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Great British Sewing Bee 2021 — air dates, presenters, judges and everything you need to know

Esme Young, Patrick Grant and Joe Lycett on the Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7
Joe Lycett is back as the presenter of The Great British Sewing Bee along with judges Esme Young and Patrick Grant. (Image credit: BBC1)

The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 has thrown open its doors for a seventh series with twelve new sewers all hoping to impress judges Esme Young and Patrick Grant with their super stitching skills and fabulous creativity.

Comedian and presenter, Joe Lycett, is keeping a watchful eye on the contestants who range in age from 21 to 62 and include a beauty therapist, an ex dinner lady and an IT installation engineer.

Here's everything you need to know about The Great British Sewing Bee 2021, including episode summaries and who's left!

Judges Esme Young and Patrick Grant on the Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Judges Esme Young and Patrick Grant will be casting their expert eyes over the sewers creations in the Great British Sewing Bee 2021. (Image credit: BBC1)

The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 release date

The show began on Wednesday 14 April 2021 at 9pm on BBC1 and the final episode will air on Wednesday 16th June. 

How many episodes will there be of The Great British Sewing Bee 2021?

Series seven of The Great British Sewing Bee is ten episodes long. Episodes will be broadcast weekly. 

What happened in the first episode of The Great British Sewing Bee 2021?

Joe Lycett returned for the first episode of The Great British Sewing Bee, welcoming twelve of Britain's most talented sewers to take on some tough creative challenges. Patrick Grant and Esme Young also returned as judges, which saw them overseeing three new challenges; the Pattern Challenge, Transformation Challenge, and Made to Measure. 

Raph won Garment of the Week in the first episode, while Julie was the first person to be eliminated from the show. Feedback from the judges revealed that she was “very good at sewing, but not fast enough” to stay in the competition, as she hadn't finished one of her pieces in time.

What happened in episode 2? 

Episode 2 of The Great British Sewing Bee was Summer Week, with the contestants facing three new challenges related to summer clothing. In the Pattern Challenge, we saw sewers tasked with making a pair of paperbag shorts, requiring them to perfect pockets and make an effective elastic waistband. 

Meanwhile, the Transformation saw them turning secondhand men's swimming gear into a woman's outfit perfect for summer cocktails. Finally, sun dresses were the focus of Made to Measure, requiring attention to detail and perfectly aligned buttonholes. 

Garment of the Week was awarded to Adeena's sundress, which was described as “ever so chic” and “different” by the judges. Jean was the one to leave the competition, with the judges revealing her final garment wasn't well sewn despite being “joyful”.

What happened in episode 3? 

It was contestant Lawratu who was eliminated from the series in episode three following a nightmare trying to create a casual utility jacket with a relaxed fit and at least three pockets. 

Lawratu was very emotional as she offered up the jacket she had created for the judges while Esme tried to find some positives by telling her: "Well, I like the colour!"

But sadly the colour was about all the jacket had going for it, and Lawratu knew it was her week to leave. But as she got upset, the judges felt bad that they couldn't even give her a hug due to social distancing... "If we didn't have to keep our distance I'd give you a great big hug because you look like you need it," Patrick said. 

What happened in episode 4?

In Episode 4, the competition went global and we saw our talented sewers taking on garments and techniques from around the world. The pattern challenge required them to create a French Breton top with horizontal stripes, the transformation challenge saw colourful cloth turned into stylish sarongs, and Made to Measure, the sewers make outfits inspired by the life and art of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Farie won Garment of the Week again and Cathryn was the contestant to be sent home, after the judges revealed she'd made a few "silly mistakes" and that she had a little lack of ambition at this stage in the competition. 

What happened in episode 5?

Episode 5 saw the eight remaining home sewers taking on Children's Week, which saw them presented with a whole host of new challenges. Despite the clothing being small, it also means they're a lot fiddlier and harder to perfect in some ways! 

This week, the Pattern Challenge was to create a classic romper, the Transformation Challenge required them to turn adult wetsuits into Under the Sea-themed fancy dress costumes. And finally, the Sewing Bee saw them welcoming mini models for the Made to Measure challenge, to make a child’s raincoat. 

Garment of the Week was awarded to Farie for her unicorns and rainbows raincoat, and sadly Adam was the fifth person to be eliminated from the competition after he had a “bad day” resulting in a series of mistakes throughout the challenges.

