The one with Heroes, Fashion, Rebel Rebels and Changes, but definitely no Absolute Beginners
The pattern challenge was a Parka coat, a complex garment to put together, with many different pieces and a particularly tricky placket construction for the contestants to master. Patrick and Esme agreed it was one of the most difficult pattern challenges they had ever set. The fun history facts came early this week with Amber Buchart documenting the Parka’s early use by indigenous arctic peoples when it was made from sealskin or caribou for warmth when kayaking. The ‘fishtail' element with drawstrings was added for the Korean war so US soldiers could tie each side around a leg for extra warmth. After the war the Parka became a uniform for Mods in the 1960s and later for Oasis - who most of the Bees seemed to associate the coat with.
It is that time in the series when, with fewer contestants left, we get to see more of the garments in detail and hear the judges' comments for each, and they are not holding back this year.
Brogan came second with her embellished mini skirt and halter style top but it was Gill who bounced back from final place in the previous round to win this challenge. With her fringed and star embellished mini skirt and bikini style top, this outfit was perfect for a country icon like Dolly to wear on stage.
Imaginations were taken to the next level in the made to measure challenge with outfits inspired by David Bowie. The judges wanted the outfits to be fabulous, iconic and stylistically original, like Bowie himself. What a spectacularly flamboyant catwalk this was going to be. Esme was name dropping again with her story of sitting on a window sill to watch the Notting Hill Carnival with David Bowie; honestly what an amazing life this woman has had!! I loved this challenge, from watching the montage of truly amazing Bowie outfits to seeing the individual interpretations of the Bees outfits. There was everything on offer, with inspiration taken from songs such as Rebel Rebel, Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars, the Magic Dance from Labyrinth, Ziggy Stardust,Let’s Dance and of course Fashion. This was my kind of theatrical made to measure.
The story of Gill making her practice outfit at home and the sequins shedding everywhere to the point that her dog had sparkly poop 🐕😱 is a reminder that sequins are not always the answer to everything! Debra sewed one arm of her jacket inside out which meant her correction left the arm really tight, this was such a shame as she had created a beautiful trouser suit complete with ostrich feather cuffs. Cristian’s one armed and one legged catsuit was topped with a dramatic cape, which was just as well as it covered a very ‘hungry bum’!! The big sleeves on Brogan’s dress were certainly dramatic, but the rest of the outfit failed to wow the judges. It seems it wasn’t a good week for Man Yee and jackets as her Chinese patterned Blazer and skirt outfit didn’t work for the judges.
But her dress coat was rather more steampunk than Bowie-esque and, with her low finishes in the previous two rounds, she was unfortunately the sixth contestant to leave the sewing room.
Stitch Sewcial members in the sewing bee chat felt this had been one of the best episodes of the series so far. The sewists really are amazing and this weekly dose of sewing bee sunshine and Stitch Sewcial chat is truly a highlight of my week. As always the fabulous Fold Line have pulled together pattern inspiration, hints and tips from this week's episode, if you fancy getting musical with your sewing.
So that leaves us with six contestants for next week's sewing room challenges, which will all be themed around underwear. So which of the sewists will be waving their knickers in the air and who will be curled up in the corner in comly pjs?? I can’t wait to find out. Hope to see you there in the Stitch Sewcial Sewing Bee Chat 🐝
Hammocks, Air France and Marie Antoinette….yes really!!
The pattern challenge started bang on trend with a puff sleeved, shirred bodice, elasticated waist midi dress. Think Laura Ashley, think milk-maid, think Marie Antoinette… yes… Marie Antoinette and her shepherdess dress for her summer retreat at the beautiful Palace of Versailles!
In France this dress was known as ‘la chemise de rien’, which literally translated means ‘the shirt of nothing’, as it was so lightweight and floaty. I just love the snippets of history from Amber Butchart...
