The final: Sewing Bee series 8 episode 10. The Bees didn't disappoint in the final tasked with sewing up Esme's iconic Swanky Modes design, the Amorphous dress. They also had to pull out all the glitz and glamour to create a party worthy jumpsuit. This is our last update for this series of the Sewing Bee, but if you haven't already, do sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay up to date with our top sewing tips, vlogs, promotions and more.

Series 8 Episode 10: The Final

The Pattern Challenge: Amorphous Dress

Imagine making a dress to be scrutinised by the very designer who developed the initial concept - yikes! This is exactly what the Bees were charged with for the final episode of this year's Sewing Bee. They had to sew up the Amorphous dress, a super slinky Esme Young design made from a single pice of lycra and fastened with D rings.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Whilst many of us might not be quite ready for something as revealing as the amorphous dress there are lots more wearable designs incorporating subtle cut outs that can be sewn up in stretch fabrics. Here are a few of our favourites:

Simplicity 9370 sewing pattern

Simplicity 9370 is a Mimi G design for knit and jersey fabrics or even stretch velvet. There are options for varying hem and sleeve lengths and each design has a sexy cut out at the waist on one side and is finished with a waist tie. This would sew up well in our John Kaldor Ritual fabric available in a range of fun colours.

McCalls 8238 Dress Pattern

McCalls 8238 is a beautifully chic design with interesting cross over cut out detail neckline perfectly balanced with a flared maxi length skirt with dramatic slit.

Named Clothing Sisko dress and top pattern

The Named Clothing Sisko dress and top has a cross over, cut out detail on the top and can be sewn up as a separate top to wear with your favourite loungewear or jeans or a dress with elasticated waist.

John Kaldor ritual fabric in cranberry

All of the above patterns would work well in our John Kaldor ritual fabric, available in a range of fun colours. Some of the lighter and neutral shades can be a little translucent so you may need to self line. Don't forget we are always happy to send a free sample if you are unsure.

Transformation Challenge: Scraps to Party Wear

For the transformation challenge the Bees were reminded of the blood, sweat and tears that went into their projects over the last 9 episodes when they were presented with scraps from all of their challenges and tasked with transforming them into party wear.

Made To Measure Challenge: A Party Worthy Jumpsuit

For the last show stopping moment of the series the contestants had to sew a red carpet jumpsuit using sparkles and luxury fabrics. Here are some of our favourite glamourous jumpsuit patterns and fabrics plus our top tips for sewing with sequins.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Vogue 1506 is perfect for sewing up in sequins, our favourite way to add some sparkle to our party projects. The wide leg is so on trend and the simple, semi fitted cut means it is perfect for trickier fabrics.

Vogue 1506 jumpsuit pattern

It would sew up beautifully in our John Kaldor luxor sequin fabric available in navy or black. Our top tip is to line it with our John Kaldor Libra stretch lining for a lovely comfy finish.

John Kaldor Luxor sequin fabric in black

McCalls 7366 is a truly elegant design with high neck band, deep V front opening, wide waistband and tapered leg trouser.

McCalls 7366 Jumpsuit Sewing Pattern

Vogue 1524 is all about the drama at the back, just look at that cut out design with dramatic high neck, exposed zip and belt fastenings.

Vogue 1524 jumpsuit pattern

McCalls 7366 and Vogue 1524 would work brilliantly in our John Kaldor Prestige crepe fabric available in a wide range of colours.

John Kaldor Prestige Crepe Fabric in ivory

Vogue 1708 is full of drama and a design we're pretty confident Esme would love, I mean talk about bows!!! We love the full on drama of the deep V front finished with a bow the size that surely even Esme would think was big enough.

Vogue 1708 Jumpsuit Pattern

It would look perfect sewn up in our John Kaldor Lizzano fabric, which has a silky soft handle and a nice amount of drape and body.

John Kaldor Lizzano fabric

Simplicity 9142 has definite red carpet drama with the shoulder sash asymetric design, wide leg and box pleats. This would also work well in our John kaldor Prestige crepe fabric mentioned earlier in the post.

Simplicity 9142 Jumpsuit Sewing Pattern

If you are going to have a go at sewing with luxury fabrics such as sequins or velvet, do check out our top tips blog posts below:

Top tips for sewing with sequin fabric
Top tips for sewing with velvet

We hope you've enjoyed our pattern and fabric picks and sewing tips this year. Now all we need to do is work out how to fill the Sewing Bee sized gap in our lives until the next series, any ideas anyone?!


Series 8 Episode 9: Semi Finals Week

Semi final week: Sewing Bee series 8 episode 9. There really was no room for error with a place in the finals up for grabs. The Sewing Bees had to sew a dress with complicated construction details and origami inspired garments for their models. See below for our pattern and fabric picks. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: Dress Pattern

The pattern challenge was another head scratcher construction wise, but who did it manage to outwit? We have some great pattern picks below for similar designs without the construction headache.

Sewing Bee Patterns

The Sew House Seven Wildwood wrap dress incorporates a similar style to the pattern the Bees used and also the origami theme thanks to the waist and shoulder pleats. It comes in a great range of sizes (0-22) and (18-34) and is the perfect casual day dress for keeping cool in summer.

Sew House Seven Wildwood wrap dress

Another dress on a similar theme is the Tea House top and dress by Sew House Seven. There are so many lovely features including in seam angled pockets, a back neck box pleat, cuffed dolman short sleeves and waist tie options.

Sew House Seven Tea House Top and Dress Pattern

Both dresses would work brilliantly in our plain linen cotton mix fabric perfect for summer and available in a wide range of colours here. We love the vibrant, contemporary jade green featured below, it is so on trend right now.

Jade green linen cotton mix fabric

Transformation Challenge: Sashiko and Borro

The Bees had to put their needlework skills to good use in the transformation challenge using sashiko and borro techniques to mend areas of wear and tear on denim. We have a great range of hand sewing needles here, but if you're a super keen sashiko enthusiast you should check out our Babylock Sashiko machine featured below.

Babylock Sashiko machine

Made To Measure Challenge: Origami Folds and Pleats

Time for the Bees to get super creative in the origami themed made to measure challenge. There are so many patterns to choose from which incorporate origami inspired folds and pleats so we've picked out a few of our favourites below.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Vogue 1874 is all about the folds and pleats! We love the way the intensive pleating at the waist creates shaping round the bust.

Vogue 1874 Top Pattern

It would sew up into a beautiful special occasion blouse in our peachskin fabric with its silky soft handle and luxurious finish. It's available in a lovely range of colours here, but we think the short sleeved blouse would look perfect in the pretty lilac colour:

Butterick 6804 makes a real feature of pleat on the neckline and comes with the option for a slim fitting shift dress or gently flared midi length skirt.

Butterick 6804 Dress Sewing Pattern

It would look lovely sewn up in our John Kaldor Prestige crepe fabric in red to recreate the chic shift dress on the pattern packet. Prestige crepe is available in a wide range of colours here.

Simplicity 9223 is a super easy to wear pattern perfect for the summer and would sew up beautifully in any of our woven fabrics.

Simplicity 9223 Dress Pattern

Simplicity 9294 is such a dreamy dress incorporating box pleats for a gorgeously full skirt paired with a fitted short sleeved or strappy bodice.

Simplicity 9294 Dress Pattern

It would look beautiful sewn up in our classic polka dot cotton sateen fabric.

There is also some seriously origami inspired pleating on Butterick 6555 with sleeveless and short sleeved options plus varying hem lengths to choose from.

Butterick 6555 Dress Sewing Pattern

Phew what a week, can't wait to see how the finalists get on, how did we get here already?!


Series 8 Episode 8: History Week 1930s

History week 1930s: Sewing Bee series 8 episode 8. It's quarter finals week and the Sewing Bees were charged with sewing a pair of women's sailor inspired trousers with a complex bib front button opening and tricky pockets plus a bias cut evening gown. See below for our pattern and fabric picks. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: Women's Sailor Trousers

With wide leg trousers making a comeback we can definitely take some inspiration from this week's pattern challenge of women's sailor trousers.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Ahoy there! Burda 6573 has definite sailor vibes with a high waisted waistband and wide leg. The buttons on the front are decorative and the trousers are fastened with a zip at the back so there's no need to tackle the complex button front opening like the Bees to achieve the same stiking look.

Burda 6573 Trousers Sewing Pattern

Vogue 9282 has the same great look minus the waistband and with a centre back zip fastening and can be sewn up in a range of fabrics from satin backed crepe to lightweight denim.

Vogue 9282 Trouser Sewing Pattern

Burda certainly know how to rock the sailor chick vibe! Not only does Burda 6032 have the wide leg and options for button customisation, it also has a lovely, clever front fastening design detail.

Burda 6032 Trouser Sewing Pattern

Do check the individual pattern details for suitable fabrics, but our denim, linen, cotton twill and medium weight crepe would work well for these patterns and give you a great choice of base cloth and colour range.

Transformation Challenge: Men's Shirts to 1930s Women's Blouses

The Bees had to transform men's shirts to 1930s women's blouses for the transformation challenge and we wouldn't wait to see what they came up with.

Made To Measure Challenge: A Bias Cut Evening Gown

We knew our hearts would skip a beat for this challenge, both in terms of the beautiful dresses that would be produced and the difficulties the Bees would face sewing them. Check out our top tips for sewing on the bias below.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Vogue 1697 is a super sexy, sleek bias cut dress with a halterneck front, low back with cowl and spaghetti strap features plus panelling across the main body of the dress. It would certainly be a challenge to sew, but my oh my it is worth it!

Vogue 1697 Bias Cut Dress Pattern

Vogue 1842 oozes Hollywood filmstar glamour. A fitted bust with sweetheart neckline, low cut V back, empire waist and bias cut skirt all come together to create one knock out gown.

Vogue 1842 Bias Cut Dress Sewing Pattern

Vogue 8814 comes with round neck or deep vneck options, cross over straps or racer back, bias bodice, lower front and back and full skirt for full on drama.

Vogue 8814 Dress Pattern

Simplicity 8870 isn't cut on the bias, but is a smouldering Hollywood filmstar worthy dress with definite Grecian Goddess feels thanks to the dropped shoulder sash.

Simplicity 8870 Evening Gown Pattern

Another dress which isn't cut on the bias, but does tick all the glamourous evening dress boxes is Burda 6442. We love the twist front detail and fishtail skirt plus there is a knee length, pencil skirt version with 3/4 sleeves included for a more everyday look.

