Great British Sewing Bee – Series 6 Episode 4 – Sports Week

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This week we are down to 9 contestants for Sports week, where they sewed a mans rugby shirt, transformed some cagoules & made a tennis outfit. Below is a link to my YouTube review of the show aired on 13th of May 2020. I have another bash at finding the patterns & fabric that I found along with looking at what I have in my own pattern & fabric stash & challenge myself to complete a garment inspired by the Bee.

***Spoiler Alert – I reveal the Garment of the week & the person who was eliminated***

Round 1 – Technical Challenge

The contestants had their work cut out for them having only 4.5 hours to make a traditional mans rugby shirt. They had to combine 4 different types of fabric: cotton jersey for the body, rib for the cuffs, woven cotton for the collar & herringbone tape for the tricky hidden placket. Combining stretch & woven fabrics takes some skill to get right but makes the garment hardwearing. The placket is sewn 1st & requires some precision sewing & there was a collar with stand to insert too.


Men’s rugby shirt pattern’s seem to be pretty thin on the ground. The pattern used for the challenge isn’t in the book that accompanies the show & I suspect it was drafted for the show. Kate from the Foldline sourced these: Vogue Men’s Top V9378, which has a similar collar but the placket isn’t hidden & obviously it’s short sleeved but could be lengthened & the crazy patchwork effect could be adapted so the that is plain. Merchant & Mills have women’s rugby dress/shirt pattern. Or you may be able to pick up a vintage one online, such as the Stretch & Sew or the Butterick ones below.


The fabrics were also tricky to source, as they were quite generic, either plain or striped, so I will quickly run through a description of each contestant and provide some links to different suppliers.

Ali made a wide red striped shirt with white sleeves & collar & stripy cuffs. She was praised for her stitching but Esme didn’t like her choice of cuffs.

Nicole had a pink & black stripe with a navy collar. The judges couldn’t find fault with her stitching & loved the colour combination, which won her 1st place.

Matt made a white with narrow navy stripes & navy collar, he was criticised for an untidy placket.

Mark had navy & royal blue stripes, apart from a bit of backstitching on his collar his was pretty good.

Peter had a wide striped blue & grey top with red collar & cuffs. He accidentally cut 2 right sleeves & didn’t have enough fabric to cut another & the judges spotted his error.

The jersey doesn’t need to have a lot of stretch & avoid single jerseys, they are more suitable for T-shirts, try looking for something medium to heavy weight like a Sweatshirting or Ponte. My Fabrics have a nice selection of striped French Terrys & you can now buy pre-made cuffing, the one below is from Abakhan.

Clare ‘s was burgundy with white collar & top- stitching. The judges thought it was neat but she possibly lost points for it not needing to be pattern matched.

Liz made a solid petrol blue top with a white collar which she inserted upside down & had to unpick & resew it, it was incredible that she managed to finish.

Therese also went for a plain blue, with a white collar & orange cuffs. The judges spotted that something had gone awry with her placket but otherwise good.

Hazel made a plain burgundy top with a grey collar. Her collar was a bit misaligned & she got her placket a bit puckered.

Fabworks have a great selection of plain jersey that would be suitable, along with ribbing to use for cuffs. Stitchy Bee also has a nice selection of cotton ribbing for the cuffs, it’s more economical to buy it this way, as you will get numerous cuffs from half a metre. William Gee is a good source for haberdashery, they have cotton webbing in different colours & widths, which may be suitable for the plackets.

Round 2 Transformation Challenge

This week was unusual in that the judges specified exactly what the contestants should make. They had to transform 2 cagoules into a toddlers waterproof onsie which they should be able to get on & off. No other fabrics were allowed but they could use anything from the haberdashery. It needed to be comfortable, stylish & safe. For anyone wondering what a cagoule is, it’s what us Brits call a windbreaker, a lightweight waterproof overcoat with a hood which is sometimes knee-length. There are a variety of spellings: (cagoul, kagoule or kagool).

Ali combined zig-zags with an orange hood but was criticised for the proportion. 8th

Clare’s had a rainbow colourway with contrasting sleeves. 3rd

Liz’s had a large scale dot with black trousers. The judges felt it was too tight, she commented that she was that desperate to make it look different that she overlooked the construction. 9th

Hazel made a princess cape complete with netting & a velcro back. I thought that this was the most imaginative but only came 4th

Therese went for a floral contrasted with a pink camoflage & made use of the bag. 1st

Nicole chose a red leopard print with a contrast zebra print & a long asymmetrical zip & inserted a waistband & collar. The judges liked this on the grounds that it was a good fit, stylish & easy to get a child in & out of. Looking forward to seeing Patrick wearing an adult sized one! 2nd

Matt went for a diva one using leopard print & fur cuffs. His fit was spot on but Esme didn’t think it was very imaginative. I mean come on what are you supposed to do in 90 minutes with 2 cagoules! 🤔 7th

Mark made a blue fruity number with yellow stripes, so that your child is always visible.5th

Peter had a red & blue combo & was criticised for the sleeves being too long. 6th

Round 3 – Made to Measure

The contestants had 4.5 hours to make a tennis outfit, the judges were looking for something that you could actually play tennis in & fit was crucial so as not to impair movement. There was quite a lot of scope with the range of garments that they could have made from dresses to two piece outfits with short, skirts or the fusion of both – skorts. Onsies were even mentioned again, I think Patrick has a thing for them! Esme said that she would like to see a traditional cotton outfit, with a pleated skirt & matching knickers. They sewers do have chance to practice these outfits at home & it looks as though they are using the same models from previous weeks.We got to see them using the overstitch machine this week as well as the overlocker this week too.

