Great British Sewing Bee

The Great British Sewing Bee 2019 Episode 3 – sewing patterns and sewing tips


On to week three where we relive the 70s!

We have searched the sewing pattern database to bring you the best selection of patterns inspired by the the second episode of the Great British Sewing bee series 5. If you haven’t already seen our dedicated Sewing Bee page do take a look, we’ve got loads of exciting Sewing Bee goodness!

In this third episode there are eight contestants remaining after we said goodbye to Sheila last week. This episode has been all about fashion in the 1970s with the first challenge sewing up flared jeans on vintage machines. In the upcycling challenge, t-shirts and  tartans were transformed into punk-inspired outfits before the made-to-measure challenge where the contestants make a floaty 70s style maxi dress. Take a look at our sewing pattern suggestions below so that you can recreate these looks at home for your handmade wardrobe. Kate also talks through her favourite pattern options from the episode on YouTube.

We’ve also included some sewing tips from sewing community bloggers and pattern designers to help you with any of the tricky techniques used in the show. If you want to chat about the episode with other makes then do join us for a weekly conversation in our Facebook group after the show has aired.

Sewing Bee: pattern picks

Task 1: Flared jeans

The jeans contestants had to make for the first challenge embraced 70s style with flared hems, fly front, flat felted seams and a back joke. A range of fabrics were used from cord to denim and psychedelic prints! Take a look at our pattern suggestions for flared jeans below and tips for sewing a fly front and with denim at the end of the post.

Megan Nielsen – Dawn Jeans

The Dawn Jeans are a new release from Megan Nielsen. They are a classic high waisted rigid jean pattern set that includes four cuts and multiple lengths for tall, regular, flared and cropped. The pattern features a high rise to sit on the natural waist, button fly, close fit through the waist and hips and classic jeans details. This pattern set covers all your jeans needs!

Sizing: 0 – 20. Available in the shop: Yes, paper.

Closet Case Patterns – Ginger Jeans + expansion pack

The Ginger Jeans are a sewing community favourite and due to their popularity Heather has also released an expansion pack that can turn these jeans into a 70s flared dream! Featuring the same great fit as the original Ginger Jeans pattern, these Flare Jeans are a welcome addition to your denim wardrobe. The Ginger Flares give you long and lean legs, with a 33.5″ inseam and an extra wide trouser-style hem; choose between a high or low waisted option.

Sizing: 0 – 20. Available in the shop: Yes, Ginger Jeans (paper). The expansion pack is available as a PDF only directly from designer.

Megan Nielsen – Ash Jeans

The Ash Jeans from Megan Nielsen are designed for stretch denim fabrics. The pattern includes four cuts for slim leg, skinny, flared and wide leg jeans. The pattern features a comfortable rise, close fit through the waist and hips and classic jeans details.

Sizing: UK 6 – 18. Available in the shop: Yes, paper.

Task 2: Upcycling shirts and tartan into a punk outfit

In the upcycling challenge contestants used shirts and tartan to create a punk inspired outfit. A range of sewing patterns were used for this task so we will make some suggestions based on these below.

Tartan Skirt

New Look – 6313

This women’s skater skirt can be made into a mini skirt with a contrast waistband or a knee length skirt. The circle version of this skirt can be made mini or just above the knee, also with a contrast band.

Sizing: 4 – 16. Available in the shop: No, out of print, but may still be available on third party reselling websites.


Named – Grace Top

This cropped and semi-fitted top has an interesting corset-inspired cut with flat felled seams. It also features wide tie-up shoulder straps, a sweetheart neckline and button closure at front. This is definitely one for the more experienced maker and as you can see from the model photo below, the structure of the corset can be softened with the addition of lace shoulder ties.

Sizing: UK 4 – 22. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF.


Afternoon Patterns – Fern Shorts

These vintage Fern shorts by Afternoon Patterns are a vintage-inspired sewing pattern featuring turn-up cuffs, oh-so handy pockets, and a soft belt in the waist. Sew it up in khaki for chic outdoor wear, or go bold with a 70s print and colour to make the most of the glamorous pin-up silhouette!

Sizing: Approx. UK 6  -16. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF and paper copies coming in March (paper copies will be available at the Knitting and Stitching show this weekend in London).

Task 3: Maxi dress

The contestants used a wide range of patterns to create 1970s floaty maxi dresses for their real life models. There were some stunning outfits with flounce and frill detailing. Take a look at our pattern suggestions for the dresses featured and tips from designers on drafting a bishops sleeve and working with slippery fabrics below.

Jen’s Lee Bender Maxi dress

By Hand London – Alix dress

Inspired by the dreamy glamour of the 70s, Alix will take you effortlessly from a hazy summer festival to an elegant soirée in town. Alix is a high-waisted prairie dress with a v-neck yoke, inset waistband, tie back belt and a full skirt, pleated at centre front and back. And best of all, no zipper! With long, billowing raglan bishop sleeves secured at the wrist with a delicate elasticated cuff and three skirt length options (and everything in between!) Alix can be just as at home worn with a pair of beat-up old jeans as she is swooshing down the red carpet!

