TV guide: Great British Sewing Bee is back ?


We know that millions of Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB) enthusiasts will be buzzing about its return to our screens tonight (14th April, 9pm, BBC1). One of those is CraftCourses crew member, Fran, who took up making her own clothes as a hobby during lockdown and shares her sewing journey with us below. Some of it might even have you in stitches (and yes these puns are a homage to Joe Lycett.)

Read on to learn about what Fran's been 'fabric'ating, learn about her chance meeting with the lovely Sewing Bee judge, Esme Young, and find an outstanding selection of sewing workshops and kits that could help you get started with this addictive craft. 


A fab line up for 2021 - Image from Tellymix


I have been a Sewing Bee super-fan for years and confess I am slightly obsessed with judge Patrick Grant, please don't tell my partner. This year's line-up of contestants is very exciting and varied. They are all from different backgrounds, with some picking up their skills from family and some from good old YouTube. For details of the whole cast of Great British Sewing Bee visit Tellymix


My first sewing creations: confidence building!


I have always enjoyed watching my mother sew and although Mum wouldn't call herself a seamstress, she can handle any pattern and has made me some cracking outfits both as a toddler and even now at 32 years old.

I even had sewing machines passed down to me but never gained the confidence to try them out! I was just scared of them. Then there was a changing point.

Last year I attended the Stitch Festival in London with my best friend Holly. She had won VIP passes to go to the event, which meant we had a fancy lunch, a free embroidery workshop and, more importantly, a private meeting with, GBSB judge Esme Young. What an inspiration! She spoke of her early memories of sewing, her success in the fashion business, her time on the Sewing Bee and her relationship with Patrick Grant (yes, I am jealous!) Esme asked about my sewing experience and I reddened with embarrassment when I told her how afraid I was to ‘take the leap.’


Fran on the right with best friend Holly, left, and GBSB judge Esme Young


After meeting Esme, I started practising more and more, starting small with re-usable cotton pads, then I designed some of my own textile jewellery. Finally I progressed to making my own waistcoat (fully lined!) from a vintage pattern and now I’m totally hooked. I hope one day to meet Esme again to tell her what an incredibly positive influence she had on me. If you are reading this Esme, THANK YOU!

I strongly recommend anyone toying with the idea of making their own clothes, creating their own made-to-measure look and style, to tune in to watch GBSB as it is always incredibly inspiring and uplifting (and just great telly).


Perhaps you would like help learning to sew alongside an expert seamstress on a workshop or class? Do you have a project in mind but scared to start? We have hundreds of sewing workshops and kits available and we have shared a selection with you below. 


In-person beginner's sewing workshops


Beginner's sewing workshop

Holly Davis in Avon

Learn the basics of using a sewing machine and build up your confidence.


Learn more and book online here >



Start to sew

The Wood Cottage Crafts - Scarborough

A 3-hour course to learn basic sewing machine skills, you will thread the machine, fill bobbins and practise different stitching techniques


Learn more and book online here>



Absolute beginner's sewing class

Deb Day Sewing Room- West Midlands

Suitable for absolute beginners or for those of you who haven’t sewn in a while and would like to regain your sewing confidence.


Learn more and book online here>



Get to know your sewing machine

Sew Make It- Worcestershire 

4 weeks of workshops for complete beginners to sewing. You will learn the basics of how to use your sewing machine and start your sewing journey.


Learn more and book online here> 



Learn to sew

The Stitchery- Frome

Learn to sew in a small group with the support of a professional tutor over 6 weeks. Perfect for beginners, or if you're wanting to refresh your sewing skills.


Learn more and book online here>



An introduction to patterns


Understanding the pattern

The Sewing Room- Worcestershire

For beginners - all the things to know before you sew! This workshop covers all the things no-one tells you, to ensure a happy outcome to your sewing project!


Learn more and book online here>



Freestyle sewing class- bring your own project

The Fashion Box- Greater London

By popular demand, bring along any project to work on, including clothing alterations, garment making, pattern reading, pattern cutting or customisation!


Learn more and book online here>



Tilly and the Buttons - Stevie top workshop

Deb Day Sewing Room- West Midlands

Using the Stevie pattern from Tilly and the Buttons learn to make your very own top or dress with expert guidance.


Learn more and book online here>



Comprehensive sewing

Thread and Press- York

Over 6 evenings this comprehensive sewing course helps learners to understand many aspects of dressmaking and pattern cutting. 


Learn more and book online here>



Pattern cutting and drafting

Nottingham Trent University 

On this practical 6-week course, you will be introduced to the skill of creating your own blocks and dress patterns from scratch.


Learn more and book online here>



Textile art and fashion design


Textile landscape workshop

Imogen Bittner- Dorset

Set in the inspiring landscape of Sturminster Newton Imogen teaches you how to create a stunning piece in textiles using a simple running stitch.


Learn more and book online here>



Dungaree making

Twin made- Cardiff

Using a pattern made to your measurements you will be able to create a pair of dungarees in a day- just bring your own gorgeous fabric!


Learn more and book online here>



Saddle bag in a day

Rosanna Clare- Surrey

Learn how to sew a contemporary leather saddle bag in a day! On the course you will learn about different types of leather and how to select the right type.


Learn more and book online here>



Creative machine stitching

Helen Moyes Designs- Sheffield

Helen, qualified textile artist, will guide you through an inspirational workshop to learn techniques from embroidery, applique, writing in stitch and quilting.


Learn more and book online here>



BTEC HND Fashion

Morley College- Greater London

Do you have a real passion for fashion? Plan to make it your career? A HND in fashion may be the best place to start. Morley is a top college for fashion. 


Learn more and book online here>



Sewing kits - learn from home


Hand embroidery kit

Stitch Therapy Club

Stitch a little each day to improve wellbeing with Stitch Therapy Club. Each part of the embroidery design has its own instructional video. 


Learn more and order online here>



Create at home sewing kit

Gifted Crafts Company

With high quality materials and really clear instructions anyone can produce beautiful pieces of art and craft. A full sewing kit with expert instructions.


Learn more and order online here>



Indigo top Tilly and the Buttons pattern

The Wood Cottage Crafts

This is a lovely pattern that you will want to make and make again. This kit is for a top version but the pattern also has a dress length.


Learn more and order online here> 



Card purse sewing kit

Gifted Crafts Company

This kit has everything you need to hand make a super cute faux leather card purse you’ll be really proud of. A gorgeous accessory to any outfit!


Learn more and order online here>



Applique embroidery kit

Tigley Textiles

This delightful applique/embroidery kit includes everything you need to make a beautifully layered garden border.


Learn more and order online here>




Our full selection of sewing listings can be found here. So many options to build your confidence, develop your skills and maybe apply for the Sewing Bee next year?

We hope you enjoy watching this seasons Great British Sewing Bee and if you would like to let us know your thoughts, predictions about who is going to win, or share your own personal sewing stories please follow us on Facebook.

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