Long floaty midi dresses with voluminous sleeves have been all over the high street and really popular with home sewists for the last couple of years. Lots of members of our Stitch Sewcial Facebook group have made the Tilly and the Buttons Indigo Dress, the Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown, and the Nina Lee Spring Dress. The McCalls 7969 has been especially popular, so much so it was our first Start to Stich and Stitch Sewcial TnT post.
But I digress… back to the sewing bee chosen pattern. So, this had a shirred top, something which prompted a lot of discussion in the Stitch Sewcial live Sewing Bee Chat.
Brogan was in her element this week, in fact I think she has worn a similar style dress to this for all her Sewing Bee appearances! So she in particular had a lot to live up to with this challenge.
The fabric choices were amazing, with most of the sewists opting for lightweight cotton lawn and some choosing gorgeous liberty prints. The nursery rhyme ‘wind the bobbin up’ came to mind as we watched the contestants hand winding the shirring elastic around the bobbin, not too tightly or too loosely, to ensure the fabric would gather.
Tension was rising in the work room, Bogan advised setting it at 7!! And, with a stitch length of 4 most of the sewists then generally got to grips with the shirring technique.
So onto the transformation challenge, and the Bees were tasked with making a summer outfit from garden hammocks, adding in some of the ropes, fringing and macrame to style it up. The criteria from Patrick was ‘the important thing is it ends up not looking like a hammock!’.
The contestants didn’t hang around (sorry 😉) but took this on board and produced some interesting and considered transformations this week. Unfortunately Steve failed to impress the judges again in this challenge with the design of his top and shorts outfit looking off-line.
And somewhat surprisingly Marnie found herself in 9th place as Patrick and Esme felt her dress was not a summer outfit. Brogan went nautical with her use of the rope in her skirt and came second, but it was Angela who won, with her use of the macrame on the front of her dress impressing the judges the most.
However the Stitch Sewcial group felt that the festival jacket made by Christian was amazing, this came third but was certainly up there as a fabulous and totally wearable transformation. At one point it was modelled by Sara Pascoe who totally rocked it!
And just like that it was time for the Made to Measure Challenge.
This week the contestants were tasked with making a fun in the sun two piece coordinated trouser outfit. With two disappointing makes behind him Steve needed to shine in this challenge. His look took inspiration for a shirt and shorts combo from the shirt worn by Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, immediately giving himself a high standard to live up to when Esme declared she had made Leo’s shirts for the film! However he was unperturbed and produced a very good outfit for the catwalk.
Again the standard was high with some stunning outfits made by the Bees. This is where we saw the first ‘hungry bum' of the series - the award for which goes to Marnie for her trousers.
Patrick felt Annie’s Ankara top was just about on the right side of descent, but did say that Brogan’s Spanish influence in the outfit she made showed as it was reminiscent of a flamenco dancer. She was criticised by Esme for choosing to have a tie at the front and the back of her top. The Stitch Sewcial group felt this was a bit harsh and personally I thought this looked just fine and worked for the pattern.
Richy opted to use a self drafted pattern for harem pants, which included 30 pleats, probably more pleats than I’ve had broken machine needles!! However he admitted he had not tested the pattern, which begs the question ‘’WHY ON EARTH NOT?????’
This ‘oversight’ showed when had to give up on the pleats and gather the fabric instead due to a miscalculation in his pattern drafting. He also had a problem inserting the zip, which left his model pinned into the trousers for the catwalk …ouch!!
The Garment of the week went to Debra with her Business Class Air France outfit, unfortunately once Patrick had described it as this it was hard to see it as anything else!. It was however, impeccably made, with a crisp clean finish and was a well deserved winner.
Sadly for Richy his mistakes this week were too much for the judges, and as Steve had redeemed himself in the final challenge it was Richy who was sent home.
Reduce, Reuse and Re-cycle is the theme for next week’s episode and with the up-cycling of duvet covers it will be a must watch for Stitch Sewcial members. We were ahead of the Sewing Bee game with our very own #GetSetSew duvet transformation challenge last year.
