SEWING BEE 2019, EPISODE 8: Florence Welch to Shirley Temple

Joe Lycett Narnia

I for one am fully ready for a Narnia remake starring Joe Lycett as Mr. Tumnus.

Two months of sewing and it all climaxes in a night of evening wear challenges, although quite where the net curtains factor into this particular theme is a mystery.

Pick your Fighter:

juliet smug queen

Juliet the Reliable Sewer with a strong point of few, an innate sense of style and more than a passing fancy for a nipple.

leah reaction shot

Leah the Scrappy Underdog who mostly just benefited from the three older contestants getting fatigued and making worse mistakes than her. Love you Leah.

riccardo laugh.png

Riccardo the Journeyman who has shown the most improvement, taken a fair few style risks that ended up paying off with some truly outstanding garments.

To say it’s a bit of a two-horse race is probably fair.

In order to celebrate the final Esme is rocking a disco clown smock with panache, Joe has shown up in his favourite disco cardigan and Patrick is…

judges outfits


Waistcoat No Time

For the final pattern challenge the sewers will be making a double breasted waistcoat, a bit of a shock seeing as none of our sewers are particularly well known for their history with menswear but at least it doesn’t have sleeves.

The specifications are:

  • Fully Lined
  • Shawl Collar
  • Sham Welt Pockets (which sounds like something that needs a cream)
  • Six buttons
  • six buttonholes, unless that wasn’t obvious…

How you feeling Leah?

leah waistcoat reaction

The sewers run to get their wool suiting fabrics and their silk linings, with Riccardo worrying his don’t go together but Juliet reassuring them that “they are a contrast”, Leah grabs a rich burgundy and Juliet goes classic corporate blue.

Apparently this is the hardest pattern challenge they have ever set and if you were wondering what makes it so hard just look at the pattern:

waistcoat pattern pieces

It’s like the aftermath of a particularly savage game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

Because the waistcoat requires a lot of structure the sewers will be using interfacing and have been instructed to go about this by block fusing and if I could tell you what any of that means I would but alas… All I know is that Leah is as on brand as ever and gone wrong at possibly the earliest stage by cutting out her pieces without block fusing meaning in order to interlace them she will have to cut out a second piece of each pattern piece – it’s 2019 you have to be committed to your brand. She is forced to start again; this time opting for bubblegum pink. Naturally it causes her to nosedive into a bit of a frantic state as she tries to play catch-up. Patrick tries to help by aggressively telling her to stop, breathe and relax because if she gets the block fusing bit wrong the whole thing will be a disaster.

Juliet and Riccardo are cruising along at such a pace that Joe and Riccardo have time to marvel at the wonders of silkworms and Juliet has time to talk about her daughter which leads into her delightful Meet The Family Bit which results in one of the best moments in this entire series

juliet daughter

Everyone loves a smooth breaking of the fourth wall. Juliet also threatens to never make a waistcoat for her husband even though he would quite like one.

The welt pockets cause a great deal of confusion with their mitred corners an slanted positioning – Riccardo and Leah have a bit of an argument about whether they go up or down and it’s a bit of a glass half full, half empty situation

welt pocket direction

Although the pockets are the least of Leah’s problems as due to her powering through at a rate of knots she doesn’t read the instructions carefully enough and Esme swoops in to tell her that she has just cut the collar out of the lining fabric.

Speaking of lining fabric, it all goes to hell in a handcart for Riccardo as he tries to line his waistcoat in his rather gorgeous burnished gold rose print silk. It’s a complicated process involving sewing it inside out and then pulling it through in a move known as “bagging out” apparently… You then have to hand-sew the hole you pulled it through – it’s actually a rather exciting process to watch, like some sort of alien birthing scene, alas it isn’t a smooth labour for Riccardo as he fails to catch his fabric and ends up birthing a bewinged waistcoat into the world, which does actually sound at least a little bit fabulous.

He sets to work redoing it but sadly fails to catch the layers again and weirdly after this whole debacle he becomes birthing mother to Leah’s foetal pink waistcoat

waistcoat birthing


The last few minutes are a rushed flurry of unmeasured buttonholes and pressing collars; and if you were wondering what a few weeks of this competition does to someone, well Juliet has formed quite the emotional bond with her mannequin

juliet mannequin

The first waistcoat down the aisle is Leah’s candyfloss groom

leah pink waistcoat

You can tell she was a little bit rushed for time because although her collar is symmetrical her buttons and buttonholes are noticeably askew, the choice of the pink buttons does also give the illusion of mammalian nipples and her welt pockets are on the wrong sides and the edges are unmitred meaning the waistcoat looks a little bit like a particularly concerned Peppa Pig.

