Well, I thought Episode 2 of the current series of Great British Sewing Bee was pretty challenging, didn’t you?
The contestants were faced with designing and constructing on a small scale, with various childrenswear challenges. The first task was to make a child’s waistcoat using some traditional tailoring techniques and incorporating welt pockets. Patrick and May were looking for attention to detail – symmetrical points at the front of the waistcoat, and parallel welt pockets. Some of the contestants made this more difficult for themselves by choosing striped or checked fabrics and poor Neela had to cut her pocket flaps numerous times to ensure the stripes matched. Quite a few of the competitors struggled with this task and failed to complete it – dear old Matt fixed his buttons with Blu-Tack! The construction of the waistcoats was interesting, with the fronts inserted into the back of the waistcoat and then sewn blind on the shoulders and side seams, before being fed through a gap at the base of the waistcoat. I’m still pondering this one and think I’m going to have to give it a go!
It was lovely to see Ryan improve in confidence, winning the waistcoat challenge with a garment which Patrick described as faultless, apart from the pattern matching on the welt pockets. Lorna came second, with beautifully matched pockets but uneven button spacing.
The creative challenge combined a child’s T-Shirt and summer dress in one garment. There were some great ideas, with some lovely dresses evolving from the two garments. Neil’s transformation of the two garments into a pair of boxing shorts and some tiny boxing gloves was outstanding though. And Alex produced some very sweet little harem pants. Patrick said that Amanda’s cape ‘lacked impact’ and accused Deborah of trying to win Brownie points with May, by altering the two garments into a bolero jacket. Neil’s outfit was deservedly first, and who came second? Yes, you’ve guessed it – it was Lorna – again!!
The final challenge involved a great deal of imagination. The contestants had to produce three-dimensional fancy dress garments in four hours, though they had been allowed to prepare for these in advance, and bring in specialist fabrics. This was a fun challenge, with some fabulous costumes. Matt and Deborah produced peacocks, Lorna introduced a ‘Booby Bird’, Ryan produced a fox, Paul an elephant, Amanda created a 1920s flapper girl, Neil designed a smart phone, Neela an inch worm and Alex a cupcake – or part of one at least!
I loved Neela’s Inch Worm costume. She had made an appliquéd book which encased her model, with pleated fabric at one side to illustrate the books pages, and the book’s spine at the other. The inch worm was encased inside with a padded worm’s tail protruding from the base of the book. Paul’s elephant was also excellent with real attention to detail – he even had a little mouse running up the elephant’s leg. Patrick questioned whether Amanda’s costume was three-dimensional enough, but May pointed out that whilst Amanda had put a different interpretation on the challenge, the turban featured plenty of three-dimensional elements. Her outfit looked beautiful. Alex’s cupcake idea was great but perhaps too ambitious for the time available. Her pleated cupcake case was superb, but took so long that she ran out of time to create the cupcake frosting and sparkles.
I also loved Neil’s Smartphone costume which included padded headphones and appliquéd apps on the smartphone screen. Paul’s lovingly created elephant costume won garment of the week.
So who left the Sewing Bee? Sadly it was Alex. I know some people have criticised this decision but really I don’t think the judges had a choice. Alex was talented but was in the bottom two in the first week, and then failed to finish either her waistcoat or her fancy dress outfit. As May said, she was a brilliant sewer, but just needed time to finish things. I do think, though, that we will miss her creativity.
I’m really looking forward to Episode 3; the focus is on vintage sewing, which is a particular passion of mine, and the contestants will be using vintage sewing machines, coping with a ‘make do and mend’ challenge and sewing a sheer blouse – I can’t wait! But who will become the victim of episode 3 I wonder?
Photo from www.facebook.com/greatbritishsewingbee/timeline