Kate Underdown

HURRAY The Sewing Bee is baacckkk!

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 first 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 first episode we welcome back the three judges Patrick Grant, Esme Young and comedian Joe Lycett (formally known as Hugo Boss) and twelve fresh faced contestants. This is the biggest sewing bee there has ever been, lasting ten episodes!

This first week eased the contestants in with the wardrobe staples theme. The challenges included making a wrap skirt, refashioning two men’s work shirts and making a made-to-measure tea 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 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.

Sewing Bee: Pattern Picks

Challenge 1: Sew a wardrobe staple wrap skirt

The first challenge of the new series was to sew a wardrobe staple wrap skirt. The classic wrap skirt first appeared in fashion in the 1920s but was made popular in the 1970s by Diane von Furstenberg. The pattern that featured in this episode was a skirt wrapped over to the left side and was fixed in place with a button and rouleau loop. Fabric choice for this pattern was key, with a woven essential to get a crisp finish to the waistband and topstitching a non-stretched hem. We have lots of pattern suggestions for you to make your own wrap skirt below.

Lenaline Patterns – Katya Skirt

Katya is an apron-style wrap skirt with darts at the front and back and an attached waistband with a hidden button by Lenaline Patterns. This skirt is easy to make and easy to wear. Created as a midi skirt, you can, of course, shorten it. You can wear it with sneakers and a T-shirt or with high heels and a blouse. Make with suede, denim, gabardine, velvet, chambray or jacquard.

Sizing: EU 36 – 48 (approx. UK 8 – 16/18). Available in the shop: Yes, PDF pattern.


In The Folds – Wrap skirt (FREE)

The Wrap skirt is a three-quarter length skirt with a waist tie, that sits on the natural waist designed by In The Folds in collaboration with Peppermint Magazine. The skirt features front and back waist darts, french seams and a buttonhole to feed the waist tie through. The Wrap skirt is compatible with a wide range of fabrics. For a soft silhouette, consider using: lightweight cotton, linen, viscose / rayon or silk. For a more structured silhouette, consider using mid to heavy-weight fabrics such as: cotton drill, linen, denim or wool.

Sizing: Approx. UK size 6 – 24. Available in the shop: This is a free pattern, follow the link to download the files directly from the designer’s website.


Workshop – Sarah Wraparound skirt

Sarah is a beautiful, draped wraparound skirt with a flattering tied waist designed by Workshop. She’s super simple to make and perfect dressed up or dressed down. Make with a lightweight to medium-weight fabric with a good drape. Pattern hacks are also available to give your skirt a pleated asymmetric detail or to transform your skirt into a strappy dress. The option are endless!

Sizing: Approx. UK size 6/8 – 16. Available in the shop: Yes as paper or PDF.


Closet Case Patterns – Fiore Skirt

Part of the Rome Collection, the Fiore Skirt is a chic, high-waisted A-line skirt with just the right amount of flare and volume designed by Closet Case Patterns. A beginner friendly pattern with multiple variations, this elevated basic has tons of outfit potential. Available in above or below the knee lengths, the Fiore Skirt has three views. View A is a simple flared skirt with an invisible zipper at the back. View B is an asymmetrical wrap skirt with single hip pocket. View C buttons up the front with curved patch pockets.

Sizing: 0 – 20 (approx. UK 6 – 20). Available in the shop: Yes as paper pattern.


I AM Patterns – Perrine Skirt

Slightly low-rise and flared, Perrine is a skirt with a flap that wraps at the front designed by I AM Patterns. It closes on the side with an invisible zipper and finishes with a button to give it a graphic touch. Make in flannel, check suiting, tartan, tweed, denim or wool broadcloth.

Sizing: EU 36 – 46 (approx. UK 6 – 14). Available in the shop: Yes as PDF and paper pattern.


Sew DIY – Nita Wrap Skirt

The Nita Wrap Skirt designed by Sew DIY is a fitted wrap skirt that sits at the natural waist with an angled front, three length options and three waistband closure options. The pattern features waist darts, a built in front facing and optional lining. Make the mini length in denim or corduroy for a versatile casual skirt. Combine a neutral twill with the midi-length for a sophisticated look that will take you from the office to happy hour in style.

Sizing: 00 – 22 (approx. UK 6 – 22). Available in the shop: Yes as PDF and copy shop.


Common Stitch – Bellbird wrap skirt

The Bellbird Wrap Skirt is a simple everyday staple and a perfect addition to your wardrobe by Common Stitch. Wear it over your bikini or pair with the Bellbird Blouse. This piece can be as versatile as you please. You could lengthen this skirt if you wanted to match the pattern featured on the TV show more closely. Fabric suggestions include linen and cotton.

Sizing: US/UK 6 – 20. Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern in sizes 6 – 12 or 14 – 20.

Challenge 2: Refashioning men’s work shirts

In the upcycling challenge contestants has to use two men’s work shirts 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.

Most of the shirts were refashioned into mini skirts with multiple panels or button down fronts. There was also a halter neck dress, tunic top with bias binding and corset.

