Sewing Bee 2020, Episode 1 Recap: Slippery Disco Skirt

crazy dress

Just a heads up, whoever turns out to have made the above Marge Simpson at Carnival monstrosity is absolutely my winner.

So it’s back and this time there are even more sewers (that’s So-Errs) but some things remain the same – Joe Lycett continues to parade in questionable shirts, Esme is rocking the Edna Mode cosplay harder than ever and Patrick remains very attractive despite the facial hair choices – it’s truly a gift.

The sewers this year include chunky necklace afficianado Peter, ballroom dancer Alex who may or may not secretly hate his partner judging by the costumes he puts her in, 1940s secretary wannabe Clare, Mark who may no know how to tie a tie and partner and official costumer for the London drag scene and inevitable winner Matt.

Wrapped Around Your Little Finger:

Kicking off the show is a challenge to make that garment that always seems like a good idea but will always just make you look a little bit like you’re dressing as a junior school teacher: the wrap skirt. The trick is not to choose a stretchy fabric, which then just deadcut to Nicole choosing a slippery golden disco lamé, which should have been the biggest fabric drama of the day except Fiona and Therese have chosen the same fabric and neither of them decides to change in a game of sort of haberdashery-chicken, it’s truly a showdown for the ages. Elsewhere in the room is Hazel, discovering her identity through the medium of garish animal print – look we’ve all been there, she’ll be on the Lambrini by episode 3. Meanwhile ballroom dancer Alex is just cutting his fabric like an absolute madman with no care as to whether the lines are straight and truly I cherish him as our biggest hope of a hot mess of an outfit, if nothing else to go by than this outfit that I’m pretty sure he made for his partner:

alex dance partner dress

The absolute lack of fit and shape makes the Strictly costumes look like Dior.  Going for the tortoise to Alex’s cocaine fuelled rabbit are Early 2000s Skater Chic Queen Liz who we have no choice but to stan and Angillia who would rather be on a holiday (SPOILER ALERT: at least now she has the time?)

Having a complete nightmare towards the end of the time it obviously Nicole not just because of her poor choice of fabric but because it looks like she has stood in a chicken:

nicoles ugly chicken slippers

Liz becomes the first of this series to sew her pieces on the wrong the sides, can guarantee you it will only happen more often from now as everyone becomes more and more sleep deprived.Falling foul of the Obligatory VT In Which Someone Must Exercise is Fiona and this contraption:

kinky exercise machine

Whatever floats your boat, I’m not here to kink shame. It’s apparently because she makes her own leggings are home. Never tell them that. She and Therese continue to have a The Good, The Bad and The Ugly style staring competition across the room as Therese insults Kirstie Allsopp’s fashion sense, GIVE HER THE PATCHWORK CROWN IMMEDIATELY. She like everyone is stumbling over the Rouleau Loops (good drag name, right?) and the buttons, with a multitude of them being sewn onto the wrong side.

The judging is largely a positive affair with much praise for fabric choices, a particular highlight being Peter’s Skirt of Many Faces, although the fact Esme missed the chance to ask him how is head was is an absolute travesty and I will never forgive her. The only real negatives are Nicole’s Slippery Disco Skirt, the fact Peter bled all over the waistband of his dress like he was satanically baptising it, Alex’s wrap skirt that goes the wrong way (BREAK THE WRAP SKIRT BINARY) and Angillia gets marked down for mismatched buttons. Fiona loses The Fabric Faceoff due to some over stretching, whereas Therese’s was perfectly executed.

In the end the ranking is:

  1. Peter’s Blood Smeared Skirt of Many Faces
  2. Therese’s Fabric Showdown Champion
  3. ALI?
  4. Fiona’s Overstretch
  5. Mark’s Paisley Nightmare
  6. Whatever it was Liz Made
  7. Angillia’s Pushed Buttons
  8. Whatever it was was Matt Made
  9. Whatever it was Clare Made
  10. Alex’s They/Them Wrap Skirt
  11. Hazel’s Taking an Inch Waistband
  12. Nicole’s Slippery Disco Skirt

Something about a blood stained wrap skirt winning the round is truly sending me into a spiral of hysteria.

Do It for Shirts and Giggles:

And now for the The Brainfart Challenge in which we get some real monstrosities and more often than not these monstrosities win (this episode was no exception). Nicole vows to just “let rip” in this challenge, which is just rude and she could at least wait until she was outside. The challenge is to take one of the shirts from a Matalan multipack and “radically” transform it into a single ladies garment, emphasis on radical.

Perfectly at home in this challenge is drag designer Matt whose home life looks like an accidental Renaissance painting:

drag queens at home


Less on the experienced side is Clare who inexplicably once turned a cashmere cardigan into a pair of pants and I just really want to know what level of wine and boredom induced Nirvana you have to reach in order to look at your most comfortable caridgan and think “Yes! I want to wear you on my legs!” She then goes on to describe her style as “1940s secretary and Young Miss Marple” which only makes the cashmere pants even more baffling. Miss Marple WOULD NEVER. Poirot might. Banker Mark and His Increasingly Confusing Neckwear (honestly how does he have the weirdest neckpiece when Peter is over there looking like he fought a pitbull for his necklace?) are finding great joy in tearing up shirts, albeit his combination of anaemic pink and deceased frog green aren’t the best colour combination.

