The Great British Sewing Bee Patterns & Shopping Lists

Great British Sewing Bee S05E08Where on earth has the time gone? The final of the Great British Sewing Bee 2019 already?! I couldn't wait to see how Leah, Riccardo and Juliet got on in the evening wear challenges. I had my own ideas who would produce the most beautiful evening attire and be crowned Britain's best home sewer, but you just never know...

Series 5 Episode 8

Task One: A Double Breasted Waistcoat

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns and Fabrics

You can find all of our men's waistcoat patterns in one handy place here.

Here are our top picks for a double breasted formal waistcoat like the one the Bees created:

We also have some gorgeous formal wear fabrics that would be ideal for these sorts of projects. Check out our John Kaldor Duchesse and Mystique satin backed crepes here and here.

We also have a range of suiting fabrics here.

Sewing Bee Techniques

The Sewing Bees had to undertake a plethora of sewing techniques to complete the waistcoat.

The 'bagging out' technique where the lining was pulled through one of the side seams reminded me of a similar super clever method of lining a sleeveless bodice or garment where you pull the lining through the shoulder. You can see a video tutorial of this technique here.

Accurate buttonholes were a must, check out our top tips here. Interfacing to give the garment structure was essential - you  can find an article on how to choose the right interfacing for your garment here.

The judges pointed out the importance of understitching and pressing and you can find our top tips and step by step instructions for these techniques here and here.

Task Two: Net Curtains to Ball Gowns

Juliet had already taken on this challenge in a previous week and nailed it, but how would the other Bees fare?

The closest thing to net I've ever worked with was tulle for my Cocktail Hour dress for the McCalls pattern company Eve Appeal fundraiser a few years ago. You can see it here and read about my experience working with tulle, including machine embroidering designs onto it.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

If you fancy making evening wear with a lace theme our John Kaldor Tocca lace is a must see. It comes in a beautiful range of colours and has a stunning intricate design finished with scalloped edges perfect for using at the hem. You can find the full range here.

Task Three: Made to Measure Strapless Evening Gowns

The Bees had so many tricky tasks to contend with for the made to measure challenge. Fitting a corset well enough to hold up huge volumes of luxury fabric was no mean feat.

They certainly didn't disappoint and I would especially love to own the dresses created by Leah and Juliet.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here are our top picks for strapless red carpet worthy ball gown patterns:

We have the most beautful fabrics to make them with too including taffeta, faux silk dupion, satin backed crepe, lace sequins and plenty of beautiful printed woven fabrics.

Sewing Bee Techniques

The Sewing Bees sewed with slippery fabrics and you can find my top tips for getting great results here.

Leah expertly created gathers for her dress by hand, but you can use a gathering foot to make life much easier and you can find a video on how to use one here.

Inserting an invisible zip is a crucial part of most formal gown sewing projects, check out our super clever and easy method here.

All in all another wonderful series and oh my goodness even Joe and Esme welled up at the end! What a lovely bunch of people, what an inspiring programme and what a refreshing and welcome change from the usual TV schedule.

If you fancy taking part next year applications are already open - check out the BBC website for details if you dare!


 

Series 5 Episode 7

Great British Sewing Bee Series 5 Episode 7

It was the semi final of the Sewing Bee, which made for tense watching. You could see the remaining Bees were all feeling the pressure, but the standard of the work produced was certainly semi final worthy. It was international week and our screens were graced with bright colours, unusual shapes and the usual welcome dose of Joe's specially themed quips!

Task One: Indian Dhoti Pants

The first task was to whip up a pair of Ghandi's garment of choice - Indian Dhoti pants. This involved sewing French seams, creating and spacing no less than 32 pleats accurately, calculating the correct amount of fabric and choosing the right fabric to showcase the billowing trouser legs.

The huge pattern pieces caused some confusion with a couple of the Bees initially creating circle skirts rather than trousers.

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

These patterns would create a super pair of Dhoti pants:

We've also shared some other Eastern inspired and loose fitting trouser patterns below. In my early twenties I was lucky enough to travel round South East Asia and spent my time in what we affectionately named 'fisherman pants' and the Nehalem pants by Sew House Seven reminded me of them. They were perfect for keeping cool in a hot, sticky climate:

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

Choosing the right fabric for this task was absolutely critical. We wrote a blog post full of tips on how to choose the right fabric for any sewing project, you can read it here. The Sewing Bees also had to sew a French seam and you can see a step by step tutorial in our article here.

Task Two: Transformation of a Dashiki

Next the Sewing Bees were presented with a bold, bright traditional Nigerian tunic with the challenge of transforming it into something completely different. The border print on the fabric meant the Bees had to think incredibly carefully about print placement.

I must admit I think I would struggle with this task and was blown away by the work the Bees produced. Such great imagination and design skills were displayed with a knock out red carpet worthy dress and a beautiful top and skirt being expertly produced.

Joe asked Juliet about the differences in sewing in West Africa and she explained they tend to free cut the fabric. In other words they look at you, measure you then cut straight into the fabric without any pattern pieces. Joe laughed at the thought of them sizing him up after a large curry!

We have some gorgeous bold prints in our fabric range you can check them out here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

You can also find African themed sewing patterns here:

Task Three: An Origami Top

For the made to measure task the Sewing Bees were asked to design and produce an origami inspired top. There were some seriously complex and impressive looking patterns drafted with Leah even calling on the architects at her workplace to help her nail her design.

