Sewing Bee series 5 Contestant and judges group photo

The Great British Sewing Bee series 5 contestants – meet the new Sewing Bees!


Find out more about all of the brand new Sewing Bee series 5 contestants – who are they, where they come from and what can we expect from them in this year’s new series of The Great British Sewing Bee.  There are 10 contestants in total – a real mix of people, we cannot wait to see how they all handle the stress of sewing with a time limit!

meet the new great british sewing bee contestants series 5 (1)

Now let’s take a look in detail at each of the new sewing bee contstants

Meet Sewing Bee Ben!

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Ben Moore

BEN, 31, Edinburgh, Scientist @benmmoore
Although born in Plymouth, Ben has spent the majority of his life north of the border and currently lives in Edinburgh with his 2 dogs. Ben trained as a veterinary surgeon and has spent the past 5 years pursuing a career in science. Despite his academic background, Ben has always loved fashion and design.

Joe Lycett and Ben Moore GBSB5

Ben credits his sewing skills to the many fancy dress costumes he needed to create during his time at the University of Glasgow Veterinary School.Ben sees sewing as his creative outlet and enjoys experimenting with pattern drafting and bold textiles, and he even screen prints his own designs onto fabric.  Aside from sewing and science, Ben harbours dreams of running away to join the circus as a static trapeze artist.

Meet Sewing Bee Janet

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Janet

JANET, 70, North Yorkshire, Retired Shopkeeper

Janet lives in North Yorkshire with her husband of 48 years, David and their dog. As a little girl, Janet was taught to sew by her Italian mother and at 16 was making her own clothes and soft furnishings. However, after having her three children, Janet had a 20-year hiatus before taking up sewing again in 2015 when she was inspired to sew for her grandchildren.

Janet enjoys upcycling her outfits, as well as giving her garments an artistic flair by personalizing them with quilting and embroidery details. Fashion has always been an important part of Janet’s life, as she owned a wool and knitting supply shop before working as a magistrate for 20 years.

Now retired, Janet spends the majority of her time as a ‘fair weather’ landscape painter and has had her work featured in exhibitions around the country. She also enjoys making beaded jewellery and playing golf.

Meet Sewing Bee Jen

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Jen

JEN, 49, Glasgow, self-employed @jenerates
Jen lives in Glasgow with her husband Neil, children Cameron and Kirsty and the family dog Archie. A former litigation solicitor and then small business owner, she put work on hold in 2016 to spend more time with her family. With an empty nest looming she has recently agreed to lead a local knitting class while considering options for her third career.

After receiving her first sewing machine at 14, Jen made a lot of her own clothes in her teenage years, including upcycled charity shop finds and some outlandish outfits, but struggled to find time for sewing after starting her career. It has only been in the last couple of years that she has returned to sewing on a regular basis.

Jen appreciates clothes with clean lines and a strong sense of structure, often with a Japanese influence. Generally addicted to designing and making things, her home is full of her work from a wide range of skills and crafts including knitting, pottery, silversmithing, photography, even a bit of carpentry – and of course sewing.

Meet Sewing Bee Juliet

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Juliet

JULIET, 33, London, Primary School Teacher aka @sewsonatural

Originally from Nigeria, Juliet moved to London in 2006 where she now lives with her husband, Ken and their 5 year old daughter. As well as being a primary school teacher, Juliet has a degree in human nutrition and works as a weight loss consultant.

Juliet has been sewing for 5 years but was initially intrigued when a dressmaker in Nigeria took her measurements over the phone and created her a bespoke dress.

Joe Lycett and Juliet great british sewing bee 5

Years after moving to the UK, Juliet taught herself to sew using YouTube videos and sewing DVDs. She enjoys crafting creations out of bright, bold fabrics and African wax prints. Juliet shows off her latest fashion creations on her blog where she sometimes documents her weight loss and fitness journey.

Meet Sewing Bee Mercedes

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Mercedes

MERCEDES, 57, East Sussex, School Reprographics Technician
Mercedes was born in Hammersmith, London but moved to East Sussex when she was 17. Her Italian grandmother taught her to sew at a very young age and by 13 she realised that if she wanted to wear the style of clothes she wanted to wear, she would have to make them herself.

Mercedes served in the Territorial Army for 13 years, but left to start a family with her husband, Graham. Their son Jack, works and lives in London while their daughter Eve and the two cats, Maggie and Erica, live at home.

Mercedes now describes her sewing style as comfortable, definitely not on trend but hopefully with a touch of Brighton “chic”.  When she’s not sewing or pottering in the school garden, where she works as a reprographics technician, Mercedes and her husband like to escape in their camper.

