An Interview with Great British Sewing Bee contestant Lynda (Episode 1)

Image credit for all pictures: BBC / Love Productions

After months of anticipation, I'm relieved to say that last night's return of The Great British Sewing Bee lived up to all my expectations. This year sees an increased number of contestants for a longer series (eight episodes) and despite obvious bias, I can't help but think they picked some really great characters.

I can relate to yoga-loving mother-of-two Tamara; Julie, Simon and David all made me laugh out loud at different points during the show; Jenni has great taste in fabric and made me well up with tears; Chinelo has serious talent despite not much experience; Heather reminds me of a family member and Cerina lives an idyllic life I dream of.... If my mother wasn't on the show, I'd be struggling to know who to support for the second episode.

Thankfully she is on the show, and we got to watch the first episode with her last night (needless to say I had to watch it again this morning, as she talked all the way through it the first time). We have both been amazed and overwhelmed by so many lovely messages of support, and so I asked Mum to talk to us about her background and appearing on the show. Here's what she had to say...

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It's strange to be interviewing my own mother, but I know that many readers will be interested to find out more about you and your background. This is the first time you've been here in an 'official' capacity so I'd like to extend a formal welcome on behalf of those who have been so generous with their support. Can you tell us how long you have been sewing and how much experience you had before the show? 
I can't remember a time when I didn't sew. My mother was a 'Tailoress' and I grew up amid fabric, needles and tailors' chalk etc. I remember making my first dress when I was in junior school, all by hand, and enjoyed sewing every stitch. I still have a love of hand stitching today and look forward to settling down and finishing off my garments by hand. I remember my mother making her own clothes, usually out of remnants, and followed in her footsteps, becoming frugal in creating my own wardrobe of clothes! When I was a teenager I made almost everything I wore even though people didn't believe me, usually making my most hated comment 'You made it??? Wow ... it looks bought!!!'

Looking back, I think I had quite a unique collection of clothes which I took for granted. I used to copy things I saw in the shops and make changes to them to flatter my body shape and use colours that suited me rather than what was in fashion. I remember one night, getting ready to go out, burning the leg of my trousers (I STILL don't get on well with irons) so I cut the bottom of the legs off and tucked them in my knee length boots. The following week a few other people were wearing their trousers exactly the same way.

Are there any other crafts that you enjoy?
As well as sewing, my mother also used to knit, she used to knit amazing garments for me, my three brothers and her numerous grandchildren. (Every Christmas we would all have something that she had made for us, as well as other handmade gifts throughout the year.) The day I found out I was first pregnant, I bought wool and started knitting. My mother had taught all my brothers and I to knit - we used to knit clothes for my dolls.

I'm left handed and when I was in school the teacher told me that I needed to knit right-handed or she couldn't correct any mistakes I made. This saw the birth of my own way of knitting .... one row (normal) right-handed and the next row, without turning the work around, knitting back - backwards, -left-handed! It has confused many people in the past. I used to knit and sew clothes for both of my children when they were young as well as making my own clothes. Working full-time has meant that I don't always have a lot of time to sew or knit these days.

I've already written about *ahem* encouraging you to apply for the series (here), but can you tell us in your own words, why you applied for the GBSB? 
The reason I applied to be on the GBSB is simple ... I was challenged, there's nothing quite like a challenge to get the fiery Sagittarius in me going! I honestly didn't know what my chances were of getting on there but there was no way I was going to back down without trying. I really don't like filling in application forms and am never sure if I'm saying the right thing but a challenge is a challenge -right???

After you submitted your application, what were you thinking? Did you really think it would go any further?
When I submitted the application I didn't think any more about it but was absolutely delighted/surprised to hear from them and as they say .... the rest is history!