Once again the garments produced were stunning - crisp, precise and beautiful, although one poor Bee probably made the wrong fabric choice which made life rather difficult.

I desperately wanted to steal the bright yellow number Juliet created - the voluminous sleeves and an open back really had the wow factor.

Sewing Bee Tools

We spotted the Bees using a Sew Easy ruler, pattern weights, pattern drafting tools and paper and rotary cutters to create their designs. We have a great range of pattern drafting tools and paper, you can find them here.

I don't know about anyone else, but as the weeks go on I get more attached to the contestants, the judges, the host, well everything really. I always feel so sad when someone has to leave. You can see how hard they are all working and the lovely relationships they form with each other and I don't think any of us ever want it to end.

There was a real twist this week and I was so surprised to see who left. I wonder whether it is clever editing by the producers or whether people start to suddenly pull it out of the bag as the weeks go on?


 

Series 5 Episode 6

Great British Sewing Bee S06E06

It was a big week for the Sewing Bees this week and the stakes were running high in the quarter finals. Tasked with sewing jackets and coats everyone seemed to be feeling the pressure. Luckily Joe was on hand donning a handkerchief hat and cracking jokes about Patrick in his trunks (ooh - er!) to lighten things up.

Task One: Create a Worker's Jacket from Patrick's Sewing Pattern

Sewing a soft tailored jacket under severe time pressure is enough of a challenge for even the most experienced sewers. For the Sewing Bees there was a further nerve racking twist - the pattern used was created by Savile Row designer and Sewing Bee judge Patrick. Tense to say the least!

Linen was the fabric of choice and there was much talk of the importance of pressing, lapels and two piece sleeves.

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns and Fabrics

We thought these patterns would make a rather good lookalike for Patrick's design:

Also check out our lovely range of John Kaldor Coast linen look fabric as a great, less crease-tastic alternative to linen:

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

Making a jacket can be a daunting prospect so here is a blog post with some top tips from our very own Angela:

One of the important things to get right is the interfacing and tapes you use to help you create the shape and structure required. Here's a blog post on which interfacing and tapes you should use for all dressmaking projects including tailoring:

Pressing is crucial for success in any dressmaking or tailoring project. We wrote an extensive blog post all about it:

Task Two: The Deckchair Challenge

Ever thought of making a deckchair into a garment? No neither have we! As usual the Sewing Bees rose to the crazy challenge with aplomb!

I thought Leah's efforts were outstanding - such clever design for both pieces.

Task Three: Made to Measure Coat

For the final task the Sewing Bees were pushed to the limit again and created made to measure coats for their models using wool sourced from across the British Isles. Patrick was very, very excited and animated as he talked about Harris tweed and British wools. If ever you are lucky enough to end up stuck in a lift with him I would highly recommend this as a conversation starter!

Here are our top pattern picks to create coats similar to those the Sewing Bees created:

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns and Fabrics

Don't forget we have a lovely range of wool blend fabrics to choose from if you fancy the challenge:

I STILL haven't gotten round to it, but would love to make a smart, tailored coat in this slate grey with silver fleck wool mix and a 60s style dress coat in this beautiful jacquard fabric in pale blue and gold. Dre-amy!

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

Angela's jacket blog post and the interfacing blog post are full of useful tips and ideas for making coats too (see above).

Many of the Bees were picked up on their lack of shoulder pads - don't make the same mistake you can find them on our site here.

Janet used a Hong Kong seam (although Esme said she'd never heard of one) or bias bound seam in her coat rather than lining. Check out our tutorial with five different ways to finish seams including this fancy method here.

Another great week and onto the semi finals. The person leaving this week was a bit of a surprise for me, but I won't say any more in case you haven't watched it yet!

One thing I will say though...I think I'm a little bit in love with Riccardo, he is the nicest guy. He took Janet to the Ministry of Sound because she'd never been to a nightclub before. I mean how sweet is that?! Not sure how I'm going to cope without my weekly injection of his sparkly eyes, gorgeous smile and generally lovely demeanour. Oh dear getting too emotionally involved as the weeks roll by!


 

Series 5 Episode 5

The Great British Sewing Bee S05E05

Inspired by the importance of waste in the fashion industry this week the Sewing Bee theme was to reduce, reuse and recycle. As always the Sewing Bees sewing skills were put to the test, but the main challenge was their ability to be creative and use their imagination.

Task One: A Pussy Bow Blouse from Charity Shop Clothes and Soft Furnishings

The Sewing Bees had to make a pussy bow blouse from up to four recycled garments including the placket from a man's shirt. One of the major challenges the Bees faced was the huge sleeves. Squeezing these bad boys out of another garment was like squeezing yourself into a pair of trousers two sizes too small!

I loved the 60s fashion history lesson, which covered the launch of one of my favourite fashion labels - Biba.

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

One of my most loved handmade garments was the Sew Over It pussy bow blouse. You can see the full blog post here. It truly is a fantastic pattern - quick and easy to sew with no fastenings, a lovely fit, options for a Vneck pussy bow or a high neck pussy bow and some pretty vintage details such as gathers at the cuffs. If this little number isn't quite your style check out these alternatives:

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

If you choose to make a pussy bow blouse with buttons you might want to check out our top tips for machine sewn buttonholes here. If you're making it from sheer or delicate fabric our tutorial on how to sew French seams might be useful, find it here.

