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Sewing Bee Jen & Ben

Sewing Bee Jen & Ben

Ben and Jen appeared on The Great British Sewing Bee this year - if you watched it they were the two Scots. The programme aired again for series 5 after a 3 year hiatus, which ended following a petition to the BBC by sewers across the UK. It exceeded all expectations, garnering a viewing audience of up to 4m per episode, and has been the best performing programme on BBC2 this year.

Ben filmed 3 episodes, and was extremely popular with the viewers both for his personality and his sense of style, which has been picked up by fashion bloggers. He used fabrication techniques which the judges had never seen before, as well as hand-dyed fabric and self-drafted sewing patterns. Good housekeeping wrote an article about the Twitter storm caused by his exit. He's in his 30s, and his demographic includes the LGBTQI community. A qualified vet, Ben has also worked in graphic design and communications specialising in social media. He's working on a number of textile related projects including a range of patterns and fabrics. Since the Sewing Bee Ben has appeared at public events and been featured in sewing magazines.

Jen reached the semi-final (episode 7) and was described by the judges as one of the best and most consistent sewers ever to have appeared on the programme. Patrick described her last pattern challenge as the closest to perfect that they've had. She has been asked to teach at sewing studios across the UK; has given public presentations at numerous venues (including special events at John Lewis in Edinburgh and Glasgow along with Ben); has been commissioned to write for major UK sewing magazines, will be appearing in Love Sewing issues 71 and 74; and has just signed a contract to present on The Sewing Quarter. Jen is married with two children at university. She worked as a litigation solicitor for over 10 years and has run numerous small businesses, including a retail venture which she successfully created then sold.

Ben and I met at the first audition stage, and immediately struck up a strong friendship. In fact it's likely that the bond between us is why the producers decided to have two Scots on the programme.

About our business

Ben and I have been appointed directors of a social enterprise company, Maker and Producer CIC, which takes surplus from a local high-end cashmere mill and encourages its use in sewing as well as direct selling. All profits go back into the community.

Related to this, we have formed a small business together, Ben and Jen Textile Studio, to run sustainable sewing workshops primarily using the cashmere. This is based at an art campus in the east end of Glasgow and we are collaborating with other artists working in the complex. Despite the fact that our first workshop isn't scheduled until November, we've also been approached to run events in venues across the UK. We've also roped in our Sewing Bee friends, who are keen to come up to Glasgow to join in as well participate in workshops down south.

The workshops will offer a sewing experience from beginner to advanced levels, creating fabric, flat items and more complicated garments. We'll be using our own designs as well as commerical sewing patterns. The emphasis is very much on sustainable and ethcial sewing. Our concept is not currently available in Scotland (research shows only one other workshop in London linked to a fabric shop selling sustainable fabric, although not surplus or cashmere), and will dovetail rather than compete with more traditional classes.