Great British Sewing Bee

The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 – Series 7 Episode 1 – Sewing Patterns


YESSSS The Sewing Bee is back!

We are thrilled to have the Sewing Bee back on our screens again this year on the BBC. We have put our detective hats on to discover the sewing patterns from independent designers and commercial pattern houses used in The Great British Sewing Bee TV show. The patterns below are all inspired by the the first episode of the Great British Sewing bee series 7.

If you haven’t already seen our ultimate guide to the Sewing Bee page do take a look. In this first sewing bee episode we welcome back the three judges Patrick Grant, Esme Young and comedian Joe Lycett and twelve fresh faced contestants for the first of ten episodes!

This first week eases the contestants in with everyday wardrobe staples. The challenges included making a sleeveless top, refashioning men’s t-shirts and making a made-to-measure buffet dress for a model. 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  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.

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

Pattern Challenge 1: Sew a wardrobe staple sleeveless blouse

The first challenge of the new series was to sew a wardrobe staple sleeveless top called a shell blouse. A shell blouse is a sleeveless, slip-on collarless blouse that sometimes has a cap sleeve. This style of top was really popular during the 1960s. The pattern that was featured in this episode was sleeveless with bust darts, a full facing and button closing at the back. The pattern was formed of seven pattern pieces with a double turned hem.

We have lots of pattern suggestions for you to make your own shell top below, with the closet match being the Shift Dress and Top from Sew Over It.


Sew Over It – Shift Dress and Top

The Ultimate Shift Dress sewing pattern from Sew Over It is perfect for a beginner dressmaker. Learn how to create bust darts and attach all-in-one facings like a pro. With no tricky zips or buttonholes to master, simply pop the dress on over your head and fasten with a hook and eye. But don’t forget, this pattern has loads of options for customisation, including adding sleeves, sleeve frills and making a dress.

Sizing: UK 8 – 20. Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.

We would also recommend taking a look at these shell top options from other independent designers.


Helen’s Closet – Ashton Top

The Ashton Top is an all-season wardrobe staple that is easy to sew and style! Wear it during cooler months with jeans and a cardigan, or pair it with shorts for summer. The Ashton has bust darts and a signature A-line shape. View A is a hip-length top and View B is a crop top, ideal for pairing with high-waisted pants or skirts. Both views have the option to finish the neck and arms with an all-in-one facing or bias binding. The hem is finished using a beautiful hem facing. The Ashton makes a great stash-buster!

Sizing: 0 – 30 (approx. UK 6 – 30). This pattern includes two size options. There is a B-cup pattern for sizes 0 – 22 and a D-cup pattern for sizes 12 – 30.  Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or PDF + printed copy shop.


Grainline – Willow Tank

Willow is a versatile and reliable staple for your warm weather wardrobe. It’s fitted at the shoulders and falls into a relaxed fit below the bust. It’s unfussy and can be made into a dress or a tank top. Wear it to a picnic or on an elegant evening out. For those of you who want a helping hand with this pattern, check out the sew-along.

Sizing: US 0 – 18 (approx. UK 8 – 18). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Liesl and Co – Breezy Blouse

This easy-to-sew and easy-to-wear pull-on, loose-fitting, sleeveless blouse features a keyhole back opening, side panels to provide a contrast fabric option, darts for shaping, and separate pattern pieces for A/B, C, and D cups to enhance fit. The pattern eliminates side seams for a fun and unusual take on a slightly boxy top, and it has a gentle shaped hem and bias facings at the neck and arms.

Sizing: US 0 – 20 with A/B, C, and D cups (approx. UK 8 – 20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper or PDF.


Cashmerette – Springfield Top

Make room in your closet for the Springfield Top! This woven shell is ideal for layering under a cardigan or pairing with dark jeans and your favorite heels. View A features a loose, swingy silhouette and optional hem band, while View B uses back princess seams to beautifully skim your curves. Both variations have scooped necklines, back yokes, and comfortably split side seams. Bring on the weekend!

Sizing: US 12 – 28 (approx. UK 14 – 30) in three cup sizes (C/D, E/F, G/H). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.

Transformation Challenge 2: Refashioning t-shirts

In the upcycling challenge contestants had to use men’s t-shirts to create a completely new outfit for a man, woman or child. 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.


Made-To-Measure Challenge 3: Buffet dress

In the final challenge of week one, all the contestants had to make a buffet dress to fit a model in just five hours. The style of the buffet dress could be interpreted however the contestants liked, but most of the dresses had multiple tiered skirts and loose fitting sleeves. The buffet dress is loose fitting and fit our high streets in 2019, selling hundreds of thousands since. It is a fall dress without a defined waist, so you can eat as much as you like when wearing it! These patterns will be tricky to sew because of the amount of fabric needed and all the gathering to be done. For each contestant we have tried to find the pattern they used in the BBC1 TV show and also have some other suggestions of similar patterns you could use to make your own version.

Cathryn’s Cactus print Buffet Dress

Features: Wrap over dress with two layers of skirt ruffles, matching waist tie and fluted sleeves.

