There “seams” to be a pattern emerging with talented Rotherham-based creatives taking part in some of Britain’s best-loved TV programmes.
Julie Pygott, a Rotherham-based beauty therapist has made it through to new series of The Greatest British Sewing Bee, which starts tonight on BBC One.
And Julie will be hoping to emulate Rotherham’s Dr Rahul Mandal who won the 2019 Great British Bake Off.
Now in its seventh series, the show is produced by Love Productions and is hosted by Joe Lycett. With twelve of Britain’s most talented home sewers competing to win one of TV’s toughest creative challenges, judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young cast an expert eye over the garments, in the competition to find Britain’s Best Amateur Sewer.
Julie got her first sewing machine as a Christmas gift and has been sewing ever since, making her own clothes including prize-winning dresses for Ladies’ Day at the races.
Currently working as a beauty therapist, Julie used to be a part of a European dance troupe and high-kicked her way through Greece, Italy and Spain.
For the show, Julie has taken part in a Q&A:
How did it feel to be filming this series?
Once we got to meet other contestants – we had masks on of course and socialising from safe distance – it was great. But we had an early morning start the next day ready for first day of filming…so I needed my beauty sleep !!
When did you first start sewing and why do you love it so much?
As a young child we were deprived kids and we got the chance to go to a pantomine in Blackburn for under privileged children. Afterwards we all got a sack of used toys and in mine was a little blue metal sewing machine and that was me hooked although I didn’t really start sewing big time till I was pregnant.
Who was your mentor?
My mentor was a mixture of school teacher/ mum / and my dear friend on the Isle of Wight. She is so creative and always looking on the beach for driftwood to make beautiful creations .
What is your favourite garment to sew/or your speciality?
I don’t really have a favourite garment to sew. I just love sewing and a challenge.
Why did you want to be a Great British Sewing Bee and who did you want to most impress of the Judges, or both? And when the sewing got tough, was Joe a welcome ally?
I always loved watching Sewing Bee and my friends used to say you need to apply …so I plucked up courage and went for it …and after 3 attempts I made it 3rd time lucky !!!
And of course you want to impress both judges…
Well what can I say about Joe apart from him being so funny, and a breath of fresh air and he makes light of a bad situation, he makes you feel at ease in a heartbeat.
Describe your experience on first walking into the sewing room on this year’s Sewing Bee, and which challenge were you fearing the most the first week – Pattern challenge; transformation challenge, or Made to Measure challenge?
I was so giddy on walking into the sewing room for the 1st time, I couldn’t really believe it. I feared the Transformation challenge really as it is not knowing what it’s going to be and make it in only 90 mins .
What was your best and worst moment that first week?
I loved the Buzz around the sewing room once everyone got sewing … My best moment has got to be dancing with Joe, and the sewing of course.
How did you try and stay calm when things were going badly wrong or you ran out of time in the first week?
I did try and stay calm during the filming, but it was very hard.
Do you have an attachment to a sewing tool, and why is it special to you?
My best sewing attachment has got to be a buttonhole foot…just pop in your button and it measures it all out for you. I have always hated doing buttonholes until this was invented.
In your sewing life: What has been your worst sewing disaster – and your biggest triumph?
My worst disaster has got to be a wedding dress I made for a friend and she was pregnant so each time she came for a fitting she was expanding !!! Good job I had plenty of seam allowance and it turned out well on the day !!
Do you make for family and friends as presents? And most asked for garment?
My biggest triumph was making my son a leather jacket and I quilted all the lining myself and I was so pleased with it. I still have it now and that’s 25 + years later…Also headpieces I have made for my dancing friends with feathers and lights – it’s a real showgirl’s look. From time to time I make for friends and family, and since last year I have made hundreds of face masks and still making them.
Describe your style, and how much of your own clothes do you make?
I would describe my style as quirky and a bit off the cuff and unique and that is why I love to make my own clothes as you know that no one else will have them. Since being on lockdown I have never sewn as much and I am about to start to make a winter wool coat next.
Can you give a sewing tip for amateur sewers who have been enjoying the show?
For any amateur sewers – the tip is start off with something easy and work your way up and take your time . No pressure like on the show.
Was it hard to keep a secret that you were going to be on the show?
I did find it very hard to keep it a secret about going on the show and even had to tell porky pies to some family and friends. It wasn’t easy but we all had to do it and keep hush!
What is the best way to describe the relationship between this year’s Bees?
It has been so lovely to be around the other Bees and like minded people who love to sew as none of my friends sew. Also we have a group chat so we are still in touch which is lovely and motivates me to keep sewing and see what everyone else is making.
Episode 1 is on BBC One at 9pm on April 14.
Images: BBC / Love Productions