Juliet is next

juliet waistcoat

For someone lauded for having a very pronounced and individual sense of style it’s a very ordinary waistcoat but it is stunningly well made garment and gets the highest of praise from Patrick who says he would indeed wear it. How you feeling Riccardo and Leah?

riccardo reacts to juliet

leah reacts to juliet


Lastly we have Riccardo

riccardo blue waistcoat

Stylistically his is the most successful, that soft blue and burnt gold colour combination is GLORIOUS but the collar is very lumpy dumpy, curling at the edges giving it an almost pillow-like effect.

The judges deliberate and the results

  1. Juliet’s Chelsea Banker
  2. Leah’s 2009 Gay Wedding
  3. Riccardo’s Puffy Groom

It’s quite a telling tea party on the terrace

juliet mug

University Challenge contestants could learn a thing about Victory Sips™ from Juliet. Riccardo meanwhile is pure Disney Villain murder plan

riccardo mug


Welcome to the Stage, Miss Anette Curtain!

The sewers return for their final transformation challenge and the sewing room has been taken over by ghosts!

spooky ghost curtains

Nope, just net curtains because the challenge is to make a piece of evening wear out of the curtains, how you feeling Leah?

leah reacts to curtains

The sewers are allowed to take up to 3 curtains as well as some habidashery fabric but the net curtains MUST be the star of the show. Inexplicably nobody mentions that Juliet has essentially already done this challenge in the Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle Challenge – not that it makes life less difficult for her, although they needn’t worry because for a large portion of this challenge Juliet just desperately pins scraps of net curtains to her mannequin’s tits and hopes for inspiration to strike.

juliet net curtain construction

Sadly we also don’t get an Amber Butchart History Bit because we spent so much time having their relatives expound how proud of Leah, Riccardo and Juliet they are. I’d have appreciated a concise history of the curtain-twitcher’s weapon of choice.

Obviously one of the main issues with sewing with net is the fact you can largely see through it (#FREETHENIPPLE) and as it’s a formal event brazen nudity might not be par for the course – although there are the AVN Awards where I think a bit of nip and arse would be perfectly expected. All the sewers do opt for modesty though, Riccardo and Juliet opting to line their dresses in emerald green and white respectively. Leah grabs a black paisley print and bungs a lacey white fishtail onto the bottom of it creating what I can only describe as a Nightmare Mermaid

leah pre-bow gown

In order to add more curtain and balance out the bottom, and for a little bit of brown-nosing, Leah decides to add a massive fuck-off bow to the shoulder of her dress and she and Joe have a wonderful time boning it. Juliet opts for an enormous bowed tit, more as an attempt to distract herself from the net curtains than anything else though.

Joe then puts the fear of God into Riccardo as he calls his dress “conservative” (see the BBC isn’t so biased) and he lops off the bottom half of the skirt and in an instant we go from Florence Welch to Shirley Temple in one slash of the scissors.

riccardo long net sckirt

riccardo short skirt

Juliet meanwhile has made pretty good advances on a dress, there’s just the issue of her not having actually utilised the curtains and only having 20 minutes left at which point she just kind of drapes it over her skirt and creates a very elaborate napkin at a restaurant that is trying to appear at least 2 star ratings higher than it is.

The judges are welcomed back and judging commences with Riccardo’s sad 80’s prom chaperone.

riccardo net curtain dress

It is… well… quite the outfit. Very little of Riccardo’s actual sewing gets praised, it’s mainly the netting her chose and the green fabric that is talked about. The rest follows the same pattern as his waistcoat and seems to be suffering from some fort of allergic reaction as it is puffed up to at least twice the size any of it should be.

Juliet’s is next

juliet net curtain dress

Queen of The Risky Nipple! For something made in the last few minutes she gets a pretty good critique and the judges don’t mind the simplicity of her use of net curtains, although they do clock the suspiciousness of the bodice.

Lastly it’s Leah

leah net curtain dress

The judges love it and I am BAFFLED. The boning in the bow does nothing but weight it down, the fabric combinations are absurd and the whole thing looks like the result of a bachelorette party game.