The Sewing Bees also used bias binding to hem the cuffs. Find our tutorials on how to create your own bias binding the easy way here and five different ways to apply bias binding here.

Task Two: Patchwork Garments

Imagine someone presenting you with all of your sewing scrap fabric from the last four weeks. Apparently we waste 30% of the fabric we buy - yikes!

Not only did the Sewing Bees have to face this scary reality they also had to turn the scraps into something wearable in the form of a patchwork garment.

I'm pretty sure Esme wanted to pinch Janet's efforts off the mannequin and to take it home!

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

If you're interested in getting into patchwork you can check out our essential patchwork and quilting toolkit articles here, here and here.

Task Three: Made to Measure Day Dress

Ed has been known to say some of my clothes look like they've been made from a pair of curtains. I know, lovely and encouraging isn't he?!

In this week's made to measure challenge he would be right. The Sewing Bees brought in their unwanted curtains and soft furnishings and were tasked with turning them into a day dress that fit their model perfectly. Never in all my days have I seen a pair of net curtains look so sexy!

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

We trawled the website to find dresses with similar design features to the Sewing Bees efforts in the made to measure task.

  • Vogue 1172 for Janet's vintage inspired dress with a deep V neck.
  • Vogue 9252 for Juliet's hi lo hem dress with a fitted bodice.
  • Butterick 6415 for Leah's princess seamed full pleated skirt dress.
  • Vogue 1543 for Ricardo's 1950s inspired dress with asymmetrical pleats in the bodice.
  • Vogue 9261 for Mercedes bubble skirt dress (we couldn't find an adult pattern so we chose a little girl's instead)
  • Simplicity 8230 for Jen's A line dress with pockets.

Another interesting week from the Bees with some of the usual strong contenders seeming to struggle somewhat. A tearful farewell for one Bee leaving just five behind for the quarter finals next week.

Goodness knows how they hold it together for so long I feel exhausted just watching them!


 

Series 5 Episode 4

Sewing Bee S05E04

This week it was all about the technical fabrics and as usual Joe fully embraced the theme. Esme said she wouldn't be seen dead in his 'Lycetra fabric' but it didn't stop him sporting a smiley face on his super sparkly sequin Tshirt.

This week certainly pushed the Sewing Bees to the limit and as always we admired their sheer determination and ability to master brand new techniques under such huge time pressure!

Task One: Sewing a Lined Swimsuit

The first task was super tricky. Not only did the Bees have to sew multiple layers of badly behaved lycra and power mesh, they also had to enclose the seams by mastering the complicated jigsaw of pattern pieces.

We spotted them using a walking foot, overlockers and a cover stitch machines in their quest for a professional finish. We stock a wide range of walking feet on our site, you can find them here. Always check the compatibility charts to ensure you have the right foot for your machine.

You can also find our overlocker and coverstitch machine range here.

It was lovely to see the camaraderie between the Sewing Bees, especially Janet, who seemed to help everyone else and nail the task herself with my favourite swimsuit of the bunch.

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

Here are our top one piece swimsuit sewing pattern picks (many of which also include bikini and cover up patterns too):

You can find all of our swimwear patterns including bikinis and cover ups here.

You can also find swimwear bra cups, bikini bra cups, clear elastic, bra hooks and sliders and bra underwires.

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

The rouleau straps proved a challenge for some of the Bees and we thought our video on 'sewing straps on an overlocker' might have helped them. You can find a video demonstrating this technique in our article here.

Task Two: Sewing a Dog Coat from a Tent

Whether dog lovers or not this was certainly a different challenge for the Bees. According to Joe if you've never made a dog coat from a tent you haven't lived!

My very good friend and co-host of the Stitchroom Sewcial, Anne Acosta, recently made her gorgeous pooch a coat by refashioning some old orange overalls. You can find her as new_vintage_sewing on Instagram if you want to see Frankie in his fantastically fluorescent coat! Perhaps the producers should tap her up for some more ideas!

If you have a four legged friend you want to treat you can find our full range of pet sewing patterns here.

Task Three: Made to Measure Luxury Tracksuits

For the first time this series the Sewing Bees had to make a garment for a male model.

Esme and Patrick stipulated the luxury tracksuit must have a stripe and be made from synthetic fabric. Ideally it should feature interesting pockets, zips and design details, but needed to look perfectly casual.

Joe confirmed no-one was enjoying this task and attempted to stage a walk out, but the Bees were determined to see it through!

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

Here's our top picks for mens and womens tracksuit sewing patterns.

Mens Tracksuit Patterns

Womens Tracksuit Patterns

The Sewing Bees used scuba, mesh and microfibre to make their luxury tracksuits. We have a great range of scuba fabrics in our patterned jersey fabrics (just check the description for fabric type).

You can also check out our blog post 'Five Reasons to try Sewing with Scuba' here.

We also think our sumptuous John Kaldor velvet would be perfect for a luxury tracksuit find it here. In fact I saw an excellent pair of joggers made from one of our patterns and our velvet on Instagram a while ago and wanted them for myself. I'm not even a tracksuit person.

Another great week and a very inspiring one too. It was lovely to hear how sewing has positively impacted the life of one the Bees so significantly. Even Esme seemed to have a tear in her eye.


