The Great British Sewing Bee Episode Guide

The Bee is back with two festive specials! Catch up with all of the highlights and find out how to sew the looks you've seen on screen.

Great British Sewing Bee New Year's special

Merry Christmas! The Great British Sewing Bee came back on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve for two festive specials and we loved every minute of them. Read on to discover how the celebrity contestants got on…


We were delighted when we heard that the Sewing Bee was returning for not one but two festive celebrity specials – and the first episode was a real Christmas gift. Sara Pascoe, Dr Ranj Singh, Denise Van Outen and Shirley Ballas had their sewing skills put to the test in a series of seasonal challenges.

In this episode, we were also treated to a new Sewing Room – The Chainstore on Trinity Buoy Wharf, which lies just across the Thames from the O2 Arena. Could this be a new permanent venue for the show? We look forward to finding out.

Read on to learn how the celebrities fared (includes spoilers!)…

The Great British Sewing Bee Boxing Day episode

The Pattern Challenge: Make pyjama bottoms
The Transformation Challenge: Create a festive coat for a dog
The Made to Measure Challenge: Make a dress for Christmas day

Highlights: Sara Pascoe started off badly in the Pattern Challenge. She had a classic ‘hungry bum’ issue with her pyjama bottoms, but grew in skill and confidence throughout the show. For her Made to Measure challenge, she created a striking tartan dress that really impressed the judges. Just imagine what she could have achieved with more time! However, Denise Van Outen’s consistent skill and creativity led her to the win the festive crown. Our favourite bit? Shirley Ballas went wild with Christmas accessories when creating her festive dog coat – with hilarious results.

Christmas! The season elastic was invented for
Joe Lycett

Lowlights: Patrick asked Dr Ranj to put his Christmas dress on his mannequin, which revealed that it was too tight to fit over his model’s hips. Disaster! Fortunately for Dr Ranj, Patrick was on hand to save the day and shared some of his expert tips to save the day. The finished dress was a little skimpy, but the model was able to wear it (phew!).

Lessons learned: Always use an overlocker to sew stretchy fabrics (top tip!). Check out our guide to the best overlockers.

Fancy making some of the projects you’ve seen in this episode? Learn how to make pyjama bottoms or how to make a circle skirt.

The Great British Sewing Bee New Year’s Eve episode

Need some sparkle to see in the New Year? The Great British Sewing Bee is back with lots of glitter and colour to help you welcome 2021. In the Sewing Bee’s New Year episode, Sally Philips, Sabrina Grant, Leslie Joseph and The Vivienne go head to head to make a series of colourful makes.

Read on to discover how the celebrities got on (spoilers!)…

The Pattern Challenge: Sew a child’s party skirt
The Transformation Challenge: Make a pantomime costume
The Made to Measure Challenge: Create a party dress inspired by a New Year’s Eve memory

Highlights: The Vivienne got ahead of herself in the first challenge by stitching her lining to her tulle too early and cutting out her pattern incorrectly. Despite her early errors, she clawed it back to win the Pattern Challenge. We also enjoyed seeing Esme and The Vivienne bond over a love of Cher (who Esme actually used to work with!). Sally and Leslie also wowed the judges with their sewing skills, despite being sewing novices. Patrick and Esme were particularly impressed by Sally’s hilarious pantomime horse, which has to be seen to be believed.

My New Year's resolution is to be braver – just have a go!
Sally Philips

Lowlights: Sabrina came unstuck when trying to master the overlocker (oh dear!). The Vivienne’s skirt lost its bells when Esme prods them, as they were only attached using pins!

Lessons learned: When attaching your skirt to the waistband, you’ll need to stretch out the elastic for best results.

If you fancy making your own child’s party outfit? Find the child’s party skirt pattern over on the Sewing Bee website.

Missed the last series? Read on for a recap…

Catch up on the Great British Sewing Bee season six

The Great British Sewing Bee returned to our screens in a flurry of frills, pleats, tucks and some seriously good sewing in spring 2020 – not to mention an upgrade to BBC 1!  The new series was back with all our favourite bits – beautiful Bermondsey buildings, sweet soothing vintage tunes, Joe Lycett‘s acerbic wit, Patrick’s wry smiles and Esme Young‘s razor-sharp judging. Treat yourself to a refresher on the highs and lows of The Great British Sewing Bee series 6 with our Episode challenge recaps and links to similar patterns if you want to give the weekly garments a go.

While you’re waiting for the Great British Sewing Bee to return in 2021, check out our sister post – What sewing machines are on Sewing Bee?

For more free projects and Sewing Bee gossip sign-up to our newsletter! And if you want to take a step in the Sewing Bee’s shoes and get your craft on check out our sewing kits for beginners post which will tell you all the supplies you need to start sewing.

Warning: this post includes spoilers.

Week 10 – Celebration week

The Great British Sewing Bee S6
It was the final of Sewing Bee this week which had us feeling all kinds of emotions. It was a tough week from start to finish for our three incredible finalists but they conquered every challenged and produced show-stopping garments that were more than worthy for a final.
Let's get sewing and try and win it!


The Pattern Challenge: Make a child’s kilt
The Transformation Challenge: Turn a prom dress and swimsuit into a carnival outfit
The Made to Measure Challenge: Create a beautiful red carpet gown

Highlights: The finalists really played into their strengths with each sewer doing what they do best! Clare’s precise eye paid off in the pattern challenge and made to measure where she created both outfits with technical brilliance – they fit like a dream. Nicole’s colourful personality shined in her carnival outfit and Matt’s dramatic flamboyance showed in his stunning ball gown.

Lowlights: Those repeating pleats on the kilts were giving everyone square eyes and the made to measure was their longest challenge yet – 6 hours!!

Lessons learned: Keep spare sewing machine needles on you at all times…

Crikey... I can't quite believe it!

It was the incredible Clare who took the trophy home this year. Read our interview with Clare to get all the gossip on this year’s Sewing Bee but for now, we will all have to eagerly anticipate The Great British Sewing Bee 2021!

If you want to start learning how to sew check out our best sewing machines for beginners and our guide to sewing for beginners! Both have everything you need to start your sewing journey.

Week 9 – Hollywood week

The Great British Sewing Bee S6

For the semifinals we were whisked away to the movies, full of glamour, sparkles and a touch of Futrama drama! It was all to sew for this week and with flapper dresses and a Sci-Fi theme we really saw some of the most creative looks yet.

Hi 5's for the Sci-Fis!
The Great British Sewing Bee S6

The Pattern Challenge: Make Marilyn Monroe’s iconic pleated halter dress
The Transformation Challenge: Head to the scrap yard to create a Sci-Fi inspired garment
The Made to Measure Challenge: Create a 1950’s flapper dress

Highlights: Every challenge produced stunning garments this week. There was gorgeous primary coloured dresses, Clare’s Star Wars style outfit and Liz’s goth inspired flapper dress.

Lowlights: The last challenge was the most stressful one yet! There was so much work involved with all that beaded material and as Patrick rightly said ‘I had my heart in my mouth for the last two minutes!’ Despite her beautiful dress, we sadly said goodbye to Liz. We just know she’s going to go super far.

Lessons learned: Beaded fabrics need all the attention – hammering, hemming, pressing…

It's not that bad is it? It's pretty bad.

Week 9 sew the looks

Learn to love vintage patterns like the sewers by reading our reasons to pick vintage post

Make your own movie star dress with our Rosa dress pattern

If halter dresses are your thing use our tutorial to make your own

More of a pleat person? Sew our Tulip dress

If you need a little help getting started on your sewing journey then check out our tutorial on how to use a sewing machine and our Sewing glossary: beginner’s guide to sewing terms to get familiar with the lingo.