Meet Sewing Bee Riccardo

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Ricardo

RICCARDO 37, East London (Originally Italy), Graphic Designer / Multimedia Producer @Rifallo

Riccardo grew up in Puglia, south of Italy, in a small town near Lecce. Together with his three sisters, he spent his childhood between the blue sea of Salento and the deep green of its olive trees. His mum had a passion for sewing and for Riccardo the sewing machine has always been part of his family environment. However, he only started to learn after moving to London. He started taking sewing classes 7 years ago and hasn’t stopped since.

Riccardo is an advocate of Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, he loves up-cycling and charity shops. He is most proud of a bomber jacket he made using the leather from a sofa he found in the street.

Patrick, Esme and Riccardo gbsb series 5 sewing bee

Riccardo also likes to keep fit and enjoys cycling, running and playing volleyball in a local East London team. Currently he works as a multimedia producer for an organisation creating educational resources to engage primary and secondary school students with humanitarian and environmental issues.

Meet Sewing Bee Tom

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant tom
TOM, 27, Chelmsford Essex, Motion Graphics Designer

Tom started playing with a sewing machine around 8 years ago, however, he didn’t start making clothes until 3 years ago when he began making dresses for his mum. He primarily taught himself using YouTube tutorials and sewing blogs and in the last year has also begun making menswear. Tom is particularly attracted to bright, flamboyant and garish colours and fabrics.

Joe Lycett and Tom sewing bee series 5

Tom is a motion graphics designer and whether it’s in his animation work or sewing projects, he loves experimenting with different colours, shapes and textures to try create something unique.

When he’s not working or sewing, Tom likes to swim and takes a weekly gymnastics class.

Meet Sewing Bee Sheila

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant sheila

SHEILA, 51, Ilford Essex, Integrated Care Liaison Officer (At the time of applying for the programme Sheila was on secondment as a Social Services Wellbeing Officer) @s.elizabeth.hall
Sheila is the youngest of 9 children born to Jamaican parents who arrived in England as part of the Windrush generation and settled in Stoke-on-Trent. Sheila now lives in Ilford, Essex with her daughter Riahanna, 24.  Sheila developed a love of fashion from an early age and has been sewing for 40 years, she describes fashion and making clothes as being in her blood.

Joe Lycett and Sheila on sewing bee series 5

One of her earliest memories was the constant whirring of her mum’s sewing machine; it was in part the soundtrack of her early life.  As a child, she was inspired to make clothes for herself something which has carried her through into adult life.  Her personal style is smart and elegant taking inspiration from Megan Markle, Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney. Sheila works with a wide range of fabrics and styles and has a passion for vibrant, colourful prints.

Sheila enjoys making occasion wear for events such as Ascot and weddings. Outside of fashion – fitness is a big part of Sheila’s life. Sheila’s aspiration is to specialise and create bespoke high end clothing for all women.

Meet Sewing Bee Leah

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Leah

LEAH 43, London, Practice Director Architectural Firm @sewsewleah

Having started her career working for some of London’s most recognised cultural institutions, including the Southbank Centre and the V&A, Leah moved from her role as an Executive Assistant at the Barbican Centre to her current position as Practice Director for an award-winning firm of Architects.

Leah loves London’s cultural scene and regularly enjoys the theatre, gigs, dining out and a cheeky martini with friends.  She has practiced yoga for over 20 years and restarted ballet as an adult having given it up as a child. Leah is a self-confessed ‘selfish sewer’ who began her passion five years ago, inspired by high end ready-to-wear collections and couture classics, always with the ambition to recreate beautiful garments that are way beyond her budget.

Patrick, Esme and Leah in sewing bee studio series 5

Leah loves reading fashion magazines and dreaming up designs to put in her scrap book to inspire future sewing projects. Being so tiny at 5’2’’, she struggles with the fit of standard high street clothing but benefits from being able to use luxury fabrics (often end of roll pieces) in small amounts for a fraction of the cost.

Meet Sewing Bee Alexei

Great british Sewing Bee Contestant Alexei

ALEXEI, 36, Leeds – Manufacturing Engineer

Alexei is a manufacturing engineer, working with CAD-CAM systems and helping to develop better manufacturing processes for structural components.

After finishing his degree in aerospace engineering, Alexei decided to pursue an unexplored passion for singing, training at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Originally meeting while both performing in Bach’s St John Passion, Alexei and his wife Beth have been married for 3 years. They live in Leeds with their cat, Moth.

Patrick, Esme and Alexei in sewing bee studio series 5

Alexei started sewing just over two years ago and enjoys using his engineering skills to make precise garments, paying close attention to the smallest detail. Having had MS for more than 10 years, which affects the right side of his body, he has had to learn to compensate with his left hand while sewing. He also enjoys reading, writing and still sings occasionally.

So there you have it – all the new sewing bees ready to go!

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