Great British Sewing Bee

Great British Sewing Bee 2023 – Sewing Patterns S9 Ep3



© The Great British Sewing Bee S9,07/06/2023,3,Sara Pascoe, Esme Young, Patrick Grant, Banke Kuku,Presenter Sara Pascoe with judges Esme Young & Patrick Grant and guest judge Banke Kuku,Love Productions


It’s the third episode of series 9!

In the third episode of The Great British Sewing Bee series 9, 10 contestants are challenged with making a Ghanaian batakari or fugu tunic, transform adore fabric into a dress and sew a made-to-measure boubou robe for a model. For episode three we have put our detective hats on to discover the sewing patterns from independent designers and commercial pattern houses used in Sewing Bee TV show. This week a special guest judge joins Patrick and Esme, Nigerian fashion designer Banke Kuku. The patterns below are all matches or inspired by the designs used in the third episode of the Great British Sewing bee series 9. If you haven’t already seen our ultimate guide to the Sewing Bee  do take a look.

The theme was ‘celebrating west Africa’ and all 10 contestants had to make three garments. The challenges included making a Ghanaian batakari or fugu tunic, upcycling hand-dyed adore fabric into a dress, and a made-to-measure boubou (dramatic flowing wide-sleeved robe worn by men and women) to fit 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: Ghanian batakari or fugu tunic

The first challenge of the third episode was to make a Ghanaian batakari or fugu tunic, which first involves sewing strips of handwoven deboya fabric. Sewers must also choose a facing material. This pattern is a simplified version of the batakari tunic for men. Contestants must sew six godets giving the garment an a-line shape and also create a neckline opening. Here is a Unisex Ghanaian smock sewing patterns you could try to recreate this garment.


Folkwear 158 Unisex Ghanaian smock

This loose-fitting top originated in northern Ghana, but is now worn in many areas of West Africa, and has become popular around the world. It is called fugu or batakari, among other terms, in Ghana, and is generally made from hand-woven strips of fabric with wedge-shaped godets inserted below the chest to give it a flared shape. This pattern is great for fabric artists, weavers, and fabric lovers, as almost any fabric will do, from your own woven strips to regular yardage – just tear or cut it into strips and sew the strips together.

A striking top, the Ghanaian Smock is worn by men and women (the women’s version has elastic at the waist). Men often wear the smock over trousers or shorts, and it can be worn by women over trousers, leggings, or when made longer, as a dress on its own. Long or short sleeved shirts can be worn underneath the smock. A kufi cap completes the outfit and is included in the pattern. Embroidery motifs for the smock are also included.

Sizing: S – XL. Please check the finished garment measurements.. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF or PDF + printed copy shop.


Transformation Challenge 2: Draping Adire fabric

In the upcycling challenge contestants had to upcycle beautiful hand dyed Nigerian adire fabric into a dress by draping on the stand. Specific patterns weren’t used for these tasks as contestants had to create a garment from existing materials 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: Boubou

In the last challenge of episode three, all the contestants had to make a boubou, a dramatic and flowing wide-sleeved robe worn by men and women across west Africa, for their model. Here are our pattern picks for the contestants and where sewing patterns have been self drafted or hacked we have suggested an alternative.


Lizzie’s colour block Boubou

Features: Drawstring ruche and French seams.

Pattern: Self drafted.


Asmaa’s Jellabiya Boubou

Features: Sequinned lace, hood and silk chiffon.

Pattern: Vogue Patterns V8551 (vintage circa 1973). 

Sizing: Individual. Available in the shop: No, out of print. Check reselling sites such as Etsy and Ebay.


Lauren’s Fans Boubou

Features: Diamante trim, Feather trim

Pattern: Simplicity 8657 hacking pattern. 

Available in the shop: Out of print, try reselling sites including Etsy and Ebay.


Fauve’s Fringed Boubou

Features: Fringing, feathers.

Pattern: Vintage Simplicity S5900 (circa 1973). 

Sizing: One size. Available in the shop: Out of print, try reselling sites including Etsy and Ebay.


Maria’s Chiffon Boubou

Features: Gold ribbon, sequin trim

Pattern: Simplicity Vintage Caftans S8505. The ankle-length caftan V. A with back zipper closing has high round neckline, kimono type sleeves, front slit opening and novelty braid trim. Ankle-length caftan V. B with back loop and button closing and “V” shaped neckline has yoke and skirt area gathered to midriff, and inside ties. Simplicity authentic vintage sewing pattern 1970’s.

Sizing: A (S-M-L) approx. UK sizes A (8-14/16) Please check the size chart and finished garment measurements.Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Vicki’s Midi Boubou

Features: Pattern matched with a belt.

Tony’s Billowing Boubous

Features: Feather lace overlay, rounded neckline.

Pattern: Vogue Patterns V1886. This is a reissue of a pattern from 1979. Very loose-fitting, pullover, evening length caftan has front oval and back scooped neckline, side front and side back seams (no side seams), side panels with square armhole, slightly above-elbow length shaped cape sleeves extending to hemline, and narrow hem. Front buttonhole openings at waistline are for purchased cording holding in front fullness. Topstitching. (Note: shading will occur with nap fabrics).

Sizing: A (XS-S-M-L-XL-XXL), approx. UK sizes A (4– 22/24). based on our standardised size chart. Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.



Matthew’s Man’s Boubou

Features: Balloon sleeves, Harness, Ankara wax print.

Pattern: Self-drafted.


Mia’s Puffy Ruffly Boubou

Features: Taffeta ruffles, off the shoulder, tiered skirt.

Pattern: Butterick B6451Very loose-fitting pullover dress has elastic at neckline, and sleeve/hem variations. A, B: Elastic at waist.

Sizing: Y (XS-S-M) ZZ (L-XL-XXL), which is approx. UK sizes Y (4/6 – 8/10), ZZ (12/14– 22/24). based on our standardised size chartAvailable in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Tony’s Flounce Boubou

Features: Psychedelic print, flounce.

Pattern: We are sure about this one, it’s been tricky to find anything similar! If you have a good idea, please let us know.  

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