Sewing Bee Series 3 Contestants

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The Great British Sewing Bee Series 3

Series 3 of The Great British Sewing Bee

It’s back!  The new series of The Great British Sewing Bee will be gracing our screens on the 5th February on BBC2 at 8pm.  Before that there is a look back at series 2 airing on the 28th January at The Great British Sewing Bee book by Claire Louise Hardie8pm to whet your appetite.   Series 3 will run for 6 episodes, you can view the trailer here.

I’ve had a preview of the new book that accompanies the series, written by my talented friend Claire-Louise Hardie, which goes on sale on the 26th February.   It’s focused on sewing with different fabrics such as woollen fabrics, jersey, silk, tweed, lace etc and more complex skills and garments than the previous 2 books.  I suspect that the new series will mimic the book focusing on a different fabric each episode.

Keep an eye out around the 20th of Feb for the chance to win one of 3 copies of the book when I team up with publishers Quadrille for a giveaway.

The judges for series 3 remain the same, Saville Row's Patrick Grant sporting a rather impressive moustasche this series, and the WI's May Martin plus it will be presented by the bubbly Claudia Winkleman.

Episode 1

The first episode will be focusing on the most common of fabrics, cotton.  They will be constructing a pair of women’s trousers - complete with complicated invisible zip, have to totally transform a bog standard denim shirt in just 90 minutes for the upcycling challenge and are asked to produce a stunning summer dress for their real-life models in the final challenge.

To brush up on your sewing skills check my workshops database to find a local sewing class, or visit the techniques sections for free sewing technique guides.

Judges of The Great British Sewing Bee


Future Episodes

Throughout the series we will see the contestants have to follow a surprise dressmaking pattern in the first challenge of each episode.  Seeing them make everything from a basic pair of women’s trousers, to a 1950s vintage pattern and a Japanese top made from just one piece of fabric. 

For the second challenge the sewers have to call upon their artistic style to radically alter an existing item – in just 90 minutes.  Garments they will be upcycling include a simple denim shirt, 80s power suits as well as some of the most surprising things ever seen in the sewing room. 

The third sewing challenge allows the sewers to show off their individual style, and ability to fit garments to a real model as they tackle making everything from a children’s fancy dress outfit, to leather jackets and even a traditional kilt.  So lots of great sewing challenges for us to look forward to.

The contestants of series 3 of The Great British Sewing Bee


The Contestants

It’s great to see there are several men involved this year, wonder if we’ll have our first male winner?  Find out more about each of the contestants below:


Alex age 31 from London.  Works in Corporate Strategy Alex from the Great British Sewing Bee

Alex is a Romanian born business woman who’s been living in London for four years with her fiancé. She started sewing in 2009 when she purchased a cheap sewing machine and attempted to teach herself. At the time, she would upcycle her mother’s old clothes. Since moving to London with her sewing machine, Alex has sewing lessons to improve her skills.

Alex admits to being ridiculously competitive, she loves her overlocker, claiming she couldn’t live without it. If Alex had the option she would be at the machine all day and dream about sewing all night! Alex loves to combine fabric, and often uses faux leather in her clothes. She is as passionate about sustainability in her sewing as she is in her work, and hopes to encourage people to try and make clothes by recycling, upcycling and using sustainable fabrics.

“I’m an obsessive compulsive sewer. When I’m making something I want to sit there till it’s done. Often I sew till 1am or 2am because I want to wear it the next day."


Amanda aged 46 from Darlington.  Deputy Head Teacher

Amanda from The Great British Sewing BeeMother of two Amanda is an avid sewing blogger.  She wants to inspire the nation’s primary school aged children to get sewing.  Amanda learnt to sew when she was 7 years old on her grandmother’s old hand machine.  Amanda enjoys sharing her skills with her pupils and would love to inspire all of the nation’s primary school children to learn how to sew.

Amanda was given a tailor’s dummy for Christmas in 2012, which she believes has totally transformed her sewing. She’s more in love with it now than ever and is producing garments that she is more and more proud of as a result.

“I sew in the dining room and sit at a desk which looks into the garden. I have a very girly house and lots of boxes of sewing things. I’m very mathematical and like patterns - I also iron my patterns!”

Amanda admits that she has rushed things in the past, but says “ I’ve realised it’s better to take your time and do it right the first time!”

