1912 Mill interior - Venue for The Great British Sewing Bee Season 8
1912 Mill interior - Venue for The Great British Sewing Bee Season 8 BBC

The Great British Sewing Bee - Season Nine

The Great British Sewing Bee - Season Nine

Season 9 of the BBC reality television series, The Great British Sewing Bee (TGBSB), first broadcast in May 2023, was filmed in an early 19th century woollen cloth mill complex Sunny Bank Mills in the town of Pudsey located between Bradford and Leeds approximately 200 miles from London. Street address is 88 Town St, Farsley, Pudsey LS28 5UJ. The filming took place in the 1912 Building / 1912 Mill.

In the ninth season of The Great British Sewing Bee, 2023, actress and comedian Sara Pascoe hosts and Savile Row's Patrick Grant and fashion designer Esme Young of Central Saint Martins, judge the contestants. We learn that Esme is "gusset royalty", she has never played a computer game (although she did play netball) and "collects" skulls, having a sheep's head, bull's head and goat's head.  

Historical details were provided by fashion historian Amber Butchart, Teleica Kirkland

Pattern Challenges

Week 1 - Classics With a Twist Week - Blouse with a twist

Contestants have 3 hours to create a classic blouse using a pattern that incorporates a mind-bending twist. It is made from 5 pattern pieces. First the front and back sections are joined at the shoulder with French seams and the neckline is hemmed. Indents are created and the right front panel is sewn up to form a hole. The left is then fed through the opening to create the all-important twist. Next the front and back are joined at the side seams and finally the sleeves are hemmed and inserted.

Twist tops on mannequins
GBSB Twist tops on mannequins

Catherine was last and Gillie 11th. Tony R was second and Asmaa won.

Week 2 - Travel Week - Rucksack

Contestants have 3 hours 15 to make a rucksack with a rolled top and metal clasp, two adjustable straps and a front pocket with a zip. Since it is designed to carry heavy loads, contestants must choose a robust fabric for the body and webbing for the straps. This is the first time on GBSB that a rucksack has been required.

The pattern has thirteen pieces. It starts with the front piece, attaching a zipped patch pocket and catching in a loop and D ring. Two strips of webbing strengthen the front seams. The shoulder straps, handle and clasp loop are fixed to the back section and webbing secured at top and bottom with adjusting sliders between. The front and back sections are joined right sides together. A lining is attached and the whole bag is turned the right way out through a small hole. The lining is then pushed back inside the bag, clasps fitted and the roll top closed.

GBSB Rucksacks Pattern Challenge
GBSB Rucksacks Pattern Challenge
Rucksack, by Tony R
Rucksack, by Tony R

Gillie came last, Lizzie second to last, Asmaa was second and Vicki won.

Week 3 - West Africa Week - Batakari-inspired pattern

Banke Kuku is a guest judge this week. A Batakari (or fugu) is a Ghanaian man's tunic, made from woven strips called Daboya, with a distinctive flared shape and decorative neck opening. The Batakari dates back to the 19th Century when it was worn as a form of protection and invented by the Akan people. President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana wore a batakari during his independence speech in 1957. The main body of a Batakari is made from daboya fabric, which comes in one long length. Four strips and six godets are cut out and sewn together, creating one large cloth. The neck facing is stitched to the centre of the fabric, tapering to a V at the front. The neck opening is trimmed away and the facing is turned through. It is folded in half then side panels and armhole facing are added. The front of the pocket bags are attached to the side panels and pushed inside. Finally it is hemmed and pressed. 

GBSB Batakaris

Fauve came last and Mia 9th. Vickie came second and Asmaa came first.

Transformation Challenges

Week 1 - Corporate Uniform into a garment expressing the contestant's personality

Contestants have 90 minutes to transform corporate office wear (a shirt and a skirt) into a garment expressing their individuality and personality. The judges are looking for a major transformation.

Boring office wear transformed into personality garments
GBSB Boring office wear transformed into personality garments
Punk-inspired office shirt transformation
GBSB Punk-inspired office shirt transformation, by Matthew

Maria came last, Tony R was 11th. Vicki came second and Matthew won.

Week 2 - Windbreaks into Rainwear

Contestants have 90 minutes to turn a plastic windbreak into a piece of rainwear. Given its structure, judges are looking for exciting, structural garments, while being practical.