 

Series 5 Episode 3

Sewing Bee S05E03

Apparently Joe's parents didn't get it on early enough for him to see the seventies, but many of the Bees could remember it well. Another great week of super sewing, impressive garments and some great music too IMHO. Read on for our round up of patterns and fabrics plus step by step tutorials to help you nail the sewing techniques tackled this week.

Task One: Sewing Flared Jeans

I lived in flares in my teenage years yet can't remember owning a single pair in adulthood. After watching this episode of the Sewing Bee I'm feeling the need for flares again. Not sure I could make a pair in three and a half hours though!

The seventies is definitely my favourite fashion era and I'm loving the history element of the show. Who knew the flares trend was started by market sellers who bought up a load of old navy trousers and dyed them flambuoyant colours?!

The Bees did an excellent job: super neat top stitching, impressve fly fronts and secure buttons - apart from the one Joe attached!

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

Here are our top flared jeans and trousers pattern picks:

You can find our denim fabrics here, including some 70s tastic gold denim similar to Ben's fabric. We also have two lovely needlecord fabrics here and here.

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

The Sewing Bee's had to tackle a fly front zip and flat felled seams for this task and you can find detailed tutorials on these techniques here and here.

Task Two: Punk Transformation Challenge

The absolute highlight of the transformation task was Patrick's pogoing! Who knew he had such a wild side?!

The Bees were given a pair of trousers a Tshirt and up to three tartan garments to transform into something spectacular.

If you fancy chanelling your inner punk and 'smashing the system' check out our tartan fabric range here

Task Three: Made to Measure Maxi Dress

The made to measure challenge took us from masculine flared jeans and edgy punk outfits to glamourous and feminine maxi dresses. AKA my dream garment.

Here are our top picks of maxi dress patterns with a 70s retro vibe:

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

We also spotted some fabrics and loved Ricardo's choice this John Kaldor peaseblossom fabric.

We thought this pretty John Kaldor Juliet fabric was very similar to Leah's choice.

The Sewing Bee's used clear elastic to gather a neckline and Jen pumped up the volume with some shoulder pads, although the judges didn't seem too happy about this!

It was so lovely to see Alexei triumph in this challenge too after a difficult week.

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

Working with those slippery and sheer fabrics was a big part of the challenge for the Sewing Bees this week. You can find a detailed tutorial on how to handle those tricky little critters here.

Another week and as always not only am I loving the sewing, but I'm starting to really love the Bees too. Ben gave us all food for thought with his comment: 'Being a bit unusual and not just doing what everyone else does is a good way to be in life.' Hear hear Ben I couldn't agree more!


 

Series 5 Episode 2

Sewing Bee S05E02 Shopping List

The Great British Sewing Bee kids week started with Joe dressed as a giant furry bee and ended with him sharing his spin off series idea of Patrick and Esme wrestling in the car park! He is certainly throwing himself into the role: dressing up, joking with the contestants and he even has Esme smiling week after week - floss anyone?!

Task One: Sewing a Children's Hoodie

The first task had the contestants testing their overlocker and stretch fabric skills as they took on the challenge of sewing a children’s hoodie.

Joe reckoned it would be ideal for when he hangs out at the shopping centre with the rough boys!

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

Here are our top children’s hoodie pattern picks, some of which can be made right through to adult size too:

Sewing Bee Stretch Fabrics

You can check out our stretch fabrics here and here.

Our top picks for children's hoodie patterns are:

You can also find our gorgeous range of John Kaldor cotton jerseys here.

Sewing Bee Techniques and Tutorials

As always we have loads of helpful articles to help you perfect the sewing skills the contestants tackled in the episode:

Get right back to basics with our 'Sewing with Knit and Jersey Fabrics' article here.

We have articles to take you from complete beginner status right through to advanced techniques on your overlocker too. Check out our articles 'A Beginner's Guide to Overlockers', 'Five Techniques for Sewing Clothes on an Overlocker', 'Hem Finishes on an Overlocker', 'Five Tips and Tricks for your Overlocker' and 'Sew Perfect Knit Neckbands with a Coverstitch Binding Attachment.'

If you're finally ready to take the plunge and treat yourself to an overlocker or coverstitch machine you can find our extensive range here.

You can find our overlocker threads and flosses here and rotary cutters and cutting mats here

Task Two: Refashioning a Fake Fur Coat

For the second task the Sewing Bee contestants had to refashion a fake fur coat into a children's costume. Cue Joe dressing up in more fur.

You can find our full range of kid's costume sewing patterns here.

We also spotted the Sewing Bees' clever use of pipe cleaners on a few of the outfits and you can find those here, plus felt, fake fur and leatherette and the boning that helped Ben's costume to stand out. Literally!

Even Patrick felt inspired to dress up in Riccardo's spikey hat. And, yes, he even managed to look thoroughly suave and dashing sporting a children's fancy dress hat.

Task Three: Made to Measure Dance Outfit

The Sewing Bees were able to let their creative juices and imaginations run wild in the made to measure task with a loose brief of  'a dance outfit'.

We saw everything from ballet to theatre to street dance.

Sewing Bee Sewing Patterns

Many of the outfits were based around a leotard pattern so here are our top picks for children's leotards sewing patterns:

The children were fantastic as always and it was lovely to see the contestants working with them so beautifully. My heart completely melted when Alexei was caught on camera thanking his model for being a pleasure to work with.