Annie - 62 from the Scottish Borders. Artisan Cheese Maker

Retired Scottish dairy farmer, teacher and artisan cheesemaker Annie was an avid sewer in her younger Contestants from series 3 Sewing Beelife, having been inspired by an enthusiastic teacher at school. She took a break when she had children and a full-time job, but once her children had flown the nest Annie redisovered her passion for the craft. She loved that she could make a dress on Saturday afternoon and wear it on Saturday night.

Annie describes herself as a ‘larger lady’ who often finds it difficult to buy clothes that fit well in shops. She started sewing properly again three years ago when she needed an outfit for her daughter’s wedding, and was treated rudely while searching for something on the high street. She decided to make something to wear herself, and now sews every day.

“I like the way I can make a garment that actually fits.” She adds, “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.”


Judges of The Great British Sewing Bee


Deborah aged 25 from Manchester. Project Administrator

Deborah from The Great British Sewing BeeDeborah is a keen sewer and blogger who likes to share ideas with her sewing community. She describes her style as ‘vintage with a modern twist’, and often combines patterns to make clothes perfect for her shape.

Deborah’s mum taught her to sew when she was just 11, and now there’s nothing she likes more than locking herself away in her craft room.   Originally from Blackburn, Deborah now lives in Manchester with her new husband Terence and works for Manchester Metropolitan University. Before that, Deborah had a job in a fabric shop which she thinks definitely fuelled her love of sewing.

“If I have a project on the go I can’t wait to get back home! I finish work at 4.30pm so dash off to get the bus and start sewing immediately. If I don’t have a project planned I’ll have my tea and go up and tidy my sewing room and then start to make something. The longer I sew the more anxious I get if I don’t do something sewing related each day.”

Once she’s perfected a garment that fits her well Deborah, makes lots of other versions of it in different colours and fabrics. Deborah is currently trying to develop her own wardrobe of dresses and skirts for work, but the garment she is most proud of making is her wedding dress.  


Matt aged 36 from Berkshire. IT Consultant

Matt learned to sew in the army, at the tender age of 16, when he needed to mend and repair his uniform. Matt from Great British Sewing Bee season 3Matt began to take his sewing more seriously over the last three years, teaching himself dressmaking skills from online tutorials and now proudly makes dresses for his wife Gemma, and fancy dress outfits for their two young children.

Matt finds sewing therapeutic and enjoys the engineering side of making a garment. He has often found himself the butt of his friends’ jokes for his more classically feminine hobby, though all of their wives are jealous of Gemma’s constantly growing new wardrobe! Matt has recently challenged himself to increase his skills by branching out into more tailored garments.

“I was fixated on the last series and when I saw the shout out for new sewers, my wife and friends kept egging me on. I eventually decided to throw my hat in the ring!”


Lorna age 68 from Kent. Retired air hostess

Sewing Bee contestant series 3Lorna has been sewing since she was 11 years old, after her mother took her for sewing lessons in Buenos Aires, where they were living at the time. She watched avidly, rushing home to try out her new skills by making clothes for her dolls. Sewing became Lorna’s saviour when she was sent to boarding school in Scotland. Being dyslexic, she found sewing was the only subject she really excelled at.

Lorna is married with two grown up sons, and before retiring clocked up a diverse career working as everything from a dental nurse, to an air hostress and a Eurostar Customer Services Representative.

Lorna says she likes the pressure and adrenaline of sewing to a time limit. She also likes to upcycle clothes, and often used her husband’s old shirts and make new ones for her sons. More recently Lorna sews glamorous gowns and dresses for the cruises she enjoys with her husband Ray.

“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.”

“I’ve got a lot of sentimental thimbles; I was made to sew with a thimble at school. One of my first presents from my son was a thimble.”

Claudia Winkleman presenter of The Great British Sewing Bee 2015


Neela age 41 from Surrey. Marketing Manager

Neela loves to make occasion wear and enjoys upcycling old saris to make dresses for her two Neela from the Sewing Beedaughters. “I’ll make things for my children and myself, mostly for Indian weddings. I have a massive family and we always have family functions. Last year we had two weddings so there is always some event to sew for.”

