The Great British Sewing Bee 2019

So what’s the hype all about?…

The Great British Sewing Bee is back with it’s brand new host Joe Lycette for 8 weeks of brain-teasing patterns, spectacular transformations and stunning made-to-measure outfits. Saville Row’s Patric Grant and Central St Martins Esme Young scrutinise every stitch as 10 of the country’s best home sewers tale up a needle and thread and tackle everything from jumpsuits to swimsuits to evening gowns. We don’t know about you but we’re super exited and can’t wait for you to follow it with us below.

The Judges

Image courtesy of Love Productions

Esme Young

Esme is one part of BBC Two’s Great British Sewing Bee much-loved judging duo, joining the show in 2016. 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. Swanky Modes’ clothing was photographed by renowned photographers such as Helmut Newton, David Bailey, Nick Knight, John Swannell, Neil Kirk. The iconic shop attracts a diverse clientele and has been visited by Julie Christie, Toyah Wilcox, Princess Julia, Midge Ure, Bette Bright, Viv Albertine, and Grace Jones.

Patrick Grant

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 Great British Sewing Bee, for which he earned a 2017 National Television Awards nomination.

The Host

Joe Lycett

Joe Lycett is a multi-award winning comedian, and 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.

He has hosted Live at the Apoll, The One Show and Sunday Brunch and also appeared on a range of shows including 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Would I Lie To You?, Taskmaster and Roast Battle. He hosts BBC Radio 4’s It’s Not What You Know and created Joe Lycetts’ Obsessions for the same station, and in 2016 released his debut book, Parsnips, Buttered (Hodder & Staughton).

In the summer of 2018, a piece of his artwork was accepted into the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition – a clay and acrylic head he named Chris, priced at £12.5 million (proof of funds required before purchase).

As well as taking up hosting duties of The Great British Sewing Bee, Joe fronts new BBC One Saturday night show The Time It Takes, and will deliver consumer justice in new Channel 4 series Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back.

Image courtesy of Love Productions

The Contestants

Episode 8 – The Final

The Great British Sewing Bee reached its dramatic finale as the three finalists (Riccardo, Juliet and Leah) competed for the title of Britain’s best amateur sewer. They took on a trio of eveningwear challenges to push their sewing prowess to the limit! Bringing together a range of advanced sewing skills, from tailoring to high-end designing and delicate handling of luxury fabrics, perfecting eveningwear is a sewing peak for any home sewer.

THE PATTERN CHALLENGE

Great British Sewing Bee judges began by asking the sewers to follow the most complex pattern yet in the sewing room – a double-breasted waistcoat. Even if they master the multitude of intricate processes, the sewers faced the ultimate challenge of sewing blind, as the waistcoat must be stitched together inside-out (a technique called bagging out), before one final, nail-biting reveal.

Sew the Look

4 stylish double-breasted waistcoats for you to make – just click on the images to find out more about the sewing patterns.

The transformation challenge

Next it is the sewer’s last chance to show off their instinct for design in the transformation challenge, as they attempt to turn the domestic into the dramatic by restyling a net curtain into stunning red carpet-ready pieces of evening wear.

Sew the Look
Inspired to sew with lace? Here are 3 gorgeous sewing patterns to get you started:

The made to measure challenge

Lastly, the most important made-to-measure challenge of the competition, the sewers attempted to construct and fit glamorous strapless evening gowns for their models which this time they hand-picked for friends and family.

Creating a one-of-a-kind, jaw-dropping gown using yards of luxury fabric, suspended entirely from a fitted corset, will take a feat of daring construction and their most precise sewing yet.

Sew the Look
Inspiration to up your sewing game with a special occasion strapless dress:

Drum roll please…. Once the final stitch was in place and the catwalk is over, the sewers’ friends and family, along with past competitors, arrive to celebrate, the judges had to make their decision, as there can only be one winner! What an amazing series, all of the sewers were brilliant. All three finalists deserved to win, this year was a tough one!