The judges make their choice for the final transformation challenge:

  • Leah’s Miss Havisham Mermaid
  • Juliet’s Last Minute Towel Swan
  • Riccardo’s Shirley Temple Goes to Prom


A Winner is Gowned

The final day dawns and the judges do their best to add a sense of suspense as to what the outcome might be but with Riccardo being the bottom of both challenges and Leah constantly twitching like she’s 12 espresso shots over the daily recommended amount they might as well have etched Juliet’s name into the trophy overnight.

As usual the sewers return but this time their models will be their family members, adding an even greater sense of peril because at least previously you probably wouldn’t have to see the poor woman wearing your crotch guzzling jumpsuit ever again once filming had wrapped.

This time the sewers must make a strapless ballgown for their chosen target: Juliet’s cousin Maxine, Riccardo’s best friend Frederica and Leah’s sister Naomi. GET THE TIT TAPE OUT LADIES.

The judges are expecting something big and fairly elaborate that makes quite the statement, if you’re wearing a ballgown you always want to be That Bitch™ that stops the party when she walks into the room, and Riccardo is certainly going for that aesthetic with his Flapjack Octopus Gown

riccardo jellyfish gown sketch

It’s inspired by the current issue of all the plastic in the ocean, specifically the dead whales that eat plastic bags because they think they are jellyfish and… I’m not sure Riccardo watched Blue Planet closely enough. How does his unfortunate friend feel about this?

federica jellyfish reaction

I AM SO SORRY BABY. She’s still a good friend though and is there to tell Riccardo that his nose is looking sweaty

sweaty riccardo


Leah’s effort to grab attention is slightly more subtle opting for a daffodil yellow gown perfectly suited for a billionaire’s yacht

leah billionair husband

Leah for the next series of The Bachelor please. The piece de resistance of the gown though:

leah ballgown design sketch

A BOW! And already you can tell it’s too small, it’s a ball gown go full on Laura Marano at the 2019 Oscars. Or at the very least Nicole Kidman at the 2007 Oscars. The whole illusion of the gown is based on how it literally looks like a piece of fabric has been wrapped around her sister with very little evidence of sewing which on a competition based on showcasing your sewing techniques and abilities might be… a bad idea. But there is also talent in well executed simplicity. Also, Leah’s sister Naomi is absolutely the star of the show and I need more of her IMMEDIATELY – her little playful bitchfest with Joe was immaculate.

Juliet is going for high drama with luxurious red jacquard fabric gown that looks like something Blair Waldorf would wear in a series finale of Gossip Girl as she enacts her masquerade ball shenanigans

juliet ballgown sketch

Even more impressive is the fact that Juliet has designed the pattern herself and I think it is in that moment that she truly secured the win for herself. Although she has never made a corset before so patterning one yourself is very risky. Juliet does have some experience sewing for her sister Maxine, by which I mean she sewed her a crop top a number of years ago that she never wore. Damning.

Corset Wars begin and apparently the Laws of Corsetry are that the more panels the corset has the better it will fit, Leah has 15, Riccardo has 14 and Juliet has… 9. As we shall soon find out I’m not sure this is a hard and fast rule… Leah makes a lot of work for herself with a 4 layered corset made of increasingly lightweight silks which Esme seems particularly concerned by. The corset requires many fittings to ensure and accurate and tight fit, nobody wants a bulging corset so there’s a lot of shots of the sewers just pressing scraps of fabrics against their models’ chests like some desperate attempt to ensure their modesty in a 1950’s comedy film. Leah is taking a particular care in this process and I am worried that she might secretly be trying to asphyxiate her sister as the corset gets smaller and smaller throughout the fitting.

Juliet’s skirt is as complicated as her bodice, requiring a series of matched up pleats, of which she is not sure if they are Box Pleats or Kissing Pleats and quite frankly I am lost and nor do I care because:

juliet pockets

POCKETS! Truly the moment Juliet secured the crown, fuck Riccardo’s eco-gown and Leah’s attempt to nab a husband, Juliet can hide a bag of Haribo in hers! Pockets aren’t the only thing being inserted because in order to ensure the bulbous jellyfish bell Riccardo is inserting plumbing piping

riccardo tent

Rude Patrick. There’s an almost hula hoop contest that Patrick wusses out of

hula hoop patrick grant

Not to worry, Joe later  falls in love with the hooped crinoline and spends quite some time making his bid for a part of a pantomime dame

joe crinolene.png

Leah isn’t having as much fun as she begins to sewing the top layer of silk de Chine, which is 3 metres long and requires a very delicate touch as if a single thread breaks during the gathering she has to start again – it results in some extremely sore fingers but she manages it! Riccardo is fast running out of time and rushes his hems as he needs to get the iridescent layer over his gown quickly and then for some unknown reason decides that adding a ring of voluminous ruffles around his model’s waist is a good idea.