Burda 6442 Evening Gown Sewing Pattern

We have so many gorgeous fabrics you could sew these show stopping designs up in such as our John Kaldor Mystique satin backed crepe available in a range of colours:

John Kaldor Mystique satin backed crepe fuschia

John Kaldor Classique Duchesse satin also available in a range of colours:

John Kaldor Classique satin backed crepe jade

Plain peachskin fabric in a range of vibrant colours:

Plain peachskin fabric lilac

Sewing Tips

The main challenge with sewing fabric on the bias is the potential to stretch it out of shape, in fact this is why bias binding is cut on the bias so it will stretch to fit around curves.

Here are our top tips for sewing on the bias:

  • There is also the potential to stretch out the fabric as you cut it out so you may find it easier to use a rotary cutter and cutting mat than scissors.
  • Consider stay stitching pieces cut on the bias prior to sewing them together. Stay stitching is sewn inside the seam allowance and remains in place after the garment has been constructed to prevent it stretching out of shape.
  • Always use a walking foot with your machine so the fabric feeds through evenly. You can find our range of walking feet here and an explanation of how and when to use one here.
  • Alternatively, if you have an overlocker you could consider sewing seams cut on the bias on your overlocker to allow you to use the differential feed and prevent the fabric fluting whilst feeding the layers through evenly.
  • Always allow the garment to hang for up to a week before hemming. This is because the fabric can drop dramatically!

Series 8 Episode 7: Lingerie and Sleepwear Week

Lingerie and sleepwear week: Sewing Bee series 8 episode 7. The competition is really hotting up with a quarter finals place up for grabs this week. The Sewing Bees will have to make a lace underwired bra and matching knicker set for the pattern challenge and a pair of luxury pyjamas for the transformation challenge. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: An Underwired Bra and Knickers

Lots of fiddly, small pattern pieces to cut out in lace and a requirement for precision sewing in the pattern challenge this week.

Sewing Bee Patterns

This Simplicity 8229 sewing pattern includes soft cup bras in halter or racer back and knickers with a scalloped lace trim. The bra sizes range from a 32A to a 42DD and the knickers from a 23" waist to a 39" waist. The pattern also includes advice on choosing a bra size.

Simplicity 8229 Underwire Bras and Knickers Sewing Pattern

We also have John Kaldor stretch lace with scalloped edges on both sides available in four colours to sew them up in. We love the super sexy cherry red:

John Kaldor Perugia Stretch Lace in cherry red

We also have a selection of bra making accessories, including underwires in a wide range of sizes, bra cups, hooks and sliders and bra straps here.

Prym Bra Underwire Size C

If you prefer a bra without underwires Simplicity 8228 is a great option and includes a knickers pattern too.

Simplicity 8228 Bra and Knickers Sewing Pattern

We also have some great lingerie patterns by Jalie such as this bra and camisole pattern with options for creating nursing bras too.

Jalie 3131 Bra and Camisole Sewing Pattern

Transformation Challenge: Thermal Underwear to Daywear

There's no way I'd chop up my thermals, I love them too much and I'm not ashamed to say it! I would only ever wear them under my clothes though and it is certainly going to be hard work refashioning them into something truly wearable for the Bees.

Made To Measure Challenge: Luxury Pyjamas

The Bees had to sew up a pair of luxury pyjamas for the made to measure challenge - cue sewing with slippery fabrics, piping, buttons and buttonholes galore.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Our favourite luxury pyjama pattern has to be the Carolyn pyjamas by Closet Core featuring a notched collar and the option to add contrasting piping details for a high end finish with short or long sleeve and trouser options.

Closet Core Carolyn Pyjamas Sewing Pattern

We think they'd look great sewn up in this super soft cotton lawn fabric in fun multi coloured feather print for summer. We also have a lovely range of Art Gallery cotton flannel fabrics and lots more cotton and rayon fabrics to choose from here.

Feather Print Cotton Lawn Fabric

We also love this Vogue pattern for the range of different luxury sleepwear garments you can create including a robe, camisole, slip and knickers.

Vogue 8888 Robe, Slip, Camisole and Knickers Sewing Pattern

If you prefer ultimate casual comfort when it comes to pyjamas this Simplicity 8801 pattern has some great options and is designed to be sewn up in soft stretch knit fabrics.

Simplicity 8801 Knit Jumpsuit and Romper Sewing Pattern

We think this fresh, pretty, super soft viscose jersey fabric would be perfect:

Mint Animal Print Viscose Jersey Fabric

If you choose to sew up pyjamas in a slippery fabric such as satin or charmuese don't forget to check out our top tips for sewing with slippery fabrics blog article:


Series 8 Episode 6: Music Week

Music week: Sewing Bee series 8 episode 6. Some seriously advanced sewing is required of the Bees this week with a mod themed parka jacket, a country inspired transformation challenge and a Bowie-tastic made to measure. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: A Parka Jacket

A tough test to start the Bees off this week with features including a fishtail vent and complex zip opening and hood on a parka jacket they were right in at the deep end.

Sewing Bee Patterns

This Simplicity 9052 pattern nails the classic parka look with options for women, men and teens, two length and hem style options, a front zip and button placket, four patch pockets and a detachable hood.

Simplicity 9052 Parka Jacket Pattern

It would look great sewn up in our Sevenberry cotton twill fabric available in a range of colours including this classic parka khaki colour...

Sevenberry Khaki Cotton Twill Fabric

There are also lots of great parka inspired jacket patterns on the site we just had to show you too...

Named Patterns Sirkka Hooded Jacket Pattern
Closet Core Kelly Anorak Jacket Sewing Pattern
Vogue 1840 Jacket Sewing Pattern

Transformation Challenge: Country and Western Inspired Denim Outfits

The Sewing Bees had to channel their inner Dolly Parton to whip up a country and western inspired outfit from old denim. Yee ha!

Made To Measure Challenge: David Bowie

Well this one was wide open for the Bees, I mean you could literally make anything when it comes to the style icon that is David Bowie. Was there anything he didn't wear?!

I checked out his most famous looks and found patterns inspired by these.

Bowie was a big fab of the jumpsuit, some of his key jumpsuit looks included Ziggy Stardust and Halloween Jack.

The jumpsuits Bowie wore tended to be relatively fitted and to be made out of flambuoyant fabrics, have eccentric details such as oversized shoulder flaps or be paired with ostentatious blouses and accessories.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Bearing these themes in mind here are my Bowie inspired jumpsuit picks, which are a bit more wearable for us mere mortals!

Vogue 1791 Jumpsuit Sewing Pattern
Vogue 1719 Jumpsuit Sewing Pattern
McCalls 7908 Jumpsuit Sewing Pattern
Liberty Patterns Florence Palazzo Trouser Suit Pattern

Another one of Bowie's key looks over the years was a tailored jacket - some were oversized and paired with baggy trousers, others were more fitted, with an especially famous three quarter length Union Jack number.

Here are some pattern picks for recreating a Bowie inspired jacket.

McCalls 7818 Jacket Sewing Pattern
McCalls 7876 Jacket and Trouser Sewing Pattern
Vogue 1717 Jacket Skirt and Trouser Sewing Pattern
Simplicity 8697 Misses and Plus Size Oversized Blazer

Finally Bowie made pioneering fashion statements in dresses such as the maxi dress worn on the cover of his album 'The Man Who Sold the World'. Here are some pattern picks inspired by this dress.

McCalls 8037 Dress Pattern
Vogue 1735 Dress Sewing Pattern

Series 8 Episode 5: Children's Week

Children's week: Sewing Bee series 8 episode 5. It's cuteness overload in children's week when the Sewing Bees sewed up sailor suits, spooky costumes and refashioned school uniforms. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: A Sailor Suit

The Sewing Bees started by sewing a sailor suit for a toddler including elasticated shorts and a top with a square collar and ties.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Unsurprisingly there aren't a great deal of sailor suit patterns, but there are some very sweet designs along that theme such as McCalls 6913:

McCalls 6913 Sailor Dress Pattern

We think it would look perfect sewn up in our royal blue swallow print cotton poplin fabric.

Royal Blue Swallow Print Cotton Poplin Fabric
Simplicity 9484 Romper Sewing Pattern

Sewing Bee Techniques

These Prym elastic threaders are super useful tools for threading elastic through a casing with Sewing Bee speed!

Prym Elastic Threaders

When trying to achieve sharp, crisp corners on any collar (not just sailors!) these Prym corner shaper tools are excellent. I also love to use my tailor's point presser and clapper to press right into the corners.

Prym Love Corner Shaper Tool
Milward Point Presser and Clapper

Transformation Challenge: School to Cool

Everyone tries their best to make a school uniform look cool, but the Sewing Bees were able to break all the rules in the transformation challenge without any fear of detention. Is it really possible to turn school to cool?

Made To Measure Challenge: a Halloween Costume

It feels decidedly odd to making Halloween costumes in May, but there's nothing wrong with being prepared.

If you just can't get in the spooky mood I've included a few other children's fancy dress patterns for some fun sewing inspiration.

I've only included a small selection here, you can find our full range of children's fancy dress patterns here.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Children's Halloween Costume Sewing Patterns
Toddler Fancy Dress Sewing Pattern
Simplicity 2571 Children's Fancy Dress Sewing Pattern
Simplicity 9348 Halloween Sewing Pattern
Children's Fancy Dress Sewing Patterns

I just couldn't resist sharing these beauties, as a massive Little Mermaid fan as a little girl I would have loved this costume!

Simplicity Disney Costume Sewing Pattern

You simply can't beat a bit of girl power can you?!

Simplicity 1035 Superhero Sewing Pattern

If you have any wannabe Pirates of the Caribbean bring those swashbuckling dreams to life with this pirate themed sewing pattern.

McCalls 4952 Pirate Sewing Pattern

Series 8 Episode 4: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Week

Reduce, reuse and recycle week: Sewing Bee series 8 episode 4. This week the sewers put their patchwork skills to use to create a jacket, used old coats to create new outerwear and had to make a maxi dress from an unloved duvet cover. See the sewing patterns, fabrics and techniques you can use to join in the fun in our weekly blog post below. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: A Patchwork Jacket

Time to grab your scraps and get creative with this week's patchwork jacket challenge.

Patchwork and quilted jackets are so on trend at the moment so there are lots of lovely patterns you can use to sewalong with the Bees.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Megan Nielsen Hovea Jacket
Grainline Studios Tamarack Jacket

The Megan Nielsen Hovea jacket and Grainline Studios Tamarack jacket are perfect for patchwork or quilted jacket projects.

Burda 6123 is also a great patchwork jacket option with a little customisation.

Burda 6123

If you haven't saved your scraps we do have a range of plain and printed patchwork fabrics to choose from plus polycotton prints. Find the plain patchwork fabrics here prints here and cotton dressmaking fabrics here (check the descriptions for full details of fabric type).

