Are you watching the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee? We were thrilled that the TV show has returned with ten new contestants battling it out to be named the best sewer in Britain. This year the show has a new judge, Joe Lycett, who joins Patrick Grant and Esme Young. If you haven’t seen all the latest news about the show, take a look at the BBC’s dedicated site about all things Bee! You will find contestant profiles, interviews with the judges and episode guides. Also take a look through our blog for other sewing bee posts.
We will be continuing our blog series about the sewing bee today and each week we will be sharing our pattern picks here and also listing them in our shop for easy browsing. All the patterns have been selected for their similar design features and styles to help you recreate these looks at home for your own handmade wardrobes.
Week three: 1970s fashion
In the third episode of the show, contestants had three challenging tasks starting with sewing flared jeans on a vintage sewing machine. Take a look at our pattern suggestions below to recreate this look at home.
The Vogue® Pattern V9181 is a custom-fit pair of bootcut trousers. They are fitted through the hip finishing below the waist with slightly shaped boot-leg trousers, a front button waistband and mock-fly zipper. The faux-fly makes these a great pair of trousers if you are new to trouser making. We really like the fabric used here but you could go bolder for an authentic 70s vibe.
These jeans are fitted at the waist and through to the knee with a flared hem. There is also slim leg, straight leg and boot cut variations too. The trousers have a contoured waistband and fly zipper. A classic jeans style, choose a stretch denim to make these with comfort.
Alternatively these jeans come with a straight or boot leg and side front pockets with inside pocket. There are also all the classic jeans details you would expect including front fly zip closure, back yoke and button hole closure . Plus this pattern comes with fitting tips to help you.
We also want to recommend the McCalls 7547 flared jeans. The great thing about this pattern is that it also comes with an overall option too. So if you are still thinking of making a jumpsuit, as featured in episode one of the Sewing Bee, this pattern ticks all your boxes! Take a look at our video below to learn more about this pattern from the design team as they talk through the styling details.
These New Look trousers are suitable for less experienced dressmakers as there is no fly to worry about, instead it features a side closing invisible zipper. The pattern also includes the suit separates – blouse and cropped jacket with back pleat and flared sleeves. Make the trousers from cotton, linen or stretch wovens.
Our final trouser pattern suggestion is the fabulous Burda Style 6996 with dramatic flared trousers. These Bell-bottoms are very much in the style of the 70s, fitted to the waist and to the hips with a rear zip fastener. Be bold and choose a floral print!
The second challenge was upcycling shirts into punk outfits. A range of patterns were used by contestants and we have shared our favourites below inspired by the show.
One of the garments refashioned for the second challenge was a corset. The New Look 6242 corset top can be made strapless or with a halter. The top also has instructions to feature a lace overlay. The design is softened with a sweetheart neckline and lace up front. Plus as a bonus the pattern also features wide leg Trousers or a full skirt with side zipper to finish this look.
Our second corset recommendation is the Butterick 6151, which is fitted and interfaced with a boned corset and exposed front zipper. All versions are lined and have a bias binding finish. The belt has a small pocket with casing and snap closing. You can’t fail to embrace the punk look with this pattern!
For something simpler, you could try the Burda Style 6313 pattern to recreate the shorts featured in this challenge. It also handily comes with a bell style sleeve blouse (more on these in the next section). This babydoll top and shorts set is charming, with the blouse having options for long sleeves or sleeveless with frills. Both are young and fanciful styles for summer with a yoke, gathered front and back bodice and a back slit.
If you would like to recreate the tie front top from the refashioning challenge then the Simplicity 8601 is a great choice. It’s easy to sew and features tie waist and sleeve variations. Created by K Designs, add a modern touch to this blouse with Simplicity trims on the sleeves.
The final challenge was the most complex with contestants creating 1970s maxi dresses. There was a range of styles featured in the final challenge of 70s vintage week and we thought we would share some of our favourite patterns that could be hacked to create the looks in the show.
This maxi dress is stunning with a close fitting bodice and floaty skirt, closing at the waist with delicate fabric ties. There are several sleeve and neckline variations with this pattern including cold shoulder, neck flounce, neckline ruffle or alternatively capped sleeves. It’s a showstopper and Juliet made a lovely version of this for her final challenge.
This glamorous photoshoot really highlights the stunning details of the Simplicity 8013 dress. It has a 1970s nostalgic faux wrap front and the dress can be made in two lengths, which are lined. It also has the iconic bishop sleeve with an alternative bell option. Fitted with a sash around the waist, this dress will make your feel glamorous for all occasions.
Another 70s classic style pattern, this Vogue® Patterns V9328 dress is close-fitting through the bust. It comes with sleeve and length variations for different occasions. It also has side pockets and a back zipper. Plus it includes separate pieces for A, B, C and D cup sizes. We love the exaggerated sleeves on this dress, which give the pattern added drama.
A recent pattern release, the McCalls 7742 has beautiful gathered and cropped sleeves. It is very loose fitting so ideal for a beginner and features front and back yokes where the bodice gathers into these (the two variations include lots or only a few gathers). There are also three sleeve options. If you want to wear this dress as a maxi, just lengthen the side seams – you may need to add a side slit from the knee to hem for ease of movement.
One of the patterns used in the final challenge had a multiple tiered skirt, so we thought this New Look 6448 dress would be a great option. You can create a variety of looks with this dress as the pattern includes a sleeveless maxi with lace trim, long sleeve maxi with lacing, knee length with short sleeves and lacing, and midi with contrasting neck band. Plenty of styles to keep your handmade wardrobe happy!
We also wanted to share this Butterick B6554 wrap dress, which is fitted at the bodice but comes with length and sleeve variations. Versions B and C have shaped hemlines and flounces with baby narrow hems. Our favourite feature of this dress is the lovely floaty fluted sleeves, which give it an added luxurious feel.
For a simple wrap dress with bell sleeves the McCalls 7406 is a perfect choice. It’s simple design will be quick to sew and you can make it your own using printed fabrics. This pattern is part of the McCalls Learn to Sew for Fun range, specifically designed for beginners. The pattern comes with four very different variations to appeal to all styles, including sleeve and hem variations.
The New Look 6491 dress exudes boho chic and is perfect for a Spring or Summer day with gathered skirt and fitted waistband. The pattern design features a halter top with bow tie at back or cross back with spaghetti straps. Add a trim to the waistband for added style options. With this pattern in your handmade wardrobe, you will be holiday ready!
This New Look 6096 dress also has a number of 70s design features. It comes with several variations which can be styled using different length, sleeve and bodice options. We particularly like the version modelled below, with a gathered neckline and maxi length skirt. Make it look even more 70s with the addition of bell sleeves.
Our final pattern suggestion for this week’s Sewing Bee is for Butterick 6308. This is a pullover maxi dress with skirt variations. It has a bias surplice front bodice, front inset, elasticised waist and narrow hem. Version A has a fitted bodice, is sleeveless and fitted with attached tie ends. Version B featured below is has a very loose-fitting bodice and dolman sleeves.
Don’t forget to share your latest makes with us on social media using the hashtags #simplicitybyme or #mccallsbyme. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been making. There are prizes to be won each month too!