Who are the contestents on this year's Sewing Bee?

We have a wonderful mix of sewists again, from all over the country. It's particularly lovely to see such a wide range of careers represented, with everything from a theatre manager to a baker! We thought it was interesting to see how many sewists spend their working days doing quite technical jobs - will this give them an advantage in any of the challenges?

Read on to meet Angela, Annie, Brogan, Chichi, Christian, Debra, Gill, Man Yee, Marni, Mitch, Richy and Steve!

L-R) Standing - Man Yee, Annie, Cristian, Sara Pascoe, Brogan, Mitch, Marni
(L-R) Sitting centre - Steve, Patrick Grant, Esme Young, Debra
(L-R) Sitting on floor - Richy, Gill, Chichi, Angela

The Great British Sewing Bee makes a welcome return to our screens on Wednesday 27th April at 9pm on BBC One. We are buzzing with excitement to meet the new contestants! Vying to be crowned this year’s Great British Sewing Bee winner are 12 new amateur sewists ready to showcase their talents against the clock. Series 8 sees judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young lead 10 more weeks of exciting sewing challenges, with presenter Sara Pascoe keeping spirits up in the work room. We can’t wait to see them in action - best of luck everyone!

Let’s get to it and meet the new bees!

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Debra, 51, Communication Lead & Personal Assistant

Debra is an active outdoorsy person who can usually be found sailing or snorkelling in the chilly waters off Anglesey with her son and husband. Or on a wild and windy day she’ll be up at 6.30 am for a spin class. Her first language is Welsh. She also loves collecting vintage designer accessories and is inspired to sew by designers whose clothes are out of reach such as Erdem, Gucci and Chanel.
Debra started sewing age 9 by making outfits for her dolls and then worked her way up to full sized garments for herself. Debra admits to being a bit of a messy sewer with lots of random fabric and assorted projects all over the place. She prefers to develop her own designs and freestyle than to rigidly follow a pattern.
She works for a multi-national company and likes to dress up in some of her more colourful designer inspired creations to brighten up the workplace.

You can follow Debra on Instagram at debragoldenzebra

Christian, 29, Retail Store Manager

Cristian grew up near Transylvania in the mountains of Romania as one of 6 children. His mum is a music teacher and Cristian also has a diploma in music teaching, specialising in the oboe.

Cristian had a love for fashion from a young age and learnt to sew by watching his mother making her clothes. He started with alterations on his own outfits and his sewing took off when his parents gave him a sewing machine when he turned 18. He spent hours watching YouTube tutorials, deconstructing his own garments to make patterns and experimenting with his sewing style.

Despite his qualifications in Dental Technics, Music teaching and a diploma in hairdressing, Cristian’s love of clothes has taken him into fashion retail. He moved to the UK 4 years ago and he is now the manager of a high street store in London.

Follow Christian on Instagram at cristian_mrsn

Gill, 44, Public Health Intelligence Analyst

Gill first tried sewing when her husband bought her a machine 3 years ago. It was love at first stitch and she’s never looked back. She taught herself to sew, starting with a headscarf from a 1970’s duvet cover – which she’s yet to wear out in public.
She would describe her style as “Audrey Hepburn-inspired, if you squint and don’t look too closely”. Gill makes clothes for herself and her two stepdaughters and she’s also made menswear including pyjamas for her husband and even a three-piece suit for a work colleague. She’s even branched out to making a dog coat for her greyhound rescue Maureen.

Sewing gives Gill a break from her job as a public health intelligence analyst but she insists that her love for numbers helps her in her sewing “Analysing data daily, spreadsheets and sewing, it’s all numbers”.

Follow Gill on instagram at theonearmedsewist

Chichi, 23, Research Analyst

Chichi is originally from Zimbabwe and grew up in Somerset and Hampshire. She now lives and works in Greater London as a research analyst in a molecular biology lab where she has been working in PCR research.

Music is her passion and she will listen to anything from Rock to Metalcore to Dance music. She enjoys experimenting with strong makeup looks and she loves dressing up in one of her alternative handmade outfits for a night out.

Chichi loves using recycled fabrics and enjoys transforming vintage clothing into something she would wear. She loves any animal print and sees them as a “neutral’. Cow and snake prints are her favourite.

Follow Chichi on Instagram at saychichis

Man Yee, 25, Actuary

Man Yee was born in Hong Kong and moved to Portsmouth as a child. Her sewing journey started over a decade ago when she and her friends wanted to dress up as Japanese anime characters for Comic Con, so she asked her aunt to teach her how to sew. Her style has developed from avant-garde and Japanese street style to one that balances playfulness and sophistication.

Man Yee debated studying fashion at University but the problem solving aspect of mathematics won her over. She now works as an actuary and lives with her boyfriend in London. Their home is filled with over 50 plants and Man Yee can often be found swapping plants and socialising with members of her local plant club. She also enjoys going indoor climbing with her friends and can’t resist dancing to the sound of cheesy hits.

Find out more about Man Yee by following her on Instagram at manyee.woo

Brogan, 25, Secondary School Teacher

Brogan is originally from Edinburgh but now teaches Spanish and French at a secondary school in Derbyshire. She has just bought her first home in Leicestershire with her fiancé and they share it with Roger the sausage dog who has a handmade wardrobe courtesy of Brogan.