Sewing Bee Techniques

If you're sewing any kind of patchwork project the right tools make the task so much easier.

Precision is absolutely crucial both when cutting and sewing the fabric. A rotary cutter, quilters ruler and cutting mat will give far more accurate results than scissors. We stock a wide range of patchwork and quilting tools here. See my favourites below.

Fiskars 45mm Rotary Cutter
Prym Self Healing Cutting Mat 60cm x 45cm
6.5 x 24 inch Quilters Ruler

A quarter inch foot will also help with accurate stitching. It has little markings at 1/8" and 1/4" to help you sew accurate, straight seams.

Husqvarna Quilters 1/4" Piecing Foot (NB only compatible with certain models of Husqvarna machine)

Find our extensive selection of sewing machine feet here (always check our compatibility charts to ensure compatibility with your machine).

If you want to get really nerdy with patchwork techniques geek out with our essential patchwork and quilting toolkit guides parts 1, 2 and 3.

Transformation Challenge: Old Coats to Stylish Outerwear

Unpicking a coat is a task in itself, let alone transforming it into a piece of stylish outerwear, quite the challenge for the Sewing Bees.

Made To Measure Challenge: a Duvet Cover to a Maxi Dress

Now this is a sewing challenge I can get behind, I mean who doesn't love a maxi dress?! Here are some of our favourite maxi dress patterns, which could be used to breathe some life into unloved duvets.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Maxi Dress Sewing Patterns
Vogue 9311
McCalls 7925
New Look 6491
Chalk and Notch Marcel Dress
Butterick 6756
Vogue 1803
Closet Core Elodie Wrap Dress
Cashmerette Roseclair Dress

Series 8 Episode 3: Summer Week

Summer week: episode 3 of the Sewing Bee series 8 is sure to have our pulses racing with beautiful shirred summer dresses and tropical two piece co-ordinated trouser sets. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: A Shirred Midi Dress

The Sewing Bees were required to sew a midi length shirred dress with puff sleeves for the pattern challenge AKA my idea of heaven.

Sewing Bee Patterns

McCalls 7946
Simplicity 9141

Both dresses would look beautiful sewn up in our swiss dot fabric or linen cotton mix fabric, available in a lovely range of colours, if you are team plain. The swiss dot is fairly sheer so you might want to add a lining.

If you're a print lover check out our range of cotton lawn or rayon prints. We think the strappy sundress would be beautiful in this red paisley print.

Red Paisley Print Cotton Fabric

Or how about this pretty ditsy print lawn...

Ditsy Print Cotton Fabric

Sewing Bee Techniques

Top Tips for Shirring

You can find shirring elastic in black and white on our website here. The shirring elastic will be on the wrong side of the fabric so it isn't really important which colour you use unless you have a strong preference or it will show through.

White Shirring Elastic

Hand wind the shirring elastic onto the bobbin making sure you don't stretch the elastic as you wind it: this is why you can't wind the bobbin in the usual way on the sewing machine.

Insert the bobbin into the machine and leave a nice long tail making sure the elastic is firmly in the relevant grooves by keeping your finger on top of the bobbin as you feed the elastic through.

Bring the shirring elastic up to the top by turning the handwheel in the usual way.

You may want to make your stitch length longer than usual, perhaps a 3.5 to 4 stitch length and you may also need to adjust the tension. Test on scraps of fabric until you are happy with the results.

Do not need to push or pull the fabric, just let elastic do it's job and sew in the normal way.

Be sure to leave a long tail at other end when you finish sewing so it doesn't pop out!

Transformation Challenge: Garden Hammocks into Summer Garments

There's certainly plenty of fabric to work with in a hammock, which is always a bonus in the transformation challenge. I'm guessing the Sewing Bees still needed a lie down in a hammock after this challenge though!

Made To Measure Challenge: Two Piece Coordinated Trouser Outfit

For the made to measure challenge the Bees had to create a two piece coordinated trouser or short outfit for fun in the sun. We have lots of gorgeous patterns and fabrics to choose for this one.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Summer Trouser, Shorts and Shirts Sewing Patterns
Vogue 9319
Simplicity 8654
McCalls 7962
Simplicity 9290
New Look 6197
Simplicity 9157
Sewing Bee Fabrics
Floral Print Cotton Sateen Fabric
Linen Rayon Mix Fabric
Feather Print Fabric
Lemon Print Fabric

Series 8 Episode 2: Sports Week

Sports week: episode 2 of the Sewing Bee series 8 saw some unchartered territory with shoe making. Check out our top tips for eyelets and inspiration for shoe customisation below plus patterns for sports jackets inspired by the episode. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: A Pair of High Top Trainers

How many of us have sewn a pair of trainers? I'd hazard a guess not many, making it quite a tricky task for week 2 for the Bees.

Sewing techniques tackled included eyelets and stitching the soles and we have some tips and tools you could use to sew, or rather craftalong.

Eyelets are also often found on garments including raincoats, tops and trousers so knowing how to tackle them is a useful sewing skill to have at your disposal.

Also if you're not quite ready to create an entire shoe, check out our inspitation for customisation below.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Top Tips for Eyelets

Eyelets aren't just for high top trainers, they can be used in bag making for use with a drawstring, drawstring trousers or jogging bottoms and on hoodies.

Page Hoodie Chalk and Notch

A lot of the tools and techniques used to apply eyelets can also be used to apply plastic, fashion and anorak snaps, rivets, and jeans buttons all of which are useful techniques to learn and can be used on a wide range of garments.

Here are our top tips for applying eyelets:

Always test on scraps of fabric that replicate the real thing first.

Always think carefully about the position of your eyelet and mark it on the fabric before cutting a hole.

It's always a good idea to stabilise your fabric before cutting the hole to apply the eyelet, iron on interfacing is a good option. If working with thicker fabrics you might like to use little squares of the fabric to stabilise the hole.

The eyelets will usually come with a tool for application and you can also use some of these with pliers which make the job a lot easier.

You can see our range of pliers here and you can also use them to apply woven snaps, jersey snaps, rivets, jeans buttons and anorak snaps.

Prym Love Vario Pliers

Make sure you apply plenty of pressure to the pliers when using them.

Organise the eyelet parts by pairing the two halves up before applying them to make sure you aren't trying to pair two identical pieces together, this is a mistake that is easy to make and it can be so frustrating when you can't work out why things aren't fitting together properly.

Double check which side of the fabric or garment each part should be applied to so you don't end up with them in the wrong place.

Make the smallest hole you can for the fastener, if the hole is too big there's no going back.

You can snip a hole in the fabric or use punch pliers, which come with a range of sizes and can be used to create holes for woven snaps, jersey snaps, rivets, jeans buttons and anorak snaps.

Punch pliers are especially good for thicker fabrics or you could also use an awl.

Prym Revolving Punch Pliers
Customisation

If you're not up for making an entire pair of trainers, why not customise some instead? We love these high top trainers shared on the DMC embroidery (@dmc_embroidery) page on Instagram.

We stock a wide range of DMC hand embroidery threads and hand sewing needles you could use to great creative.

Transformation Challenge: Netball Kits into Garments

I'm not sure how many of us could dig out an old netball kit to sewalong with this challenge, but it was certainly interesting to see what the Bees came up with.

Made To Measure Challenge: Sports Jacket

For the made to measure challenge the Bees had to fit a jacket inspired by their sporting hero. Check out our favourite sporty jacket and sportswear patterns and fabrics below.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Sports Jacket Sewing Patterns
Jalie Maxime three season jacket
McCalls 8019 Jacket Sewing Pattern
Jalie Alex Half Zip Pullover 3907
Mimi G Simplicity 8702 Jacket, Trousers and Leggings Pattern
Burda 6478 Jacket Sewing Pattern
Friday Pattern Company Arlo Track Jacket
Jalie Stretch Softshell Jacket 2679
McCalls 7637 Misses and Mens Bomber Jacket Pattern

Series 8 Episode 1: Capsule Wardrobe

The Great British Sewing Bee series 8 is go! We loved the first episode and have pulled together a list of patterns, fabrics and sewing techniques you can use to sewalong with the Bees below. We'll be updating you every week so do stay tuned - we will share the weekly Sewing Bee scoop with you in our newsletter.

The Pattern Challenge: A Wool Mini Skirt With Piped Patch Pockets

The Bees were off the starting blocks sewing a wool mini skirt with piped patch pockets and what a great challenge for us all to sewalong with. Mini skirts are so on trend right now and we have a detailed step by step tutorial for how to pipe seams included below too.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here's our round up of our favourite mini skirt patterns with patch pockets.

These would look great sewn up in a wide range of our dressmaking fabrics (check pattern information on our site for full details). For patterns requiring a little structure our Sevenberry cotton twills, denims or cotton sateen prints (find a selection here check product information for full details) would be perfect for this time of year.

Mini Skirt Sewing Patterns with Patch Pockets
Grainline Studios Reed Skirt Sewing Pattern
Grainline Studios Reed Skirt Sewing Pattern

The Reed Skirt by Grainline Studios is a contemporary button down A line skirt with multiple pocket and closure options available in sizes 0 - 30. We think it would look fab sewn up in our Sevenberry cotton twill or denim fabric.

Burda 6147 Skirt Sewing Pattern

The Burda 6147 Skirt Sewing Pattern is a slightly flared mini skirt with options for patch pockets, a separate belt and an optional hem flounce. We think it would look perfect sewn up in our linen mix fabric.

Here are some more mini skirt with patch pockets patterns to choose from:

Burda 6252 Skirt Pattern

Burda 6682 Skirt Sewing Pattern

Tilly and the Buttons Bobbi Skirt and Pinafore

Cashmerette Ellis Skirt Sewing Pattern

McCalls 7475 Skirt, Shorts and Culottes Sewing Pattern

Sewing Bee Techniques

Piping patch pockets was a tricky first challenge for the Bees - working round curves and corners and trying to maintain a nice, even piping can send even the most experienced sewer into a cold sweat.

Check out our in depth step by step tutorial blog post below for all of our top tips including how to work round curves, how to cross seams and how to create an even piping (spoiler alert - a piping foot for your machine is a great investment!)

Find our full range of piping feet here and remember to check our compatibility charts for your make and model of machine.

Find our bias binding here and piping cord here.

Step by Step Tutorial for Piping Seams

Transformation Challenge: Lockdown Loungewear

Who didn't want to rip up their loungewear after lockdown?! In the spirit of sustainable sewing the Bees transformed loungewear pieces into a going out top, but did they manage to successfully combine comfort and style?