And the winner is…. Juliet!
Juliet Uzor has become the youngest ever winner of the Great British Sewing Bee after impressing judges in the 2019 final.

Episode 7

Global Sewing Week

Yay it’s semi-final week, and there is now just four contestants remaining in The Great British Sewing Bee. This week the sewing bees go global taking on garments and techniques from around the world.

THE PATTERN CHALLENGE

Firstly, the semi-finalists must follow a pattern like none they’ve encountered before! Judges ask the sewers to make a pair of Indian Dhoti pants. Using a process based on the centuries-old tradition of folding and draping large rectangular pieces of fabric – these wide-legged heavily pleated trousers prove a perplexing project but visually striking! 

Sew the Look

What is a Dhoti?
Dhoti is a traditional Indian garment for men, but has now become attire for modern Indian women as is termed as Dhoti Pants. The difference between dhoti and dhoti pants is the dhoti is an unstitched piece of cloth whereas dhoti pants are stitched trousers for women.

2 sewing patterns to get the ethno-look:
Click on the images to find out more about the sewing patterns. We’ve also found a great guide to making this style of trousers on Sewing Guideclick here

The Transformation Challenge

Next up was the transformation challenge, as the sewers take on a garment from West Africa – the Dashiki. This colourful, strikingly patterned men’s tunic must be transformed into a brand new outfit in just 90 minutes, making imaginative use of the Dashiki’s distinctive bold print.

Dashiki prints have been a part of African culture for hundreds of years – fancy making one? Here’s two patterns to give it ago:

The made to measure challenge

For the made to measure final challenge, the sewers take on the fiendishly tricky high-end Japanese couture technique of origami. Tasked with creating an origami top for their models, the sewers must sculpt dramatic, arresting garments, drawing on the ancient art of paper folding. It proves to be a pain-staking process, pushing the sewers pattern drafting, fabric handling and precision pleating, and sanity to new heights. But only three of these four incredibly talented sewers can make it through to the grand final.

Other techniques for adding dimension to fabric include: applique, patchwork, couching, revers applique, felting, fabric flowers, piping, tucks, pleats, ruffles, ruching, smocking, shirring and stitch and slash.

Sew the Look
Inspired to have a go at some fabric manipulation! Here are a few patterns to get you started with your origami sewing journey:

Garment of the Week winner
Riccardo stitched his way to Garment of the Week with his beautiful origami blouse.

We wave goodbye….
Sadly we had to say ‘sew long’ to Jen, she became the seventh person to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.

Episode 6

Tailoring

There are now five contestants remaining, and this week was all about their talent for tailoring!

The Pattern Challenge

First up was the Pattern Challenge, which this week was a stern test of the sewing bees soft tailoring skills. Judges asked the sewers to create a ‘worker’s jacket’ from linen. This garment is full of complex techniques, using a fabric that can easily creases and frays, and made all the more nerve-wracking as they must precisely follow Patrick’s personal pattern!  

Sew the Look
3 sewing patterns to sew a stylish men’s blazer to make in linen:

The Transformation Challenge

The sewers were asked to take inspiration from the British seaside by turning stripy deckchairs and parasols, covered in hardwearing Burnley ‘ticking’ fabric into stylish garments in just 90 minutes. Here are a few tips for sewing with striped fabrics from us if you fancy having a go:

The Made-to-measure challenge

Finally the models returned to the sewing room to be fitted for made-to-measure coats, which were constructed from wool. The contestants had to source the wool from across the British Isles. This coat challenge was the largest garment they had attempted so far on The Great British Sewing Bee, and the sewers must once again draw on their tailoring talent to ensure their coats hang and fit the models perfectly. Whose wool coats will be the pride of Britain and whose will unravel, missing out on a coveted place in the semi-final? 

