Great British Sewing Bee

The Great British Sewing Bee 2020 – Series 6 Episode 9 – Sewing Patterns

Here we go, it’s week nine of the Sewing Bee!

We are so excited to have the Sewing Bee to look forward to each week on BBC 1, just what we all need right now. We have searched high and low to bring you the best selection of sewing patterns from independent designers and commercial pattern houses. These are all inspired by the the ninth episode of the Great British Sewing bee series 6. If you haven’t already seen our ultimate guide to the Sewing Bee page do take a look, we’ve got loads of exciting Sewing Bee goodness including a review of the book that accompanies the series!

In this ninth episode there are four contestants remaining, after we sadly said goodbye to Mark in week eight. The sewing bee theme for week nine is the silver screen! The challenges included making a dress inspired by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, transforming futuristic scrapyard fabrics into new science fiction-inspired outfits and making a made-to-measure flapper dress inspired by films like The Great Gatsby. Take a look at our sewing pattern suggestions below, we’ve tried to find the exact patterns used but where we haven’t been able to figure it out we have plenty of suggestions 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 in our special mid-week sewing bee vlog.

We’ve also included some sewing tips and tricks from bloggers and pattern designers in the sewing community to help you with any of the techniques used by the contestants in the TV show. If you are looking for women’s dresses not featured in the sewing bee episode this week you can search our shop for sewing patterns here. If you want to chat about the episode and the challenges then do join us each week in our Facebook group event.

Sewing Bee: Pattern Picks

Challenge 1: Dress inspired by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch

The first challenge of sewing bee week nine was to sew a dress inspired by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. This is a very glamorous dress but contestants had to grapple with bagging out a ruched bodice and hemming a pre-pleated skirt. This iconic white dress was originally designed by William Travilla, who was lead designer for 20th Century Fox. The pattern used in the sewing bee episode has three main sections with an invisible zip and eight intricate pleats needed to be added to each bust piece. Here we share some halter neck dress ideas, so you can recreate this look at home. 

Sew House Seven – Rose City Halter Dress

The Rose City Halter is a classic and timeless dress that is sure to be wardrobe worthy for years to come. It features a lined, fitted bodice with bust darts, a v-neckline, halter neck ties, an invisible side zipper and a hemline that falls at the knees. There are 2 skirt options. Version A features a gathered skirt with in-seam pockets. Version B features an A-line, bias cut skirt with curved patch pockets. Make with light to mid-weight fabrics with a crisp hand, such as cotton lawn, cotton shirting, linen, chambray, cotton madras, gingham or taffeta.

Sizing: US 0 – 20 (approx. UK 6 – 22). Available in the shop: Yes, paper or PDF pattern.


Vogue® Patterns – V8727

V8727 is a close-fitting halter neck dress through the bodice. The dress is lined and has a shaped waistband with bodice and skirt variations. Make with sateen, silk-like broadcloth, lightweight linen or lace.

Sizing: 6 – 14 and 14 – 20 (approx. UK sizes A5 (4/6 – 10), EE (10 – 16)). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Butterick – B5209

This halter or cap sleeve B5209 dress, below mid-knee length, has side zipper, fitted self-lined bodice and flared, gathered skirt.

Sizing: AA(6-8-10-12), EE(14-16-18-20). Available in the shop: No, directly from the designer Sew Direct


Butterick – B6682

Unlined dress with close-fitting halter bodice, hook and eye closure, and horsehair-lined hem, finished with purchased bias tape.

Sizing: 6 – 14 and 14 – 22. Available in the shop: No, directly from the designer Sew Direct


Challenge 2: Transforming futuristic scrapyard items into new science fiction-inspired outfits

In the upcycling challenge contestants had to use futuristic scrapyard fabrics into new science fiction-inspired outfits. Specific patterns weren’t used for these tasks as contestants had to create a garment from an existing one in a fixed time so it’s a bit tricky for us to make sewing pattern suggestions based on these design ideas.