Windbreaks transformed into rainwear
Windbreaks transformed into rainwear

Vicki came last, Lizzie second to last, Tony W came second, Asmaa won.

Week 3 - Adire fabric into a dramatic garment

Contestants have 90 minutes to make a dramatic garment from Adire fabric. Adire is a quite stiff fabric, traditionally made by the Yoruba people of Nigeria and literally means "tie and die".

Adire fabric used to create dramatic garments
GBSB Adire fabric used to create dramatic garments

Maria came last, Tony R was 9th, Lauren was second and Lizzie first.

Made-To-Measure Challenges

Week 1 - Made-to-measure cut-out dress

Contestants have five hours to make a made-to-measure cut-out dress to fit their female models. The judges are looking for a bold design with structural integrity.

Tony W won garment of the week. Catherine was sent home.

Week 2 - Swimsuits

Contestants have 4 hours to sew a made-to-measure swimsuit for their female models. They are required to incorporate a "complex element", for example ruffles or asymmetry, and avoid making a plain one-piece swimsuit. The swimsuit must have a really good fit, including in the length.

Garment of the week by Mia. Gillie was sent home.


The 12 contestants in The Great British Sewing Bee Season Nine were:

Asmaa - Asmaa is a breast surgeon in a Cardiff hospital cancer unit and loves making underwear in her downtime. She is of Iranian descent and has a daughter, Sophia, who is leaving home for university. 

Catherine - Catherine is a BAFTA-winning computer games designer who lives near Brighton with her husband and cat and exclaims that sewing is for everyone. Catherine was sent home in week one after she failed to complete her made-to-measure garment.

Fauve - Fauve is a trainee solicitor in Swansea, where she lives with her parents, grandmother and brother, plus three dogs. She has turned a cupboard into her sewing room. She is an avid golfer who started aged 10 and represented Wales at the home internationals. She also does cold water swimming. 

Gillie - Gillie is retired and lives in Nottingham, with her passion for fashion ignited by living in Paris in her 20s where she was a Saturday girl at a fashion house on Boulevard Saint Germain. As a child she holidayed in the south of France. She was sent home at the end of week 2 having performed poorly in all three activities.

Lauren - Lauren, a former lawyer and mother of two children aged 7 and 5, works in a fabric shop in the Midlands, and is from a large extended family that gathers annually for a beach picnic 

Lizzie - Lizzie is a graphic designer and animator from Bristol. She has an allotment tended with her partner. She loves travel and adventure and drinking cocktails by the sea. She was taught to sew by her mother over 40 years ago, although she died when Lizzie was 12. 

Maria - Maria is an A&E nurse in Fife who loves sewing as a creative outlet. She moved (reluctantly) to Scotland from Costa Rica aged 8 and has a pronounced Scottish accent.

Matthew - Matthew is a teaching assistant in Peterborough and was taught to sew by his grandmother. He has previously worked front-of-house on a cruise ship 

Mia - Mia studied art in Surrey and is about to start a degree in costume design. She has two years of sewing experience, after being given a sewing machine by her mother. She also makes stained glass and pottery, and she crochets. She won garment of the week in week 2.

Tony R - Tony left a high-powered job in manufacturing three years ago to become a postman in Bude, Cornwall. He uses two pairs of glasses sometimes to achieve the desired magnification. He was a 90s skater, owns more than one mountain bike.

Tony W - Tony is a primary school teacher in Essex who occasionally brings his sewing machine  to work to share his love of sewing with his class. Won Garment of the Week in week 1.

Vicki - Vicki, married, lives in Lincolnshire and is a police despatcher. She sews in several rooms, two children and three cats. She can make anything to fit her and it makes her feel good about herself. She is a fan of Stranger Things. She went on honeymoon to Morocco and is a Glastonbury Festival fan. 

Production Crew

Filming and staff members include: Fiona Parker - Sewing Team and Fabric Buyer, Hannah Mellows - Production Coordinator, Hannah Riordan - Contestant Runner, Kirsty Podlaski - Casting Researcher, Montana Bent - Casting Assistant Producer, Natasha Chinyenze - Studio Runner, Rebecca Cole - Specialist Associate Producer.