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The Great British Sewing Bee 2021: everything you need to know

The Great British Sewing Bee is back! Discover the latest news about our favourite craft show

The Great British Sewing Bee S7

The return of The Great British Sewing Bee to our screens is something we look forward to every year – and 2021 is no exception! We loved the new series of the Sewing Bee 2021 so far and enjoying the sewists’ highs and lows. From outlandish made to measures to trickier-than-ever transformations, series 7 offered up lashings of sewing room drama with a healthy dose of Joe Lycett’s good cheer and the same eagle-eyed judging we’ve grown to love from Patrick and Esme. This year’s show saw the contestants take on refashioning T-shirts, classic menswear and beach-ready summer clothes, and even festival outfits!

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We update this page each week while the show is on the air and reveal the latest news about the Great British Sewing Bee 2021 as soon as we get it.

If you’ve been admiring the sewing machines used on the show, check out our sister post, What sewing machines are used on sewing bee? And for a weekly review of our highs and lows, head over to our  The Great British Sewing Bee Episode Guide for the latest highlights (contains spoilers), lowlights and challenges of each episode.

Are you a fan of podcasts? We’ve released some special sewing-themed episodes of our We’ve Made It podcast with appearance from past contestants, and if you all this talk of DIY’ing your wardrobe has got you wanting to learn more about how to make clothes, check out our favourite sewing patterns for beginners and learn how to use a sewing machine.

Photos: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon

When is the Great British Sewing Bee on?

The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 was shown on BBC One at 9pm every Wednesday.

What channel is the Great British Sewing Bee on?

After years on BBC Two, The Great British Sewing Bee moved to BBC One for series 6 and has remained on BBC One ever since.

Where can I stream the Great British Sewing Bee?

Exciting news! The BBC has made all seven series of the Great British Sewing Bee available on iPlayer, so you can catch up on any series that you’ve missed. Watch the Great British Sewing Bee.

Where is the Great British Sewing Bee filmed?

The Great British Sewing Bee is filmed at The Chainstore on Trinity Buoy Wharf, which is just across the Thames from the O2 Arena.

The show’s former warehouse setting for the 2020 series was located in London’s Bermondsey, in the heart of the capital’s historical textiles quarter. For the truly geeky among you (we include ourselves in this category), the 2019 series was filmed at 47/49 Tanner Street (also the location of Dragon’s Den!), near Tower Bridge.

Get your Sewing Bee fix

Sew along with the projects you see on screen this season with these books, including the brand new book for the new series!

The Great British Sewing Bee book 2021

Who won this year’s Sewing Bee?

Serena is the winner of the Great British Sewing Bee 2021! Well done, Serena! Read our interview with Sewing Bee 2021 winner Serena Baker to find out how she felt about winning the Bee.

Is the Great British Sewing Bee coming back?

The Great British Sewing Bee is a hugely popular show and has occupied a prime time slot on BBC One for the last couple of years. In 2020, the show returned for a couple of celebrity Christmas specials and we’re waiting to find out if they will return this year.


Stitched projects shot on model in the studio

Get a free maxi dress pattern to start making your own clothes

If you’ve been inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee, dust off your sewing machine and give your wardrobe an instant update with our gorgeous Maria maxi dress pattern. Suitable for beginners and with full instructions included, you’ll find everything you need to get started. Sign up to the Simply Sewing newsletter to get your free pattern!


The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 themes

A hot topic in 2020 was sustainability and we expect that it will be important in the 2021 series too. It has been confirmed that there will be a Sustainability week in series seven and we’re looking forward to see what the sewers come up with. Joe Lycett says: “We definitely need to be reusing and getting the most out of our fabrics. It’s a massive pollution and it’s a huge issue. Just use what you have and think twice about buying stuff that you really don’t need.”

“One of our three challenges has always been about upcycling before it became fashionable. The Reduce Reuse Recycle week which we brought in three years ago was such a great innovation, and it consistently captures imagination and in a fun way transforms people’s behaviour towards sustainability. People are inspired to do things differently and creating change,” Patrick Grant adds.

Summer was the theme of week two and there are sure to be lots of beach and travel themed creations from the contestants. If you’re feeling inspired to make your own summer clothes, check out our round-up of 12 of the best summer patterns.

Week three was Gents’ Classics Week, featuring a baker boy cap challenge and a utility jacket pattern. Week four will be International week and will feature Breton tops and Frida Kahlo-inspired outfits.