After two weeks we can see some strong contenders coming through. It's probably too early to say, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Jen seems to have a special Sewing Bee sparkle.

Looking forward to next week already, but now - time to sew!


 

Series 5 Episode 1

Great British Sewing Bee s05e01

It's finally here and we relished every minute of the the Great British Sewing Bee episode one last night. As usual the contestants were lovely, the drama was high and there were a good few giggles - baggy bottoms or hungry bums anyone?! Here we give you a round up of the sewing patterns, gadgets, sewing machines and even tutorials for the techniques used in each episode.

Task One - The Cotton Wiggle Dress

Well I was certainly blown away by the dresses created by the Sewing Bees for the first task. First designed by Dior in the 1950s a wiggle dress should fit like a glove. And they had to make it in cotton - yikes!

The key techniques for the contestants to master were the multiple darts and an invisible zip. You can find a super clever way of inserting an invisible zip in our tutorial here.

I've also picked out some wiggle worthy dress sewing patterns. You could always alter the neckline and taper the hem to up the wiggle factor:

I noticed the sleeves on the wiggle dress sewing pattern in the show were very similar to the Pendrell blouse by Sewaholic. You can see my version and the sleeves in more detail here in case you want to use them for your dress.

If you fancy a similar challenge as the Sewing Bees our John Kaldor Ohio would make a great wiggle dress. Alternatively you could try something like our lovely John Kaldor Prestige crepe or Marmaris cotton sateen (just check the pattern details for suitable fabrics).

Task Two - The Denim Refashion

Refashioning requires such a different skill set to following a pattern. Not only do you have to sew well, but you need the imagination to see beyond the unloved, crumpled, second hand garment in front of you whilst avoiding the whole Becky from home eccy vibe!

After seeing Ricardo's incredible leather jacket sofa refashion we thought he'd be top of the pops for this task, but it was another Sewing Bee buzzing their way to the top this time.

My personal favourite was Sheila's gorgeous balloon sleeved top. You can see she has a keen eye for fashion and design with some great shapes and thoughtful details weaved into her garment. However, the judges chose a clever halter-neck design as the winner of this round.

If the Sewing Bees have inspired you to get sewing with denim you can find all of our denim fabrics here. We have some great new additions including the gorgeous gold denim Mercedes chose for her jumpsuit later in the show and some super shimmery denim.

Don't forget your jeans needles and top stitching thread to achieve winning results with your denim.

Oh and if you're adding a bow and you want to impress Esme make sure it's a big one!

Task Three - The Jumpsuit

The final challenge for the Sewing Bees in episode one was to make a cotton jumpsuit for a real life model. There was a LOT of crotch talk! More importantly - how hot was Esme in her leopard print jumpsuit draped over a motorbike in her youth?! Wowzers!

Juliet smashed it with her polka dot/African wax print mash up winning a well deserved garment of the week title. I also loved Leah's peacock entry with the gorgeous neckline.

We saw great design tips from Sewing Bee Janet who created a nautical themed jumpsuit. She cut the yoke and pockets on the cross grain so the print was at 90 degree angles to the rest of the garment. It looked fab and the judges loved it.

Janet also created a lovely macrame belt and added piping at the yoke and pocket seams. You can find our in depth tutorial on how to sew perfect piping for truly professional results here.

We saw 80s jumpsuits, cropped jumpsuits, asymmetric jumpsuits to name but a few. You can find all our jumpsuit patterns here.

Ricardo even drafted his own sexy little number. If you want to step up your game and have a go at drafting your own designs check out our fantastic range of drafting tools and books here.

Did anyone else notice it was a bit of a giveaway who was going to win this task when the sexy music started?! Was it just me or did they save the sensual tunes until the winning garments sauntered their way down the makeshift catwalk?!

The Janome 725S Sewing Bee Sewing Machine

We also spotted the Sewing Bee sewing machine of choice for series 5 - the Janome 725S. As luck would have it we've made a comprehensive review video of this fantastic machine, which you can watch here:

Sewing Bee Tools and Gadgets Spotted

We noticed the Sewing Bees making good use of my favourite Janome scissors and our brilliant new Prym tailors hams, which alongside the matching sleeve roll are a firm favourite in our office too.

Joe Lycett

We couldn't finish this week's round up without mentioning Joe Lycett. You had big shoes to fill Joe and we do miss Winklewonkle, but you were great! Your technicolour dreamcoat, cheeky gags and genuine interest in the contestants were lovely additions to the Sewing Bee sparkle we all know and love.

Don't forget we'll be updating this post every week with the goodies we spot. Why not bookmark this page and create a quick reference Sewing Bee guide just for you?!

 


 

Series 4 Episode 8

Sewing Bee S04E08

Task One - The Men’s Pintucked Shirt

Some serious precision sewing took place as the ladies worked hard to create the perfect men’s pintucked shirt. If you fancy making a men’s shirt we have plenty of patterns to choose from here.

If you plan on adding some pintucks a pintuck foot such as this Janome pintuck foot will come in super handy. As explained by Charlotte it has grooves on the underside to guide your fabric along as you create the pintucks. For our full range of sewing machine feet for all the brands we stock click here.

A sewing gauge is also an incredibly useful tool to have in your sewing arsenal - perfect for measuring hemlines, spacing out buttonholes, pintucks and so much more. We have a whole range of sewing measuring tools right here for you to choose from.