What happened in episode 6?

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Week returned for episode 6 of the competition, which saw  all the usual fabric in the haberdashery being replaced with charity shop clothes and soft-furnishings. To kick us off, the six remaining sewers had to create a waistcoat from second hand clothing in this Pattern Challenge.

Then, the Transformation Challenge required them to turn army surplus into a stylish and wearable garment for a woman. Finally, old jeans were assigned to the sewers to create a brand new Made to Measure dress.

Raph won Garment of the Week for his dress made out of an array of denim, and Adeena was sent home this week but was praised for bringing a personal touch and innovation to the competition. 

What happened in episode 7?

Winter was the theme of episode 7, with the sewers tasked with challenges based around the coldest season. Pieces needed to be warm and functional, and as ever there were three challenges to tackle. Pattern Challenge was to create a man’s flannel shirt, the Transformation Challenge was to turn old scarves into a new wearable garment in just 90 minutes, and Made to Measure tasked them with creating a winter party dress.

Raph won Garment of the Week with his elegant party dress, but with only five places in the quarterfinal, one sewer had to go home. This week Andrew had to leave the competition, and while he was praised for his lively personality, the judges thought his skills weren't as impeccable as usual this time.

What happened in episode 8?

This week, the five remaining sewers got the chance to take on Music and the Movies Week where everything was related to the stage and screen. The Pattern Challenge was inspired by Baby from Dirty Dancing, the Transformation Challenge took a leaf out of The Sound of Music's book, with the sewers adapting old curtains into play clothes for children. Finally, the Made to Measure challenge saw them making a dazzling dress inspired by Dreamgirls.

Rebecca's golden Dreamgirls dress won Garment of the Week, and Damien was the one to leave the competition this week, but the judges praised him for learning "an awful lot" during his time there.

What happened in episode 9?

The semi-final was upon us this week, with the four remaining sewers battling it out for a place in the final. This time, the theme was the 1940s and required the sewers to take on this iconic era. The first challenge required them to create the decade’s most famous trousers, Oxford bags. Meanwhile, the Transformation Challenge asked them to turn old parachutes into glamorous dresses and the Made to Measure was Dior’s New Look.

Serena won Garment of the Week with her New Look outfit, which the judges described as "the perfect embodiment" of the style. Farie was sent home this week, but the judges praised her for winning Garment of the Week three times.

What should we expect from the final?

With Rebecca, Raph and Serena through to the final, only one sewer will be able to walk away with the coveted trophy. Judge Patrick Grant has given us some insights into what to expect from the final episode.

He said: "They have to make a little girl’s bridesmaid dress for the pattern challenge. For the transformation challenge they have to use homeware to create fun summer festival outfits and for the very final made-to-measure challenge they must make a glamorous off-the-shoulder evening outfit. Of course we plan the final challenges months in advance so we don’t know what’s going to suit who. By the time it comes around it’s pot luck how it may suit each particular sewer, how it may play to their strengths or not as the case may be."

Who are the contestants in The Great British Sewing Bee 2021? 

There are 12 new amateur sewers all vying for the prestigious crown of Great British Sewing Bee champion. 

Joe Lycett says: "They’re a really fun, mad bunch of eggs. There are some really cool, unusual characters. There were more tears this year, straight out of the gate, episode one, everyone’s going!"

Meet the twelve contestants for this year’s Great British Sewing Bee 2021 

Adam on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Adam. (Image credit: BBC1)

Adam, 31

LEICESTER

CRUISE SHIP ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTOR

Taught to sew by his Nan, aged 6, often drawn to nautical styles and fabrics, and the glamour of classic films and iconic entertainers.

 OUT OF THE SHOW IN WEEK FIVE! 

Adeena on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Adeena. (Image credit: BBC1)

Adeena, 40

BIRMINGHAM

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT OFFICER

Fusing her Pakistani heritage with British style in her clothes, Adeena loves to sew for herself and her sisters who have often been "guinea pigs" for her creations.

 OUT OF THE SHOW IN WEEK SIX! 

Andrew on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Andrew. (Image credit: BBC1)

Andrew, 54

HULL

MATHS TEACHER

Inspired to sew as a small boy from watching his mum and grandmother. Enjoys  making vestments for his partner who is a priest.

