The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 – Sewing Patterns – Series 7 Episode 4
It’s week four of the Sewing Bee!
This week we move on from gent’s classics to global inspired makes. For episode four 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 matches or inspired by the designs used in the fourth 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. Unfortunately at the end of episode three we said goodbye to Lawratu after three gent’s challenges.
For episode four the theme was global. The challenges included making a French Breton top, an outfit from sarongs and a made-to-measure outfit inspired by Frida Kahlo. 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: French Breton top
The first challenge of the fourth episode was to sew a French Breton top. In Northern France in the late 1850s the Breton cotton shirt was introduced as the uniform for French navy seaman, characterised with blue sailor stripes. It was designed to help see sailors if they fell overboard and the original shirt had 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories. In 1917, Coco Chanel introduced stripes into her nautical collection after she was inspired by the sailors’ uniform on a trip to the French coast. The striped top was designed to be worn with flared trousers. The garment continues to be a wardrobe staple through the decades, popularised by Pablo Picasso, James Dean and Kate Moss. The contestants are challenged with creating perfectly matched horizontal stripes, a flat wide-set boat neckline, and a button placket.
For our full range of jersey top sewing patterns, take a look here.
Audrey Hepburn was already in love with the elegant boat neck in the 1950s. Brigitte Bardot continued the affair and we’ve been head over heels ever since. This top is simple, classic and timeless. Made up in a striped jersey, there’s no doubt that Afra will be besties with your jeans!
Sizing: XS – XXXL (approx. UK 6 – 28/30). Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or PDF + printed copy shop.
I am Milor, a classic t-shirt with a delicate boat neckline. You can sew me in four versions, as my neckline can be finished in two ways (with or without bias tape) and I have two sleeve lengths. I am easy to sew and easy to wear. In a stripy fabric for a weekend at the seaside or in a plain jersey underneath a jacket for a relaxed meeting, I am perfect everywhere you go.
Sizing: 36 – 46 (approx. UK 6 – 14). Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or paper.
Coco Top and Dress – Tilly and the Buttons
Fill your wardrobe with classic Breton tops, cosy knit dresses and sixties-style funnel necks with the Coco Top and Dress – all from the same pattern and no overlocker or serger required! Choose from top or dress length, boat neckline or funnel roll neck, and long or three quarter sleeves. Make it your own with optional rolled cuffs and patch pockets.
Sizing: 1 – 10 (UK 6 – 24). Available in the shop: Yes, paper.
With a classic 50s-inspired slash neckline, a long-line body for extra comfort and three different sleeve options, the Gable Top will become your new go-to knit top pattern. Gable is perfect for wearing all year round — layered with dresses and cardigans on chilly mornings, or worn on its own with 3/4 skinny jeans or a high-waisted skirt à la Audrey in spring. Gable is a stylish weekend basic that can also be dressed up and added to your office outfit rotation.
Sizing: UK 6 – 24. Available in the shop: Yes, paper, PDF or PDF + copy shop.
Brigitte is a fitted, classic boat neck (bateau) top with set-in sleeves. The pattern includes four sleeve length options: cap, elbow, three-quarter and full length.
Sizing: UK 6 – 16. Available in the shop: Yes, paper.
I am a sailor shirt. My unique neckline gives me a modern look. My dress version is perfect to go to the beach. You can wear me all year long in any colour.
Sizing: EU 36 – 46 (approx. UK 6 – 14). Available in the shop: Yes, paper or PDF.
Transformation Challenge 2: Refashioning sarongs into a new outfit
In the upcycling challenge contestants had to use sarongs to create a completely new outfit. 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: An outfit inspired by Frida Kahlo
In the final challenge of week four, all the remaining contestants had to make an outfit inspired by Frida Kahlo in just five and a half hours. Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who is famed for her portraits and self-portraits. Inspired by Mexican nature and popular culture, she explored many of the issues affecting Mexican society. It wasn’t until the 1970s that her work was rediscovered, becoming an icon for feminist and LGBTQ+ movements. More recently, you may be familiar with the exhibition at the V&A Museum in London, which presented a collection of her extraordinary personal artefacts and clothing. 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 sewing patterns you could use to make your own version.
Farie’s ‘Broken Column’ Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: Puff sleeves with and oversized bow and frayed jacquard spine.
Pattern: Self-drafted. A similar pattern that you could hack would be the Simplicity S9012. This Cynthia Rowley loose-fitting mini-dress or top has an optional belt. Neckline gathered to ruffle, stand up collar and raglan sleeves with tiered frills.
Sizing: A (XS-XL) approx. UK sizes A (4/6 – 20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.
Damien’s ‘Frida Kahlo self portrait’ inspired outfit
Features: Lace eyebrow and boned bodice.
