Simply Sewing meets: Great British Sewing Bee’s Tom Holmes

“He was robbed!” We were crying out at our TV, on learning that the Bee’s first evictee this year was Tom (aka the smiley one with a flair for flamboyant fabrics).

In the end it was his love of a jazzy pattern that led to his early departure from the nation’s most talked about sewing room. We’re sad to see his cheery face leave so soon. What’s he learned from his time on the Bee?

Essex-based 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 (awww!). He primarily taught himself using YouTube tutorials and sewing blogs and in the last year has also begun making menswear.

As we definitely got a taste for in his brief foray on the Sewing Bee, he’s especially attracted to bright, flamboyant and garish colours and fabrics.

When did you first start sewing and why do you love it so much?

I purchased a very basic sewing machine when I was at university around 8 years ago. I’d never used one before and was only really playing around, stitching scraps together, attempting to make things I had no idea how to make. Student life took over and although I enjoyed it, I didn’t sew much of anything at all.   When it came time to move house I needed to save money and space so I had to sell the sewing machine.

The Great British Sewing Bee Joe Lycett debut

Do you think this fabric is a bit too plain?

I then went four years without sewing anything until one Valentine’s Day about 3 years ago my boyfriend surprised me with a new sewing machine. Since then I really started to love sewing and it became one of my favourite hobbies.

Great British Sewing Bee reader offer

Being in the design and animation industry, a lot of my time is spent at a computer. I love sewing because it gives me the opportunity to do something away from a screen, where I can play with colours, shapes, patterns and textures.

Who was your mentor?

Until I took part in The Great British Sewing Bee, I’d never really known or been around anybody that sewed or made clothes. My main mentors have been the talented men and women online who kindly put their time, effort and expertise into creating video tutorials and instructional blogs.

What is your favourite garment to sew/or your speciality

I enjoy making dresses for my mum, and since I’ve began making menswear, I really enjoy making bomber style jackets for myself. Because my taste in clothing is a little more… unusual shall we say, it means when I make for myself I can go crazy experimenting with different fabrics and combination of colours and patterns.

Why did you want to be a Great British Sewing Bee and who did you want to most impress of the Judges, or both?

I wanted to be on The Great British Sewing Bee because I figured it would be a unique, interesting and fun opportunity to push myself. Of course I was keen to impress both the judges but I was also just as eager to impress the other sewers. Having that wealth of knowledge and experience around me was invaluable and certainly not an opportunity I’d had before.

When the sewing got tough, was Joe a welcome ally?

Joe’s humour did take the edge off the stressful situations in the sewing room.

Describe your experience on first walking into the sewing room

Surreal! I didn’t really believe it was happening. Even when I sat down at my sewing station it felt like a very strange dream. I was fearing the first challenge most because, well, it was the first challenge!

Do you have a special attachment to a sewing tool?

I’m pretty sentimental about my sewing machine. My boyfriend surprised me with it at a time when he knew I was missing sewing but I couldn’t really afford to buy a machine. It’s done me very well, however it is quite basic now I’ve improved quite a bit. I would like to buy something a little more advanced, but I keep stopping myself because every time I look at my sewing machine it reminds me of him and how supportive he is of me, my hobbies and the things that make me happy.

In your sewing life: What has been your worst sewing disaster – and your biggest triumph

My worst sewing disaster was when I was snipping into the seam allowance of a jacket arm hole and accidentally cut right through to the front fabric, creating a 1 inch hole in the front of the front body piece. It set me back hours!

My biggest sewing triumph was when I first made something for myself. It was a bomber jacket with colourful birds all over it. Nothing gave me more satisfaction than making something that I could wear myself.

Describe your style, and how much of your own clothes do you make?

My style is probably 50% clean and stylish, 45% flamboyant and weird and 5% sweatpants and baggy t-shirt . I don’t make as many clothes for myself as I’d like as I simply don’t have the time. I’d say I have maybe ten or so items I’ve made for myself, including works in progress. This is a very small percentage of my wardrobe but I’m hoping that will steadily increase the more I grow as a sewer.

The Great British Sewing series 5 TomCan you give a sewing tip for amateur sewers who have been enjoying the show?

The world won’t end if you screw something up. Give everything a go, push yourself and just have fun with it 🙂

What is the best way to describe the relationship between this year’s Bees?

Having seen previous seasons of the show, I had always thought the contestants seem to always get on well, but I wasn’t expecting just how supportive and encouraging everyone would be. It never once felt like a competition. The other 9 contestants were all amazing and I am so happy to have them all as new friends.



Images © BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon.