This week on the Great British Sewing Bee the theme was “Reduce, reuse and recycle”. To this end, all the fabrics and trimmings in the haberdashery had been replaced with secondhand clothing and upholstery fabrics.  Obviously, at Dragonfly Fabrics we only sell new fabrics, but we still wanted to give you a GBSB special offer, so:

Our SPECIAL OFFER this week is 10% off our lovely range of beautifully soft VISCOSE JERSEY with the code SEWINGBEE10 – you can browse the range HERE. We have some stunning plain colours on offer, including Teal, Coral, Damson and Ochre, plus some very attractive prints and patterns.  There is also FREE POSTAGE on all orders over £30.

The Pattern Challenge this week involved making a classic pussy bow blouse. The contestants were allowed to use up to four secondhand garments to make the blouse but one of those had to be a man’s shirt. They were instructed to re-use the front placket and button stand in the construction of the blouse, reversing the placket so the buttons fastened the correct way for a woman’s garment. One major complication was that the sleeves of the blouse used a lot of fabric.  This meant some of the contestants had to reconsider their secondhand garment choices once they realised they couldn’t get enough for a sleeve out of the items they had selected. Riccardo, however, had a different approach and decided to split the pattern piece for the sleeve in two and use contrasting fabric as a feature. The final touch of the pattern was that the sleeves had to be neatened with bias binding and fastened with a loop and button.

You can find a tutorial on how to make your own bias binding HERE – this can be a good choice if you want your binding to match the rest of the fabric in your garment.  However, if you prefer an easier approach or you want contrasting binding, you can choose from our selection of ready made bindings HERE.We have a good selection of plain colours and even a couple of pretty prints:

There was so much to do in this challenge that the majority of the contestants failed to get finished in the time. The exception was Juliet who not only managed to finish her blouse, but did it to such a high standard that the judges couldn’t find fault with it and she was a very deserving winner of the challenge.  On the other hand, poor Mercedes had again gone against the instructions of the challenge. Rather than using fabric from secondhand garments to make her blouse, she had picked a duvet cover, and then choose a women’s shirt rather than a man’s. This then caused confusion later when she tried to reverse the placket.  Once again she failed to complete the task, so it was not surprising then when the judges placed her last in this challenge.

If you want to make a similar blouse, why not try the Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse – you can see it below in our pretty Floral Teal Woven Viscose:


For the Transformation Challenge the contestants were faced with metal dustbins containing all the scraps left from their previous projects on the Bee. The brief was that they had to create a beautiful, usable garment from these scraps.

There were some very creative items produced in this phase. Riccardo made a patchwork dress with yellow, red and tartan fabrics, trimmed with a net ruffle top and bottom. Mercedes teamed monotone fabrics with a loud green Nigerian print fabric ruffle to make a mini dress. Leah created a lovely child’s dress with denim/chambray fabrics and pretty prints whilst Juliet produced a stylish ra-ra skirt and boob tube. However, the self-styled ‘queen of classic’ Janet made a determined attempt to channel her inner ‘wackiness’ and made a striking reversible gilet. This had waterproof fabric on one side and an angled patchwork design on the other. The judges were very impressed with her ingenuity and technical skill and chose her as their winner in the challenge.

If you are inspired to try some patchwork items for yourself, why not take a look at our REMNANTS section. The selection varies from week to week, but there are usually some great bargains to be had. Currently we have lots of boiled wool and bio linen remnants, amongst others, as well as our very good value Mixed Fabric Bundles.


Finally, we had the Made to Measure Challenge in which the contestants had to make a day dress from recycled upholstery fabric. Leah turned her godmother’s striped blinds into a chic 60s style day dress with a nipped-in waist. But the striped pattern required careful pattern matching and as the fabric wasn’t designed for dressmaking, she struggled with the stiffness of the fabric. Many of the contestants were re-using old curtains for their designs. Riccardo sourced his curtains from a charity shop and even his sewing pattern was a charity shop find. Ever resourceful, he even re-used the rings from the curtain to make the belt fastening. Mercedes’s curtains had a sci-fi design, and she made a lovely dress with a pleated bubble skirt. The judges felt her work this time was ‘impactful’ and ‘terrific’ but sadly the fit wasn’t quite right. Jen used floral curtains and choose to make a fairly simple A line dress with piped pockets. Janet recycled her dining room curtains to make an off-the-shoulder dress. Juliet once again produced a stunning dress with an open back. She used lace net curtains for her fabric, lined with a sky blue bed-sheet, whilst the straps were made from curtain tieback cords complete with tassels. In the words of the judges “never has a pair of net curtains looked as sexy as this” and this garment deservedly won her ‘garment of the week’. Sadly, Mercedes was the one to go home this week, having struggled with getting her garments finished in the time and failing to follow the instructions in many of the challenges.  We were sad to see her go, as her lively personality really brightened up the programme.

If you are inspired to sew a day dress after the programme, we would suggest the new Floreat dress sewing pattern from Megan Nielsen.  It looks amazing in our Viscose Jersey which is on offer this week (see above) – here it is in our beautiful Lavender shade:

This pattern can also be made as a short top – it has multiple hem and sleeve lengths and can also be used for woven fabrics, so is extremely versatile!

We are already looking forward to next week’s episode – apparently, the theme will be ‘British and Irish fabrics’!