Brogan remembers watching the first Sewing Bee when she was a child with her mum and was inspired to start sewing as a result. She taught herself via You Tube videos and then received her first sewing machine aged 15 as a Christmas present and has never looked back.

She now enjoys replicating high street clothes for herself which are chic and ultra feminine – usually with a tier, a frill or ruffle. Even on a supermarket run she will make fashion statement by wearing a hand made puff sleeve creation.

Follow Brogan on Instagram at the_crafty_pie

Steve, 32, Personal Running Coach

Steve grew up in Essex and is a massive Millwall supporter. He moved to Newcastle with his girlfriend of 16 years after giving up his office job and is now a full time running coach.

Steve has been a music enthusiast since he was a teenager, when he played bass guitar in a punk band, and loves curating playlists to listen to whilst sewing. He decided to take up sewing as a hobby during lockdown, since then he hasn’t stopped and he now sews for at least 2 hours a day. He likes to make at least one garment a week using bright bold colours which clash pop and film culture references.

Long distance running is Steve’s passion and he has competed in several ultramarathons. He says that finding sewing was like starting to run – once he started, he couldn’t stop.

Get a taste of Steve's style on instagram, where you'll find him under the name szczepan_cowling


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Marni, 50, Veterinary Surgeon

Marni has been a vet for 26 years and she now runs a busy veterinary surgery in Devon with her husband. She focuses primarily on pets, ranging from dogs and cats to lizards and llamas and even the odd goat.

Marni was born in Canada. She and her mum are Canadian First Nation members of the Maliseet tribe. They moved to the UK when Marni was 6 and her mum, who now lives with her, taught her the skills of beading and knitting and passed her love of craft and sewing onto her daughter.

Marni has been sewing for 35 years and mainly makes clothes for herself or her mum. She describes her style as “inspired by and aspiring to the glamour and quality of couture clothing”, using unique embellishments such as discarded feathers combined with recycled clothing and charity shop finds.

Follow Marni on Instagram at marnibettyvet

Annie, 32, Fashion Buyer

Annie has always loved art and fashion and now works as a buyer for a high street fashion brand. She lives in Surrey with her boyfriend. Annie enjoys roller skating and loves going camping and on long walks with her 2 younger siblings and mum and dad.

The person who has given her most inspiration is her 92 year old Granny Monica who taught her to sew. The first thing she made was an apron when she was 8 years old for The Brownies.

Annie took sewing up again in earnest during the pandemic. She describes it as therapeutic and loves to sew late at night. Her granny’s Ghanaian heritage is important to her and she likes to incorporate bold and colourful African prints into her creations.

Follow Annie on Instagram at madeby_annie_

Mitch, 31, Theatre Manager

Mitch met his fiancé at University but they hit it off romantically when he joined her ABBA tribute band as Benny a few years later. Mitch now runs a university theatre in Cumbria and has even been known to tread the boards himself although he prefers to work behind the scenes, directing when he gets the chance.

Mitch grew up around his mother sewing when he was a boy in Leicester, but was never interested in it until his fiancée started sewing 2 years ago and he decided to give it a go. Since then, he has studied books & YouTube videos to teach himself. Mitch mostly makes clothes for himself and his two children, he loves a loud and “lairy fabric” to help make his garments stand out.

In his spare time Mitch makes his own bread, mozzarella and his own home brew beer and wine. He’s a Newcastle United fan and enjoys playing football with his friends twice a week.

You'll find Mitch on Instagram as mitchbridgewater

Angela, 63, Health Visitor & School Nurse

Angela was born in Lancashire and has lived and worked there all her life. She balances her demanding job as an NHS Health Visitor and School Nurse with her hobbies of gardening, walking and of course sewing.

Angela has 50 years of sewing experience, but hopes that Sewing Bee will take her out of her comfort zone and she will “be brought into the 21st Century”. She was taught to sew by her mother who was a dressmaker. She still loves using vintage patterns she finds in charity shops and is drawn to 70’s styles and patterned fabrics. She has always sewn for her 3 children, but now she mainly sews for her 5 grandchildren and occasionally for herself.

Angela was recently given an award for her work as a school nurse during the pandemic. She also set up her local Women’s Institute group and was the inaugural president for 3 years.

Follow Angela on Instagram at sew.ange

Richy, 34, Baker

Richy is a professional baker at an independent cafe where he works with his partner of 15 years. In his spare time, he enjoys playing Dungeon and Dragons, going to his local pub and keeping busy with various crafts, including knitting, bobbin lace making and origami.

One of the first things Richy made was a wool skirt with a gold satin lining for his mum but it shrunk on the first wash. It spurred him however to sew more and now he mainly makes historical garments which he extensively researches. He will often bury himself in a history book or visit a museum in his pursuit for recreating an 18th or 19th century garment.

Richy has a collection of over 50 homemade bow ties and his style is bright yet traditional and his outfits will often feature a jolly pattern.

Check out Richy's historical sewing adventures on instagram at the_back_stitch_boys

All Your Sewing Bee News!

Series 8 of The Great British Sewing Bee returns to our screens on BBC One from Wednesday April 27th at 9pm. Keep up to date with the latest gossip from the show on the Love Sewing blog and follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay in the loop with everything Sewing Bee!


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