Task Two - The Tuxedo/LBD Alteration Challenge

We have thousands of gorgeous dress patterns to choose from at Sew Essential and to help you search through them quickly and easily we've added filters. If you're up for making a little black dress the 'evening' filter will probably come in useful. Quicker and easier searching and shopping means more time for sewing and that can only be a good thing - right? We also have a wide range of beautifully exquisite and high quality black dressmaking fabrics to choose from, perfect for that special occasion. Check out our black tocca lace, black velvet, black taffeta, black crepe, satin, faux silk dupion and crepe backed satin. We promise, you won't be disappointed. We also have a good range of sequin trims for a bit of sparkle.

Task Three - The Floor Length Evening Gown

The contestants wowed us with their final pieces yet again and what could be more fitting for the grand finale than a glamorous floor length gown? If you're looking for inspiration check out our blog post on making your own prom dress where we selected some of our favourite and most glamorous patterns and suggested which fabrics to pair them with. If there's nothing there that takes your fancy you'll be sure to find something special in our extensive sewing pattern range plus the perfect fabric to make it with in our dressmaking fabric stash.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the ride this year, we had a great time. Until the next time - let's keep it reel! (sorry!)

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

Follow us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram for news, tutorials, special offers, sales and more.


 

Series 4 Episode 7

The Great British Sewing Bee S04E07

Tonight’s episode of the Sewing Bee saw the last four contestants battle it out for a place in the final. Each of them have won a special place in our hearts and it was a joy to watch them showcase their incredible talents in some of the trickiest challenges we’ve ever seen on the programme.

Task One - The Asymmetric Yoked Skirt

The first challenge was for the ladies to get their heads around the pattern itself. The next challenge: sewing it! That curved seam was no mean feat and our very own Angela’s top tip for sewing curved seams is to use a ballpoint awl to ease the fabric under the machine foot as you sew, always sewing from the side with the fullness of the fabric.

If you fancy having a go at an asymmetric skirt check out Vogue 9113 and New Look 6418 for two stylish options plus our range of dressmaking fabrics to rustle them up in.

Task Two - The Duvet Alteration Challenge

Using every last scrap of fabric was the tricky part here and we were so impressed with the garments the ladies produced. I recently read a blog post where Gabby Young (sewing blogger) made a Christine Haynes emery dress from a Snow White duvet so maybe this challenge doesn't have to be exclusive to the show...

Task Three - Self Drafting A Made to Measure Pattern

This was certainly a big test for the Sewing Bees requiring creative flair for the design process and technical ability for drafting and sewing the garment. I simply fell in love with Jade's dress and desperately want one for myself. This Burda pattern is a very similar style if you wanted to recreate the look and I think it would look fabulous in our Sevenberry cotton linen feel fabric with a striking geometric print in everyone's favourite navy blue. Best add it to my ever growing future sewing plans list, well done Jade! If you too loved the yellow vibe of Jade's dress check out our Cassandra fabric in lemon with a black print. We also have a similar design fabric to the one Charlotte used for her beautiful cowl neck dress - look no further than our delightful Ohio coral fabric. For a similar colour way to the dress Joyce created we have this lovely Rosaline fabric.

If you fancy having a go at pattern drafting we’ve got a whole range of pattern drafting tools and products to get you started on our site. From pattern drafting books to basic block patterns and the highly acclaimed Martin Shoben range of pattern drafting tools we’ve got it covered. You can also read a fantastic guest blog post from former Sewing Bee contestant Neela Mistry-Bradshaw on how to pattern draft using one of our basic block patterns.

And then there were three - how did we reach the final so quickly? We’re getting withdrawal symptoms just thinking about the series ending...


 

Series 4 Episode 6

Sewing Bee S04E06

The competition is really serious now and we know who is through to the semi final, but who will be the winner? The Bees put on another fantastic show of skill, steely determination and the ability to keep their cool despite Patrick’s and Esme’s scrutiny and Claudia’s shrieks of ‘five minutes left!’

If you fancy joining the Bees in their sportswear challenge this week we have a number of stylish sportswear sewing patterns for you to choose from and some top tips from our very own Angela for sewing with those tricky fabrics.

First up the gorgeous range of sporty numbers from Sewaholic - the Dunbar top, the Pacific leggings and the Fraser sweatshirt. All of these patterns were designed to flatter a pear shaped figure, but could be worn and would make you look super stylish when exercising whatever your body shape.

We also have some lovely designs from McCalls including this sportswear sewing pattern which provides you with several garments to choose from including a sports bra, tops, trousers and even a casual, sporty skirt plus the very sportswear pattern Joyce used to make her yoga outfit.

When you’re whipping these sporty numbers up you may well need our sports elastic or clear elastic to achieve the perfect fit in all the right places.

Top tips for working with tricky sporty fabrics such as lycra from our founding partner and sewer for over 60 years Angela are to use an overlocker if possible and use wooly nylon in the upper and lower loopers. Never use cotton thread and choose polyester thread instead plus remember to use those all important stretch needles designed with these fabric types in mind they will make your life so much easier!

Overlockers and coverstitch machines featured heavily in the programme and they are a fantastic investment for anyone who wants to work with stretch fabrics such as jersey and knit, oh, and lycra! We have an extensive range of both types of machine from a variety of brands and we can offer you expert advice on how to use them. If you think you might be interested in treating yourself to one of these amazing machines, just give us a call and we'll be happy to help.