Sew the Look
Inspired to make a tailored coat? Here are 4 of our favourite sewing patterns:

Finally the models returned to the sewing room to be fitted for made-to-measure coats, which were constructed from wool. The contestants had to source the wool from across the British Isles. This coat challenge was the largest garment they had attempted so far on The Great British Sewing Bee, and the sewers must once again draw on their tailoring talent to ensure their coats hang and fit the models perfectly. Whose wool coats will be the pride of Britain and whose will unravel, missing out on a coveted place in the semi-final? 

Garment of the Week winner
Riccardo stitched his way to Garment of the Week with his two –colour coat.

Wave goodbye
Sadly we had to say ‘sew long’ to Janet, she became the sixth person to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.

Episode 5

Reduce, Re-use and Recycle

Recycle and refashioning
There is now six sewing bees remaining. The fashion industry is the biggest polluter of our planet next to the oil industry, so to raise this profile for the first time on The Great British Sewing Bee – it’s all about Reduce, Re-use and Recycle this week. All the fabric in the haberdashery is now replaced with charity shop clothes and soft-furnishings.

First challenge

To breathe new life into this old fabric, host Joe Lycett kicks the six remaining home sewers off with a pattern for a pussy-bow blouse, which must be pieced together from four second-hand garments. This time the judges are not only looking for precision sewing, but also the ability to design and create garments using attractive colour combinations.

Sew the Look
6 sewing patterns to sew a Pussy Bow blouse:

The Transformation Challenge
In a twist to the usual transformation challenge, the sewers are faced with all the scraps and off-cuts collected throughout their journey on the Sewing Bee so far. Together, they collectively pool these leftover fabrics to create stunning and inventive new patchwork garments.

High Street Inspiration

Sew the Look
Get the print-on-print look with these sewing patterns:

PULLOUT QUOTE
“Bohomeian style and colourful prints are great combo. If you love patchwork, ethnic prints, handmade and eye-catching design elements, you will certainly be grabbing these fabrics and sewing patterns.”

The Made-to-measure challenge
Finally the sewers come armed with discarded curtains and soft furnishings from home, challenged to create a made to a measure day dress, perfectly fitted to their model. Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music hasn’t got a patch on the sewing bee bunch as they set to work on their brocade, net curtains and blinds!

Sew the Look
Inspired to make a day dress. Here are 3 of our favourites that can easily be used with recycled fabrics:

Garment of the Week winner

Leah recycled her way to Garment of the Week with her lacy hi low hem dress from a lace curtain.

Wave goodbye

Sadly we had to say ‘sew long’ to Mercedes, she became the fifth person to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.

Episode 4

Go technical or go home with this weeks episode of The Great British sewing bee!

The seven remaining home sewers go technical and this week took on the dreaded man-made fabrics designed for sport and the great outdoors. Host Joe Lycett keeps spirits high, as the sewers jump in at the deep end, with a pattern for a lined swimsuit. Containing so many seemingly identical pieces, it’s a challenge that throws the sewing room into confusion, with a great deal of conferring and advice from contestant Janet coming to the rescue, before judges, Patrick and Esme offer their brutally honest feedback.

Sew the Look

Inspired to make a panelled swimsuit. Here are 3 of our favourites:

The transformation challenge

Instead of garments, the sewers are presented with discarded festival tents (yes tents!) to make a dog coat. Dashing dachshund, Winston strutted his stuff with Patrick in tow! The sewers now have to attempt to transform old tents into stylish, practical winter coats for pooches, which are to be displayed on dog mannequins.

Sew the Look

Pamper your pooch with these sewing patterns

The Made-to-measure challenge

For the final challenge, male models arrive in the sewing room to be fitted for a luxury tracksuit. It’s double the work as the sewers attempt to create both trousers and jackets, using stretchy fabrics like scuba, and difficult-to-sew materials like mesh and micro-fibre.