Pattern: McCalls M6838. This dress has princess seams, a close-fitting, underlined and lined, boned bodice, skirt variations and an invisible back zipper. There is also an overskirt with a very narrow hem (wrong side will show).
Sizing: A5 (6-14), E5 (14-22), approx. UK sizes A5 (4/6 – 10), E5 (10 – 18/20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.
Rebecca’s ‘hot pink’ off the shoulder Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: Net frill with gathered three layer skirt.
Pattern: Similar patterns that could be hacked to recreate this outfit are the Dominique Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons paired with the New Look 6507 top (not available in the online shop).
This is the ideal project for a novice stitcher, or a satisfying one hour make for more experienced dressmakers. Designed to be super simple for beginners, the straight skirt features straight seams to practise your stitching and an elasticated waistband for an easy fit – no fiddly zips or buttonholes! Choose from knee length or above-the-knee, and add the optional turnover top patch pockets. The flared version of the skirt is slightly more challenging, as it’s cut on the bias and we suggest a drapier fabric for a flowing silhouette. Choose from knee length or an on-trend midi hemline, with optional turnover top pockets, belt loops and an elegant sash.
Sizing: 1 – 10 (UK 6 – 24). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.
Adeena’s ‘Kahlo-esque’ Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: Fitted bodice with sweeping skirt.
Pattern: Self-drafted. A similar pattern you could hack would be the Vogue® Patterns V9197. The dress has a close-fitting, lined bodice, skirt cut on crosswise grain, side pockets, narrow hem, topstitching, and a back zipper. Skirt length variations. A: Short sleeves. B: Long sleeves. Note: Includes separate pattern pieces for A, B, C and D cup sizes.
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.
Cathryn’s ‘from Russia with love’ Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: Lace overlay and gathered cuffs.
Pattern: New Look 6540.
Available in the shop: Unfortunately not.
Andrew’s ‘traditional Huipil’ Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: Lined satin Huipil, lined viscose skirt and machine embroidery.
Three Pleat Skirt by The Assembly Line – The Three Pleat Skirt has a pleated front and a plain back. It features a right side pocket and left side zipper opening.
Sizing: XS – L (approx. UK 8 – 18) or XL – 3XL (approx. UK 18/20 – 28/30). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.
Sutton Blouse by True Bias – Sutton is a loose fitting V-neck top with grown-on sleeves, a one piece yoke, and a back inverted pleat. The back is longer than the front, and there are slits at both of the lower side seams.
Sizing: 0 – 18 (approx. UK 8 – 20). Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or PDF + printed copy shop pattern.
Raph’s ‘modern Huipil’ with cord culottes Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: embroidered appliqué with curved panels.
Pattern: A similar match would be the Esther pants from Victory Patterns with the Peggy Top from Workshop (for the curved back panels).
The front features two angled overlapping pleats and centre seams along the legs. Front slash pockets follow the angles of the pleats. This style sits at the natural waist with a straight waistband and closes with an invisible zipper and button at the centre back. Esther can be sewn full-length or cropped just below mid-calf. An optional sash can be added to either style.
Sizing: 0 – 16 (approx. UK 6 – 18). Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or PDF + printed copy shop.
Peggy is simple yet elegant. The understated front compliments the wrapover back detail which gives a subtle open back. She’s a super quick make.
Sizing: UK 6/8 – 16. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or PDF + Copy Shop.
Adam’s ‘puff sleeve’ Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: Covered buttons.
Pattern: A similar pattern would be the Lin Jumpsuit by Selkie Patterns. The Lin Jumpsuit features a flattering square neckline with a fitted bodice, princess seams and side trouser pockets. It has a tie waistband that cinches you in and can be tied at the front or back. The Lin can be worn to the office, cocktail hour, on a park stroll…pretty much anywhere! This stylish jumpsuit comes with three trouser length options: a full length straight cut, capri and a retro playsuit length. For the sleeves you can choose 3/4 length sleeves, mid arm or on-trend puff sleeves. With its clean shape, dash of vintage elements and multiple sleeve and trouser lengths, the Lin is a versatile and trans-seasonal wardrobe staple.
Sizing:UK 6 – 22. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or PDF + printed copy shop pattern.
Serena’s ‘smart top and trouser’ Frida Kahlo inspired outfit
Features: Belt loops and invisible zip.
Botanic Trousers – Pauline Alice. The Botanic Trousers are wide-legged, high-waisted, cropped-length trousers. They feature a double-pleated front, pockets and a removable belt. The waistband sits at the natural waist and has a flat front and elastic back for comfort (no closure needed).
Sizing: EU 34 – 48 (approx. UK 6 – 18). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.
Duo Top – Sew Different. This top is easy to make and great for stash busting.
Sizing: UK 8 – 26. Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.