Great British Sewing Tips!

Tips from the Sewing Bees!

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As we prepare for the start of a brand new series, Sewing Bee contestants (and May) from past years share their advice on the key to successful sewing.  Pictured above are the new GBSB contestants for series 4 and the brand new judge, Esme Young!

Before you start reading all the brilliant sewing tips, do take a look at our latest subscription offer – you can get the new Great British Sewing Bee series 4 book for free!  All the details can be found here – Free GBSB Book!

The Sewing Tips!

“The most important thing to learn first is the very basics. If you learn the very basic stuff and get the building blocks of what you are trying to do. In sewing, the foundation is simple tasks like perfect seams, perfect darts, being able to put zips in and being an absolute stickler for measuring. Make everything as perfect as possible no matter how simple it is and stick to what you are supposed to be doing, so if you’ve got darts make them exactly the same – same angle, same width, same length and you won’t go wrong.” Heather Jacks, series 2 winner.

“The key to success is preparation, preparation, preparation. Make sure you have everything you need before starting and that you understand the pattern.” Ann Rowley, series 1 winner.


“Keep things tidy as you go. Press (using a steam iron) and neaten (using a zigzag stitch) as you construct your project – rather than at the end. Trying to press seams and neaten edges at the end of a project is much more difficult.” May Martin, judge “Don’t be afraid to try your hand at new fabrics and even if you don’t do very well with it first time round, don’t give it up. The more you handle a specific fabric the more you understand how it works.” Chinelo Bally, pictured above – series 2 contestant

Tilly and Book 1

“Use just enough pins to hold you fabric together. while it’s tempting to use up your whole box of pins to keep the fabric from budging, too many can distort the fabric.” Tilly Walnes, pictured above – series 1 contestant


“Read the instructions from beginning to end, then read them again, and you’ll get that ‘aha’ moment before you even start.” Stuart Hillard, series 1 contestant


“Have a neat and tidy workspace. Organise your sewing equipment so that it’s all to hand and readily available.” Linda Lewis, pictured above – series 2 contestant


“Get the right tools – it seems like a big investment but it will make life a lot easier if you have good quality equipment.” Lauren Guthrie, pictured above – series 1 contestant.

“Using a razor blade rather than a seam picker is much faster. If you don’t have the fancy gadgets that you think you need, try to find an alternative around the house. The truth is people made clothes hundreds of years ago without fancy gadgets. And don’t be scared of working with “difficult” fabrics, the more you handle them the more you understand how to work them.” Chinelo Bally, series 2 contestant.


“Keep two or three seam rippers handy and don’t t use your scissors for anything but fabric. Also, Treat yourself to a pin magnet – they are brilliant. “ Tamara Melvin, series 2 contestant.

“Embrace your mistakes – you can always unpick something and you will learn so much from it so it’s never a waste of time. And be brave – try something you’ve never attempted before, work through it slowly step by step.” Lauren Guthrie, series 1 contestant


“A mistake I see time and time again in dressmaking is women not measuring themselves. They will go and pick a dress pattern from the size on the envelope, cut out the pattern, just make it and then wonder why it doesn’t fit. It’s very rare that it will fit because pattern sizes are different to dress sizes, so you need to measure yourself and compare your measurements with the ones on the envelope.” May Martin

“If you struggle to sew straight, accurate seams, mark them lightly with a pencil; most people can sew accurately if they have a line to follow.” Stuart Hillard, series one contestant

“When you notch, only snip a little into the fabric rather than taking out the V-shaped wedges that most patterns seem to call for, this saves time and doesn’t weaken your seam.” Chinelo Bally, series 2 contestant

sewing bee heather

“Don’t be too ambitious and taking on something more difficult than your learned techniques. It will end up in disappointment! And be absolutley accurate in your cutting out. Sewing is like a fabric jigsaw puzzle and if all the pieces aren’t the right size then they won’t fit together. Heather Jacks, series 2 winner



“Take your time and savour the process.” Ann Rowley, series 1 winner

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Categories: Dressmaking, Great British Sewing Bee Series 5 Tags: , , ,