Children’s Week also returned to put the sewers’ skill and creativity to the test! Make something for the children in your life with our free toy sewing patterns for babies and children.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Week is the theme of week six and it’s always a popular episode. If you’re feeling inspired, check out our sewing hacks for secondhand clothes.

The weather may be warming up, but it’s chilly in the sewing room because the theme of week seven was Winter Week. The contestants will whip up some warm flannel shirts, turn old scarves into new garments and stitch a festive winter party dress.

We enjoyed some theatrical magic in week eight, which will be Music and Movies Week. The sewers will be asked to make Baby’s dress from Dirty Dancing, whip up outfits from curtains like Maria from The Sound of Music and stitch dresses inspired by the movie Dream Girls for the Made to Measure challenge. We can’t wait!

In week nine, the sewers went back to the 1940s and were asked to make the glamorous and thrifty styles of that decade, including trousers known as “Oxford bags” and dresses inspired by Dior’s New Look.

In the last episode of the series the remaining sewers were be asked to make a bridesmaid’s dress, summer festival outfits and glamorous off-the-shoulder evening gowns.

The Great British Sewing Bee S7
Adam, Lawratu, Julie, Cathryn, Damien, Farie, Andrew, Rebecca, Jean, Adeena, Raph, Serena – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Meet the Great British Sewing Bee 2021 contestants!

This year’s series featured 12 talented home sewers, some of whom only learnt to sew in the past year!

As always, the Great British Sewing Bee 2021 contestants came from all walks of life, with the youngest in their early twenties, and the oldest in their sixties. “They’re a real mixed bag this year,” says Joe.  As ever, the show proves how accessible sewing is to people of all backgrounds, with the judges lamenting how positive the reaction from the public always is.

“I’ve never seen anything negative on social media,” says Patrick. “It’s a very warm spirited show; the process is very friendly, and everyone who watches it seems nice. Fans who approach us are always genuinely warm. People always message me with photos of things they’ve made.”

Adam, 31

The Great British Sewing Bee S7
Adam – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Cruise Ship Entertainment Director

Leicester

It was his Nan who taught Adam to sew when he was just six years old. By his fourteenth birthday, he had asked his mum for an overlocker, but unfortunately for him she had no idea what that was.

Adam loves spending time with his family and often knits for his eighteen-month-old nephew whose nickname for Adam is Abba because Adam is a self-styled ‘Dancing Queen’.  His love of the stage led Adam to study Performing Arts at university and then on to working as an entertainer on cruise ships, where he was promoted to Cruise Ship Entertainment Director.

His sewing style is inspired by his work and he is often drawn to nautical styles and fabrics, as well as to the glamour of classic films and iconic entertainers.

Adeena, 40 

Adeena - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon
Adeena – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Student Engagement Officer

Birmingham

Education has always been Adeena’s calling and she currently works as a Student Engagement Officer at a university, providing welfare and support to the students. Outside of work she loves organising “get togethers” for her large family that always involve a feast.  Her other creative hobbies involve painting, sketching and woodwork, and one of her crafty achievements includes a giant pencil she carved for a friend.

Fusing her Pakistani heritage with British style in her clothes, Adeena loves to sew for herself and her sisters. She is a spontaneous sewer who loves to add elements as she goes along and admits that her sisters have been ‘guinea pigs’ for her creations.

Andrew, age 54

The Great British Sewing Bee contestant Andrew
Andrew – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Maths Teacher

Hull

Sewing has been a part of Andrew’s life since he was a small boy watching his mother and grandmother making their own garments. He admits to being something of a ‘magpie’, drawn to bold fabrics and eye-catching menswear designs.

The Church plays a very important role in Andrew’s life.  A busy hobbyist, when he’s not making vestments for his partner who is a priest, or a new shirt for himself, he’s likely to be found bellringing or making stained glass windows. He confesses ‘one nice aspect of making things for churches is that they can be big, they can be showy, and are made from the best fabrics.’

Cathryn, 57

The Great British Sewing Bee contestant Cathryn
Cathryn – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Post-Office Worker

Yorkshire

A dinner lady for 25 years but now semi-retired, Cathryn loves spending time on her allotment. Her other love is music.  As an ardent David Bowie fan her cat is named Ziggy Stardust, but she is not to be pigeonholed and has eclectic taste.  She has been known to sew the lyrics of her favourite grime artist, Stormzy, into her garments.