Challenge 3: Made-to-measure flapper dress inspired by films like The Great Gatsby

In the final challenge of week nine, all the contestants had to make a made-to-measure flapper dress inspired by films like The Great Gatsby. The flapper dress is comprised of a slip that sits under a sheer glitter dress. Judges were expecting an element of bead work and embellishment is key. The flapper dress was first worn by young independent women in the 1920s. The dresses were shorter than previous fashions with low necklines and typically did not fit at the waist and hips but were straight at the side seams. These dresses were paired with high heeled shoes, makeup and shorter hairstyles. Designers including Coco Chanel and Jean Patou made dresses in these styles and they were regularly featured on the covers of Vanity Fair and other magazines. For each contestant we have tried to find the pattern they used in the BBC1 TV show or some suggestions of flapper dress patterns you could use to make your own versions.


Matt’s ‘Vintage New York’ Flapper Dress

Features: Sheer sequin overlay with dropped waist tie and v-neck.

Pattern: Pattern Recall, 2 dresses, December 1927. Feminine and graceful would be the two adjectives to best describe these two ravishing evening dress models from the 1920. They both have the typical, simple, straight 1920’s cut, but well thought out details make these designs really stand out. Both dresses are adorned with folded fabric pieces, which have been placed perfectly to make the dresses interesting and move beautifully as the wearer moves around. The dresses are very comfortable to wear and relatively easy to sew.

Sizing: Single sizing. Available in the shop: No, try third party reselling sites such as Ebay and Etsy.


Liz’s ‘Cobweb Crossover’ Flapper Dress

Features: Dropped waist sash and cobweb design tulle with cross over front bodice. The back has a fringed yoke.

Pattern: 1928 Art Deco Great Gatsby Flapper Party Silk Dress by Bright Young Things. Original Vintage Design; 1928 Party Dress with Crossover Bodice and Beaded or Embroidered Embellishment. The model wears black crepe satin with black beadwork. The skirt falls in the new and modern style, sitting on the left side in a bell shape. The bodice crosses over flatteringly.

Sizing: Single sizing. Available in the shop: No, try third party reselling sites such as Ebay and Etsy.


Nicole’s ‘Silk, Feathers and Gold’ Flapper Dress

Features: Gold sequins and deep feathered hem.

Pattern: 1920s Flapper dress by Folkwear. This pattern comes from a very simple, but very elegant, original dress from the 1920s. It is made of only two pattern pieces, and the front and back are the same, but the simplicity belies the meaning of the garment. The original is made of a black cotton/silk gauze that is heavily beaded with black glass beads grouped into art deco shapes all over the dress. The armholes, neckline, waist (which is slightly dropped) and hem are outlined with oblong red glass beads stacked in rows. This dress is made to swing, made to awe with its embellishments and the scarcity of fabric around the neck, arms and legs. Make your dress with beaded or fringed fabric, or add your own beads or fringe to it, or make it with a simple gorgeous silk charmeuse. It can also be made as a simple sundress using cotton lawn or linen.

Sizing: Single sizing. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF and we can print the copy shop version for you too.


Clare’s ‘Three layer Art Deco’ Flapper Dress

Features: v-neck bodice and overlay with handkerchief hem.

Pattern: 1929 Tulle Party Frock by Retro Sewing. The Sleeveless Evening frock from 1929 is made with a foundation dress in silk or similar and over dress in net or tulle. The under bodice is bandeau style with shoulder straps and the net over skirt is attached to the foundation skirt in two layers, alternating the hanky hem. The two parts are brought together with a low waistband.

Pattern: 1930 Dinner Gown Pattern by EvaDress. The caption written on the original reads: ‘Dinner Gown of shaded pale green tulle, combined with lace, edged with pearls. Chic Model, N.Y. Hollywood’. Suggested fabrics for this design are: our Silk charmeuse, chiffon, georgette, crepe, velvet or tulle.

Sizing: Single sizing. Available in the shop: No, try third party reselling sites such as Ebay and Etsy.


Sewing Bee: Tutorials and top tips

Here are tutorials from indie designers and bloggers to help you get to grips with the techniques used to make the patterns in the show. Each week there are some tricky skills that the sewing bee contestants have to tackle, so it’s a great opportunity to give these a go for yourself and build on your sewing knowledge.

Lining a bodice

Megan Nielsen shares a tutorial as part of the Karri Dress sewing along on how to fully line a sleeveless dress, useful if you are making a halter neck dress.


Sewing with sequins

By Hand London share their nerdy sewing tips on sewing with sequins if you fancy giving a flapper dress a go!

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