Pattern: McCall’s M7970. Loose-fitting, pullover dress that comes in two lengths with an elasticised waist. Version A has skirt flounces, version C and D have a multi-tiered skirt and side front slit with optional belt.

Sizing: A5 (6-8-10-12-14), E5 (14-16-18-20-22), approx. UK sizes A5 (4/6 – 10), E5 (10 – 18/20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Adam’s ’70s Cruise’ Buffet Dress

Features: High neck with tie bow, full length split sleeves and ruffle skirt. Adam made the dress in a chiffon paisley print.

Pattern: The Friday Pattern Company – Wilder GownThe Wilder Gown is a loose, flowy, tiered dress that can be sewn up in a bunch of different ways! It has raglan sleeves and ties up at the neck. It’s easy to sew and perfect for drapey woven fabrics. The Wilder Gown can be made as a top or dress, long or short sleeved, with one skirt tier or two. The design is fairly modular so it is easy to customize to your vision! Adam hacked the sleeves to create full length split sleeves.

Sizing: XS – 4X (approx. UK 6 – 28). Available in the shop: Yes, paper, PDF or PDF + copy shop.


Rebecca’s Mum’s Buffet Dress

Features: V-neck dress in a floral print with gathered cuffs and a v-shaped ruffle skirt.

Pattern: Simplicity 8875.

Sizing: . H5 (6-8-10-12-14) R5 (14-16-18-20-22), approx. UK sizes H5 (4/6 – 10), R5 (10– 18/20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Raph’s Broderie Anglaise Buffet Dress

Features: Four types of Broderie Anglaise fabric, hand dyed in mustard with multiple ruffles.

Pattern: A similar pattern to use for this would be McCalls M7969. This very loose-fitting, pullover dress has sleeve variations, neck binding, raised waistline and narrow hem. Versions B and C have sleeve and hem ruffles.

Sizing: Y (XS-S-M), ZZ (L-XL-XXL), approx. UK sizes Y (4 – 10), ZZ (12 – 24). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Julie’s Broderie Anglaise Buffet Dress

Features: Lined bodice with ruffle sleeves and two tiered skirt.

Jean’s Roomy Buffet Dress

Features: Bell sleeves with double box pleat tiered skirt.

Pattern: McCalls M7948. This dresses has a back opening with thread loop and eye and sleeve variations. Versions A and B have side pockets and a pleated skirt. Version C and D have a gathered skirt with ruffle.

Sizing: A5 (6-8-10-12-14), E5 (14-16-18-20-22), approx. UK sizes A5 (4/6 – 10), E5 (10 – 18/20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Andrew’s Crocheted Buffet Dress

Features: Crocheted neckline with gathered sleeves and ruffle skirt with handmade tie.

Pattern: Simplicity S8872. A pullover dress with capped, Bishop or short sleeve options. There are two skirt variations, both with ruffles and optional crochet neckline with ties.

Sizing: D5 (4-6-8-10-12) P5 (12-14-16-18-20) approx. UK sizes D5 (4/6 – 8), P5 (8– 16). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Adeena’s South Asian Buffet Dress

Features: Contrasting bodice and ruffle hem panels with ornate loop detail.

Pattern: This one got us stumped! If you have any ideas, please let us know.


Damien’s ‘Royal Ascot Ladies Day’ Buffet Dress

Features: Ruffle skirt with gathered sleeves and eyelet closure front.

Pattern: A similar pattern to use for this would be Simplicity S8551. The dress and tunic both have neckline and sleeve variations including a lace up neckline or pintucks and sleeves to suit your style.

Sizing: D5 (4-6-8-10-12) P5 (12-14-16-18-20) approx. UK sizes D5 (4/6 – 8), P5 (8– 16). Available in the shopYes, paper pattern.


Farie’s Chic Buffet Dress

Features: Lined fitted bodice with key hole front opening, cape sleeves and three tiered skirt.

Pattern: A pattern with similar sleeves is the Vogue Patterns V9239. This pattern offers a choice of six dresses. The bodices are fitted and have front and back princess seams, full or slim skirt, and sleeve variations. There are separate pattern pieces included for cup sizes A, B, C and D to achieve the perfect fit.

Sizing: A5 (6-8-10-12-14), E5 (14-16-18-20-22), approx. UK sizes A5 (4/6 – 10), E5 (10 – 18/20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Lawratu’s ‘Who Doesn’t Love a Pocket?’ Buffet Dress

Features: Round neck dress with ruffle skirt, deep pockets and cuffed sleeves.

Pattern: McCalls M8085. A loose-fitting, pull-on dress with length variations and hem ruffle option. Sleeveless, long or short sleeves.

Sizing: Y (XS-S-M), ZZ (L-XL-XXL), approx. UK sizes Y (4 – 10), ZZ (12 – 24). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Serena’s ‘Ode to Villanelle’ Buffet Dress

Features: Classic fitted bodice with Bishop sleeves and ruffle skirt.

Pattern: By Hand London – Eloise Dress.

Available in the shop: Unfortunately not.

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1 thought on “The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 – Series 7 Episode 1 – Sewing Patterns

  1. Love the Jacket Kate.

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