Cathryn has been sewing for over 50 years and her starting point is often old and recycled fabrics.  She uses every scrap to make jeans, dresses, and quilts.

Damien, 39

The Great British Sewing Bee contestant Damien
Damien – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

IT Installation Engineer
Bolton

Sewing has been a relatively new addition to Damien’s hobbies, which also include craft ale making, woodwork, riding his motorbike and playing the guitar.

Damien started teaching himself to sew three years ago when a pair of work trousers needed altering and hasn’t looked back – despite some initial ‘mickey taking’ from friends. He admits that he sometimes gets a raised eyebrow when visiting fabric shops, as he’s not the stereotypical customer.

Damien describes his style as ‘practical’ and he mostly makes casual clothes for himself, along with the occasional dress for his partner, Jackie.

Farie, age 34

The Great British Sewing Bee contestant Farie
Farie – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Accountant

Dunstable

Farie’s talent for sewing was nurtured at school, where she studied Fabrics and Fashion at GCSE. After university, she became an accountant, but her love for design remained throughout her adult life, with sewing providing a creative outlet that accountancy doesn’t.

Her two young daughters also enjoy the benefits of having a creative mum, putting in requests for colourful outfits they can guarantee their friends won’t have. Between work and caring for small children, Farie also makes time to keep fit.  During the first lockdown, she and her friends competed in an indoor walking challenge and she landed herself a gold medal in a 100k challenge.

Jean

The Great British Sewing Bee contestants Jean
Jean – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Art Psychotherapist

County Antrim

Growing up in Stoke-on-Trent, Jean lived with her parents and seven siblings, one of whom is her identical twin. Her parents were unaware that they were expecting two babies, so when Jean and her sister Jeanette were born, their dad raced home to whip up another set of baby clothes on the family’s treadle sewing machine.  Jean’s mother taught her how to sew as a child and today she creates clothes for herself and her partner Jo.

Jean works as an Art Psychotherapist, using the medium of art to help children, teenagers, and adults through difficult life experiences. In addition to sewing, Jean loves walking and in 2018 she spent seven weeks on the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage between France and Northern Spain.

Julie, 62

The Great British Sewing Bee contestant Julie
Julie – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Beauty Therapist

Rotherham

Julie’s first sewing machine was given to her as a Christmas gift and she’s been sewing ever since.  When she finished school, Julie joined a European dance troupe and high-kicked her way through Greece, Italy and Spain for the next few years. Julie’s style is bright and bold.  She makes her own clothes and has sewn prize-winning dresses for Ladies’ Day at the races.  She’s yet to try menswear as her partner, Paul, has told her “not to bother, you’re too wacky for me”.

Lawratu, 37

The Great British Sewing Bee contestant Lawratu
Lawratu – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Local Authority Officer

Surrey

A local authority officer, Lawratu is also an active member of the local Women’s Institute and enjoys all kinds of crafting, including needlework and knitting.  She wants to dispel the myth that people who attend the WI are ‘all fuddy-duddies sitting around eating scones and having cream teas.’ Her own branch much prefers putting the world to rights at the pub over a glass of wine or a G&T.

Lawratu has been sewing for around six years and began making her own clothes because she didn’t like the fit of items in the shops.  Completely self-taught with the occasional tip from YouTube, she likes bright colours and vivid prints often inspired by her West African heritage.

Raphael, 34

The Great British Sewing Bee contestants Ralph
Raph – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Textile Artist

London

While his work as a Textile Artist has seen Raphael dyeing cloth for high-profile movies, it wasn’t until lockdown that he properly started learning to sew, focusing mainly on stylish menswear for himself. He’s still developing his own sewing style, saying ‘I’m a DIY sewer, because I’m self-taught. So I don’t necessarily use pins. But then, I also don’t like unpicking things!’

Developing his sewing skills fits in around Raphael’s other pastimes including playing the trumpet in two London orchestras and gymnastics training. He also makes a mean pepperoni, having spent his summers at university serving pizzas on the beach.

Rebecca, 23

The Great British Sewing Bee S7
Rebecca – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Retail Assistant

Scunthorpe

A trained teacher, Rebecca now enjoys working as a Customer Assistant at her local supermarket.

