SEWING BEE 2019, EPISODE 2: Shark Week Uniform

joe lycett bee

It’s Children’s Week and my proverbial uterus has never felt more shrivelled.

Having Children’s Week this early on is extremely brave, especially given that we already have a precedent of mildly unwearable outfits with varying degrees of possible nudity – WHAT COULD GO WRONG?


The first challenge is hoodies which Patrick says “look simple” meanwhile Sheila is already shaking her head in fear, the foreshadowing is strong in this one. The specifics are three different fabrics, the main Hoodie, the ribbed cuffs and the hood’s lining – it requires a lot of stretch fabric which in the previous 4 series has resulted in some… gammy looking outfits. It also means they have to use the dreaded Over Locker, which still mystifies me to some degree and will always sound like a particularly savage Marvel villain.
Animal prints were the choice du jour, llamas were particularly popular with Mercedes opting for them as a lining because “llamas remind me of my daughter” which seems rude, Ben goes for the same fabric for the main body of his hoodie and Janet gets some cute bunnies. Leah for some reason chooses sharks and I’m more just baffled that that was an actual fabric they had available. Alexei, Jen and Mercedes all opt for boring plain colours. Leah has the best tip for cutting stretch fabric, everyone else going for scissors and she whips through it with a rotary cutter like a pizza chef. Leah does also give a WONDERFUL humble brag and says “all I have to do to make children’s clothes is make an outfit one size smaller than my own.” And it’s like ok, we get it, you do ballet. But she’s not the only one with a gift for rhythm and agility as REVELATION TIME:

ben trapeze

Ben does trapeze in some very fetching gold shorts and floral leggings and quite frankly I have a favourite. Also Riccardo does beach volleyball and Juliet takes photos with her kid in front of a very wrinkled sheet? Not everyone has an interesting social life. The biggest challenge of the whole thing turns out to actually be getting the hoodies onto the mini mannequins which results in a number of potential new Doctor Who monsters:

riccardo hoodiemishapen child

The judging commences and the main point of consternation is the fact the hood doesn’t meet exactly in the middle of the collar for a good majority of the sewers and in the end there’s only a hair’s breadth separating the final standings except for Ben and his adamant refusal to overlock his stitches which lands him bottom of the pile in the final assessment:

  1. Janet’s Perfectly Matched Bunnies
  2. Jen’s Fetching Executioner Hood
  3. Mercedes Beige Wonder
  4. Leah’s Shark Week Uniform
  5. Juliet’s Lightning Bolt Hoodie
  6. Riccardo’s Future Crop Top
  7. Alexei’s Class Wars Hoodie
  8. Sheila’s Lumpy Stars
  9. Ben’s Un-Over Locked But Otherwise Fine Hoodie

Let the Fur Fly

So because the BBC is clearing out its wardrobe stock they’ve wrangled together a range of Pat Butcher’s old coats for the sewers to repurpose, and assumedly give one another severe lung damage because that is a lot of microfibers in a small poor ventilated room. The challenge is to turn the coats into mythical beast costumes, remember that bit IT’S IMPORTANT. The designers descend on the old coats and Joe Lycett promptly gets trapped in one in a scenario I have embarrassingly been in the middle of a Next – it was a harrowing 10 minutes.
In a round with as limitless possibilities as “make a strange animal outfit for a child” everyone was pretty ordinary – a range of cats including one of which may or may not have been called Shaun, one that was midway through a Animorph style transmutation and another that was VERY seasick.

seasick cat.png

Ben inspired by his ribbed velvetine fur created an ant that looked like it had a very structurally insecure pelvis but after his bust of a hoodie round he had to try SOMETHING. Jen makes a very nice bird although the fact no one pointed out how badly she had cut out the feathers alarmed me.

jen bird

Getting slightly more creative with the challenge was Juliet who decided to create a chimeric bear/bee creature she dubbed a Bee-st, Mercedes grabbed all the yellow fabric she could and instead of going the obvious route and creating an Asia O’Hara Tweety Bird poncho she… made Princess Sunshine. Suffering from a similar lack of anthropomorphisation was Sheila who created, I don’t even know:

sheila womble

She claims it is “Carnival Queen” but all I’m getting is Womble concept art? During the judging both she and Mercedes are called up for misunderstanding the assignment and in a reverse of fortune for some it ends up as such:

  1. Ben’s Soggy Bottomed Ant
  2. Jen’s Very Nice Bird Helmet
  3. Janet’s Seasick Cat
  4. Alexei’s Werecat
  5. Leah’s Shaun
  6. Riccardo’s Feraligatr
  7. Juliet’s Bumblebear
  8. Mercedes’ Fluffy Goldfish
  9. Sheila’s Carnival Womble

Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza

Ugly children’s dance costumes are amongst one of the few things that truly spark joy in my life, they are an endless cacophony of high concept and a lack of restraint and I LOVE THEM. Also, the sewers were surprisingly good at creating leotards that didn’t put anyone on a register, most of them had the good sense to cover them with a skirt though. The best bit of the entire round is the children absolutely not finding anything Joe Lycett says even remotely funny – tough crowd.

Riding high on the success of his ant, but very aware he fucked up the hoodie making him seem very average Ben decides to create his own textile by layering two pieces of material and slicing through the top one, it’s been done of Project Runway before and was similarly disappointing and not worth the time it took that could have been spent creating a less feeble tulle demi-skirt to really set off his Sad Pierot costume:

ben pierot clown

Also going for a monochromatic look was Leah who referencing her ballet training made a White Swan / Black Swan outfit, although it was tragically un-Natalie Portman-esque. Going for slightly more traditional genres of dance were Riccardo and Jen who creating very similar dirndl outfit and Juliet who, inspired by her Nigerian heritage, chose to create a frilled skirt in a beautiful burgundy African wax print fabric which she spends far too much time making and has to create a voluminous tube top that ends up looking like she strapped calves liver onto the chest of a child. Sheila opts for a more 90s hip hop route and creates a tracksuit in a sequined pink fabric that I simultaneously hate and want everything in my wardrobe to be made out of. She unfortunately succumbs to the inevitable pitfall on this show and creates two front left flaps for her top instead of a left and a right one meaning she doesn’t have time to make it reversible, which… I’m not sure why it needed to be? Speaking of hip-hop, in a BAFFLING choice Mercedes goes the same route and creates a sort of sorbet coloured trackie and I am just fascinated by it, but given what she had created for her daughter to wear to, what I can imagine was her first Pride event, it’s not nearly as bonkers as it could have been:

mercedes daughter

In the end the judges only have a choice to eliminate either Sheila, Mercedes or Ben and with Mercedes making consistently weird choices and the possibility of Ben showing up in gold short shorts and floral leggings it’s Sheila who gets the chop for being a bit boring but also creating a garment that was unnoticeably unsymmetrical. The Garment of the Week is a choice between Leah’s black and white swan outfit or Jen’s very well-made dirndl outfit that I’m still amazed she managed to make within the time. In the end Leah’s wins, although I am glad they acknowledged the fact the owl eyebrow epaulets were a mistake.

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