Week 8 – International week

The Great British Sewing Bee S6

It’s the quarter finals and things went all continental on the Sewing Bee! From Europe to the Philippines there was dramatic sleeves, dramatic ruffles and a very dramatic table cloth trick from Patrick…

Do you know the flamenco women is my favourite emoji?
Joe Lycett

The Great British Sewing Bee S6

The Pattern Challenge: Make the infamous Filipino Terno blouse
The Transformation Challenge: Transform French tablecloths into garments
The Made to Measure Challenge: Create a flamenco-inspired skirt

Highlights: So many highlights this week! What about Clare’s gorgeous Terno blouse or her children’s dress with matching apron? Or garment of the week, Nicole’s colourful flamenco skirt? Liz’s kimono-inspired dress was also a winner for us.

Lowlights: Buttons apparently! Who knew they’d cause so many problems… but it was Mark who struggled the most this week and we had to say an emotional farewell. Even Esme was tearing up. We will miss Mark’s fabulous style but it’s onwards and upwards into the semi finals.

Lessons learned: Every stitch counts when you’re in the quarter finals.

Oooo I'm very impressed with that!
Esme Young

Week 8 sew the looks

Make your own blouse with our free pussy bow blouse tutorial

Fancy making Liz’s transformation challenge? Try our kimono top pattern and beach cover up tutorials which were inspired by the kimono

If you liked Mark’s flamenco skirt then have a go at our easy wrap skirt pattern.

Week 7 – 80’s week

Programme Name: The Great British Sewing Bee S6 - TX: 03/06/2020 - Episode: n/a (No. 7) - Picture Shows: Joe Lycett - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Production

The Sewing Bee took it back to the 80’s this week with super-sized shoulder pads and teeny tiny party outfits. Joe got right into the spirit dressing up in many outfits and all Patrick and Esme wanted was ‘something really dramatic.’ Oh they got that alright! We’ve never seen so many bows in one episode…

Well good luck is all I can say...
Esme Young
Sewing Bee series 6

The Pattern Challenge: Make an 80’s power jacket fit for a boardroom
The Transformation Challenge: Transform high vis vests into neon party outfits
The Made to Measure Challenge: Create a cocktail dress with a statement

Highlights: We’re obsessed with Claire’s cone boob top as was Patrick who called it ‘simple and striking’ but it was the made to measure challenge where the sewers 80’s nostalgia shined. Liz’s asymmetrical dress, Nicole’s dynasty inspired number and Therese’s black cocktail dress that turned into a rather fitting cape for Esme…

Lowlights: After a great first challenge Matt struggled in the made to measure but with a pep talk from Patrick he got back in the room and carried on sewing. Therese’s unfinished power jacket was a sad sight to behold (beautiful material just not enough time) and it meant we had to say goodbye to her this week. We wish her all the best!

Lessons learned: The bigger the bow, the better the bow.

If in doubt bang a bow on it

Week 7 sew the looks

Inspired by the 80’s? Learn the history of fashion with our series.

Sew your own statement dress with our summer dress patterns.

Create your own cocktail dress with our A-line party frock pattern available on Etsy.

Week 6 – Reduce, reuse and recycle

The Great British Sewing Bee S6

Things are hotting up at Sewing Bee HQ as we creep closer and closer to finals. This week’s theme was reduce, reuse, recycle and challenged the sewists to create something fabulous from old garments! Stretchy knitwear was the enemy of the week but some incredible pieces were made – incredible enough for Patrick to claim “I think it’s one of the best things I’ve seen on Sewing Bee.”

Now that is the London look
Joe Lycett
The Great British Sewing Bee S6

The Pattern Challenge: Make a men’s bomber jacket from four recycled garments
The Transformation Challenge: Turn a plastic shopping bags into an item of clothing
The Made to Measure Challenge: Make a dress from recycled knitwear

Highlights: From rags to riches, Mark’s blue bomber was a masterpiece that we’d pay good money for! And you know it’s a good episode when two people win garment of the week. Peter’s incredible fluffy cuffed dress and Nicole’s technically brilliant dress were both crowned winners. Patrick described them as phenomenal and we’d have to agree.

Lowlights:  There was lots of speed hemming going on this week (we’ve all been there) and those plastic bags looked impossible to sew with. We also said a sad farewell to the transformation king Peter. We’ve loved his crazy designs and high-fashion looks.

