Kate Underdown

Here we go, it’s week four 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 fourth 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 fourth episode there are nine contestants remaining, after we sadly said goodbye to Fiona in week three. The sewing bee theme for week four is sportswear! The challenges included making a rugby shirt, transforming cagoules into miniature waterproof onesies for toddlers and making a made-to-measure tennis outfit. 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 want to chat about the episode and the challenges then do join us each week in our Facebook group event.

If you are looking for activewear patterns not featured in the sewing bee episode this week you can search our shop for sewing patterns for women’s and men’s sportswear here.

Sewing Bee: Pattern Picks

Challenge 1: Rugby shirt

The first challenge of the sewing bee week four is to sew a rugby shirt. This was a tricky task for the contestants because it involved sewing with a mix of fabrics and inserting a placket with buttons. The pattern had 11 pieces including collar and cuffs. This is also a difficult challenge because of the different types of fabrics needed to complete the garment. The rugby shirt was first made from quite thick cotton to cope with the rough and tumble of the scrum. The collars were short to stop other players holding onto them during a tackle and they had stripes to represent the club team. Rugby shirts are now fashionable as high street casual wear and come in a variety of styles, having been popularised by rugby fans in the 1950s. Here we have some suggestions of rugby style shirt sewing patterns you could sew for yourself or family and friends from this BBC1 sewing bee episode.

Laela Jeyne – Men’s Emmett T-shirt

Polo, Henley or standard T-shirt — we’ve got you covered with the Emmett pattern as it comes with three variations including short and long sleeve options plus different collar styles. Laela Jeyne patterns also come with illustrated instructions and detailed fitting adjustments so you can blend sizes and change the length easily.

Sizing: Men’s XS – 3X. Available in the shop: Yes, PDF and we can print A0 copy shop for you too.


Vogue® Patterns – Men’s Top V9378

This close-fitting, pullover shirt has multiple contrasts, collar, collar band and topstitching trim. Sew using moderate stretch knits only (35% cross grain) such as a cotton knit or jersey.

Sizing: Men’s MUU (34-36-38-40) or MXX (40-42-44-46). Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Wardrobe by Me – Men’s Draper Polo shirt

Draper Polo is a classic men’s polo shirt with front placket, collar and optional front pocket. The side slit is slightly longer in the back, and the pattern includes two sleeve lengths. The pattern is designed for a relaxed fit with 3.5” / 8 cm ease in the chest. The polo is suitable for knit fabric from French terry to specialty knit. Choose a fabric with or without Lycra in a light to medium weight. The pattern also includes option for a basic T-shirt.

Sizing: Men’s 2XS-3XL. Available in the shop: No, available directly from the designer.


Merchant and Mills – The Rugby

Kick off your day with this feminine semi-fitted take on the traditional rugby shirt. Make a try for contrast collar, cuffs and placket or stand firm in a solid colour throughout. Make with linen or light wools, light to medium weight woven cottons such as drill or sanded canvas.

Sizing: Women’s UK 6 – 18. Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.


Jalie – Child and Men’s polo shirt 3137

A modern polo shirt for children and men with standing collar, buttoned placket, back yoke and forward shoulder seam, short (A) or long (B) banded sleeve, two chest pockets with flaps, side seam slits and optional shoulder tabs. Make with knit fabric that has 40% stretch across the grain and in the length.

Sizing: Child ages 2 – 13 / Men EU 34 – 52. Available in the shop: No, available directly from the designer.


Challenge 2: Transforming cagoules into miniature waterproof onesies for toddlers

In the upcycling challenge contestants had to use cagoules to transform them into miniature waterproof onesies for toddlers. 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 tennis outfit

In the final challenge of week four, all the contestants had to make a tennis outfit. Tennis become popular during Victorian times in the UK and female players would wear restrictive dresses with high collars and long sleeves. So called ‘tennis whites’ were mandatory for players at Wimbledon as early as 1890. As the decades moved on and fashion changed, so did the outfits for playing matches. In the 1920s flapper-style headbands were all the rage on court but it wasn’t until the 1930s that more suitable cotton polo shirts were made. By the 1950s and 60s it was short pleated skirts, shorts and tunics, popularised by tennis icons such as Virginia Wade that were commonplace on court. In recent years the modern style of tennis outfits has been heavily influenced by brand endorsements and players are seen wearing a wide variety of outfits. 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.


Mark’s ‘Vintage with a twist’ tennis outfit

Features: Lycra, in-seam pockets and contrasting side panels.

Pattern: Vintage Simplicity 5696. 1970s sports dress pattern and bathing suit with two styles of shorts.

Sizing: Single sizing. Available in the shop: Out of print, try third party selling sites such as Ebay and Etsy.


Hazel’s ‘1970s cotton poplin’ tennis outfit

Features: V-neck top with arms eye darts, waistband and classic pleated skirt.

Pattern: Self-drafted.

Sizing: N/A. Available in the shop: N/A.


Clare’s ‘Science nerd’ tennis outfit

Ali’s ‘Bold Floral’ tennis outfit

Features: Lycra all-in-one outfit with racerback and ball pocket.

Pattern: Jalie Anne-Marie tanks and dress 3463. Fitted racerback tanks and dress with built-in bra and optional pocket at the back. Make with knit fabric that has 60% stretch in the length and across the width.

Sizing: 27 sizes, girls aged 2 – 13, women EU 34 – 52. Available in the shop: No, available directly from the designer.


Liz’s ‘Punky’ tennis outfit

Features: Ra-ra skirt with sports bra and drop sleeve tank top.