Sewing is in Rebecca’s blood, and from the age of four, her mum and nana would pass on their expertise with a needle. She went on to study textiles at A-level, and now finds making clothes the perfect way to relieve the stress of a working day. She likes fast projects she can make and wear quickly and admits to having ‘a bad habit for not reading the instructions and just ploughing through.’

Before the pandemic Rebecca was often on the terraces with her dad, cheering on Scunthorpe United, as well as scoring goals of her own on the netball court. As a member of a local amateur dramatics group, she has played the Good Fairy in a recent pantomime and is also a dab hand at the piano.

Serena, 21

The Great British Sewing Bee Contestants Serene
Serena – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Medical Student

Edinburgh

At 21, Serena is our youngest sewer this year. She is originally from Glasgow but has moved to Edinburgh to study medicine. She is now in her fourth year and has recently started ward placements.

Serena’s passion for sewing goes hand in hand with her love of sustainable style. She began teaching herself basic skills from YouTube in her teens, and now creates her own designs as well as ‘refreshing’ charity shop garments, giving them a new lease of life. Killing Eve’s iconic character Villanelle is her style icon: “she’s a bit androgynous and I’ve always been into wearing brogues and high waisted trousers.” Serena’s eventual aim is to create a completely unique, ‘me-made’ wardrobe.
Outside of studying and sewing, Serena enjoys keeping active and often runs around the picturesque landscape of Edinburgh.

Who left the Sewing Bee? Spoilers!

If you don’t want to know who has left the show, skip this bit!

Julie was first to leave the show, followed by Jean, Lawratu, Cathryn, Adam, Andrew, Damien and Farie. Rebecca, Serena and Raph all reached the final, with Serena winning the top spot.

Who won the Great British Sewing Bee in 2020?

The Great British Sewing Bee’s 2020 a brilliant series and included 12 incredibly talented sewists. The winner was Clare, a hospital doctor from Winchester with an amazing eye for accuracy and all things vintage! Read our interview with Clare to get all the behind the scenes gossip.

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The Great British Sewing Bee 2020
The brilliant trio are back for more fun and games in the sewing room – and Joe’s brought plenty of glitter

What Sewing Bee is really like behind the scenes?

Friendly competition

It’s always heart-warming to see the contestants form friendships and mentor and support each other as the show goes on. Never is the kind community spirit of crafters more evident than when contestants who are racing around the clock gather around their competitor to help them with a new technique or calm a crisis when a left arm’s been sewn to the right body piece.

“The friendships formed are one of the things about the Sewing Bee that are amazing,” Esme says. “The contestants are a bit like students at college. They bond, and are friends for life and they help each other so much.”

“They all learn from each other,” adds Patrick. “Everyone shuffles over to each others’ station to learn. They get a real buzz out of being in the studio together, in the same way students do, with ideas circulating.”

Read more about The Great British Sewing Bee

This sort of support is much relied upon when emotions run high in the sewing room, and there are tears and wobbles aplenty from the contestants this year. “We try to remind them that it’s meant to be a fun, happy experience, but they all want to do themselves proud so I see why they get frustrated,” says Joe. “Being able to reassure people is one of the nicest parts of the show.”

Host Joe is just as much part of the sewing crew as the contestants and bidding farewell to the latest to leave is always tricky for him. “I hate saying goodbye to them, I really struggle with it and this year particularly I really loved them as a gang, and we filmed quickly so it felt like they were popping off very fast!” he shares. “We’d start the week with eight contestants and only have five by the end. Despite contrary advice I’m in a WhatsApp group with them all, so I’m still connected with them all and know what they’re up to all the time, and they do message a lot…”

What happens to the clothes made on the Sewing Bee?

Past contestant Chinelo Bally helped to clear up this mystery for us when she appeared on our We’ve Made It podcast. She said that all of the garments are returned to the contestants after filming. She also revealed that contestants receive a budget to buy the fabric needed for the show.

In the episode, Chinelo talked about her experiences on the show and shared some great tips for novice sewers. You can find We’ve Made It on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast or wherever you get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can use the player below to listen to the episode online.

Who are the judges on Sewing Bee?

As viewers, we get to see all the best bits from the sewing room – the outbursts of despair when Joe shouts a countdown, the wide-eyed alarm when the judges walk past and hover just a little too long, and all the triumphs and mishaps in-between. For Patrick and Esme, who miss out on a lot of this, watching the show when it airs is just as entertaining as it is for us at home, as Patrick shares, “I love watching the show back, because we don’t see them do the transformation challenge, or get to hear what they say on camera. I concentrate on doing my bit of the job, and we don’t get to enjoy them doing their stuff – we don’t even see their back story until we watch it on TV. Given that we only see a snippet of what’s going on during filming, it’s so enjoyable to get the full picture.”

Programme Name: The Great British Sewing Bee - TX: 06/05/2020 - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: Fiona, Esme Young, Patrick Grant - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Production

So, what do the judges get up to during the transformation challenge when they’re banished from the sewing room? Patrick shared a sneak-peek behind the scenes, “Esme is constantly making dresses, but Joe and I play scrabble, do sudoku puzzles, and eat lots and lots of snacks. To be honest, though, we never get much of a break, because we’re always on stand-by in case something goes wrong.”

“I took to sitting on an exercise balance ball, which strengthens the muscle around the knees,” adds Joe – there’s a sight we’d like to see!

The charismatic host has promised that his wardrobe this year is as much to look forward to as the sewing, “My outfits are something to behold this series. I start gently and then build up. I had one outfit that everyone hated; It was covered and glitter and malted terribly. Every one of the contestants’ garments that week got covered in sparkles.”

“We had to put blankets all over things and we wouldn’t let him sit down,” Esme adds. “He left a trail of glitter everywhere, like a sparkly slug.”

“There are some wild outfits from me this season, and choosing something to wear that I wouldn’t normally dare to is one of my fave things about the job,” says Joe. “My favourite outfit this season was made by my sister. Totally unrelated to me joining the show, she started sewing and made me an amazing shirt in a wacky fabric. People always ask if it’s designer – the buttons on it were designed by Patrick!”

The Great British Sewing Bee 2020 Joe Lycett and Hazel

Meet the judges

Patrick Grant

The Great British Sewing Bee S6

Patrick Grant is a Scottish fashion designer and famous within the industry. He’s worked with multiple bespoke tailors including Norton & Sons of Savile Row and has a keen eye for sharp lines and crisp suits. He was awarded the Menswear Designer award at the British Fashion Awards in 2010 which means he more than qualified to judge the Sewing Bee’s contestants.

Esme Young

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 31/03/2020 - Programme Name: The Great British Sewing Bee - TX: n/a - Episode: Judges & Presenter Generics (No. Judges & Presenter Generics) - Picture Shows: STRICTLY EMBARGOED NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE 00:01 HRS ON TUESDAY 31ST MARCH 2020** Esme Young - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Esme Young is the powerhouse on Sewing Bee. She began her sewing career in Camden with her brand Swanky Modes and has been sewing ever since. Learn more about Esme’s life, style and history in our interview.

Inspired by the Sewing Bee?

If GBSB has inspired you to dust off the sewing machine and get creative then we have lots of free projects to get you started. Every week we round up the Sewing Bee 2021 gossip, tips and patterns in our episode guide. Our guide has a full range of projects which are inspired by the weekly transformation, pattern and made to measure challenges. There’s everything from corsets to pinafore dresses so head over to find your next project!

Sewing Bee applications: how to take part

The Great British Sewing Bee

Applications for the 2022 Sewing Bee are now open! Before you apply for sewing bee, Joe, Esme, and Patrick are on hand with have some useful advice. “You need a broad skill base,” says Patrick. “You should be able to sew zips, deal with elastic, and so on because we are testing all of it. We’ll always be testing all of those skills, along with many more.”

“When sewing at home, people often focus on a particular skill and they get very talented at it, but being confronted with something they’ve never done before can make contestants come unstuck,” comments Esme.

“Some people are good at following patterns and instructions, so if you want to apply, I’d suggest timing yourself doing patterns at home under pressure, as that’s a key part of the show,” says Patrick.

“It’s also worth practicing having someone interrupting you to ask ‘how’s your sewing going?’” quips Joe.

Apply for the next series of the Sewing Bee.

Great British Sewing Bee patterns to try at home

We have loads of free sewing patterns here on Gathered. We’ve even got some that are inspired by Sewing Bee! Check out our pattern below and get making.

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Programme Name: The Great British Sewing Bee - TX: 06/05/2020 - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: Esme Young, Patrick Grant, Alison - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Production
Programme Name: The Great British Sewing Bee – TX: 06/05/2020 – Episode: n/a (No. 3) – Picture Shows: Esme Young, Patrick Grant, Alison – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Production