Lessons learned: You really can make anything from recycled materials.

You could have had a scratching flap!
Patrick Grant

Week 6 sew the looks

We’ve got plenty of our own upcycling tutorials here on Gathered.

Turn a men’s shirt into a stylish off-shoulder top

From scraps to fashion – turn off cuts into colourful shoelaces 

Transform old jeans into a new skirt

Give your t-shirts extra flair by turning them into a peplum top

Week 5 – Lingerie and sleepwear week

The Great British Sewing Bee

Lingerie and sleepwear proves a challenge for even the most skilled sewist and for the contestants on this week’s bee it was no different. Working with silky fabrics, delicate lace and tricky basque boning, the sewers had their work cut out for them! Despite some tight timings (and rather tight clothing!) they pulled it out the bag and created some beautiful pieces that had Patrick and Esme swooning.

I haven't said my catchphrase yet this series... that's some good sewing!
Joe Lycett
The Great British Sewing Bee

The Pattern Challenge: Make a boned basque
The Transformation Challenge: Turn a pair of men’s pyjamas and a women’s nightie into summer day wear
The Made to Measure Challenge: Make a two piece sleep set

Highlights: Those transformation challenge creations! Peter’s Elton John vibe puffy sleeves, Matt’s Vivienne West wood style dress and of course, Nicole’s amazing dungarees. Your grandparent’s pj’s have never looked so good…

Lowlights: The basque challenge proved difficult for all the sewers. There was unfinished ones, one’s with the hook and eye’s back to front and Peter forgot to sewn on two of the pattern pieces! As Patrick said ‘it was a complete clanger’. Saying goodbye to Ali too – we’ll miss her leopard print creations.

Lessons learned: Always check you’ve used all your pattern pieces or you’ll face the wrath of Patrick.

There were no way I could disguise a big gaping hole in t’ front of it

Week 5 sew the looks

Master hooks and eyes with our simple guide.

Try your hand at making a basque with Tatiana Kozorovitsky’s corset tutorial.

Make your own two piece pyjama set with Karoline Dahrling’s patternless tutorial.

Lingerie challenge: learn to make your own knickers with Simply Sewing’s tutorial.

Week 4 – Sportswear

The Great British Sewing Bee

It was time to get fit on this week’s Sewing Bee as it was all about sportswear! Joe was wearing the best tracksuit ever seen on British TV and there was an array colourful outfits for kids and adults alike. Grab some strawberries and cream because there’s tennis outfits that’ll make even the stars of Wimbledon envious.

Are you ready to sweat?
Joe Lycett

The Great British Sewing Bee

The Pattern Challenge: Men’s rugby shirt
The Transformation Challenge: Turn a kagool into a kids waterproof onesie
The Made to Measure Challenge: Make a traditional tennis outfit

Highlights: Adorable and oh so colourful kagools. Hazel’s princess kagool and Matt’s leopard onesie were every kids dream but it was Therese’s and Nicole’s onesies that caught Patrick’s eye – “can I have one in my size?”.

Lowlights: Liz made us emotional when she teared up over her rugby shirt, stretchy fabrics cause problems once again and goodbyes are said to Hazel. She will be missed!

Lessons learned:

I was wrestled into submission by WWF superstar Esme Young

Week 4 sew the looks

Look through our 11 best sewing patterns for men round up for your own rugby shirt pattern.

Learn how to sew with waterproof fabrics so you can make a kiddies onesie.

Make some active wear accessories with these eight multi-craft projects.

Week 3 – Children’s week

The Great British Sewing Bee Children's Week

There’s always something delightfully fiendish about children’s week on the Bee – in which we see some sewists who are used to making clothes for kids and some who are instantly stumped by just how tiny everything is!  The contestants have to show some serious precision sewing skills to handle the dinkiest of pattern pieces and the refashion challenge is never dull.