OUT OF THE SHOW IN WEEK SEVEN! 

Cathryn on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Cathryn. (Image credit: BBC1)

Cathryn, 57

YORKSHIRE

POST OFFICE WORKER

Passionate music lover and big David Bowie fan, she’s has been known to sew the lyrics of her favourite grime artist, Stormzy into her garments.

 OUT OF THE SHOW IN WEEK FOUR! 

Damien on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Damien.. (Image credit: BBC1)

Damien, 39

BOLTON

IT INTSTALLATION ENGINEER

Taught himself to sew three years ago when a pair of his work trousers needed altering. Describes his style as "practical".

OUT OF THE SHOW IN WEEK EIGHT! 

Farie on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Farie.. (Image credit: BBC1)

Farie, 34

DUNSTABLE  

ACCOUNTANT

Her talent for sewing was nurtured at school. Enjoys making colourful outfits for her two young daughters and the creative outlet that sewing provides.

 

Jean on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Jean left in week 2. (Image credit: BBC1)

Jean   

COUNTY DOWN

ART PSYCHOTHERAPIST

Uses art to help children, teenagers and adults through difficult life experiences. One of seven siblings with an identical twin, she learnt to sew as a child.

OUT OF THE SHOW IN WEEK TWO! 

Julie on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Julie has already left the show. (Image credit: BBC1)

Julie, 62

ROTHERHAM

BEAUTY THERAPIST

A former dancer who worked across Europe, Julie’s style is bright and bold. Makes her own clothes and has won prizes for her dresses but has yet to try menswear.

OUT OF SHOW IN WEEK ONE!

Lawratu on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Lawratu. (Image credit: BBC1)

Lawratu, 37

SURREY

LOCAL AUTHORITY OFFICER

Likes vivid prints often inspired by her West African heritage. An active member of her local Women’s Institute, she began making her own clothes six years ago.

OUT OF SHOW IN WEEK THREE! 

Raph on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Raph. (Image credit: BBC1)

Raphael, 34

LONDON

TEXTILE ARTIST

Has dyed cloth for high-profile movies but only got into sewing during lockdown. Still developing his own sewing style, likes to make stylish menswear for himself.

Rebecca on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Rebecca.. (Image credit: BBC1)

Rebecca, 23

SCUNTHORPE

RETAIL ASSISTANT

Studied textiles at A-Level. Likes fast projects she can make and wear quickly, admits she has "a habit for not reading the instructions and just ploughing through".

Serena on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Serena. (Image credit: BBC1)

Serena, 21

EDINBURGH

MEDICAL STUDENT

Taught herself sewing from YouTube, a big fan of sustainable style, she loves "refreshing" charity shop garments and creating her own unique garments.

What are some of challenges the sewers of The Great British Sewing Bee face?

Just like previous seasons, each week sees the sewers tackling three challenges: the Pattern Challenge, the Transformation Challenge and the Made To Measure round. One contestant will be eliminated each week.

For the very first challenge, the sewers must create a versatile classic sleeveless blouse known as a "shell" top. For the Transformation Challenge, they have just 90 minutes to turn old t-shirts into completely new garments for men, women or children.

See more

What are some of the other themes in this year's Great British Sewing Bee 2021?

Themes this year include 1940s week and International week, and items for the transformation challenges include include wetsuits, scarves, army surplus, curtains and even parachutes.

Judge Esme Young says: “I loved 40s week and I really liked the Transformation Challenge of making a parachute into a garment. In International Week, in the Made to Measure, I loved the Frida Kahlo inspired outfit as I have been to Frida Kahlo's house.  And I really loved the 8-piece Baker Boy cap in the Pattern Challenge in Classic Clothing week, it was a really difficult challenge.”

Joe Lycett on The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 series 7

Joe Lycett will be keeping spirits high in the sewing room.  (Image credit: BBC1)

Where was series seven of The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 filmed?

This year, the show's being filmed in a new location! The Great British Sewing Bee has moved to Trinity Buoy Wharf in London’s Docklands. 

Judge Patrick Grant says: "It was a real joy to spend time there. We’d come onto the set just before 7am every day and the sunrises and sunsets were amazing. Having that wonderful vista across the River Thames from the sewing room, can’t help but inspire the sewers. It was a spectacular place to shoot."