Ali & Clare used the Jalie 3463 pattern, I’m sure of this as it was flashed up on the screen. Ali used a red leopard print similar to the one below from FunkiFabrics with the floral leopard print down the sides & made some matching shorts to go with the dress. It’s quite a distinctive pattern that includes a ball pocket at the back.

Clares fabric was a fun science geek fabric as she didn’t enjoy sport at school & would rather have been in the science lab. I’ve hunted high & low for this fabric & had some fun finding alternatives but sadly couldn’t find it anywhere. Although Frumble fabrics have some great alternatives. She used a light blue contrast panel. Both of them used the bagging out technique to join the lining seamlessly. Clare’s fit was good but there was a slight bit of pulling at the v neck & Esme would have preferred that the plain fabric went on the side panels.

Mark’s pattern looked like this vintage 1973 pattern from Simplicity 5696 using black in the middle & fuchsia pink at the sides.Although the fit looked good Esme felt that the pockets stuck out too much spoiling the shape of the dress.

Hazel self drafted her top which had a deep contrast V & used a cotton poplin to pleat 2 metres of skirt, which I think took her a lot longer than she anticipated as she still hadn’t started her top with 1 hour remaining. It was a real shame as it meant that she didn’t execute the top very well . Patrick loved the pleats but didn’t like that they had then been gathered into the waistband. I haven’t looked for fabric for this you find white cotton poplin anywhere & her pattern was self drafted.

There was a lot of love online for Peters dress, which Kate at the Foldline tracked down to the out of print Butterick 6241 dress below (view A) made from grey lycra with a neon zip & draw cords. He had in mind that the player could walk straight off the court to the bar wearing it but he was rightly criticised for the impracticality of it as a tennis dress, as it really missed the brief. Although looking at the footage of & some of the designs that Ted Tinlings came up with maybe Peter wasn’t too far off the mark! Anyone for tennis in a feather boa!

Therese went for an all black number with a pattern that had a 1960s vibe, very similar to the vintage McCalls 4466 below, with textured metallic side panels. Again I didn’t find an exact match but FunkiFabrics have lots of foil prints.The judges liked the outfit but it was a little bit big above the bust area.

Nicole went for a 2 piece shorts set made from towelling which looked very 1980s retro, the shorts were similar to the city gym short by Purl Solo, which is a free pattern that I have had on my radar for years. She made a blue crew neck cotton jersey t-shirt to complete the 80s tennis meets roller disco vibe.

Matt was also inspired by the 80’s with his bright neon 2 piece using highlighter yellow & pink fabrics for the raglan sleeved top & a graffiti style print on the pleated skirt which I found on Amazon.He aced the skirt but his top had a few issues. His skirt was very similar to the Thread Factions one below, this is a Childs pattern but you get the gist.

Liz was looking like she was on shaky ground until this round but managed to redeem herself. She went for a 2 piece of ra-ra skirt & tie back top & had time to make a bra in the last 10 minutes! I really liked how the top tied at the back but haven’t found a pattern like it. I think that without the bra the outfit wouldn’t have had the impact that she needed to save her from elimination & she managed to get a good fit on it too.There is a free Emila sports bra pattern on the Mood website that could fit the bill or the Patterns for Pirates one that Kate from the Foldline picked out. Kate also suggested that she had adapted the skort pattern below from Thread faction.

Further Resources

On my hunt for fabric & patterns & found a few useful websites & resources which I thought I would include here too.

Frumble Fabrics have some lovely cuffs & ribbing as do Stof & Still

Funki Fabrics specialise in lycra & dance wear, which is suitable for sportswear

Melissa Fehr has a great website full of resources for fabrics & has published a book ‘Sew Your Own Activewear’ which looks good value with several patterns based on a bodice block & a bottom block. Melissa has worked on the GBSB & has written articles for Seamwork magazine.

Johanna Lundstrom has produced a book called ‘Sewing Activewear’ I don’t that this has patterns in rather information on how to make your activewear look professional. She also has a YouTube Channel Called the lLast Stitch & lots of information on her website.

The Result

Both Liz & Ali were in contention for garment of the week but Ali pulled through this time with such a striking tennis outfit & perfect fit. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Hazel this week. I think if she hadn’t have spent so much time pleating her skirt it would have been a different story. It’s sad to see any of them go really as they are all capable of winning.

My Challenge

Since I don’t have a sporting bone in my body I won’t have much need of a tennis dress, so my challenge for Sports week is to draft a rugby shirt, as my son said that he would definitely wear one. I don’t have any patterns that vaguely resemble a rugby shirt, so I’ll trace off an existing shirt & have a go at the hidden placket. Wish me luck!

Last week I challenged myself to make a pair of baby dungarees, as I’d had the lovely news that I was going to be a grandma. I used the pattern from one of the old GBSB books, ‘Sew Your Own Wardrobe’ & fabric from my stash. Initially I was going to put a Yorkshire Rose appliqué on the bib part but I wanted it to be gender neutral but felt the that the rose gave it a feminine touch, so left it off. It was good fun sewing something so small & it came together in under 3 hours. The contestants on Children’s week had 4.5 hours but obviously they were sewing larger dungarees & had additional features such as pockets – not much use to a newborn I used poppers for the fastening underneath.

I’m looking forward to next weeks episode which is lingerie week.

Do you know of any rugby shirt patterns or have any resources to help?

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