Something small can be incredibly intimidating... over to Esme!
Joe Lycett
The Great British Sewing Bee Claire
  • The Pattern Challenge: Make a child’s smocked dress
  • The Transformation Challenge: Turn a sleeping bag into an item of food fancy dress
  • The Made to Measure Challenge: Make a pair of children’s dungarees

Highlights: The fruit fancy dress of course! Pizza! Watermelons! A bag of crisps! And (of course) Therese’s winning bunch of grapes. Ali’s tie die paint splotch dungarees “ she’s gonna look like she came out of the paint mixer at BnQ

Lowlights: You won’t impress Patrick and Esme with an uneven Peter Pan collar. Those sleeping bags looked a bit fiendish to handle. Poor Hazel when her dungarees unraveled. Saying goodbye to Fiona (we dare you not to cry at her exit speech).

Lessons learned: Never trust Joe “the button man” Lycett to fetch your buttons

I don’t do camping. It’s much too undignified. A hotel or a chateaux is much better.

Week 3 sew the looks

The Great British Sewing Bee mens shirts

Week 2: Happy Holidays!

Aloha! The theme this week is holiday getaways (this, admittedly feels like it’s taunting us with visions of pre-lockdown life, but hey, we’ll take a little bit of escapism). Will Alex pull things back from the brink? Will we see Joe sporting a mankini? Pour yourself a Pina Colada (or mocktail), lay back and enjoy the beach vibes and garishly clashing prints that are about to come your way.

  • The Pattern Challenge: Make a pair of Palazzo pants
  • The Transformation Challenge: Refashion beach towels into a women’s garment
  • The Made to Measure Challenge: Make a man’s holiday shirt

Week 2 highlights and lowlights

Highlights: Joe’s Tom Jones stint, leopard-print palazzo pants, Hazels’ wax print fabric choice, Peter’s refashion towel to beach wrap, those mens’ shirts fabric choices (llamas! Frida Khalo! parrots! goldfish!). Matt’s Poirot-inspired dressing gown that he made for his dad!

Lowlights: Some unfortunate fabric choices that just don’t want to be handled under time pressure, Alex’s wrap top – is it finished? Esme’s low blow comments – “maybe it’s the facing?” (asked hopefully) No it’s the sewing”

Lessons learned: Don’t try to insert contrast pockets to palazzo pants, strategically place your floral prints when pattern matching.

Week 2 sew the looks

  • Palazzo pants pattern: if you’re smitten with making your own, we like Simplicity’s Pattern 8134 – Misses’ Easy-to-Sew pattern can be made as wrap front trousers or culottes, and an elastic waist band that can be made with border printed fabric or with an extra wide leg.
  • Jazzy trousers: Or sew a similar look to jazz up your summer wardrobe with our free harem pants pattern
  • Beach-ready garments: Sew the look with our guide to how to make a beach coverup
  • Men’s summer shirt: Burda Men’s Shirt Sewing Pattern 6349 shows you how to make a garment similar to the ones on screen tonight.
  • Find more men’s shirt patterns in our guide to the best sewing patterns for men
The Great British Sewing Bee 2020 Joe Lycett and Hazel

Week 1: Wardrobe Staples

The theme for The Great British Sewing Bee week 1 is wardrobe staples, so be prepared to be inspired to try a few of these at home – as the contestants were tasked with making and refashioning classic garments (there’s no need to rush in with the lyrcra fabric challenge in week 1, after all).

  • The Pattern Challenge: make a wrap skirt
  • The Transformation Challenge: upcycle a men’s shirt into a woman’s garment
  • The Made to Measure Challenge: make a tea dress

Here are a few of our highlights, and links to patterns you can try to make garments and techniques you’ve seen on screen.

“It’s like a marathon length obstacle course but with zips instead of barbed wire,”
Patrick Grant

Sew the looks: week 1 wardrobe classics

The Great British Sewing Bee Alex
“I’m one of those people that starts at ground zero for 2 seconds and then wants to build Noah’s Arc,” says Alex. Well this can only end well…

And that’s it folks! We’ll see you next Wednesday for more Sewing Bee action. Remember you can find out all the news and gossip about this year’s series, and meet the contestants, in our The Great British Sewing Bee news post.


All images in this post are © BBC/Love Productions