Originally from Bradford, Neela was taught to sew by her mother on an old Singer machine when she was just eight. She started collecting patterns when she was young and now has an extensive back catalogue, which she uses for her designs.

"I normally self draft patterns for the girls' outfits, but I tend to mix and match patterns when I'm making my own clothes."

Neela likes to be adventurous with her fabric choice and, inspired by the previous series of the Sewing Bee, invested in an overlocker to help her tackle more difficult fabrics. She is keen to pass on her love of sewing to the next generation, and has taught both of her daughters to sew. They now have three sewing machines in their house, and are looking forward to creating a space at home dedicated solely to sewing.

“I sew on my own. But when my girls see me sewing, they get inspired and start making things alongside me, which is great.”

Neil age 45 from Salisbury.  Lieutenant colonel in the Army

Male contestants of The Great British Sewing BeNeil started sewing at school out of protest because the girls were allowed to join the football team. He was mocked by his troops for taking his sewing machine on tour to Bosnia and Afghanistan, until they realised how useful it was for their own uniform repairs and making curtains for their accommodation. Neil was even asked to sew the head back on to someone’s teddy bear!

Aside from his family, Neil has two, extreme passions; sewing and rugby. He has been known to rush straight off the rugby pitch and home to finish an evening dress for his wife for dinner that evening.
Neil picked up sewing from his mum and sisters, so is no stranger to womenswear. He has made three wedding dresses, the bridesmaids dresses for his own wedding and bespoke occasion wear for his wife – including her going away outfit.

Neil once got roped into making the costumes for a Sound of Music production – which turned out to be over 120 outfits - and at the other end of the spectrum has made ammunition pouches, ski gloves and rugby shirts.

“I have some bad habits; I’m always biting and pulling cotton rather than using scissors. I’m also lazy with pinning patterns – I start by pinning then I end up just cutting. I think part of my problem is I’ve never had a decent machine!”


Ryan age 21 from London (Originally from Swindon).  Theatre Wardrobe Master studying menswear at Central St Martins

Hailing from a family of building society managers, Ryan is bucking the family trend with his love of dress-Ryan from the Sewing Bee TV showmaking after being inspired by his sewing whizz Granny. Ryan taught himself to sew at age of seven by methodically following patterns to improve his skills. Ryan compares sewing patterns to puzzles and with each new pattern, likes to increase the level of difficulty to really push himself.

A fitness addict, Ryan likes to make his own sportswear and has fashioned hoodies and running shorts on his prized possession; his over locker. He is the youngest sewer to ever step into the sewing room, aged just 20 when the series was filmed.

Ryan regularly visits museums and exhibitions to get inspiration for his sewing creations. He likes to dream big, and would love to see one of his sewing creations on the red carpet one day, or to have a display in the V & A! Following his time on the Sewing Bee, Ryan finally moved to London full-time to take up a place as a full-time fashion student.

“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!”

Paul age 53 from Cheshire. Sports Physiotherapist

Paul from the Great British Sewing BeePaul surprises people with his love of crafts. He sews out of frustration at the monotony of men’s clothing, and feels men aren’t well represented in the sewing world. Apart from his everyday wear, Paul also likes to make more theatrical clothes with costumes for historical re-enactments and dresses for his female impersonator friend.

Paul learnt to sew by watching his mother as a child, and finally got his own sewing machine at the age of 20. He has been sewing ever since. Paul loves the pleasure he gets from creating something unique that you can’t buy in the shops.

He describes his style as colourful and bright, and likes to reflect this in the clothes he creates. Paul has experience in a wide range of garments; from shirts to waistcoats; shorts to fleeces and even an English Civil War costume for his re-enactment society.

Paul has 30 years of sewing experience, and has handled thick fabrics and difficult menswear projects. As well as sewing, Paul also enjoys knitting, gardening and is passionate about elephants.

“I’ve got a passion for collecting elephants. I’ve got over 200 of them. I’ve been collecting them for 25 years or so, they’re all over the house. I love elephant prints to make clothes with and am thinking about making a pin elephant - they seem to be my lucky charm!”

Whilst you are waiting for the new series to start why not browse my episode guides, interviews and projects from series 1 and 2 by clicking the image below.

Series 1 and 2 of The Sewing Bee - episode guides

All images (except for the book cover) © BBC/Charlotte Medlicott


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