Challenge 3: Made-to-measure Tea dress

In the final challenge of week one, all the contestants had to make a tea dress to fit a model. The style of the tea dress could be interpreted however the contestants liked, so the garments produced ranged from classic vintage style tea dresses to modern 90s inspired dresses. The tea dress became popular in the mid to late 1800s, where women would wear them to attend private tea parties. Originally called a tea gown, since then it has been transformed into a midi-dress and popularised in the 1940s as a tea dress for dances. 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.

Matt’s ‘Prim and Proper’ Tea Dress

Features: Peter Pan collar and bow and belt.

Pattern: 1940s Tea Frock no. 147403 (Reproduction pattern – Copyright My Vintage Wish 2016.)

Sizing: Individual sizing. Available in the shop: No, take a look at reselling sites such as Etsy and Ebay.

Clare’s ’40s floral’ tea dress

Features: block colour and 1940s floral fabric.

Pattern: Butterick B6485. Loose-fitting dress has back zipper, front tuck detail, attached tie ends and sleeve variations. Circa 1944.

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

Peter’s ‘festival’ tea dress

Features: short capped sleeves and shawl-style collar.

Pattern: Butterick 6130, version A. Dress and jumpsuit (loose-fitting through bust) have bias collar, lined bodice and midriff, and back zipper. A: self-lined sleeves. A, B and C: princess seams. D: wide-legged. All are semi-fitted through hips.

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

Mark’s ‘flower power’ tea dress

Features: billowing skirt with pockets and bell sleeves.

Pattern: Vogue® Patterns V9239. Fitted bodice dresses have front and back princess seams, full or slim skirt, and sleeve variations. Separate pattern pieces are included for cup sizes A, B, C, D.

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

Nicole’s ‘Caribbean Carnival’ tea dress

Features: ornate waist tie and tassel trim.

Pattern: Vogue® Patterns V2784 Donna Karan.

Sizing: 8 – 22. Available in the shop: No, this pattern is no longer in print but search on reselling sites such as Etsy and Ebay.

Fiona’s ‘Floral Ruffle’ tea dress

Features: ruffled hem with 90s abstract floral print.

Pattern: Simplicity S8875.

Sizing: 6 – 22. Available in the shop: No, this pattern is available directly from Sew Direct.

Angillia’s ‘Elegant’ tea dress

Features: intricate gathers across the skirt and bodice.

Pattern: Simplicity S8249, version B. Cynthia Rowley

Sizing: 6 – 22. Available in the shop: No, this pattern is no longer in print, take a look at reselling sites such as Etsy and Ebay.

Alex’s ‘Dance floor’ tea dress

Features: cold shoulder sleeves with a split front skirt.

Pattern: This has been a tricky one and we are not sure what pattern it is, let us know if you’ve worked it out! A similar pattern you could adapt is: McCall’s 7898. This dress is fitted through bust and fully self-lined with invisible back zipper and hook and eye.

Sizing: 6 – 22. Available in the shop: Yes, paper pattern in sizes 6 – 14 or 14 – 22.

Ali’s ‘Country Fair’ tea dress

Features: button down polka dot placket and handkerchief hem.

Pattern: Simplicity S8384. Shirt dress in a variety of lengths and hemlines plus cut line to make a top. All have collarless rounded neckline with 3 buttons at bodice front and can be made sleeveless or with short sleeves. Dress features a handkerchief hem in knee and midcalf lengths or a straight hemline to the ankle. Top features three quarter sleeves with small side slits.

Sizing: 6 – 24. Available in the shop: No, this pattern is available directly from Sew Direct.

Hazel’s ‘African Wax Print’ tea dress

Features: contrasting fabric panels with a pleated hem.

Pattern: This has been a tricky one and we are not sure what pattern it is, let us know if you’ve worked it out! A similar pattern you could adapt is the Sew Over It Tea dress. The 1940’s tea dress sewing pattern from Sew Over It is perfect for an intermediate dressmaker. The dress features a gathered bust detail, a panelled midriff and skirt, flattering elbow length sleeves and lovely contrast cuffs. You could swap the sleeve for a fluted one and add a ruffle hem.

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

Thérèse’s ’50s swirly’ tea dress

Features: classic sleeveless 1950s dress with lined bodice.

Pattern: This pattern is very similar to the Sew Over It Betty dress. Inspired by the iconic Betty Draper from Mad Men. The dress features a fitted bodice, a full circle skirt and closes with an invisible zip at the centre back. This dress is flattering on most body types and it’s actually a fairly simple make, you’ll be twirling in it in no time! One thing to note this that this won’t work well with directional prints. Make in a medium weight cotton, cotton lawn, rayon or crepe.

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


Liz’s ’90s ditsy grunge’ tea dress

Features: double split skirt and button down front.

Pattern: We are fairly sure this is the Shelby Dress and Romper from True Bias. Shelby is a princess-seamed dress or romper with four views. Each has a V-shaped neckline, front button opening, and back waist tie. Views A and B are dresses with a traditional short sleeve. View A is a mini dress hitting mid-thigh, while View B is a longer dress that ends around the ankle. Views C and D are rompers with a cap sleeve. The romper gives the illusion of being a dress with the coverage of a short or pant. View C is a mini length romper hitting mid-thigh, while View D’s hem ends just above the ankle.

Sizing: 0 – 18 (approx. UK 8 – 20). Available in the shop: Yes, paper and PDF.

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