Sewing Bee 2019, Episode 1: Unbalanced Frills

Joe Lycett.png

In true BBC style we have swapped the older female host for a younger male model, this time in technicolour!

I was slightly dreading Joe Lycett as the host – he’s very hit or miss for me but I actually really enjoyed him as the new host – it was clearly a lean into the popularity of Noel Fielding and it’s payed off so, good call. I still miss Claudia Winkleman. The judges have remained the same and are, as ever, the least interesting part of the show – except for the revelation that Esme Young designed a rather racy leopard jumpsuit in her heyday. The sewers (that’s pronounced “So-Errs”) have been heralded in the trailer as “the most talented bunch yet!” and well… we shall see about that because I have some concerns.

The Wiggles

The first challenge was to create that staple of every 30 year old woman who wishes she lived in their rose tinted version of the 1940s: the wiggle dress! Deceptively simple except for the multitude of hidden darts (I’ll have you know all of my dresses contain hidden darts). For once just about all of the sewers rush for the most garish fabrics they could find, with varying degrees of success, poor Alexei being an engineer was immediately drawn to a fabric patterned with vintage cars that was clearly only ever to make the ugly tie your grandfather insists on wearing every Friday. More successful in their sartorial choices were Riccardo opting for a shocking green African wax print fabric although sadly he failed to actually finish off his dress and had a straying zipper, Ben and his perfectly lined painted check pattern and scissor enthusiast (mind out of the gutter) Juliet with her elegant woodland print.
The challenge then promptly turned to how well you could match up your prints which surprisingly most of them actually managed, except for poor Tom who was already wearing an ugly shirt to begin with so it’s no surprise really that his Arts and Crafts print (that is literally the wallpaper of my childhood home’s living room) was mismatched and going in a multitude of different directions. The poor lamb. A couple of them, namely Janet and Leah (who is very proud of making her own designer knock-offs) (I stan), produced dresses that were a scooch mismatched or held together with a pin and a prayer. Juliet wins the round followed by Ben and then Jen who had a perfectly lovely dress in a print that I personally didn’t much care for, leaving Leah’s unfinished dress with a haphazardly pinned on sleeve shaking at the bottom of the pile.

I Double Denim Dare You

The repurposing challenge will always be my favourite because it is truly the moment we get to see who is capable of creating the most monstrously ugly garments imaginable, add in the fact it’s denim well… this group did not disappoint, by which I mean Mercedes is iconic and will be kept around for a couple of weeks purely because she might make more things like this:

Mercedes denim dress

It’s like the world’s saddest country music star. In 2001. But in her defence we have seen this exact outfit on Project Runway when they had 2 days and budget of $200 dollars. Juliet’s decision to completely not try in this round because she won the previous one resulted in a denim creation that was similarly unwearable although it was more because if you did wear it your tit would be wafting in the wind (#FreeTheNipple). I’m not sure I would describe anyone’s outfit as particularly successful because just look at the lineup:

denim creations

This is what a criminal line-up in Texas looks like. The judges take issue with Leah’s milquetoast bow, Tom’s buttcheeck skimming mini minidress, Janet’s unbalanced frills and Ben’s awkwardly ventilated dress. They are however intrigued by Sheila’s baffling denim Letterman jacket and Jen’s halterneck dress is perfectly serviceable and they are the obvious tops and are joined, God only knows how, by Alexei’s ombre denim skirt and Juliet plummets to the bottom for daring to flagrantly bare a nipple, I’m not convinced her nudity was worse than Mercedes’ vaginal doorflap dress but each to their own.

Jumpsuit in The Name of Love:

STOP ENABLING JUMPSUIT WEARERS. My entire clothes shopping experience is thinking I have managed to find a fabulous dress only to get it to the changing rooms to find out it’s just a hideous jumpsuit. Juliet’s jumpsuit is possibly the only jumpsuit I have ever considered maybe wanting to own, the way she intertwined the two fabrics and the massive fuck off sleeve that looked like a nod to a Herero dress. It was stunning and I loved it. Alexei, continuing his I’M AN ENGINEER theme, opted to make a jumpsuit inspired by his aunt’s military past and well, this his is aunt:

alexei pilot aunt

A better photo will never be taken so everyone else just give up. The result was alright, except the size of the bell-bottoms was ridiculous and nobody said anything about it. In general the critique of this challenge was a little uncomfortable because the judges kept having to tweak the crotches of the poor models. The models got a bit of a raw deal, Sheila managed to break her zip and create a jumpsuit so ill-fitting that it disappeared up the model’s arse after she took 3 steps (she had Rihanna in mind while making it), Ben apparently made his model wear a toilet seat around her neck:

ben jumpsuit toilet collar

Mercedes made an attempt to redeem her denim disaster by using denim again in this round and for some reason decided the best colour was mustard yellow which… seems wrong, although the actual outfit wasn’t bad it was just weirdly condiment themed. Faring much better were Janet and extremely well thought out nautical jumpsuit, Riccardo’s comfy looking jinbei style jumpsuit and Leah redeems herself with a perfectly fitting peacock jumpsuit with a fishing fly haphazardly glued onto the bust:

leah peacock jumpsuit fishing fly

In the end after landing in the middle throughout and failing to score any innuendo points and only creating a mismatched wiggle dress, a denim creation that could have been worn by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and a jumpsuit that I’m pretty sure his model did not want to wear AT ALL sent Tom home as he never quite lived up to the potential of his ugly shirt. Juliet’s jumpsuit obviously wins Best Garment and she sweeps her denim sling under the rug.

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