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Even before the show there was a lot of interest in your participation from people within the deaf community (including See Hear and SL First Magazine), and some comments on the blog too where people praised your courage for going on the show. Did being deaf affect your participation at all (other than not knowing how to pronounce things)?
Being deaf was, for me, the biggest obstacle I had to overcome. It took a lot of courage for me to 'get out there and do it'. My biggest worry is always that I won't know what people are saying to me. I think the fact that my speech is (almost) perfect means that people don't realise just how deaf I am. Without hearing aids I hear absolutely nothing, with them I hear some sounds but not the human voice. I rely totally on lip reading. Beards, moustaches,  accents and speech impediments such as lisps, make it more difficult for me. On set I had the help of an amazing interpreter, Helen Hamston, and I'm hoping that you get to see her in action!

It's been a huge secret for me to keep, since last summer when filming began, so I can only imagine how it was for you. How did it feel to finally be able tell your friends that you'd be on the show? What has the response been since people found out? 
Keeping it a secret was difficult for me specially as I had told people that I was applying for it. As one friend said .... 'Ah it all makes sense now!' Sneaking around and keeping secrets was worth it but it was brilliant to finally tell everyone. The lovely messages I've received have been overwhelming. I hope it will encourage other deaf people to take a leap of faith in whatever they want to do.

What did it feel like to watch yourself on the TV in the first episode? 
It was really weird - it was even worse than seeing myself in photographs! Watching with my family made it more nerve-wracking, and I suppose I was quite nervous about it.  I didn't know how much had been edited and how I would come across, but actually I'm happy with it and feel it was a true representation of how I am every day. It was important to me to 'be myself' on screen. 

If you could do the challenges from episode one again, what would you do differently? 
I would have chosen a different pattern for the nightgown. I didn't realise how much longer it would take in the Sewing Room, with the cameras and interruptions. I had struggled to find a pattern that I liked so I adapted a dress pattern. I've made lots of nighties over the years, but there was nothing I wanted to make. Lo and behold, a few weeks ago I found the perfect pattern which would have been much nicer with a lot less trouble. 

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What were the most challenging aspects of being filmed? 
The biggest problems were logistical. I prefer to lip-read but was worried I'd miss out on something important when the judges were talking to me, so I was watching my interpreter Helen sign which didn't feel totally natural when someone else was talking. Plus the crew were not used to working with a deaf person and I think the first episode was a challenge for everyone. Because I can't lip-read and sew at the same time, I had to stop working each time someone spoke to me. 

You stitched me up good and proper with Patrick's "Sign name" - is there anything I should know before next week's episode? 
Wait and see! :D 

26 comments

  1. I love you Lynda!

    I wish you had seen my reaction at the Patrick Patrick bit!

    <3 Can't wait for next week!

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  2. Sarah, your mum is a fantastic woman. I really enjoyed reading more about Lynda. How amazing that she has perfect speech with such profound deafness. I was really surprised by that.

    I look forward to watching her progress in future episodes. Can't wait for next week. What other secrets regarding Patrick will she let slip ;)

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  3. I really really enjoyed watching the show, and I think Lynda came across so well! There were some lovely moments. I did find some of the other contestants trying to assert themselves and put their characters across a little grating and forced, but Lynda seemed so naturally and bubbly (and I can't get over how much alike you look!) - Rooting for you to go all the way :D

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  4. All of us ladies in the US are praying that someone will record the shows and post on You tube ,since we can't see them.

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  5. I loved the first episode and it was lovely watching whilst "knowing" one of the contestants before hand. It's been great seeing a broad range of sewists from all crafting backgrounds. As someone who has come to craft through my own health difficulties it was lovely to see the policeman who started sewing when he had surgery on his leg and how he managed in the sewing room. It seems that the production company really have been helpful to people who have different physical abilities. It's wonderful to see a deaf contestant and and someone with a bad leg taking part and the coverage not making a big deal of how those differences are incorporated into their participation, without ignoring them. It's wonderful to see it being handled so well on prime time tv.