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

Follow us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram for news, tutorials, special offers, sales and more.


 

Series 4 Episode 5

Great British Sewing Bee Mondrian Dress

At the risk of sounding like a broken record it was another great week from the Sewing Bee this week. Not only did we love the challenges set for the Bees we absolutely loved the music, make up and giggles about the fun that was had by some of the older Bees back in the crazy 60s. Everyone sewed some beautiful garments and we think it’s going to be pretty hard for the judges as the next few weeks go by and we head to the final.

Task One - The Mondrian Dress

This certainly tested the Bees’ ability to sew with precision and demonstrate their creative flair. If you fancy taking up the challenge we have a limited edition Vogue sewing pattern hack that allows you to recreate the original in a few simple steps. View our full blog post to discover the perfect fabrics and a few expert tips from our very own Angela then take the plunge into the 60s Sewing Bee stylee!

Joyce wowed us with her 60s sewing skills and her succinct summary of what the sixties were like, in your very own words Joyce: ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll!’

Task Two - 60s Alteration Challenge

We’d love to see Esme’s shower curtain fabric garments - they must have been pretty racy! Working with PVC is tricky for many reasons and whilst we’re imaging there won’t be a massive rush for PVC in the shops following this episode we thought it would be useful to share a couple of top tips for working with this fabric or something similar.

Use the right sewing machine foot such as this ultra glide Janome foot or this Husqvarna teflon one, great for working with sticky fabrics. Even if you’re not about to tear your shower curtain down to rustle up a dress these machine feet are great for working with faux leather, ultra suede and vinyl. Also make sure you use a larger stitch than normal and a denim or leather sewing machine needle.

Task Three - The 60s Tailored Jacket

It always makes us hold our breath when Patrick inspects the tailoring task, can you imagine the pressure?! The ladies did really well and produced some lovely garments and we especially loved Jade's little beauty. Tracey used this Simplicity pattern to recreate one of her Mother's own makes from back in the 60s and there wasn't a dry eye in the house when she said 'she would have been proud.' We've got a fabulous range of jacket sewing patterns with handy filters to help you sort through them and pick out the ones you want with minimal fuss.

If you fancy a bit of tailoring it's definitely worth reading an in depth blog post where our very own Angela talks you through the tips and techniques she used to create a chic Chanel style jacket. Not only does she talk you through structuring tricks and tips such as chest and shoulder pieces she also recommends speed tailoring products to give you the ultimate professional finish.

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

Follow us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram for news, tutorials, special offers, sales and more.


 

Series 4 Episode 4

The Great British Sewing Bee s04e04

Well what a week folks, I feel emotionally drained after all that drama and can't believe how attached I'm becoming to all of the contestants once again. There were some real roller coaster moments this week with Sewing Bees performing at their best and worst all in the same episode and with such a gripping competition it is no wonder the viewing figures are so good again this year. I have to say it is lovely to see our local gal Tracey coming into her own now too - we love a bit of sewing in sunny Derbyshire you know!

As always we've picked out patterns and fabrics inspired by the makes on the show plus some of the tools and gadgets we spotted the Bees using to make them. If you want to see any of the items from previous episodes just scroll down the page, they're all there just for you.

Task One - The Chinese Top

The construction of this top was the real challenge and so many bees made mistakes by not following the pattern to the letter. If you fancy giving it a go why not try this New Look pattern and, although we don't have brocade in our stash, one of our gorgeous satin fabrics would work well.  We also have the frog closures you'll need for an authentic look and a wide range of invisible zips to choose from.

We spotted the Bees using rotary cutters for precision cutting, fabric weights and pins for extra stability when cutting and walking feet great for using with slippery fabrics.

Remember stay stitching the neckline is crucial to prevent stretching the fabric out of shape. Oh and it helps to undo the zip to get the top on as Charlotte reminded us and, as always, made us giggle.

Task Two - Refashioning A Sari

Our favourite task when we get to see the true creativity of the Bees and we certainly weren't disappointed this week. Some truly beautiful garments were made. From loose fitting trousers to caftans the Bees used the beautiful fabrics well to wow us. We have some lovely sheer fabrics in our dressmaking fabric stash that would make fantastic caftans and loose fitting trousers AKA the perfect cover ups for the beach this summer. There was also a lovely kimono and this New Look pattern gives you plenty of options to try depending on your preferred style plus there are more to choose from on our site.

Task Three - The Made To Measure African Dress

I loved the structure of these garments thanks to the dramatic shapes created by the stiff fabric. Peplums were incredibly popular and this Simplicity pattern and this Butterick pattern with it's partial peplum would make great options for you to try at home. Maxi dresses also featured in this task and we've created a filter on our dress sewing patterns page so you can just view the maxi dress options. Although we don't stock the specialist African fabric we have some lovely bold prints for you to try instead. The bold leaf print on this John Kaldor Leone fabric  and the bold abstract floral print on this Leone fabric are some good examples of fun fabrics to try.

All in all another fabulous episode of our favourite show and we can't wait to see what is in store next week - at this rate we'll have haute couture designers by the end of the series.

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

Follow us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram for news, tutorials, special offers, sales and more.


