Coming back to Patrick and Esme and the Sewing Room – did it feel like coming home to mummy and daddy?
It certainly did – it was strange really. It was the first thing I had done since Lockdown; we were in sniffing distance of one another. It was a real treat, and hugely liberating.
Do you play it straight this time in haberdashery or are there any naughty moments?
There are plenty of naughty moments, don’t you worry about that. The little minx in me was very evident and active throughout.
Were there tears this year?
There were a lot of tears this year, some joyful tears and then sad moments when people messed up. It was quite a dramatic series in that regard.
Was it difficult this time round not to be giving out the hugs, what did you offer as support instead?
Sweets and chocolate seemed to be the best way to get round the sewers. I was still able to offer emotional support, and had tissues on hand for the teary moments.
Was it a very different vibe in the Sewing Room this series, with a new set etc?
Yes and no, it was a new set and there was distance but the warmth and heart was there and the camaraderie was as strong as ever. This time, we have incredible river views which was good for the sewers to look at.
Since being in the series and around Esme and Patrick would you say your style has improved?
I don’t think there were ever any issues with my style, and if anything I would say their style has improved from being around me.
Best present a fan has ever sent you?
I have got a lovely embroidered badge that has me Patrick and Esme on it, with me wearing a fur around my neck. Past sewer Mercedes’s daughter embroidered a drawing of me in the bath with a face mask on.
What are your 3 favourite challenges from this series?
I loved the Transformation challenge in Sustainability week – using army surplus to make into a woman’s garment; I loved the Made to Measure in Children’s week with the Unisex Raincoat; and I loved the Paper Bag Shorts in Week 2 – Summer as a Pattern challenge.
During Covid a lot of people weren’t able to go out buying clothes, do you think it has brought some kind of sustainability sense to the nation?
I really hope so, we definitely need to be reusing and getting the most out of our fabrics. It’s a massive pollution and it’s a huge issue. Just use what you have and think twice about buying stuff that you really don’t need.
Can you describe some of the outfits you wear in this series?
They are sort of indescribable – an assault to the eyes. I keep them and reuse them. There was a pink fur jacket in the first series, which I took from the show.
And is mum still a fan of Sewing Bee?
My mum is still a huge fan and loved the last series. She couldn’t visit the set this time because of Covid protocols, but I sent her pictures all the time, so she felt part of it.
And what have you learned about sewing this time round?
Yes of course I have learned more!
OK, tell me more – the difference between Warp and Weft?
Warp is the lengthwise thread in a woven fabric and Weft is the crosswise thread used in interfacing, they support and stabilise the fabric of the garment. Of course.
How difficult is it for you when a Sewer has to leave, do you talk to them off camera?
I found it really hard this year. They are a really lovely gang, amazingly diverse group in terms of culture and their skills, they have brilliant creative minds and they brought so much to it. I really connected to them and felt they were a strong bunch of Sewers.
Are you on this series What’s App group – and how many messages would you get in a day?
Yes I keep in touch with sewers from previous series – and all they talk about is sewing, but it’s a lovely way of keeping in contact. The group goes dead during and then it comes alive after that with so many messages.
Can we expect to see some comedy moments from you?
I hope so – a lot of silliness in the sewing room to break the tension of working against the clock. I probably drive them mad, but it’s all done with good humour.
How do you try and make the Sewers calmer or destress them as you are walking around/chatting to them.
I really try not to bother them too much. If I can see that they are stressing out for whatever reason, I will keep it mercifully brief. The show has warmth and heart, and I don’t want to scupper the Sewers in any way. Obviously we are trying to make a telly programme, but I don’t want to make their lives harder; I want them to be proud of what they have done, and the show is all about pushing their sewing skills and creativity.
What was the last day like?
The last day was amazing, a real feat and the crew are such fun to be around and so expert at what they do. It’s such a lovely production, and the last day felt like a real victory amidst the chaos of the world. It was a successful shoot and we completed 12 episodes of telly engineering. The pressure was on for a lot of people but they rose to the challenge and we all got there.
You recently won two RTS awards for best presenter on BBC One’s The Great British Sewing Bee, and Channel 4 Joe Lycett‘s Got Your Back won the formatted popular factual category. The judges described you as ‘warm, approachable and kind, with tremendous enthusiasm for the subject matter’ for Sewing Bee, while calling your consumer programme ‘distinctive in style yet broad in appeal, all wrapped in a highly original format’. How did you feel about that?
I was shocked and humbled at the same time to find out I had won both. And it’s really thanks to the amazing teams on both shows who put in so much effort to make them work. Quite frankly, I am delighted. I am not sure where I will put them, but they will get pride of place in the house.