargo pants, though. And in the mid-to-late 1990s, I was living in Liverpool and I was buying Prada and Gucci and that sort of jazz. I would buy one or two things every season and mix and match with other stuff. I’ve still got knitwear I bought in the mid-1990s and wear them today.

How much fun did you, Esme and Sara have during filming this year?

Oh, it was great as ever. Sara’s now in mothering duty, so baby Theo and Mouse the dog came up to visit us on a couple of occasions.

There’s far too much eating in the green room. Far too much. I’m in Norton’s today and we've been trying on some sample trousers. My colleague was like, ‘Well, they are a 35-and-a-half inch waist…’ and I’m like: ‘Not post-Sewing Bee. I'm not getting in those now.’

It was so nice this year not to have the Covid filming restrictions. We were able to socialise with the crew outside of filming days. For the last two series, Esme and I and Joe – and then Sara – were kept in total isolation during the seven-week filming period. This year, we got to go out for dinner and join in a karaoke night…

Get to know Sara Pascoe!

Now you've got to know the lovely Patrick, why not learn more about Sewing Bee presenter Sara Pascoe? Read our interview with her here on Gathered. 

What karaoke numbers were you doing Patrick?

Well, we did all sorts. Elvis works for me. Suspicious Minds… that’s a favourite. That went over well.

I sang bass in the choir at school, so that's my register. I’m game for a go on any of this stuff. They had to kick us out of the place at one in the morning.

The Great British Sewing Bee S9,PORTRAIT,Sara Pascoe, Esme Young, Patrick Grant,Presenter Sara Pascoe with Judges Esme Young and Patrick Grant,Love Productions,James Stack
Photo credit: Love Productions/James Stack

Are you going to be the end of show entertainment for the next Christmas Special?

No! That is absolutely not happening.

What kind of reaction do you get from viewers?

What’s consistent is people's growing awareness of the impact buying lots of new clothes has. You see some of the amazing things our sewers make out of old stuff and can't help but think we don't need to buy as much new stuff. You can make amazing things out of stuff that already exists.

There are little nuggets of information we impart in a very quiet way about doing things in a better way around clothing and fashion. Those are the things I seem to see people mentioning a lot on social media.

Everyone was bit teary last year…

Yeah. That hasn’t changed. If anything it’s even more emotional this year. Who knows why? Maybe it’s the relief of managing to get through COVID or maybe it’s the impending whatever we’ve got coming.

What are you doing outside Sewing Bee…

Norton and Sons is in good shape post-COVID. We’ve weathered the storm so far and, happily, things are looking a lot brighter along Savile Row. Good news for so many people.

Community Clothing has gone from strength to strength in the last 12 months and it can't make enough clothes. We need so many more people to take up a career in professional sewing.

The specialist textile and clothing factories we work with are all desperate for staff. The textile industry is crying out for skilled bright young people.

Is that increased demand or…?

A lot of people have retired and we’re just not filling the gaps. Unfortunately, over the last 30 or 40 years, as a nation, we've kind of made manufacturing jobs feel somehow less worthy than some other jobs.

It's such a shame because there's such good careers. The wages are good, the job satisfaction is fantastic. If you work in our factory, you're making the best jeans on the planet. It's also the camaraderie and community you have within the workplace. It’s really supportive.

A lot of young people would be surprised to find out how much they enjoy a job making something versus working in the service industry or in retail. There’s something very satisfying about seeing your week’s work all folded or hanging up and thinking: ‘I made that.’

What sewing machines are used on the Sewing Bee?

If you've been eyeing up the machines on the Bee and want to know which model or brand they're using, we've got you covered! Simply Sewing Magazine's senior technical editor has tracked down what sewing machines are used on the Sewing Bee so you can order your own.

So if you've been inspired by Sewing Bee to start sewing, there's a new career maybe?

You have to love the idea of manufacturing and working as part of a collective. We want people who are very skilled, but also creative problem-solvers. The challenge is working to help our factories grow their capacity because we can't make enough stuff at the moment.

Also, there’s the obvious restriction that we used to be hiring from a labour pool of 300 million and now we're hiring from 60 million. That makes things harder.

And you’re growing your own flax, too…

Yes, one of the other big challenges we’ve set ourselves with Community Clothing is to go all the way back to the soil with the clothes we make.

We've spent the last two years growing flax in the UK in an attempt to try to rebuild a regenerative textile system around linen. It’s something we used to grow and make in the UK and stopped.

Linen is the most sustainable fabric by miles. It's such a low-impact – and durable – fabric. It’s amazing to see 150 hectares of flax growing in East Anglia.

With Community Clothing, you’re really trying to change how things are done in this country…

Yeah. I’m really, really pleased we’ve managed to make the progress we've made. There’s loads more to do and there’s not enough hours in the day.

I typically do about 12 to 14 hours at work. I could easily do more, but at my age, that's about as much as I can manage before the brain conks out. It's a terrific thing to be working on and it’s doing loads of good. And it means far more people can afford good quality clothes.

Mostly, affordable clothing in this country is really poor. We're offering good quality clothing – that also happens to be made here – which people will keep for years. That's the point. We’re making stuff that's going to be worth reusing and recycling and passing on.

Why Patrick Grant is a brilliant Sewing Bee judge

Patrick Grant is at the heart of the Sewing Bee – and he's been judging the show since it first launched in 2013! Patrick brings a lot of personality to the show and it's easy to see how much his feedback matters to the contestants.

As well as adding warmth and wit to the show, Patrick has years of experience in men's fashion, with a keen eye for tailoring and precision. He's the owner of Norton & Sons and Cookson & Clegg, but he also established Community Clothing to support ethical clothing manufacturing practices.

We can't wait to see Patrick back in the sewing room for the new series!

Get to know the Sewing Bee's Esme Young

It wouldn't be the Sewing Bee without our favourite duo: Patrick Grant and Esme Young! Esme's fashion career has spanned 50 years, so she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the sewing room. She's worked with a number of celebrities over the years, including Leonardo Di Caprio!


Get to know Esme Young with Gathered's fascinating interview.


Phoebe Burt
Phoebe BurtSEO and Communities Editor, Gathered

Phoebe has worked for Gathered, and our sister magazine Mollie Makes, for 3 years. She manages our Arts & Crafts section and specialises in social media and content strategy. She has a background in all things marketing, a flair for Pinterest and a knack for finding the next big craft trend. Previously she worked as Digital Campaign Executive for Fat Media. You may recognise her name from Mollie Makes Social Media magazine, where she shared her expertise and top tips on becoming social media savvy.

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