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  6. Hello Sarah and Lynda, thanks for the wonderful interview. Last night was brilliant. Lynda you came across as a lovely person. I have to agree with mummytotheC's. One person didn't seem to come across as very nice but I tend to think someone's edited this to make the show look interesting. Lynda your skirt was my favourite and definitely something I would wear. I laughed out loud when you revealed Sarah's sign name for Patrick. You may be wishing you hadn't encouraged your Mum to take part ; )
    I can't wait for next week and have my fingers well and truly crossed that you will be in
    the final.

    Ali xx

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  7. What a wonderful woman your Mum is! So open, and honest and such a joy to watch and listen to on the telly. Thanks for sharing this interview and thank you to your Mum for sharing so much of herself with us too. She came across on TV as such a fun and joyous person, she made me laugh.

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  8. This is such a fantastic interview! I loved the first episode last night, particularly your Mum (although had no idea until reading this!). Looking forward to the rest of the series. :)

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  9. What a wonderful interview. I was so looking forward to the second series of GBSB and it's been exciting being able to point to someone on the screen and say "I internet-know her daughter!" lol

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  10. Haven't seen the show yet, but its recorded so if I can keep my eyes open long enough I will watch it tonight!

    What did your two think Sarah? I bet they were so excited to tell their friends.....I'm not sure how I'd have managed to not say anything, in fact I know I wouldn't be able to keep schtum!

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  11. Superstar! Best of luck to your mum.

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  12. It was so nice to watch the show 'knowing' your mum already - just like Evelyn, I kept telling people too! She is so lovely and friendly - and talented. Can't wait until next week. X

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  13. So, I watched it and I loved it, your Mum made me proud to be welsh, and I shed a tear when your two were on there and she said about wrapping them in love, bless her! I'm looking forward to seeing how she progresses, hooked already!

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  14. Lynda. You are an inspiration. Xxx

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  15. My eldest daughter is studying sign language and when I told her about the sign for Patrick, she thought it was very funny!
    Your Mum was fab, honestly my favourite contestant. Is she always so smiley and jolly?

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  16. I am loving this years sewing bee soooo much (I just found you via All Bee Creations) Your Mum is fab, but I love them all already - how do they do that, make us feel so invested in everyone so quickly? This is my TV highlight of the year, the remote is mine!

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  17. Hello again, another comment from me! I have mentioned this interview in a blog post this week, with a link back here. I hope that's ok. Obviously if not I'll remove it, just let me know.
    Thanks

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  18. I am loving watching the second series, I think your Mum is a sweet lady. I did not know the contestants could not tell anyone they were on the show, gosh that must be hard! Lol.

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  19. You were my mums best friend and I remember you well....so fun and lively. She also made her own clothes and ours which you often talked about with passion. I wish she was alive today to see you because she would be so proud. She always spoke fond of you and I loved spending time with you. Just be honest to yourself and make what you feel from the heart. Good luck. From Christine s daughter wendy xx

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  20. I wait each week with anticipation to see the programme and your Mum is great.. what a super show.. hope your Mum does well each week. It was lovely to see her get garment of the week. Well done Lynda
    Chris

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  21. Your mom is an inspiration! I found this post trying to see if anyone can name the shawl she's wearing in episode 4--so beautiful! Did Lynda make this herself, or is it something her mother made for her? I loved to see her in such a beautiful handknit, and she's very stylish.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, it's actually my shawl which she wore - you can find my blog post about it here http://www.craftsfromthecwtch.co.uk/2014/03/my-knitting-secret-invisible-zip-gbsb.html

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    2. Well a shawl made by your daughter is just as special as a shawl made by your mother! Well done to both of you and thank you for the link.

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  22. Very, very sorry that Lynda left the sewing bee last night. She is such a watchable person, so warm and engaging. I hope we see her again somewhere, some time.

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  23. I almost cried! Lynda could have and should have taken that whole competition! She is AWESOME!

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  24. Well done Lynda! Wishing you the very best.

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