Saturday, March 2, 2019

5th Annual Pattern Review Sewing Bee (Jan. 11- Feb. 21, 2019)

In 2014, a surprise contest based on the BBC show “The Great British Sewing Bee” was unveiled at the Pattern Review website. It was unlike the regular monthly contests wherein participants know what they are signing for and where the winner is chosen by votes.

  *It consists of four rounds with each round lasting for about seven days or so.

  *Each round has a challenge which is announced only on the day the round starts.

  *Instead of relying on votes, there is a panel of judges who determine which participants advance to the next round.

  *A winner is chosen for each round and an overall grand prize winner at the end of four rounds.

  *Winning a round is not an assurance that one will advance to the final round.

Each year, I have participated in the Sewing Bee and I was lucky enough to make it to the finals everytime. I missed only one year when I was the contest manager. This is my fourth try and guess what, I not only won round 4 but I also bagged the overall grand prize! I am beyond ecstatic!

L-R: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4

Each year, I felt that the challenges were becoming more difficult and the competition more fierce because the Bee was attracting so many talented sewists. Because of the time constraint, I was not able to write blog posts on any of my Bee creations. So for detailed reviews, kindly click the link on the right hand column. I will also provide links below as I give a brief description of the challenges.

Round 1: Jan. 11- Jan. 19  Nine days to sew a knit cardigan inspired by the color of the year—Living Coral. This can be a figurative or literal translation. There were 118  entries and 62 were chosen to move to the next round. I sewed a cardigan using Butterick 6527. Read more about it here.

Round 2: Jan. 24 – 31 Eight days to sew an article of clothing with the zipper being the primary focus. The garment must have at least one functional zipper. A total of 54 participants were able to turn in their entries and 25 were chosen to advance. I sewed a moto jacket using Butterick 6169 which I reviewed here.

Round 3: Feb. 5-11  Seven days to make a garment using the Patter Review Lillian Top pattern putting our own spin on it but still allowing judges to recognize the original pattern. Review can be found here.

Round 4: Feb. 15-21 Seven days to sew a garment inspired by a real or fictional Superhero. Garment must not be a costume and must be wearable. A total of ten finalists competed in this final round and I won this round!

 I made three items for this round.

                                  A top using Simplicity 8693 reviewed here.

                                 A pair of trousers using Burdastyle 111B reviewed here.

                                                    A jacket using Vogue 8910 reviewed here.

I chose my husband as my superhero and I created a menswear inspired three piece outfit. The composite review and complete narrative behind my inspiration can be found here at Pattern Review

This was such an emotional experience for me! It was fun and exciting in the beginning and it got a bit stressful near the finish line. But I am very happy with all the garments I have created. Unlike past years, I am quite sure I will be getting a lot of wear out of these garments. Participating in a contest like this has helped grow tremendously as a sewist. It was also great experience getting to know more about other sewists and feeling the support of a lot of them! 


  1. Congratulations again, Maria, such a well deserved win! I love that Vogue jacket, with the unconventional menswear shirt you created from such an unlikely pattern. Your top notch sewing and creativity have inspired me. I'm going to work on getting some past projects up as reviews this month. It took the bee to help me understand how PR works! Kathy (kidnotes)

    1. Thank you so much Kathy! I'm delighted to have made your acquaintance at the Bee. You are so kind and gracious and I'm really looking forward to reading more of your reviews at the website. The sewing community will surely benefit from a talented member like you!

  2. You are so awesome! Congratulations on a well deserved win! I love the jacket, and choosing your husband as your superhero made me tear up. So well done.😊

  3. Hi Maria, I was also part of the Sewing Bee 2019 (BethFred)--I made the jogging suit for my husband for round 4. I'm curious, do you have your photos professionally taken? This was my first time in the Bee, and my biggest challenge is to get quality photos. I am trying to create a spot in my house to take photos, but can't seem to get a suitable background & lighting for the garments. Just curious what you do, as your photos always look so nice.

    1. Hi Beth,
      Thank you! Regarding the photos, the most important is lighting then background. I use a seamless paper for background and it’s a big roll that is attached to a rolling clothes hanger that I tinkered around with so it could accommodate the roll. For lighting I use bright white light bulb in my lamp in addition to the light coming from the windows. I just use my iPhone on a tripod and use a remote to take my own pics. Even if you don’t have a seamless paper background, any wall will do. The less distracting stuff in the background, the better. Hope that helps! By the way, loved the suit you made for your hubby!

  4. Oh goodness you're amazing Maria. Congratulations! Each and each and every garment you made is stunning! My two favourites are the moto and the three piece outfit.

    1. Thanks so much Diane!!! Same here, those are my most favorites! In fact I can’t wait to make another one of the Vogue jacket.