Read our EXCLUSIVE interview with the Great British Sewing Bee Winner 2016
**Warning this post contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched the final episode of Great British Sewing Bee look away now!**
Charlotte Newland, 43 from London has emerged triumphant as the winner of the Great British Sewing Bee 2016. From 10 Sewing Bees – Tracey, Josh, Rumana, Jamie, Angeline, Ghislaine and Duncan and the two other Finalists – Joyce and Jade – Charlotte won the coveted title in a very tough competition.
Charlotte made it through 8 weeks of tough sewing challenges and became Britian’s Best Amateur Sewer of 2016. She impressed the judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young by creating a man’s pin-tucked dress shirt, transforming a classic tuxedo into a little black dress, and finally making a made-to-measure evening gown.
We chatted to Charlotte about her time on the show in an exclusive interview!
Congratulations Charlotte!! Are you still in shock after that gripping final?
I couldn’t believe it, I was completely gobsmacked. I walked into the sewing room so relaxed knowing that I was going to enjoy meeting up with all the sewers again, and not thinking for one moment that I had won. I nearly fell over when they called my name out, I really thought I was imagining it, a very bizarre moment for me.
It must have been hard not to let the cat out of the bag?
My three kids have been great about keeping it a secret, I haven’t told my mum who keeps asking the kids leading questions to see if she can find out. They have been amazing and loving every minute of it. All their friends watch it and have been enjoying it along with them, they send texts all the way through the episode, it is hilarious!
How did it feel being in the final three!?
I was thrilled even to get to the semi-finals and it was a great moment for me. I didn’t ever want to leave as I wanted to experience the whole thing right up till the end, so I consider myself really lucky to have got through each stage.
My first challenge was a disaster, I had a special attachment to my sewing machine which we all found difficult and it took us way too long to do it and we all panicked. I got in a tizz basically and Joyce bless her was sewing buttons on my shirt at the end, as I wouldn’t have got it finished. The bonding with the Bees was incredible, we all came from different walks of life but we were a very cohesive group from the outset. We all keep in touch and those that can, meet for brunch regularly.
I also loved the alteration challenge in the Final, and the judges liked my Little Black Dress made from a tuxedo. In the made to measure I made a purple silk satin full-length dress with a train and a sparkly belt. My model looked beautiful walking down the catwalk in my creation, but I think she would have looked beautiful in a sack!
What was your favourite part of being on the show?
My best bit on the show was the camaraderie with the other Bees, I felt we were a group together having fun trying to please the judges rather than being in a competition against each other. My worst bit on the show has to be that damned shirt in the final episode, I made such a pig’s ear of it… it was a catalogue of errors.
One of the reasons I went into the show was because of my children. The girls in particular badgered me to apply when they saw the applications were open. They sat next to me on the sofa, one on each side to see that I filled in the form and sent it off.
So tell us more about how you got into sewing and dressmaking!
I started sewing when I was tiny about 5, and then I learned dressmaking at school about 9. I made my own clothes until I went to University, and then after a long gap, I got back into dressmaking again about 4 years ago.
I would describe my style as quite vintage, I like making 50s dresses. I would pretty much say that I make 100% of my own clothes, apart from lingerie unless I have a bit of stretch fabric lying around!
Recently, we went to a 50s birthday party, so I made a strapless dress with a big full skirt. I do get recognised now as the woman off Sewing Bee, it’s lovely that people are excited and want to know about sewing techniques, and how I got on through the series!
I find sewing very therapeutic and after a busy day at work, it really calms me down as I enjoy the whole process from working in seams to the finished garment. It’s an expression of who I am, and I tend to make outfits that are quirky and unique. I like to wear something you can’t really buy in the shops so I strive for a look that is slightly different.
What was it like being under the judges tough gaze all the time?
It was a good to hear the judges comments. By definition we are all amateurs and Patrick and Esme have very exacting standards, with decisions that are firm but fair. So you felt like you had won a massive prize if you got just one positive comment. It really meant something.
So can you reveal what’s next for you now the show has ended?
Life after Sewing Bee will be carrying on with my dressmaking classes locally, and I fully intend to carry on sewing in any spare moment that I have.
We were thrilled to have spoken with Charlotte and wish her a hearty congratulations from the whole team at Love Sewing!
Interview courtesy of Grey Sergeant PR. Pictures courtesy of BBC, Love Productions, Helen Robson, Charlotte Medicott.