Gill Thomas, also known as ‘the one armed sewist’ came to the public’s attention when she arrived on our screens as a contestant on season 8 of The Great British Sewing Bee. Gill won a coveted Garment of the Week and only narrowly missed out on a quarter final place in the competition. Gill’s humour, resilience and openness quickly secured her place in the hearts of the audience. Her emotional departure from the show at the end of week seven saw her trending on twitter and has been referred to as “one of the most compelling things seen on TV”.
Gill first started sewing in 2018, initially being inspired by her great-grandmother Ivy, but then out of necessity because she couldn’t find clothing to meet her needs on the high street. Born with an upper limb difference, Gill has lived experience of the difficulties of being able to get in and out of clothing, and of finding clothing suitable for her body shape. Gill quickly developed her creativity and sewing skills to make accessible and inclusive clothing and is helping others to feel positive about their bodies by sharing her experiences.
Gill went to the University of Southampton and has a long and successful career as a public health intelligence specialist in the public sector. Starting in the NHS in the Midlands as an analyst, and most recently as a Health Intelligence manager in local government in West Yorkshire.
Gill lives in South Yorkshire and when she’s not sewing and creating beautiful but practical clothing, she can be found upcycling furniture, meditating, running or in the kitchen cooking.