Pattern: You could recreate Liz’s pattern combination by using the Thread Faction Studio Ladies Sports Skort and the Classic Sports Bra by Patterns for Pirates.

Thread Faction Studio  – Ladies Sports Skort no. 203

The ladies sports skort is a knit sewing pattern and includes 5 skirt style options; a straight skirt, a pleated skirt, a flounce skirt, a flat front/flounce back skirt and a flat front/pleated back skirt. All skirt styles include a yoke and an optional back zippered pocket. All versions are mid rise, with an elastic waistband. The included shorts have 2 inseam lengths. The skirts and shorts are finished with simple hems.

Sizing: XXS to XXL. Available in the shop: No, available directly from the designer.


Patterns for Pirates – Classic Sports Bra

The Classic Sports Bra is a wonderful staple item in your pattern collection and wardrobe. You can create a comfortable light impact lounge wear bra from cotton spandex or other comfortable knit fabrics with high 4 way stretch (double brushed poly). Or create a medium impact sports bra using heavier weight athlethic knits like supplex, atheltic brushed poly, and other athlethic knits. You can add more support by inner-lining with power mesh, power net, techsheen. You can use the removable cup option to slide cups in and out for more coverage when wanted. You can choose from a lighter support 2 row hook and eye back closer or a more supportive 3 row hook and eye back closure. You can also choose between those 2 elastic band widths paired with a full back option. The hook and eye bra back closure option is so nice for getting the tight sports bra on and off!

Sizing: XXS – XXL and Plus 1X –  Plus 5X. Available in the shop: No, available directly from the designer.


Therese’s ‘All-black’ tennis outfit

Features: Round neckline with contrasting metallic side panels, inspired by Serena Williams.

Pattern: Vintage McCalls 4466. Printed in 1975. A tennis dress pattern with shorts and bonus racket cover. Princess dress A with ruffling, or B with flexible trimming has neckbands and back zipper. Lined shorts have elastic in casings, version A has a ruffling. The tennis racket cover has patch pocket, ruffling and a zipper in back opening.

Sizing: Single sizing. Available in the shop: Out of print, try third party selling sites such as Ebay and Etsy.


Peter’s ‘Multi-purpose’ tennis outfit

Features: Neon zip, stand up collar with draped pockets.

Pattern: Butterick 6241 dress. A pullover Dress (fitted through bust) with collar, yokes, side-front seams, draped pockets, exposed front zipper, stitched hems, and Topstitching. Version A has a double collar, outer collar and sleeves, raw edge finish; purchased drawstring for inner collar. Designed for medium-weight moderate stretch knits. Make with French Terry or jersey.

Sizing: 6 – 14 or 14 – 22. Available in the shop: Out of print, try third party selling sites such as Ebay and Etsy.


Nicole’s ‘Retro towelling’ tennis outfit

Features: Crew neck retro top with Terry towelling shorts.

Pattern: To recreate Nicole’s outfit you could use the vintage Butterick 5378 or a combination of GreenStyle Creations Centerfield Raglan t-shirt and the Thread Faction Studio Gym Retro shorts.

Vintage Butterick 5378

Tennis Dress, shorts and visor sewing pattern. The tennis dress has fitted bodice with scoop neckline and cutaway armholes, fitted bias inset midriff, flared skirt, and topstitch trim. The lined shorts are worn slightly below the waistline and have elasticated edges. The visor comes as one size and has a self brim and head band, which is elasticated at back.

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


GreenStyle Creations – Centerfield Raglan t-shirt

Now you can make this basic wardrobe staple yourself and put your own spin on each and every one.  Make the shirt with contrasting colors, make it with lace sleeves or a lace covered bodice, make it with long sleeve and make one with short sleeve.  You can also keep things basic with the original 3/4 sleeves and curved hemline, or mix things up and make it with ruched side seams and ruched sleeves.

Sizing: XXS up to a 3XL. Available in the shop: No, available directly from the designer.


Thread Faction Studio – Gym Retro shorts no. 206

The Gym Retro shorts are a knit sewing pattern that features a bound contrast leg opening, side stripe and an anti-twist elastic waist. With a classic retro look and the comfort of the knit fabric the #206 shorts are fantastic casual shorts for everything from riding your bike to lounging on the couch.

Sizing: XXS to XXL. Available in the shop: No, available directly from the designer.


Matt’s ‘1980s Neon’ tennis outfit

Features: Top with contrasting raglan sleeves and collar paired with pleated skirt.

Pattern: The top is McCalls 7574. These close-fitting, pullover tops, tunic and dress have raglan sleeves and sleeve and length variations. Version D has an uneven hem (wrong side of fabric will show). Make using moderate stretch knits (35% cross grain): jersey, rib knit, interlock and cotton knits.

Sizing: UK 6 – 14 and 14 – 22. Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern.

For the skirt you could try the Thread Faction ladies Skort mentioned above for Liz’ ‘punky’ tennis outfit or a children’s option would be the Thread Faction Studio Tennis lesson skort.

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.

Sewing a placket

Heather at Closet Case files shares a tutorial on how to sew a standard button placket as part of the Kalle Shirt sewalong.

Sewing with sportswear fabrics

Seamwork and Melissa Fehr have teamed up to provide you with a guide to sewing with activewear fabrics.

Leave a comment
All comments are moderated before being published.

Read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Related posts



    It's semi final week on the Sewing Bee! This week we are celebrating fashion icons with a Coco Chanel inspired made to measure.