I wonder if the Bees can live up to the stunning creations that were made by our amazing group members? Not long to wait to find out now, see you in the live chat 😊
If you want a roundup of the patterns in this episode check out our favourites The Fold Line who have written a fabulous post!
But the best thing was that it was so lovely to have our weekly Facebook Stitch Sewcial sewing bee group chat back again, I’ve missed this so much!
The theme for week one was to create a capsule wardrobe of three items. In honour of their new location in an historic woollen mill in Leeds, the first Pattern Challenge was to make a wool mini skirt. The contestants were tasked with creating a skirt with a faced waistline and two piped edge patch pockets, both of which require sewing precision. The sample skirt that Patrick and Esme discussed the construction of with Sara raised a few eyebrows in the Stitch Sewcial chat, as the pockets certainly looked to be uneven! But that aside the first challenge was underway and the Great British Sewing Bee was back! Understandably the nerves of some of the new sewists was evident, with pattern instructions not being fully read (Patrick always knows!!) and piping edging being trimmed too short. However, some of the bees managed to keep their cool and produce some fabulous skirts, with Angela winning the first challenge. Her blue wool skirt with the contrast cotton piping that she made herself received high praise from the judges.
So onto the Transformation Challenge and given that comfy clothing has been a wardrobe staple for many of us during the lockdowns the contestants were asked to up-cycle ready to wear loungewear into a top for going out. Think disco, think glam, think party, that’s certainly what they needed to be thinking for this challenge. As ever with the transformation challenge the results were somewhat mixed. Patrick was reminded of Dennis the Menace by Mitch’s make, whilst both Marnie’s and Man Yee’s creations impressed the judges. It was Marnie who won the challenge with her fabulous 80s inspired top with big pouffy sleeves and a contrast pink bodice
And so to the final challenge and one of my favourite parts of the show, the Made to Measure. This time it was a wrap dress. You may know, I blooming love a wrap dress so I was super excited to see what the contestants would make.
However, being something of a pedant, especially when it comes to sewing terms, I found myself super frustrated by the repeated descriptions of a flounce as a ruffle, you could say my flounce was truly ruffled!!
Anyway, back to the sewing bee wrap dresses! All the contestants produced a dress for judging although some were not totally finished. Man Yee deserves a special mention here for using organza for her dress, a notoriously difficult fabric to work with.
Overall, there were some really made lovely wrap dresses and it was hard to call the winner. Annie’s Ankara dress was one of my favourites. I have my own version of an Ankara wrap dress which makes me feel so chic so I may have been a bit biased here (it was a flounce and not a ruffle on this dress!!), I also really liked the keyhole back of ChiChi’s dress. It was a hard choice for the judges as the standard in this round was very high with lots of the sewists including features such as flutter sleeves, puff sleeves, colour blocking, contrast edging and did I mention flounces?! The winner was Debra with her beautiful watercolour wrap dress with contrast edge binding.
The contestant who left the competition this week was Mitch. After his mini skirt with uneven pockets and Dennis the Menace transformation, I think the rather too short for a dress length of his wrap dress meant his fate was sealed. As much as I would have like to have seen him stay, I think this was the right decision.
The verdict in Stitch Sewcial was that this was an amazing start to the series. If you’re itching to sew any of the garments made in the episode The Foldline have done their regular round-up of sewing patterns similar to those used.
Next week is sportswear week. This is not usually one of my favourite weeks,, but the Bee has upped their game this year (see what I did there !!) with the inclusion of a challenge to make high top trainers. This has definitely piqued my interest no end and now I really can’t wait until next week’s episode.
Don’t forget to share your makes with us in Stitch Sewcial ... we love seeing sewing bee inspired garments. Oh, and come join us for our live chat and quite possibly a cheeky G’n’T!
Sewing. pattern cutting, teaching, tea and Jelly Babies!