Riccardo jellyfish waist

The final moments of the challenge are a series of incidents that should probably come with a Do Not Try This At Home warning:

riccardo sewing

leah ironing model boob

suck it in

And then it’s finished, the sewers can do no more except file their nails like their about to shank someone in prison

leah filing nails

The first to face the judges is Juliet

juliet red gown

It’s just gorgeous and oozes luxury and drama from every seam and for 4 hours it truly is an immaculate gown. Esme obviously falls in love with the pockets and cleverly aligned pleats. The neckline is a little iffy with the asymmetry not being pronounced enough to seem purposeful and comes cross as more of a mistake. Everyone promptly accuses Esme of day drinking and her go to drink is apparently Cava

esme day drinking

BRB, pitching a show in which Esme and Mary Berry tour the vineyards of France and get SLOSHED.

Unfortunately following Juliet is Riccardo’s gown

soju runway

Oops, sorry wrong picture:

riccardo jellyfish gown

It’s just a little… Glinda the Good Witch in a high school production of The Wizard of Oz. The fabric choice is just too delicate and you can see the hoop skirt through it meaning that when Federica walks it just looks like a cake that someone iced when it was still warm. There’s a lot of desperate attempts to defend it by literally comparing its movements to a jellyfish which… Guys. Nobody wants that. Esme has issues with the volume of the exposed seams, BIGGER GUYS, ALWAYS BIGGER. Bigger ruffles (and also more) would have also helped hide a lot of the gown’s sins. Although there is no hiding the fact the hem of the skirt is an abomination

riccardo hem

It’s not even close to being aligned and it’s a little heartbreaking, although we will always have his Moscow Olympics Tracksuit

riccardo tracksuit

Lets remember him for that. Leah is last up and most pressing of all is how does Esme feel about the bow?

leahs yellow gown

“It’s appropriate for the dress” which very much sounds like a producer told her shouldn’t keep telling everyone to make things bigger. The dress is incredibly chic in its simplicity, it’s a little bit high-street for a gown, it lacks a certain impact to put it over the edge. The back of the gown is best ignored because Leah had a nightmare putting that zip in

back of leah's gown

So the judge is over and Patrick lauds the gowns as “The best things we have ever seen made on Sewing Bee” which then very rudely cuts to Riccardo’s gown looking like it’s desperately trying to cave in on itself.

For the final the past sewers return


Anyone? No one? Ok. A more recognisable face is Alexei who has surprised his mum to a visit to the Sewing Bee finale and well, it might have been a better surprise has he not finished *checks notes* 7th.

The judges get to deliberate privately and Joe asks Esme “So you liked Riccardo’s jellyfish dress” and her response of “I liked the premise.” Is pretty damning. Patrick describes it as “amorphous” which will never be a compliment and I think it’s safe to say that Riccardo as firmly ruled out of winning and Leah is the only one giving Juliet a run for her money but it’s still pretty obvious that even despite winning the transformation challenge, which was a bit of a universal write-off, Juliet is leagues ahead in terms of the sheer achievement of her gown.

final 3

The final three gather to hear the judges decision and in the end Juliet is announced as the winner and promptly dissolves into a wobbly mess of heavy breathing and elated whimpering.

riccardo and juliet celebrate

It’s very Tyra Sanchez winning season 2 of Drag Race


And having seen her being so calm and careful, some may say boring, throughout and in that moment of being crowned just being that happy was really heart-warming and I’m glad she won.

juliet with trophy

even if it was just for the sheer joy on her husband and daughter’s faces

juliet husband happy

Juliet daughter winning

But now for our most favourite bit THE WHERE ARE THEY NOW MONTAGE:

tom montage

Sheila montage

ben montage

mercedes montage

janet montage

jen montage

juliet montage

alexei montage

Thank you guys, it’s been a blast.

final group montage


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