Made To Measure Challenge: Wrap Dress

Wrap dresses are one of our favourite dresses to sew and are relatively easy to fit, however, watch out for gaping necklines and a level hem where the front overlaps. Check out our top tips for nailing those necklines below.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here's a round up of our favourite wrap dress patterns for woven fabrics and jersey fabrics.

Wrap Dress Sewing Patterns for Woven Fabrics
Simplicity 8637 Wrap Dress Pattern

We love Simplicity 8637 a wrap dress with a pretty hem flounce that extends along the wrap closure, perfect for wedding and special occasion season.

Here are plenty more woven wrap dress patterns to choose from:

Simplicity 9224 MimiG Wrap Dress Pattern

Sew House Seven Wildwood Curvy Wrap Dress Pattern

Simplicity 9042 Wrap Dress Pattern with Waist Tie

Burda 6207 Wrap Dress Pattern

New Look 6614 Wrap Dress Sundress Pattern

Simplicity 8735 Wrap Dress Pattern

McCalls 7953 Wrap Dress Pattern

McCalls 7745 Wrap Dress Pattern

McCalls 7406 Wrap Dress Pattern

Simplicity 8013 Wrap Dress Pattern

Butterick 5030 Wrap Dress Pattern

Vogue 1239 Wrap Dress Pattern

McCalls 6959 Wrap Dress Pattern

Sewaholic Yaletown Dress Pattern

Chalk and Notch Orchid Midi Dress Sewing Pattern

Style Arc Brigid Wrap Dress Sewing Pattern

Wrap Dress Sewing Patterns for Stretch Fabrics
Butterick 6054 Wrap Dress Pattern

Butterick 6054 is an easy to wear everyday wrap dress that can be sewn up in two way stretch knit fabrics. We love those extra details such as the front pleats, shaped front skirt and the fact it is a grown on sleeve makes it a super easy sew.

Here are some more jersey wrap dress patterns to choose from.

Cashmerette Appleton Wrap Dress Pattern

Named Patterns Olivia Wrap Dress Pattern

Named Patterns Kielo Wrap Dress and Jumpsuit Pattern

Burda 6211 Wrap Dress Pattern

Butterick 6703 Wrap Dress Pattern

Sew Over It Meredith Wrap Dress Pattern

New Look 6554 Wrap Dress Pattern

Vogue 8379 Wrap Dress Pattern

New Look 6581 Wrap Dress

Burda 6829 Wrap Dress Pattern

Sewing Bee Techniques

To prevent gaping on jersey wrap dress necklines you could use our top tip of sewing clear elastic into the seam. For full details check out our video below where Lucy also shares the making of one of her favourite wrap dresses, New Look 6581 in our Dashwood jersey fabric. Find our clear elastic here.


Series 7 Episode 10: The Final

Sewing Bee S07E10

We can't quite believe it's the Sewing Bee final already. What on earth will do on a Wednesday night without Joe's quips, Esme's necklaces and Patrick's impeccable tailored suits? As always the standard was super high and the Bees were pushed to their limits.

The Pattern Challenge: A Bridesmaid Dress

Yikes what a big ask under such time pressure! The Bees were tasked with sewing a bridesmaid dress including bound buttonholes, a lined bodice and puff sleeves.

Sewing with delicate, luxury fabrics and attempting couture techniques is no mean feat and our very own Angela knows this only too well having sewn many wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses including mine!

Angela's top tip is to never be frightened of sewing with silk, it is tough and presses incredibly well.

Here are the beautiful dresses Angela created for mine and Ed's wedding 11 years ago:

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here's a selection of children's bridesmaid dresses, this Simplicity 9246 design is very similar to that sewn by the Bees.

Simplicity 9246 Children's Dress Sewing Pattern

Other gorgeous children's designs fit for a princess:

We also just had to include some of our favourite adult bridesmaid dress sewing patterns starting with a Royal wedding inspired Butterick B5710

Butterick B5710 Bridal Sewing Patterns

Here are some more dreamy designs for that special day.

We also have a great range of wedding day worthy luxury fabrics including our John Kaldor Duchesse satin, which comes in a beautiful range of colours with complimentary John Kaldor Tocca lace options too.

We love the fuchsia Duchesse satin:

John Kaldor Duchesse Satin Fabric in fuchsia

You might also like these other special occasion fabrics:

Sewing Bee Tutorials

If you're sewing with slippery fabrics you may find our top tips tutorial helpful for getting professional results. You can find it here.

Transformation Challenge: Homeware Items into Summer Festival Outfits

We couldn't wait to see the fun designs created for festival wear in the transformation challenge.

We're thinking hot pants, tassles, head dresses - more is more!

Made to Measure Challenge: Glamorous Off the Shoulder Evening Gowns

More precision sewing working with copious amounts of fabric and attempting to create the perfect fit in the made to measure challenge.

Who would sew the most red carpet worthy gown and steal the Sewing Bee crown for 2021?

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Sewing Bee Patterns

There are so many off the shoulder gown sewing patterns to choose from, this Vogue 1655 design is a serious show stopper and would look beautiful sewn up in one of our luxury fabrics mentioned above:

Vogue 1655 Evening Dress Sewing Pattern

Here are plenty more off the shoulder inspired designs to choose from:

So there we have it, another Sewing Bee competition all sewn up (sorry not sorry!) We hope you've enjoyed our pattern and fabric picks and tutorials to help you sew along with the Bees and here's hoping for another series soon.


Series 7 Episode 9: 1940s

Sewing Bee S07E09

Who doesn't love a trip down memory lane, especially when it involves fashion and dressmaking? We couldn't wait to see how the Sewing Bees fared with the vintage themed challenges.

The Pattern Challenge: Oxford Bags

For the first challenge the Bees had to Oxford bags are a type of trouser popular in the 1940s and perfect for swing dancing.

The tricky elements for the contestants to master included tackling large sewing pattern pieces, sewing a fly front zip and sewing even pleats.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

We have lots of wide leg women's trouser patterns on a similar theme if you would like to sewalong (see below).

Hot off the press this brand new Simplicity pattern is super chic and would look great sewn up in our Prestige crepe fabric:

Simplicity 9235 sewing pattern

There are plenty more along a similar theme to choose from here:

Sewing Bee Tutorials

If you're tackling a fly front zip for the first time, there's a step by step tutorial here:

Fly front zip tutorial

Transformation Challenge: Old Parachutes into Glamorous Dresses

This is a task that is close to our very own Angela's heart. When she was on holiday as a little girl in Minehead someone gifted her Mother with a yellow and white parachute and it was used to create a dress for her!

It was certainly a tough task for the Bees with such a short time frame and such slippery fabric, but we were blown away by Serena's effort.

Made to Measure Challenge: Dior's New Look

In order to pull off this iconic look the Bees had to use masses of fabric and focus on accentuating the female form, think cinched in waists, peplums and voluminous sleeves.

Once again Rafe and Serena excelled and produced truly stunning garments.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Sewing Bee Patterns

There are lots of vintage inspired sewing patterns to choose from on our site, here are a few of our favourites including jackets, skirts, dresses and tops:

Gertie vintage blouse sewing pattern

If you're really feeling in the vintage mood don't forget to check out our Simplicity vintage range of collectables including picture frames,tote bags, pattern organisers, tea towels and more.

It is such a super pretty range and will bring a splash of vintage style to any sewing space.

We love these gorgeous pattern storage solutions:

Sewing Bee Fabrics

There were lots of plain fabrics featured in this week's episode and we have some Dior worthy John Kaldor crepes and cotton sateens that would be ideal for these looks:

We're super excited for the final - who is your money on?!


Series 7 Episode 8: Music and the Movies

Sewing Bee S07E08

Time for more glitz and glamour on the Sewing Bee this week with the theme 'music and the movies'. As the five remaining contestants really come into their own and step up those sewing skills I couldn't wait to see what delights they created.

The Pattern Challenge: Baby's Dirty Dancing Dress

What a dream come true sewing the iconic Dirty Dancing dress for the pattern challenge. The hours I spent watching that film over and over and dreaming of dancing with Patrick Swayze! I couldn't wait to see how the Bees got on.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

If you want to join in the fun and sew a Baby themed dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt we have so many patterns to choose from.

My personal favourite is this vintage McCalls pattern:

McCalls 7599 sewing pattern

And there are plenty more along a similar theme to choose from here:

We have lots of Baby dress worthy fabrics to create them with, check out our:

Sewing Bee Tutorials

If you want a perfect finish on an invisible zip check out our clever invisible zip tutorial here:

To get a perfect fit on the bodice you may find the following tutorials useful.

How to lower or raise a bust dart:

How to make a small bust adjustment (a full bust adjustment is the opposite and mentioned in the video too)

Transformation Challenge: Old Curtains into Play Clothes for Children

The Bees needed to channel their inner Julie Andrews for this task. Some of the fabrics might be rather tricky to work with, especially when sewing such small and intricate shapes and sizes, however, there was plenty of fabric to work with.

Made to Measure Challenge: a Dreamgirls Inspired Disco Dress

Another super fun challenge for us to feast our eyes on, the contestants had to sew a 1970s influenced dress for ultimate Saturday Night Fever vibes. The dresses should skim the models' body so no room for error with fit and I couldn't wait to see what they came up with and if music from the cult movie was used for the models to strut down the catwalk!

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Sewing Bee Patterns

We spotted this super glamorous number sewn up in red satin and lace, you could use our John Kaldor Duchesse satin backed crepe or Mystique satin backed crepe to recreate the look.

Butterick evening gown dress sewing pattern

Here are some other disco diva dress and jumpsuit patterns to choose from:

Sewing Bee Fabrics

You are spoiled for choice with our disco diva fabrics, I love this red stretch fabric with sewn on sequins, perfect for dancing the night away:

Red sequin jersey fabric

Here are some more to choose from:

Sewing Bee Techniques

Scroll down to last week's blog post for video and written tutorials on sewing with sequins, sewing with slippery fabrics and sewing with velvet.


Series 7 Episode 7: Winter Week

Sewing Bee S07E07

Winter week on the Sewing Bee and (sadly) it couldn't be more appropriate for the weather here in the UK right now! The Bees had to tackle lots of different fabric types and we couldn't wait to see the party dresses created in the made to measure challenge.

The Pattern Challenge: A Man's Flannel Shirt

You can't beat a tailored shirt for a satisfying sew, but I'm not sure I'd want to rustle one up in the time allocated for the Bees!

Sewing collars and cuffs can be tricky thanks to the precision required to line the edges of the fabric up evenly not to mention sharp corners and buttonholes.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Luckily we can sew along with the Bees at home and take our time to really perfect those techniques.

