The Great British Sewing Bee started its new series this week and as expected, the first show was a bit of a nail biter. Filmed in a new location; a former tannery in Bermondsey, London, we got to meet the contestants for the first time plus the new judge Esme Young. One of the contestants who really stood out for us was Angeline (who won Garment of the Week). We’ve had the privilege to catch up with her and talk about all things sewing!
What inspired you to apply for the Great British Sewing Bee?
“I was hooked on the Sewing Bee from Series 1! I remember sitting with a note-pad and pen jotting down terms I didn’t know and techniques I had to learn. I always pictured myself in the sewing bee room and hoped to make it a reality some day. When I was selected as a contestant it was like a dream come true! My husband has always encouraged me to sew and was the driving force behind my application.”
You won Garment of the Week with that gorgeous pencil skirt – where did you learn to sew?
“I am pretty much a self-taught sewer. I watch a lot of YouTube and sewing Vlogs for techniques and tutorials. I did however attend a six week course, 3 hours a week to meet some other home sewers and pick up a few more skills.”
You used some lovely fabrics in the show, how would you describe your sewing style?
“I am inspired by 50’s fashion and really do adopt this style into my designs and creations. I like to create the ‘WOW’ factor with my designs and ensure it doesn’t look ‘home-made’. Most of my designs and creations over the years have been for ladies who love to look good! I take great pride in the perfect fit and ensuring my my designs are eye-catching. Describing it in three words would be Fit, Fabric & Finish.”
Where do you get your inspiration?
“I take my inspiration from a number of different places. However couture catwalks are at the top of my list! I love taking inspiration from the top designers and creating a handmade garment in the comfort of my own sewing room. I am a huge fan of Pinterest – constantly scouring the web for new ideas and dress designs.”
The filming of the Bee is an intensive time which really showed in episode one – how did you get on with the pressure?
“It was definitely a hectic schedule… holding down my full time job as Marketing Manager, flying back and forth to London and spending long periods filming. It was intense and highly pressured however, I have to say I have never felt more motivated as when I was in the sewing room surrounded by the other wonderful stitchers. The pressure really does kick in once Claudia shouts out 5 minutes to go! At this point you would love to have the garment on the mannequin , sitting with a cup of tea in hand but that was never the case. I always work to the last minute!”
How do you like to shop when it comes to buying fabric – do you buy online or prefer to go in-store to see and feel the fabric and discuss more?
“I prefer to visit a fabric store and feel the fabric before I purchase. I get inspiration from the fabric and very often the fabric can determine the end style of the garment. My husband and I have been lucky to travel over the last few years and I’ve brought fabric home from all across the world, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, New York, Paris and London! I love the way a fabric can tell a tale and in turn this is interpreted into the garment.”
Do you regularly shop online for your haberdashery and sewing supplies?
“I’m always online for haberdashery and sewing supplies! I spend most of my wage on kitting out my sewing room! I suppose its better than buying more shoes and fast fashion!”
When you need advice about sewing and sewing supplies, where do you go (i.e sewing shops, online, social media, blogs etc)?
“I now go to my ‘Sewing Bee’ WhatsApp group for sewing advice and help!! I have met some fabulous friends for life. I also lean towards online blogs and if I’m in the local fabric store I will ask their advice.”
Are there many craft and sewing shops in Northern Ireland, could there be more?
“We are so limited with craft and sewing shops in Northern Ireland. Before I moved to Magherlin, I had to drive 90mins to get a fabric store! There is huge potential for sewing shops in Northern Ireland and an opportunity to get ladies stitching again!”
Your attention to detail was very evident in the first show, do you always use a pattern or do you go freehand with your designs?
“I tend to use a pattern to start and then alter as I please. Some of my designs are unrecognisable from the original pattern but I feel comfortable using a pattern as a starting point. However, in the past I have free drafted skirts and tops.”
After seeing them on previous Bee’s, how was it when you first met Patrick Grant, Esme Young and Claudia Winkleman?
“It was very surreal to meet the team for the first time. I remember meeting Patrick on the stairs and I was actually star struck! I must have looked like an idiot – I literarily had to pinch myself! Claudia was just as sweet as she comes across on the TV – bringing us brownies on the first day! Esme is a wee pocket rocket! She is firm and fair – I love her
And finally, the Bee is now such a popular show, how do you feel seeing yourself on TV and all the social buzz around the contestants?
“I’m so excited, yet nervous about seeing myself on the TV! I am really looking forward to seeing what others think of our garments as fashion is so individual! The social media hype should be interesting as well as an opportunity to link in with some more sewing enthusiasts.”
We’d like to thank Angeline for this interview and wish her all the luck in the Bee. There is some really good insight here for retailers, especially around shopping habits and the importance of building relationships with customers – whether this is face-to-face, through social media or meeting them at consumer events.
Interview courtesy of Grey Sergeant PR. Pictures courtesy of BBC, Love Productions, Helen Robson, Charlotte Medicott.