As always the embellishment corner gets a good raiding with Fiona grabbing a single string of feather and Nicole just grabbing every single trim she can get her hands on, claiming it’s Peruvian but really’s more Claire’s Accessories on a closing down sale. Peter is just contorting a pair of shirts around a mannequin like he’s auditioning for Britain’s Next Top Torture Master while ANgillia side-eyes everyone and makes her shirt into… another shirt but with some ruffles. RADICAL. Alex continues his sewing binary smashing ways and sews his zipper in the wrong way and Joe Lycett continues to be a disaster and tears Mark’s dress a nice little early 2000s belly hole, if Christina Aguilera ever needed office wear she knows where to come.

The judging is the usual fare of Esme and Patrick praising what are easily some of the ugliest things you have ever seen through gritted teeth. Nicole’s Coachella at Half Mast skirt gets 90% more praise than it deserves,

coachella skirt

BUT LOOK AT THE RICK-RACKS! Liz’s deck chair corset gets a lot of attention, Clare’s halter basically gets ignored because it looks like a laundry bag, Fiona’s feather skirt goes down like a lead balloon but nobody acknowledges the fact it looks like something you buy from a dodgy adult store and then we have Peter who has created every outfit a 7 year old transwoman secretly made herself:

peter trans dress

And they go balmy for it, especially the unnecessary zip at the back which looks like it was from a sleeping bag! Less positive are Alex’s messily pleated skirt and inside out zip and Angillia’s revolutionary shirt-to-shirt transformation. Mark is luckily forgiven for his belly button flashing garment and the bizarre ranking for this week is:

  1. Peter’s Office Party Torture Device
  2. Nicole’s Peruvian Hate Crime
  3. Clare’s Dirty Laundry
  4. Matt’s Mildly Ugly Skirt
  5. Liz’s Corset (WUZZ ROBBED)
  6. Hazel’s Leggy Display
  7. ALI?
  8. Therese’s Vanilla Sleeveless Top
  9. Alex’s Inside Out Zip
  10. Fiona’s Budget Bedroom Erotica
  11. Mark’s Peeka Boo Belly
  12. Angillia’s Shirt-to-Shirt Transformation

Tea Time:

Coming into the final challenge in which they must now make that staple of every Instagram crafter the tea dress – which as it turns out is just: make a dress. The people that really need to impress in order to have a hope in Hell of saving themselves are Angillia, Alex and potentially Hazel – Nicole somehow escaped being the first boot because apparently low tier influencer Coachella outfits are all the rage.

It turns out that Tea Dress can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, from very formal to overly casual – Fiona sighs and dreams of tea with the queen meanwhile Liz is recalling her grunge tea dress and Doc Martins phase. The main thing however is that it must go below the knee and finish before the ankle. Most of them end up going extremely retro, none more so than Clare who is feeling the full 40s fantasy and is apparently rationing:

clothes rationing

On the other end of the aesthetic spectrum is Peter who is using lurid tie dye in order to combine the worlds of Audrey Hepburn and festival goers, so Breakfast at Glastonbury. In terms of print the rest of the room is pretty safe with classic florals or breezing Caribbean prints and then there’s Alex and his tepid pink that just looks like wafer ham. And then sealing her fate forever is Angillia opting for a solid blue dress with gathered fabric running along the breasts like a badly healed wound, it’s somehow less flattering than Alex’s skirt. Similarly making things difficult for herself is Fiona who has to line her dress or else her model is just going to be TITS OUT FOR THE BOYS!

In the final phase of fitting of his bodice Peter realises he has made his bodice to small (that’s a complex he’s just given his model) and has to sew in a panel and forsake his meticulous pattern matching, and while he faffs around I am very distracted because PETER MIGHT BE A FURRY:

peter is a furry

They’ve infiltrated the BBC, God bless those muscular wolves. Alex has also fucked up his fitting with his dress now just looking several sizes too big for his model and only adding the to value pack of wafer ham vibe and then Angillia is just in the corner with half a dress while Patrick and Esme watch on from their eyrie and begin writing their fairwell speeches for her.

The final stretch and determined to give his model an even deeper complex one of the seams on Peter’s garment pops, but the true tragedy of the time limit is Angillia who doesn’t even get around to putting sleeves on her dress and then there’s Fiona’s ruffle that just looks like it is begging for death:

fiona ruffle death

The success stories of the night are Matt’s very traditional mustard yellow dress with cute bow details, his pattern matching could have been better though. Ali’s hankerchief hem dress is pretty but a bit dower, it’s kind of summertime funereal afternoon tea. Clare is firmly in her comfort zone with a dress that basically looks like it has a built in apron:

clare apron dress

It’s the 1940s after all. Mark instantly garners a lot of attention BECAUSE THERE ARE FUNCTIONAL POCKETS. The true winner however is Liz’s model who delightfully hams it up on the runway and feels all of that early 2000s Avril Lavigne soft-punk energy, there truly is no choice but to stan.

Those falling short are Alex because when I say it looks like wafer ham I truly mean it:

alex ham dress

Less Prada, more prosciutto.

Then there is Fiona’s dress that while the print is delightful the whole thing looks like a sentient marshmallow because it literally has a gaping maw. Then bottom of  the barrel is undoubtedly Angillia whose tea dress somehow gives her model camel-toe which in a way is a feat of tailoring, the sleevelessness wouldn’t have been such an issue if she had actually managed to finish it and give it a hem. Alex had the same hemming issues but tried to play it off as intent and Esme was not having it, but the funniest thing is, I think he may have actually been serious, the sweet baby angel.

Then the judges have to go deliberate and there is barely enough time for a cup of tea because the decision is so blindingly obvious.

The winner of garment of the week is Matt’s mustard tea dress:

matt mustard dress

It really is very elegant, but did it have pockets? Then there is the sad but obvious news that the sewer leaving is Angillia, at least she has time for that holiday now.


Holiday Week! Sorry Angillia.

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