Here are some men's shirt patterns, my personal favourite has to be this men's shirt and jacket pattern:

Simplicity 8475 men's shirt and jacket sewing pattern

We don't have any flannel, but we do have some gorgeous ex designer shirting fabrics, I love this subtle grey stripe shirting cotton:

You can find more shirting fabric picks here:

Shirting Fabrics

Sewing Bee Tutorials

The Sewing Bees had to sew the shirt yoke using the burrito method - a method which lines the yoke with no hand sewing required. Super neat, super professional and super easy if you follow our YouTube tutorial:

Transformation Challenge: Old Scarves into a Wearable Garment

As someone with a lot of old scarves I never wear I was interested to see what creative ideas the Bees came up with for this challenge. Depending on the size of scarf it might require rather a lot of sewing to create a whole garment.

Made to Measure Challenge: a Festive Winter Party Dress

Oh my goodness how do we all need a good old splash of sequins, glitter and party dress after the year we've had?! We have SO many gorgeous party dress patterns and luxurious fabrics perfect for this task too.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Sewing Bee Patterns

Once again Rafe's dress was simply stunning, you can create your own with this New Look pattern:

New Look party dress sewing pattern

Here are some other top pick party dress patterns, but if we haven't got you ready to crack out the party poppers do check out our website for thousands of other designs:

Sewing Bee Fabrics

We have so many glorious party worthy fabrics to choose from - glitter jerseys, silky soft satins, intricate lace, stretch velvet and sequins to name but a few. We've added some links below, but this John Kaldor glitter jersey has to be one of my all time favourites:

John Kaldor glitter jersey fabric

Here are some more to choose from:

Sewing Bee Techniques

We've got lots of tutorials to help you with some of those trickier fabrics too:

Check out our article and video on our top tips for sewing with sequin fabric:

Find out how to sew with slippery fabrics like crepe de chine and satin here:

Sewing with slippery fabrics sewing tools

Here are our top tips for sewing with velvet:

Velvet fabric and sewing tools

Series 7 Episode 6: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Week

Sewing Bee s07e06

This week the Sewing Bees will face the challenge of reusing and recycling soft furnishings and charity shop clothes into a whole new look requiring not only excellent sewing skills, but also exceptional levels of creative thinking.

The Pattern Challenge: A Man's Waistcoat

The Bees had to create a man's waistcoat from second hand clothes. The judges were looking out for appropriate fabric choices and precision sewing - the waistcoat should match up neatly at the front opening, any buttonholes had to be sewn accurately, linings should not be poking out and corners needed to be crisp and sharp.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

We have a number of men's waistcoat patterns to choose from listed below, some with mini options for younger children. We love this slim fitting Vogue design (click the image to view)

Vogue 8987 men's waistcoat sewing pattern

We have some great suiting fabrics to choose from, our favourite is the grey Prince of Wales check (click to view)

Prince of Wales check suiting fabric

You can find more suiting fabric picks here.

Sewing Bee Buttonhole Tools

For perfectly spaced buttonholes you can't beat our Simflex sewing gauge:

Simflex sewing gauge

If you're sewing a buttonhole on an uneven or bulky surface a bulky seam aid is a useful piece of equipment, you slip it under the back of the foot to give it something to work against.

Humper jumper or bulky seam aid.

If you want to avoid that heart wrenching experience of slicing through a buttonhole too far we would always recommend using a buttonhole cutter, you can find out range here.

Using a buttonhole cutting tool

Sewing Bee Techniques

You can find all of our top buttonhole sewing tips in this video:

Transformation Challenge: Army Clothes into a Stylish and Wearable Garment for Women

You can't beat a bit of military influence in fashion. Utility jackets and trousers in khaki, dessert shades and even camo print have been popular on and off for years, which will have given the Bees plenty of inspiration for the transformation challenge.

Made to Measure Challenge: Old Jeans to Create a Made to Measure Dress

One of the first projects many sewers tackle is to refashion something from denim, perhaps a bag or jeans to a skirt. The judges were looking for the Bees to take this concept further and create a perfectly fitting dress in the made to measure challenge this week and it's safe to say the contestants well and truly rose to the challenge.

If you're taking up the denim challenge this week don't forget your denim and topstitching needles and top stitch thread. We also have a great range of denim hardware.

Sewing Bee Patterns

We loved the halterneck dress produced and thought you could use this lovely pattern to produce something similar:

Simplicity 8594 dress sewing pattern

You could recreate an asymmetric design with buttons rather than a zip with this Butterick pattern:

Butterick 6727 sewing pattern

Don't forget we have literally thousands of other dress patterns to choose from on our site too, you can find them here.

You can find our full range of denim fabrics here.


Series 7 Episode 5: Children's Week

The competition is really hotting up now and I always think this is the point where we start to see some really accomplished sewing amongst the Sewing Bees.

The Bees were tasked with sewing a toddler's romper suit, transforming wet suits into under the sea themed fancy dress and creating a children's raincoat.

The thing I was looking forward to most was seeing Patrick or Joe donning the fancy dress efforts.

The Pattern Challenge: Toddler Romper Suit

The small pattern pieces of a children's romper suit are challenging in themselves, throw in an elasticated back, cross over straps and snap fastenings at the crotch and the pressure was really on.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here are some sewing patterns which would work well for a toddler romper suit, we are positively cooing at the cuteness factor!

The image below is Simplicity 8894 tap to view.

Simplicity 8894 romper suit sewing pattern

These patterns are a mixture of knit and woven fabric patterns so do check patterns and fabrics for details.

The fabric in the image below is our cotton woven butterfly print fabric, click the image to view.

Butterfly print cotton woven fabric

Here are some more super cute fabric picks:

Jersey Fabrics
Woven Fabrics
Snap and Tools

Image below: Prym Love vario pliers and piercing/coloursnaps tool, click image to view.

Prym Love vario pliers and piercing coloursnaps tool
Prym Love 9mm Colour Snap Set

Sewing Bee Techniques

Our top tips for using snaps:

  • Always make sure you have a few pairs of snaps spare for testing on your fabric before you apply them to the garment and in case you have any mishaps.
  • It can be helpful to set the snaps out in pairs of one male on female before you start.
  • If you aren't using a specific snaps tool to create the holes in your fabric make sure you don't make the holes too big!

Transformation Challenge: Wet Suits to an Under the Sea Themed Fancy Dress Costume

The thought of sewing with a wetsuit would strike fear into the heart of many a home sewist.

Having to transform with a fancy dress costume idea and doing it under severe time pressure makes it even more terrifying.

I'm sure the Sewing Bees were relieved once this challenge was over!

Made to Measure Challenge: a Child's Raincoat

Another tricky fabric to sew with the Sewing Bees had to whip up a well fitting , fully waterproof child's raincoat - eek!

We love this Burda design with the option for a full length puddle suit (click the image to view)

Sewing Bee Patterns

Burda 9378 sewing pattern

Sadly we don't have any fabrics suitable for this challenge, however we do have a tip for working with fabrics like vinyl or anything similar where you sewing machine struggles to feed the fabric through due to the 'stickiness' - use a roller foot or Teflon foot in your machine.

Pictured below is the Pfaff non-stick foot for IDT system (click to view). This foot is only compatible with certain Pfaff machines, check our compatibility information provided for details.

These feet are also available for other brands of machine you can find our full range of sewing machine accessories and feet here. Always check our compatibility charts and information to ensure compatibility with your machine.


Series 7 Episode 4: International Week

Series 7 Episode 4: International Week

I was particularly excited to see everyone demonstrate their creative flair in the made to measure challenge inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Plus the all important - what will Joe be wearing and how will he be embracing the international flavour this week?

The Great British Sewing Bee brought us sewing challenges from around the world in this week's episode.

The Pattern Challenge: French Breton Top

This week the Bees faced a challenge many of us home sewers will have tackled before - a French Breton top.

The judges were looking for matching stripes, a smooth boatneck neckline and a neat button placket.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here are some sewing patterns which would work well for a French Breton inspired top, both woven and knit designs are included so check the patterns for details:

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress and Top Sewing Pattern

We have a number of striped fabrics you could use to create the look, these are all knit fabrics so check your pattern details:

Sewing Bee Techniques

Here's a stripe matching example from my handmade wardrobe and my top stripe matching tips:

  • Fold fabric carefully before cutting out and make sure the stripes are aligned. You can insert a pin along a stripe through the two layers of fabric to check they are lined up correctly.
  • Use the notches on your pattern pieces to make sure the stripes will line up when sewn together.
  • Pin at right angles to the raw edge to keep the stripes in place as you sew.
Stripe matching on a Breton top

Transformation Challenge: Sarongs

I always say I think I'd really struggle with the transformation challenge, but this week's challenge I could get on board with. The sewers had to use bright, bold sarongs to create something entirely different.

Sarongs gave the contestants a good sized piece of fabric to work with, but it meant the judges were looking for even more creative flair in their finished garments.

I thought our blog post on sewing with slippery fabrics might come in handy for sewing along with the Bees on this challenge. You can find it by clicking the image below:

Sewing tools for slippery fabrics

Made to Measure Challenge: a Frida Kahlo Inspired Garment

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist known for her beautiful paintings and was also renowned for her personal style.

To honour Frida's style the Bees would need to embrace bold colours and rich mixes of textiles with a folk inspired theme.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

This recent Zandra Rhodes Vogue pattern would lend itself beautifully to a Frida Kahlo inspired dress:

Vogue 1762 sewing pattern

Here are some other ideas for Frida Kahlo inspired designs:

Think bold, bright colours for your fabrics (our speciality) you can find our full range of dressmaking fabrics here.

I think this Samba crepe fabric would work brilliantly for this theme:

Samba crepe fabric

Series 7 Episode 3: Gent's Classics Week

The Great British Sewing Bee S07E03

As a selfish sewer only sewing for myself, I'm never too excited about gent's classics week, however, I was intrigued to see how the Bees got on with a baker boy cap and have been thinking about making myself a utility jacket for a while.

The Pattern Challenge: A Baker Boy Cap

The baker boy cap looked like a tough challenge working in very small areas with such bulky, thick, fabric and precision was key. Lots of the Bees seemed to struggle with the self cover button and I thought how useful our self cover button tool would be for this task, you can find them here.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

There isn't a huge demand for this style of hat, however, Simplicity do have a baker boy design which comes with a selection of other options to try, click the image to view:

Transformation Challenge: Men's Jackets and Blazers

This week the Bees had to transform a men's jacket into a garment for a woman, which reminded me of the refashioners challenge on Instagram a few years ago.

One of the most remarkable things about a challenge like this can be the intricate details and tailoring techniques you can discover when unpicking one of those garments to refashion it.