Sew the Look

4 sewing patterns to sew a luxury tracksuit

Garment of the Week winner

Jen stitched her way to Garment of the Week with her luxe tracksuit made from scuba,

Wave goodbye

Sadly we had to say ‘sew long’ to Alexei, he became the fourth person to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.

Episode 3

The eight remaining home sewers head back in time to the ’70s attempting to revive the glamorous, rebellious and sometimes ridiculous style of the decade. This is more than a stroll down memory lane as they tackle the decade’s most fiddly, floaty and anarchic garments.

First up, the judges challenge the sewers to get their groove on with the trickiest pattern so far, flared jeans to create the perfect bell-bottomed trousers involving heavyweight fabrics and taking on the daunting technical hurdles of a zip fly and flat-felled seam, hopefully without getting in a flap. If this isn’t difficult enough the contestants have to get to grips with the oddities of vintage machines!

Fancy a go at making a pair of wide legged trousers – here are 3 of our favourite patterns:

*From left to right; Simplicity 8457, Simplicity 8605, Simplicity 8750

The transformation challenge

For the transformation challenge, fabric flies and anarchy rules as the sewers let their imagination rip, turning T-shirts and tartan into riskay punk-inspired outfits with safety pins and rips galore – all in just 90 minutes.

In the made to measure challenge the sewers take on their final icon of ’70s fashion, the maxi dress. Working with sheer, slippery fabrics, they must create a form-fitting bodice, and floaty skirt that embodies the glamour that makes the maxi dress popular today.

Mercedes boogie her way to Garment of the Week with her maxi dress wear she used a vintage pattern and adapted it to fit her model, and for whom will 70s week signal the end of an era, as they become the third sewer to wave goodbye to the Great British Sewing Bee?

*From left to right; Be Grace maxi from Ellie and Mac, Butterick 6308, BurdaStyle, New Look 6096.

*From left to right; Simplicity 8013, Vogue 1502, Vogue 9253.

Sadly we had to say ‘sew long’ to Ben, he became the third person to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.

Episode 2

Nine home sewers remain and return to the nation’s most famous sewing room for children’s week. The garments might be mini but they’re a mammoth challenge being fiddly to sew.
To test the sewers’ dexterity, judges Patrick and Esme kick off the pattern challenge with a wardrobe staple of every child – a hoodie. The task requires a tricky combination of hard-to-handle stretch knit fabrics, small pattern pieces and use of the feared overlocker, which ruthlessly cuts the fabric as it sews.
Next, in the transformation challenge, the sewers let their imaginations run wild, turning faux fur coats into fantastical fancy dress beasts.
Finally, the Sewing Bee welcomes dancing mini-models for made-to-measure dance costumes. These must be perfectly fitted but allow enough freedom of movement for the dancing children to perform the Hornpipe, the Tarantella and Highland dancing down the catwalk.

Leah pirouetted her way to the top and won garment of the week with a stunning black and white swan lake costume, and sadly Shelia became the second sewer to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.

Recreate the hoodie

Episode 1

The contestants are eased in gently with cotton fabric, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy ride. For their first pattern challenge the judges have chosen a Dior-inspired ‘wiggle dress’ designed to hug the female form. It requires precision and accurate darts, and any diversion from the instructions could result in an ill-fitting garment.

Next their design skills and sewing instincts are tested in the Transformation Challenge, when the sewers are tasked with transforming three second-hand items of denim clothing into a single, stylish new garment in just 90 minutes.

The final challenge

For their final challenge, the mannequins are gone and replaced with real live models who the sewers must flawlessly fit with a made-to-measure jumpsuit. Who will achieve the perfect body rise, avoiding the dreaded camel toe?

Juliet created a stunning maxi dress worthy of Garment of the Week, and featured an asymmetric shoulder, the dress was super flattering, cinched in at the waist with long, elegant, wide-legged trousers.

Sadly Tom dropped a stitch at this early stage, becoming the first to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.

Make yourself a Wiggle Dress