 

Series 4 Episode 3Sewing Bee s04e04

Our favourite allocation of BBC licence fee, The Great British Sewing Bee, is back this week with three challenges that pit our contestants against underwear and lingerie. The show opens with bra making (not for the faint hearted!), followed by silky unloved scarves transformed into racy lingerie and finishing with a luxurious robe.

Our very own Angela has made some beautiful bras in her time and her top tip for bra making is to choose an old bra that was an excellent fit then unpick it and use it as your pattern.

If you fancy having a go at creating your own lingerie check out our range of supplies below:

Soft stretch lace in an array of colours

Transparent elastic

Underwear elastic including knicker elastic and bra strap elastic

General bra making and lingerie supplies

Lingerie patterns

Tracey recommended using a walking foot for the stretch lace and we have a great selection for a range of brands in our sewing machine accessories section of the website. They are also great for working with slippery fabrics such as silk and other stretch fabrics such as jersey. A great addition to your sewing arsenal!

We have some gorgeous luxury robe worthy fabrics including crepe de chine, satin, crepe back satin and more plus a range of sleepwear patterns to choose from so why not give yourself a great night's sleep in your own gorgeous designs.


 

Series 4 Episode 2

The Great British Sewing Bee S04E02

The Great British Sewing Bee Episode two was another delightful roller coaster of highs and lows for many of the contestants who worked furiously throughout to create three children's garments. We LOVED garment of the week and the baby grows were simply scrumptious! We won't go into too much detail to avoid spoiling the surprise for anyone who hasn't seen the show yet, but as promised here's the list of products we spotted...

Task One - The Baby Grow

We have some gorgeous baby grow patterns right here plus some super soft stripy jersey fabrics that would be perfect for baby to snuggle in.

The poppers or fasteners and pliers used to apply them can be found here.

When working with jersey fabrics Sewing Bee's in the know would have used ballpoint needles to prevent the stretch fabric fraying.

A walking foot for your sewing machine is also a worthy investment when working with jersey because it prevents the layers of fabric from moving at different rates. We have a range of different brands in our sewing machine accessories section of the website.

Task Two - The Refashioned Bridesmaid Dress

We spotted one of the Sewing Bee's using fabric weights to keep the slippery silky fabrics in place whilst cutting.

We saw lots of sumptuous satin and we have a whole range of beautiful colours to choose from here.

Rotary cutters and cutting mats made an appearance again chosen by Sewing Bee's cutting with ultimate precision.

A junior dressmakers dummy was used to showcase the makes.

Again a walking foot is a great tool that will make working with slippery fabrics such as satin and chiffon so much easier.

Task Three - The Cape

Here are a couple of super cute cape patterns for little nippers - this one is very similar to Joyce's heart pocket cape and here is another alternative cape pattern.

If you're feeling inspired to sew something for the little people in your life we've recently added some very pretty cotton children's fabrics to our range and we have a great selection of children's sewing patterns too.

Don't forget to check out our mega Sewing Bee sale on dressmaking fabrics this week with all John Kaldor patterned fabrics now half price!

Have a great week sewing and tune in for the products and tips from next week's show.


 

Series 4 Episode 1

Great British Sewing Bee s04e01

And we're off! Episode one has aired and it was as good as ever. We loved Esme's straight talking and Patrick's peculiar choice of words...natty?! It was great to see the camaraderie between the contestants from the word go - we sewing fanatics are just the nicest people aren't we?!

If like us you're feeling super enthused about cracking on with some sewing we thought we'd give you a helping hand with a shopping list of the products and tools we spotted the newbee Sewing Bees using in tonight's show.

We wanted to be as quick off the mark as possible with this shopping tool so it doesn't have the usual bells and whistles photography or imagery as our usual posts, but it does give you everything you need to sew along with the contestants.

Every week we'll update the post with the goodies from the latest episode doing the hard work for you so you don't have to keep note of anything and can sit back, relax and enjoy the show instead. Perfect!

Task One - Basic Construction

Jamie and Rumana got busy with rotary cutters and cutting mats in the construction task whilst other contestants chose these good old fashioned Fiskars scissors.

Stripy fabrics were all the rage in task one - check out our John Kaldor Herringbone and red and black striped Portia fabrics if you want to try the chevron challenge. We also have some gorgeous jersey stripes in navy and white, red and white and hot pink and white.

A walking foot on your sewing machine (found in our sewing machine accessories category) is a great help when matching stripes and we spotted some of the Bees in the know.

This Kwik Sew pattern would be perfect for trying the chevron challenge or try it with this very simple McCalls maxi dress pattern.

Task Three - Made to Measure

Jade really went for it in the made to measure task and used boning to wow the judges.

Joyce used our incredibly popular John Kaldor Portia fabric for her made to measure skirt.

The gorgeous pencil skirt with the peplum Angeline made or any of the circular skirts with would be perfect made up in our beautiful Ohio fabric.

Flat head pins and fabric weights were used for prepping their work.

Trusty pressing hams and sleeve rolls were at the ready.

Claudia introduced us to the dressmaking dummies who were apparently excited to wear all the new garments?!

Circular skirts were all the rage and this Simplicity pattern or McCalls pattern would be ideal if you can see past the styling on the pattern packet!

Now we're off to bed to dream about Patrick, ahem, sewing I mean...

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

Follow us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram for news, tutorials, special offers, sales and more.

© 2019 Sew Essential. All Rights Reserved.