Made to Measure Challenge: A Casual Utility Jacket

What a great challenge for the Bees to get their teeth into and I loved some of the designs produced. There were a few mishaps as always, but in some instances these even turned into a happy accident.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

The Ilford jacket by the Friday Pattern Company and pictured below (click to view it on our website) is gender neutral:

There are also a number of women's utility jacket patterns here, my favourite being the Sienna Maker jacket by Closet Core Patterns (click the image to view):

Here are some more designs to choose from too:

We also have a great range of denim fabrics perfect for sewing up these jackets, which you can find here.

Although some of the Bees struggled with them, you might have more luck and can find our range of snaps here.


Series 7 Episode 2: Summer Week

The Bees seemed excited to embrace summer week choosing bright, bold fabrics for the challenges and sporting some rather jazzy numbers themselves.

We also got to know a little more about the Bees whose none sewing related hobbies range from bell ringing to gymnastics.

The Pattern Challenge: Paperbag Shorts

This week the Bees had to rustle up a pair of paperbag shorts in the pattern challenge, tackling pockets, turn ups and an elastic waistband.

Here's a pair I made using Simplicity 8651 (twice I liked them so much), which would be perfect for sewing along with the Bees.

We no longer stock the fabric, but any of our cotton lawn fabrics would work beautifully and we have so many vibrant new designs in stock to choose from here.

Paperbag shorts Simplicity 8651 sewing pattern sewn in cotton lawn fabric.

If these aren't your bag (pardon the pun!) you could also check out these alternatives on a similar theme. Some of these designs are more fitted and not a traditional paperbag effect, but have a similar aesthetic:

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here are our top picks for paperbag short and trouser sewing patterns:

You can find our perfect range of printed woven fabrics here.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Choosing the right fabric for any sewing project is crucial for success, check out our top tips for getting it right here:

Sewing pattern, fabric and sewing supplies

Transformation Challenge

The Bees certainly had a challenge on their hands transforming men's board shorts into a cocktail hour outfit for women!

I admire the gusto and enthusiasm they approach these tasks with, I'm sure would suffer an extreme mental block and wouldn't know where to begin!

Made to Measure Challenge: Button Down Sundresses

A big step up from a loose fitting buffet dress, a button down sundress seemed like a tricky next step for the Bees.

Perfectly aligned buttonholes and a good fit are difficult to achieve under such pressurised circumstances, but we have some great tips and advice for those of you sewing at home so you can nail those techniques.

Here is a button down dress I made, which would be perfect for sewing along with the Bees. Sadly this pattern is now only available in PDF format, although we do have a very limited number of paper copies left. If you don't manage to grab one we also have lots of other great options:

The Tilly and the Buttons Seren sundress sewn in cotton lawn fabric.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Check out our range of printed woven fabrics here.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Esme and Patrick were looking for neat and evenly spaced button holes plus a great fit in the sundress challenge, here are our top tutorials and tips for nailing those sewing techniques.


Series 7 Episode 1: Wardrobe Staples Week

The Great British Sewing Bee is baaaaaccckkk and what better way to open the show than Joe sailing across the Thames in a fur coat with definite Sully of Monsters Inc vibes?!

In our weekly blog posts we'll be sharing the sewing patterns and fabrics you can use to sew along with the Sewing Bees. We'll also be sharing tutorials for the sewing techniques the Bees use in the challenges.

The Pattern Challenge: A Shell Top

A nice easy way for the Sewing Bees to ease themselves in they were tasked with sewing a shell top with back button fastening.

The judges were looking for a flawless finish and were paying extra attention to the bust darts, facing and hem.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here are our top picks for shell top sewing patterns:

You can find our perfect range of printed woven fabrics here including the classic spot print crepe Serena chose to secure first place in the challenge.

Sewing Bee Techniques

If you need to perfect your dart sewing check out our video tutorial and top tips for how to sew darts here:

Also find a rather old, but helpful tutorial on how to line a sleeveless bodice or dress here:

Transformation Challenge

The Sewing Bees had to transform up to three Tshirts to make a single item of clothing.

The efforts ranged from dresses and playsuits to skirts and tops and some of the pattern placement lead the judges to fits of hysterics!

Made to Measure Challenge: A Buffet Dress

A fairly easy first made to measure challenge for the Bees - the loose fitting buffet dress.

I've heard referred to more commonly as a peasant dress, although I love the logic of the buffet name - plenty of room for extra helpings from the buffet in these designs!

These dresses have been hugely popular on the High Street and in sewing circles for the last few years meaning there are plenty of suitable patterns for you to choose from.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

See my version of the Tilly and the Buttons Indigo dress here:

Check out our range of printed woven fabrics here including the fabric I used for my Indigo dress.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Lots of the Sewing Bees worked busily on gathering and ruffles find out top tips for sewing ruffles and gathers here.

Find our tutorial for using a gathering foot here:


Series 6 Episode 10

Sewing Bee S06E10

How on earth is it Sewing Bee final week already?! My nine year old Son is already desperately trying to find a new excuse to stay up late on a Wednesday! Will the contestants blow us away? Just how tough will the challenges be? Let's find out.

The Pattern Challenge: a Child's Traditional Kilt

Absolute precision was required to win the pattern challenge.

The Bees even had to reach for their calculators to work out the number of pleats required on the children's kilt.

Chuck in the ultimate pattern matching challenge, the need for neat and even pleats and neat sewing plus tough leather buckles. Wowzers what a challenge.

Sewing Bee Fabrics

You can find our tartan fabrics here.

The Transformation Challenge: a Swimsuit and a Prom Dress into a Carnival Outfit

An opportunity for the Bees to really have some fun and show off their creativity plus watching Joe live his best life dressing up in all the props!

A transformation challenge I think I could actually get into, unlike the carnival outfits!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Red Carpet Dress

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Claire sewed up a beautiful satin gown for her work colleague, you can find our satin fabrics here and here.

Nicole chose a dress I made! You can see the blog post here and find the pattern here. Plus Nicole also had to throw in a lot of trimmings, of course! You can see ours here.

Matt drafted his own dress including a leatherette bodice. I made a leatherette skirt last year, you can see it here and find the fabric here.

Well that's it for another year folks, we can't believe it flew by so quickly. Another lovely bunch of people and lots of sewing inspiration for us all.


Series 6 Episode 9

Sewing Bee S06E09

This week the fabric was selected by the judges creating an even playing field for the contestants.

The Pattern Challenge: the Marilyn Monroe Dress

This week the fabric was selected by the judges creating an even playing field for the contestants.

Absolute precision was necessary to pull of the beautifully simple and elegant dress. Even pleats across the bust, an invisible zip, a bagged out lined bodice, the pressure was on!

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are some gorgeous Marilyn worthy dress patterns:

And don't forget our fantastic dressmaking fabrics, find them all here.

You can also find our top tips for working with slippery fabrics here.

The Transformation Challenge: a Sci Fi Themed Garment

The Sewing Bees were invited to choose a random selection of items gathered from charity shops and junk yards and turn them into a futuristic piece of couture in 90 minutes. Yep it was all kinds of crazy!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Flapper Dress

For the made to measure challenge the Bees had to sew a flapper dress ensuring the simple silhouette hung perfectly on the model's frame whilst mastering an array of fancy fabrics and trimmings.

Sewing Bee Patterns

We have the perfect flapper dress pattern to sewalong with the Bees:

We also have some fantastic flapper worthy fabric:

Find our fun selection of trimmings here


Series 6 Episode 8

Sewing Bee S06E08

World week and the Sewing Bees were challenged with sewing up a range of garments from, you guessed it, around the world. Fighting for a place in the semi finals the pressure was on!

The Pattern Challenge: A Terno Blouse

The Sewing Bees had to create a Terno blouse with dramatic butterfly sleeves.

Fabric choice was absolutely key since it must have enough stability to hold the shape of the butterfly sleeve.

Sewing techniques included even gathers on the sleeves, a neckline binding and self covered buttons.

You can find a tutorial on sewing gathers here and the easy way to create your own bias binding here.

Find our self cover buttons and button tools here.

The Transformation Challenge: a Provencale Tablecloth into a Garment

The Bees had to transform a tablecloth into a garment of their choice and the winner achieved an awful lot in the time allowed producing a very impressive garment indeed.

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Flamenco Inspired Skirt

The Bees were tasked with sewing a flamenco inspired skirt for their models, which should hug at the hips and cascade into dramatic rows of ruffles.

Sewing Bee Patterns

This task certainly got my creative juices flowing and I was busily dreaming up a ruffly girly skirt of dreams. Luckily we have plenty of patterns that fit the bill beautifully and don't forget about our fab range of dressmaking fabrics, which you can find here too.


Series 6 Episode 7

Sewing Bee S06E07

80s week for the Sewing Bees and I was transported back to my chidhood - Tears for Fears, images of Princess Di and some suitably garish garments!

The Pattern Challenge: A Lady's Power Jacket

The first foray into tailoring for this year's Sewing Bee contestants and it was a toughy - lapels, shoulder pads and princess seams - eat your heart out Joan Collins!

Our very own Angela loves to sew up a Chanel style jacket and shared one on the blog and her top tailoring tips here. Pressing was absolutely key and you can find our top tips to press like a pro here.

Find our suiting fabrics here and coating fabrics here. Find our shoulder pads here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

We have some super, some slightly less 80s, lady's power/tailored jacket patterns for you to try at home:

The Transformation Challenge: High Vis to Party Style

The Sewing Bees were tasked with transforming three high vis safety wear pieces into a party outfit.

The judges were looking for a graphic, geometric, Wham inspired get up fit for an 80s night club.

There was a lot of gathering and ruffling going on - read our top tips and see how to use a gathering foot here.

The Made to Measure Challenge: an 80s Cocktail Dress

The final challenge was time for the Bees to shine, literally. The judges were looking for ostentatious bows, ruffles, lurex and full on drama.

Sewing Bee Patterns

80s inspired cocktail dress patterns are few and far between these days, but I managed to pick out a few which could work:

Well that was a fun trip down memory lane, looking forward to next week!


Series 6 Episode 6

Sewing Bee S06E06

Reduce, reuse, recycle week not only encourages the Sewing Bees to push their creativity to the limit it also encourages us all to ponder sustainable sewing. As he revealed the lack of fabrics in the haberdashery this week, Joe reasssured the contestants there hadn't been a robbery - Esme patrols the studio at night with an Alsatian and a tazer!

The Pattern Challenge: A Man's Bomber Jacket

The Sewing Bees had to choose four women's garments to whip up a man's bomber jacket.

Trying to find big enough fabric pieces to cut the men's pattern pieces from was quite the challenge.

The contestants also had to get to grips with sewing an open ended zip and sewing a layer of ribbing fabric between the facing and the neckline of the jacket, stretching it evenly as they sewed.

Sewing Bee Patterns

We have some fab man's bomber jacket patterns for you to try at home:

The Transformation Challenge: Laundry Bags into a Garment

The Sewing Bees were allowed to choose items from the haberdashery, but no additional fabrics. In all honesty this challenge looked like my worst nightmare in sewing terms!

Patrick pointed out the prints and designs on those tough, waterproof bags were actually once used in a Celine collection making fashion history. The key difference being the designs were printed on beautiful, couture quality cloth not the stuff your granny used to take the washing to the laundrette in!

The Made to Measure Challenge: A Winter Dress from Unloved Knitwear

What a challenge for the Bees - cutting up old jumpers to create a dress. The efforts from the Bees were so good Patrick and Esme couldn't agree on a clear winner for garment of the week. Joe suggested an arm wrestle, but they declined!


Series 6 Episode 5

Sewing Bee S06E05

Sleepwear and lingerie week saw the Sewing Bees tackle boned basques, granny nighties and sexy lace numbers.

The Pattern Challenge: A Boned Basque

Fit was absolutely crucial since a basque cannot be adjusted to fit unlike a corset.

With 13 small pattern pieces, hooks and eyes, boning and bias binding to tackle it was a desceptively difficult challenge.

Find our boning here, bias binding here and hook eyes here.

The Transformation Challenge: OAP Sleepwear to a Stylish Summer Outfit

The Bees had to incorporate both a granny nightie and some grandad pyjamas into a stylish, wearable summer women's outfit, yes it was as tricky as it sounds!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Two Piece Sleep Set with a Lace Element

Sewing Bee Techniques

Cehck out our top tips for sewing with slippery fabrics here and French seams here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

See our lingerie sewing patterns here and lace fabrics here.


Series 6 Episode 4

Sewing Bee s06e04

Sportswear week is never my favourite week on the Sewing Bee, but Joe Lycett boxing Esme in a stupendously sparkly tracksuit immediately made me smile. Followed up by footage of a young Patrick Grant in his rugby years and, well, it didn't really matter what else happened in the rest of the episode!

The Pattern Challenge: A Men's Rugby Shirt

The Bees had to sew jersey and woven fabrics together and master a tricky placket in herringbone tape for the first challenge.

Sewing Bee Techniques

You can find our top tips for sewing with knit and jersey fabrics here and overlocker tips for garment sewing here and here

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here's a couple of rugby shirt themed patterns, i.e. polo shirts, no rugby shirt patterns I'm afraid.

The Transformation Challenge: a Toddler's Waterproof Onesie

Fashioning a waterproof onesie from a rain jacket was a big challenge for the Bees. The mini mannequins never looked so jazzy!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Tennis Outfit

It was such fun seeing some of the flambuoyant tennis costumes from the fashion archives. Some of the Sewing Bees opted for tradional pleated cotton poplin skirts whilst others went for a more modern lycra look.


Series 6 Episode 3

Sewing Bee S06E03

Children's week on the Sewing Bee means teeny sewing tasks, which Joe likened to Esme - small but intimidating! How will the Bees fare with those mini sleeves and fancy decorative sewing techniques like smocking?

The Pattern Challenge: A Children's Dress with a Peter Pan Collar and Smocking

A perfectly balanced Peter Pan collar and pretty embroidered smocking were the key challenges for the Bees in the pattern challenge.

Sewing Bee Techniques

A super handy tool for neat, evenly spaced smocking is our Simflex sewing gauge, which can also be used for spacing buttonholes, pleats and anything else where precision is required.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are some super cute children's dresses if you fancy making the little people in your life a Sewing Bee themed treat.

Challenge 2: the Transformation Challenge

Ever thought of refashioning a sleeping bag? Me neither! The Bees had to transform theirs into a children's food themed fancy dress costume. No you're not hallucinating!

If you'd rather use a pattern to create your little ones a costume check out our fancy dress costume patterns here:

The Made to Measure Challenge: Children's Dungarees

Finally the Bees had to sew a pair of dungarees for a mini model. Unfortunately we don't appear to have any dungaree sewing patterns for children on the site I'm afraid, but there are plenty of other children's patterns to choose from here.


Series 6 Episode 2

Sewing Bee s06e02

Week two was holiday themed and had me dreaming of escaping to a lovely beach. Seeing as that won't be happening any time soon we might as well hit our sewing machines instead and sewalong with the Bees.

Challenge 1: Palazzo Pants

Chic, cool and perfect for swanning around on your hols, especially in a bold, bright print. The Bees were asked to sew a perfect invisbilble zip, pattern match and sew seamless in seam pockets on a pair of palazzo pants.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Find out a super clever way to sew an invisible zip in our tutorial here.

Get our top tips for pattern matching here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are our top picks for palazzo pants sewing patterns available on our site:

Challenge 2: the Transformation Challenge

Sewing with towels felt like a tough challenge for week two. The Bees were allowed two towels and however much habby they liked, but no other fabric.

Challenge 3: Made to Measure Men's Holiday Shirt

Finally the Sewing Bees had to sew a men's holiday shirt to fit their model perfectly. The judges were looking for symmetry at the neck and sleeves plus interesting details and design twists.

Sewing Bee Techniques

One of the contestants decided to sew pintucks to add an interesting little twist to their shirt. You can watch a video on our YouTube channel to show you how to sew them plus a Spanish hemstitch and ribbon stitches.

Sewing Bee Shirt Patterns


Series 6 Episode 1

Sewing Bee Series 6 Episode 1

Whoop whoop the Great British Sewing Bee is back for a sixth series. With 12 contestants and more challenges than ever before it is set to be a corker and let's face it, we all need some light relief right now!

Challenge 1: a Wrap Skirt

Such a great wardrobe classic and a great way to get off the starting blocks. The Bees had to sew darts, a waistband and a rouleau loop and fabric choice was key.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Find our top tips for picking the right fabric here (you can also see a video I made on the subject on our You Tube channel) and how to sew rouleau loops here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are our top picks for wrap skirts available on our site:

Challenge 2: the Transformation Challenge

This task would be my worst nightmare and I'm full of admiration of anyone who can do it well.

My lovely friend Ali produced a fab, fun A-line mini and I loved the corset produced by the biker from Middlesborough.

Challenge 3: Made to Measure Tea Dress

Finally the Sewing Bees had to sew a tea dress - initially popular in the 1940s the tea dress features a modest hemline and neckline, which was designed to be casual enough for day wear, but dressy enough for evening events.

Sewing Bee Patterns


 Series 5 Episode 8

Great British Sewing Bee S05E08

Where 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...

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: https://www.youtube.com/embed/9ouOOBFMmNc

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

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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

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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

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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

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Series 4 Episode 3

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:

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.

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Series 7 Episode 1: Wardrobe Staples Week

The Great British Sewing Bee is baaaaaccckkk and what better way to open the show than Joe sailing across the Thames in a fur coat with definite Sully of Monsters Inc vibes?!

The Pattern Challenge: A Shell Top

A nice easy way for the Sewing Bees to ease themselves in they were tasked with sewing a shell top with back button fastening.

The judges were looking for a flawless finish and were paying extra attention to the bust darts, facing and hem.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Here are our top picks for shell top sewing patterns:

You can find our perfect range of printed woven fabrics here including the classic spot print crepe Serena chose to secure first place in the challenge.

Sewing Bee Techniques

If you need to perfect your dart sewing check out our video tutorial and top tips for how to sew darts here:

Also find a rather old, but helpful tutorial on how to line a sleeveless bodice or dress here:

Transformation Challenge

The Sewing Bees had to transform up to three Tshirts to make a single item of clothing.

The efforts ranged from dresses and playsuits to skirts and tops and some of the pattern placement lead the judges to fits of hysterics!

Made to Measure Challenge: A Buffet Dress

A fairly easy first made to measure challenge for the Bees - the loose fitting buffet dress.

I've heard referred to more commonly as a peasant dress, although I love the logic of the buffet name - plenty of room for extra helpings from the buffet in these designs!

These dresses have been hugely popular on the High Street and in sewing circles for the last few years meaning there are plenty of suitable patterns for you to choose from.

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

See my version of the Tilly and the Buttons Indigo dress here:

Check out our range of printed woven fabrics here including the fabric I used for my Indigo dress.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Lots of the Sewing Bees worked busily on gathering and ruffles find out top tips for sewing ruffles and gathers here.

Find our tutorial for using a gathering foot here:


Series 6 Episode 10

Sewing Bee S06E10

How on earth is it Sewing Bee final week already?! My nine year old Son is already desperately trying to find a new excuse to stay up late on a Wednesday! Will the contestants blow us away? Just how tough will the challenges be? Let's find out.

The Pattern Challenge: a Child's Traditional Kilt

Absolute precision was required to win the pattern challenge.

The Bees even had to reach for their calculators to work out the number of pleats required on the children's kilt.

Chuck in the ultimate pattern matching challenge, the need for neat and even pleats and neat sewing plus tough leather buckles. Wowzers what a challenge.

Sewing Bee Fabrics

You can find our tartan fabrics here.

The Transformation Challenge: a Swimsuit and a Prom Dress into a Carnival Outfit

An opportunity for the Bees to really have some fun and show off their creativity plus watching Joe live his best life dressing up in all the props!

A transformation challenge I think I could actually get into, unlike the carnival outfits!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Red Carpet Dress

Sewing Bee Patterns and Fabrics

Claire sewed up a beautiful satin gown for her work colleague, you can find our satin fabrics here and here.

Nicole chose a dress I made! You can see the blog post here and find the pattern here. Plus Nicole also had to throw in a lot of trimmings, of course! You can see ours here.

Matt drafted his own dress including a leatherette bodice. I made a leatherette skirt last year, you can see it here and find the fabric here.

Well that's it for another year folks, we can't believe it flew by so quickly. Another lovely bunch of people and lots of sewing inspiration for us all.


Series 6 Episode 9

Sewing Bee S06E09

This week the fabric was selected by the judges creating an even playing field for the contestants.

The Pattern Challenge: the Marilyn Monroe Dress

This week the fabric was selected by the judges creating an even playing field for the contestants.

Absolute precision was necessary to pull of the beautifully simple and elegant dress. Even pleats across the bust, an invisible zip, a bagged out lined bodice, the pressure was on!

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are some gorgeous Marilyn worthy dress patterns:

And don't forget our fantastic dressmaking fabrics, find them all here.

You can also find our top tips for working with slippery fabrics here.

The Transformation Challenge: a Sci Fi Themed Garment

The Sewing Bees were invited to choose a random selection of items gathered from charity shops and junk yards and turn them into a futuristic piece of couture in 90 minutes. Yep it was all kinds of crazy!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Flapper Dress

For the made to measure challenge the Bees had to sew a flapper dress ensuring the simple silhouette hung perfectly on the model's frame whilst mastering an array of fancy fabrics and trimmings.

Sewing Bee Patterns

We have the perfect flapper dress pattern to sewalong with the Bees:

We also have some fantastic flapper worthy fabric:

Find our fun selection of trimmings here


Series 6 Episode 8

Sewing Bee S06E08

World week and the Sewing Bees were challenged with sewing up a range of garments from, you guessed it, around the world. Fighting for a place in the semi finals the pressure was on!

The Pattern Challenge: A Terno Blouse

The Sewing Bees had to create a Terno blouse with dramatic butterfly sleeves.

Fabric choice was absolutely key since it must have enough stability to hold the shape of the butterfly sleeve.

Sewing techniques included even gathers on the sleeves, a neckline binding and self covered buttons.

You can find a tutorial on sewing gathers here and the easy way to create your own bias binding here.

Find our self cover buttons and button tools here.

The Transformation Challenge: a Provencale Tablecloth into a Garment

The Bees had to transform a tablecloth into a garment of their choice and the winner achieved an awful lot in the time allowed producing a very impressive garment indeed.

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Flamenco Inspired Skirt

The Bees were tasked with sewing a flamenco inspired skirt for their models, which should hug at the hips and cascade into dramatic rows of ruffles.

Sewing Bee Patterns

This task certainly got my creative juices flowing and I was busily dreaming up a ruffly girly skirt of dreams. Luckily we have plenty of patterns that fit the bill beautifully and don't forget about our fab range of dressmaking fabrics, which you can find here too.


 

Series 6 Episode 7

Sewing Bee S06E07

80s week for the Sewing Bees and I was transported back to my chidhood - Tears for Fears, images of Princess Di and some suitably garish garments!

The Pattern Challenge: A Lady's Power Jacket

The first foray into tailoring for this year's Sewing Bee contestants and it was a toughy - lapels, shoulder pads and princess seams - eat your heart out Joan Collins!

Our very own Angela loves to sew up a Chanel style jacket and shared one on the blog and her top tailoring tips here. Pressing was absolutely key and you can find our top tips to press like a pro here.

Find our suiting fabrics here and coating fabrics here. Find our shoulder pads here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

We have some super, some slightly less 80s, lady's power/tailored jacket patterns for you to try at home:

The Transformation Challenge: High Vis to Party Style

The Sewing Bees were tasked with transforming three high vis safety wear pieces into a party outfit.

The judges were looking for a graphic, geometric, Wham inspired get up fit for an 80s night club.

There was a lot of gathering and ruffling going on - read our top tips and see how to use a gathering foot here.

The Made to Measure Challenge: an 80s Cocktail Dress

The final challenge was time for the Bees to shine, literally. The judges were looking for ostentatious bows, ruffles, lurex and full on drama.

Sewing Bee Patterns

80s inspired cocktail dress patterns are few and far between these days, but I managed to pick out a few which could work:

Well that was a fun trip down memory lane, looking forward to next week!


Series 6 Episode 6

Sewing Bee S06E06

Reduce, reuse, recycle week not only encourages the Sewing Bees to push their creativity to the limit it also encourages us all to ponder sustainable sewing. As he revealed the lack of fabrics in the haberdashery this week, Joe reasssured the contestants there hadn't been a robbery - Esme patrols the studio at night with an Alsatian and a tazer!

The Pattern Challenge: A Man's Bomber Jacket

The Sewing Bees had to choose four women's garments to whip up a man's bomber jacket.

Trying to find big enough fabric pieces to cut the men's pattern pieces from was quite the challenge.

The contestants also had to get to grips with sewing an open ended zip and sewing a layer of ribbing fabric between the facing and the neckline of the jacket, stretching it evenly as they sewed.

Sewing Bee Patterns

We have some fab man's bomber jacket patterns for you to try at home:

The Transformation Challenge: Laundry Bags into a Garment

The Sewing Bees were allowed to choose items from the haberdashery, but no additional fabrics. In all honesty this challenge looked like my worst nightmare in sewing terms!

Patrick pointed out the prints and designs on those tough, waterproof bags were actually once used in a Celine collection making fashion history. The key difference being the designs were printed on beautiful, couture quality cloth not the stuff your granny used to take the washing to the laundrette in!

The Made to Measure Challenge: A Winter Dress from Unloved Knitwear

What a challenge for the Bees - cutting up old jumpers to create a dress. The efforts from the Bees were so good Patrick and Esme couldn't agree on a clear winner for garment of the week. Joe suggested an arm wrestle, but they declined!


Series 6 Episode 5

Sewing Bee S06E05

Sleepwear and lingerie week saw the Sewing Bees tackle boned basques, granny nighties and sexy lace numbers.

The Pattern Challenge: A Boned Basque

Fit was absolutely crucial since a basque cannot be adjusted to fit unlike a corset.

With 13 small pattern pieces, hooks and eyes, boning and bias binding to tackle it was a desceptively difficult challenge.

Find our boning here, bias binding here and hook eyes here.

The Transformation Challenge: OAP Sleepwear to a Stylish Summer Outfit

The Bees had to incorporate both a granny nightie and some grandad pyjamas into a stylish, wearable summer women's outfit, yes it was as tricky as it sounds!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Two Piece Sleep Set with a Lace Element

Sewing Bee Techniques

Cehck out our top tips for sewing with slippery fabrics here and French seams here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

See our lingerie sewing patterns here and lace fabrics here.


Series 6 Episode 4

Sewing Bee s06e04

Sportswear week is never my favourite week on the Sewing Bee, but Joe Lycett boxing Esme in a stupendously sparkly tracksuit immediately made me smile. Followed up by footage of a young Patrick Grant in his rugby years and, well, it didn't really matter what else happened in the rest of the episode!

The Pattern Challenge: A Men's Rugby Shirt

The Bees had to sew jersey and woven fabrics together and master a tricky placket in herringbone tape for the first challenge.

Sewing Bee Techniques

You can find our top tips for sewing with knit and jersey fabrics here and overlocker tips for garment sewing here and here

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here's a couple of rugby shirt themed patterns, i.e. polo shirts, no rugby shirt patterns I'm afraid.

The Transformation Challenge: a Toddler's Waterproof Onesie

Fashioning a waterproof onesie from a rain jacket was a big challenge for the Bees. The mini mannequins never looked so jazzy!

The Made to Measure Challenge: a Tennis Outfit

It was such fun seeing some of the flambuoyant tennis costumes from the fashion archives. Some of the Sewing Bees opted for tradional pleated cotton poplin skirts whilst others went for a more modern lycra look.


Series 6 Episode 3

Sewing Bee S06E03

Children's week on the Sewing Bee means teeny sewing tasks, which Joe likened to Esme - small but intimidating! How will the Bees fare with those mini sleeves and fancy decorative sewing techniques like smocking?

The Pattern Challenge: A Children's Dress with a Peter Pan Collar and Smocking

A perfectly balanced Peter Pan collar and pretty embroidered smocking were the key challenges for the Bees in the pattern challenge.

Sewing Bee Techniques

A super handy tool for neat, evenly spaced smocking is our Simflex sewing gauge, which can also be used for spacing buttonholes, pleats and anything else where precision is required.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are some super cute children's dresses if you fancy making the little people in your life a Sewing Bee themed treat.

Challenge 2: the Transformation Challenge

Ever thought of refashioning a sleeping bag? Me neither! The Bees had to transform theirs into a children's food themed fancy dress costume. No you're not hallucinating!

If you'd rather use a pattern to create your little ones a costume check out our fancy dress costume patterns here:

The Made to Measure Challenge: Children's Dungarees

Finally the Bees had to sew a pair of dungarees for a mini model. Unfortunately we don't appear to have any dungaree sewing patterns for children on the site I'm afraid, but there are plenty of other children's patterns to choose from here.


Series 6 Episode 2

Sewing Bee s06e02

Week two was holiday themed and had me dreaming of escaping to a lovely beach. Seeing as that won't be happening any time soon we might as well hit our sewing machines instead and sewalong with the Bees.

Challenge 1: Palazzo Pants

Chic, cool and perfect for swanning around on your hols, especially in a bold, bright print. The Bees were asked to sew a perfect invisbilble zip, pattern match and sew seamless in seam pockets on a pair of palazzo pants.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Find out a super clever way to sew an invisible zip in our tutorial here.

Get our top tips for pattern matching here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are our top picks for palazzo pants sewing patterns available on our site:

Challenge 2: the Transformation Challenge

Sewing with towels felt like a tough challenge for week two. The Bees were allowed two towels and however much habby they liked, but no other fabric.

Challenge 3: Made to Measure Men's Holiday Shirt

Finally the Sewing Bees had to sew a men's holiday shirt to fit their model perfectly. The judges were looking for symmetry at the neck and sleeves plus interesting details and design twists.

Sewing Bee Techniques

One of the contestants decided to sew pintucks to add an interesting little twist to their shirt. You can watch a video on our YouTube channel to show you how to sew them plus a Spanish hemstitch and ribbon stitches.

Sewing Bee Shirt Patterns


Series 6 Episode 1

Sewing Bee Series 6 Episode 1

Whoop whoop the Great British Sewing Bee is back for a sixth series. With 12 contestants and more challenges than ever before it is set to be a corker and let's face it, we all need some light relief right now!

Challenge 1: a Wrap Skirt

Such a great wardrobe classic and a great way to get off the starting blocks. The Bees had to sew darts, a waistband and a rouleau loop and fabric choice was key.

Sewing Bee Techniques

Find our top tips for picking the right fabric here (you can also see a video I made on the subject on our You Tube channel) and how to sew rouleau loops here.

Sewing Bee Patterns

Here are our top picks for wrap skirts available on our site:

Challenge 2: the Transformation Challenge

This task would be my worst nightmare and I'm full of admiration of anyone who can do it well.

My lovely friend Ali produced a fab, fun A-line mini and I loved the corset produced by the biker from Middlesborough.

Challenge 3: Made to Measure Tea Dress

Finally the Sewing Bees had to sew a tea dress - initially popular in the 1940s the tea dress features a modest hemline and neckline, which was designed to be casual enough for day wear, but dressy enough for evening events.

Sewing Bee Patterns


 Series 5 Episode 8

Great British Sewing Bee S05E08

Where 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...

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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.

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