Sizing: UK 6 – 20. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF.

Alexei’s 70s dress

Burda Style 6892

Original cut of the 70s, a loosely clinging evening gown with interfaced front and back part. Version C has translucent sleeves and cuffs with feather boa.This is the pattern used by Alexei in the show but unfortunately it is out of print. It may still be available on third party reselling websites.

Mercedes 1973 Maxi Dress

Vogue 2810

McCalls – M7742

We chose the McCalls M7742 dress as it has a similar overall design to the vintage pattern used by Mercedes in this challenge. In particular the upper bodice yoke and the same cropped Bishop-style sleeves that gather at the cuff. Although this pattern uses separate sleeve pieces it creates a similar overall impression. This dress is very loose fitting and has front and back yokes with gathers and sleeve variations. You could easily lengthen this dress to make it maxi style by extending the side seams.

Sizing: 4 – 22. Available in the shop: No.

Juliet’s ‘flouncy’ McCalls maxi dress

McCalls – M7745

This is the pattern used by Juliet to create her beautiful maxi dress. This close fitting wrap dress pattern comes with neckline and sleeve variations including ruffles, flounce and capped sleeves. Plus it also has delicate ribbon ties and shoulder straps. The pattern also offers to option to cut a straight hem or dropped back hem. Make this dress in a lightweight drapey fabric such as rayon or crepe.

Sizing: 6 – 22. Available in the shop: No.

Leah’s sheer maxi dress

Simplicity – 8013

Our first pattern suggestion is the Simplicity 8013 vintage 1970’s dress pattern, it’s perfect for an advanced beginner/intermediate dressmaker. This nostalgic faux wrap front dresses from the 1970’s really emulated the style of this period perfectly. The dress can be made in two lengths and choose either a bishop or bell sleeve with sash to fit at the waist.

Sizing: 6 – 22. Available in the shop: No.

Riccardo’s tiered crepe maxi dress

By Hand London – Eloise Dress

Our second pattern suggestion is the Eloise dress from By Hand London. Eloise is a deceptively simple shift dress with bust darts, subtle shaping through the waist and hips and an optional waist tie belt or side seam tie backs. Choose from bracelet length sleeves, no sleeves at all or go all out with frilled 70s inspired bell sleeves. Further variations include a circular gathered hem frill which can be added to the dress at the knee for maxi boho chic (as seen in the pattern chosen by fellow contestantLeah), or just below the hip for a drop waist cocktail dress. With mix-and-match pattern pieces, this infinitely versatile dress is also a fast and easy sew – no zipper!

Sizing: UK 6 – 20. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF.

Ben’s mushroom maxi dress

Deer and Doe – Magnolia dress

Ben’s design include a floor length skirt gathered into a plunging v-neck bodice. You can recreate this look with the Deer and Doe Magnolia dress, It’s a stunning mock-wrap dress. Version Am as shown below has a plunging neckline, maxi skirt with a slit, and long sleeves. Alternatively you can make version B which has a regular neckline, short skirt, and butterfly sleeves.

Sizing: EU 34 – 46, approx. UK 6 – 18. Available in the shop: Yes, paper.

Janet’s Ditsy Print maxi dress

Vogue Patterns – V2618

Originally a Vogue basic design from ca. 1971 this dress has three length variations finishing two inches below knee, at the ankle or maxi length. It has a scoop neckline with high-fitted bodice and inset waistband. It also features a gathered A-line skirt plus sleeve and trim variations.

This is the pattern used by Janet in the show but unfortunately it is out of print. It may still be available on third party reselling websites.

Image source: Vintage Patterns Fandom.

Sewing Bee: tutorials and top tips

Task 1: Flare jeans

Sewing a fly front zipper

Heather at Closet Case Patterns shares her tip as part of the Ginger Jeans sewalong how to insert a fly front zipper.

Creating a flat felted seams

The ladies at By Hand London share a tutorial on sewing a flat felted seam as part of their nerdy sewing tips.

Sewing with denim

Colette share their top 10 tips for sewing with denim.

Task 2: Upcycling shirts and tartan into punk outfits

Matching fabric patterns

Colette shares their top tips for matching plaids (tartan) and stripes along with a free download.

Task 3: 70s floaty maxi dress

Bishop sleeves

Turn any sleeve into a Bishop’s sleeve with this tutorial from Elisalex at By Hand London.

Slipper fabrics

Tilly and the Buttons share their top five tips for working with slippery fabrics.

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1 thought on “The Great British Sewing Bee 2019 Episode 3 – sewing patterns and sewing tips

  1. […] here’s a review of this episode, complete with seventies pattern inspiration. It looks like The Foldline got there first with a great review which gives modern patterns picks for the garments in this […]

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