The Great British Sewing Bee Series 7 Episode 2 brought us paper bag shorts and a button through dresses with Summer Week.

A new week, new challenges for the contestants. The episode kicked off with paper bag shorts. A trend that has been around for a couple of years. I am liking this series’s technical challenges.

On the surface, like last week’s shell top, they look simple but have tricky techniques. These can (and do) The Great British Sewing Bee Series 7 episode 1 paper bag shortsgo disastrously wrong.

Eagle eyed Esme spotted problems with the in-seam pockets on the paper bag shorts – of course she did!

I think it would have been easier to sew the casing first and then slot Simplicity 8651 paper bag shortsthe elastic.

We do follow pattern instructions but don’t be afraid to try another technique if you think it will be easier or give a better finish or be a more appropriate choice for your fabric.

I did like Jean’s 50’s style print cotton, great choice for the challenge.

On to the button through sun dress. 

Alice and Co Regatta DressHaving just finished Alice & Co’s Regatta Dress which would have met the brief perfectly, it was good to see an interesting variety of styles.

Much respect to Damien for his pattern matching on the large tropical print. His finished dress looked fabulous and would have been my choice for garment of the week.

Perfectly executed buttonholes (and a fabulous fit) were the key component to this challenge.

I find many sewers are afraid of buttonholes but honestly they are ok.

Whether using a machine with a 4-step buttonhole or, even easier, a fully automatic 1-step buttonhole they are achievable with a bit of practice.

Alice and Co Regatta Dress - Jane White TuitionIf you are in the market for a new machine try and stretch your budge to a super easy 1-step buttonhole. The Elna 520 is a great choice. Pop the button in the back of the foot and attach it to your machine.

Don’t forget to pull down the buttonhole lever and off you go for identical Elna automatic buttonhole foot
buttonholes every time.

My top tips for buttonholes are firstly mark your centre front (or centre back) line for perfect placement.

Secondly ensure your buttonhole stand is interfaced and place some tissue paper or tear away stabiliser underneath if the fabric is still soft.

Thirdly – practice on a pad made up of the same layers as in your garment. 15 buttonholes down the centre back of my dress were a breeze!

Watch my How to cut a buttonhole YouTube video and avoid the cutting disasters!


I thoroughly enjoyed episode 2. Sorry to see Jean leave the studio but loved her fabric choices. Looking forward to next week and trying to find …….


The Great British Sewing Bee's Esme tonic