Esme and Patrick exchange Christmas presents ahead of the Sewing Bee Christmas special

the great british sewing bee celebrity christmas special 2023
Sewing Bee Christmas special is on TV tonightBBC/Love Productions/Paul Andrews

The Great British Sewing Bee Celebrity Christmas Special is going to be back this year with a new celebrity line-up ready to follow those tricky patterns and transform festive materials into something fabulous – and the release date for the episode has also been revealed.

Judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young regularly come back at Christmas to share their expertise and critiques with a host of famous faces.

They exchanged presents ahead of the Christmas special episode, a moment which was shared on the Sewing Bee Instagram page. Both judges rooted round their local charity shops for something special for the other.

Esme said: "Now, this is a gift for Patrick. And I found it in a charity shop." The present turned out to be a T shirt from Patrick's own collection.

Speaking about finding Esme's present, Patrick said: "A couple of years ago, I just decided that the planet had enough stuff so I have been scouring the charity shops for this little beauty". Patrick bought Esme a colourful vase, along with some flowers to go in it.

And now they will be joined by new presenter Kiell Smith-Bynoe, who is taking over from Sara Pascoe for the Christmas episode and next year's series of Sewing Bee.

The Christmas episode of the Sewing Bee will air tonight, Thursday 21 December, at 9pm on BBC One.

The BBC has also revealed which celebrities have been confirmed to taking on the sewing challenges for the Christmas special. This year we can look forward to seeing actor, musician and punk icon Toyah Willcox, actor and comedian Kerry Godliman, comedian and writer Jessica Knappett and actor Hammed Animashaun.

Judge Esme appeared on BBC's Morning Live to discuss the upcoming Christmas special. In a clip of the show, contestant Toyah showed Esme a necklace she bought from Esme's brand Swanky Modes. Toyah said she wore the piece of jewellery when she went out for lunch with Princess Diana.

This year, the contestants will be tasked with putting their own twist on Christmas stockings. They will then make puffer coats into food-themed fancy dress for children, and then the final challenge will see them create an outfit for their dream Christmas Day.

Esme said about the pattern challenge: "Because it's a festive programme, the first pattern challenge is a Christmas stocking. In fact, as a child, I made my parents two Christmas stockings, one for my dad and one for my mum".

The judge also revealed her attitude to mending and repairing clothes – and how she no longer buys any new pieces for her wardrobe. She said: "I decided about three years ago I would not buy any new clothes. People who do invisible mending are really talented, it's a really difficult thing to do. I always say make a statement out of your mending".

the great british sewing bee celebrity christmas specia with patrick grant, kiell smith bynoe and esme young
Judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young will be joined for the Christmas special by new presenter Kiell Smith-BynoeBBC/Love Productions/Paul Andrews

The Sewing Bee Instagram account shared two lovely festive photos of the show – one of the judges and Kiell, and the other of the four contestants.

The images were captioned: "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

"The Great British Sewing Bee: Celebrity Christmas Special. Joining Kiell, Patrick and Esme under the mistletoe are Hammed Animashaun, Jessica Knappett, Kerry Godliman and Toyah Willcox."

Last year, the celebrities were challenged to make a Christmas apron, then turn a sack full of children's hand me downs into a novelty outfit for a baby. Finally, they had to create pop star inspired fancy dress to ring in the New Year before dancing the night away to a Dolly Parton classic.

Strictly Come Dancing's Johannes Radebe was crowned the Christmas special winner, blowing the judges away with the creativity and execution of his designs.

Meanwhile, this year's Sewing Bee saw Asmaa being crowned champion in the final after fending off tough competition.

asmaa wins the sewing bee final
BBC/Love Productions/James Stack

Here's everything we know about the Sewing Bee Christmas Special 2023 below...

Sewing Bee Christmas Special 2023 release date

The Christmas special of the Sewing Bee will air on Thursday 21 December at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

In the meantime, you can get into the festive spirit early and catch up on last year's Sewing Bee Christmas Special on BBC iPlayer now.

Who is taking part in the Sewing Bee Christmas special?

The four celebrities who are taking part in this year's Christmas special have been announced. Musician and punk singer Toyah Willcox will be taking on the sewing challenges, alongside Derek star, actor and comedian Kerry Godliman.

They will be joined by comedian and writer Jessica Knappett, who wrote sitcom Drifters, and actor Hammed Animashaun, who recently appeared in comedy drama Black Ops.

Speaking ahead of the show, singer Toyah revealed she learned a lot from taking part in the show. She said the greatest lesson she learned was: "To trust that learning is part of the process and practice is definitely going to make perfect. It takes patience. It takes focus. And that it is really rewarding on many levels. You learn a lot about yourself."

the great british sewing bee celebrity christmas special toyah willcox
Toyah says she found taking part in the show really rewardingBBC/Love Productions/Paul Andrews

Actor and comedian Kerry Godliman said her favourite part of being on the show was picking the fabric for her projects. She said: "I had loads of fun choosing the fabric. The haberdashery is just like a sweet shop. I love all the textiles."

Comedian and writer Jessica Knappett said she excelled and coming up with ideas for her sewing projects, but struggled to execute them. She said: I'm an ideas woman. My ideas were fantastic, but I didn't always pull them off. Ideas: great. Execution: really quite poor.

"I did get better as I went along. I had a disaster, but I also had a triumph."

the great british sewing bee celebrity christmas special jessica knappett
Jessica says she most enjoyed coming up with the ideas for her sewing projectsBBC/Love Productions/Paul Andrews

Actor Hammed said he was really conscious of not disappointing Esme with his sewing. He said: "Esme does not play when it comes to sewing and rightly so. I had to make sure I was on my A-game whenever she came round. And make sure my sewing lingo was on point. You don’t want to get the Esme Stare."

Where is the Sewing Bee filmed?

The 2023 series of Sewing Bee was filmed in a former textile mill called the Sunny Bank Mills, located in Farsley, Leeds. Patrick said of the location: "Leeds is at the heart of the wool and textile industry so it feels appropriate to film in a great big spinning mill."

The Sewing Bee Christmas special will air on Thursday 21 December at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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