The Great British Sewing Bee is back with 12 of the country’s best amateur stitchers set to battle it out.
The crafty dozen will compete over the next several weeks to be named the seventh Great British Sewing Bee.
But who are this year’s contestants and who will be judging their efforts?
Great British Sewing Bee 2021 contestants
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
Farie’s talent for sewing was nurtured at school, where she studied Fabrics and Fashion at GCSE. After school she became an accountant, but a 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 friends competed in a virtual walking challenge and she landed herself a gold medal in a 100k challenge.
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.
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”.
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 round eating scones and having cream teas.’ Her own branch much prefer 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.
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.
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.’
At 21, Serena is the show’s 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.
Who are the judges and who is presenting the show?
Esme Young and Patrick Grant are returning to present the show for a seventh season.
Esme, along with four passionate women about fashion, opened a London based shop called ‘Swanky Modes’ in the 70s. Their clothes appeared in magazines and newspapers including Vogue, Nova, Honey, 19, ID, The Face, Boulevard, Interview, The Sunday Times, Express, Mail, and the V&A Little Black Dress Book.
Patrick is a regular on television and radio as a commentator on the British fashion, clothing and textile industries. He has been a contributor to several major television documentaries including Savile Row, Harris Tweed, and The Perfect Suit, but is best known for his role in the The Great British Sewing Bee, for which he earned a 2017 National Television Awards nomination.
They will be joined by comedian Joe Lycett.
Multi award winning comedian Joe is one of the country’s best-loved stand-ups, enjoying three sell out UK and Ireland tours, scooping two Chortle Awards and an Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination for his warm, sardonic brand of comedy.
When is it on?
Series 7 of The Great British Sewing Bee starts at 9pm on April 14.
You can watch it on BBC One or BBC iPlayer.