Sewing Bee 2020, Episode 6 Recap: Easy Access Belly Rubs

dismembered mannequin

It’s been hell of a 2020.

It’s everyone’s favourite nonsense week: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in which we annually really scrape the bottom of the barrel for ideas – and showing more excitement than most, and very much pulling a Monica Geller at the literature class, is Therese who shows up in a skirt made from a pair of her son-in-law’s jeans – this absolutely wont help her in any of the challenges by the way.

Usually you can tell the theme of the episode based on what the judges are wearing and:

judges outfits

Nope. Joe is in Pyjamas, Patrick is Patrick and Esme looks like she’s the getaway driver for a Las Vegas crime syndicate.

Really Effing Ugly Bomber Jackets

The first challenge of the week is to create a man’s bomber jacket using only 4 secondhand lady’s garments and if that sounds like the end result is going to look like those weird clothes in a vintage shop that isn’t really vintage so much as it “vintage inspired” (and only so far as everything is that particular style of 70s tack) you would be absolutely correct:

a lineup of really ugly jackets

I hate them all, and yet I want every single one of them. It does at least partially explain Esme’s outfit du jour and she certainly inspired Therese to make a jacket that would sit happily in the closet of any Yakuza hitman:

yakuza jacket frontyakuza jacket back

The only fabrics the sewers will be provided with is the ribbing for the cuffs, collar and bottom as well as the open zip which means there’s a mad dash to get a set of 4 garments that at least have some sort of similar colour story or fabric weight, and then there’s Peter who is possessed by the spirit of Ali and grabs this particularly nauseating set of materials:

peter ugly fabrics

Peter is very confident as he has made a bomber jacket before in an equally nauseating My Little Pony fabric:

my little pony bomber jacket

Peter is now confirmed as both a furry and a Brony, le shoquette. He should probably have kept that pride to himself because for some reason he grabs a crepe fabric and a stretch jersey, which even as a non-sewer I know is a bad idea and he runs into numerous problems along the way, particularly with trying to attach the ribbing to a stretchy fabric and in the end has to settle with “finished but not pretty” – which is Highly Relatable Content™. The recycling of garments also means that a few of the jackets end up with random button holes, zips and pre-existing pockets dotted around the place, Matt and Liz are the main culprits although Liz sadly sews her button up shut rather than leaving it open for easy access belly rubs:

easy access belly rubs pocket

Clothes aren’t the only things being recycled this week as Amber Butchart is here to explain to us how Victorians loved themselves a bit of recycling, personally I would have preferred it if she had maybe explained how Mark slipped through the fabric of time and ended up in 2020 via Birmingham 1919

mark the street urchin

And does he regret this timehop?

The collar becomes a contentious issue for many of the sewers (that’s SO-ERRs) with it not quite lining up straight or falling that little bit short in the case of Nicole, who out of everyone I fully believe made the, to be very generous, coolest bomber jacket, using a dashiki and various other patterned fabrics to create something quite bold and geometric:

dashiki bomber jacket

Sure her pattern matching was off by mere millimetres but it’s still fun and the fact she is creating the loudest and most outrageous garments in a series in which she is competing with the designer for a drag queen, a Brighton native, a 90s goth and a Doctor Who stan is quite something and shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Liz has similar issues with using bright colours that highlight all of her mistakes:

liz red bomber

Most of the other sewers try to stay as muted as possible with Clare and Mark basically making the same garment using very wishy-washy uninspiring blue fabrics:

mark blue bomberclare blue bomber

Clare apparently found this challenge particularly tricky because she would only wear a bomber jacket after a couple of gin and tonics – need I remind you that she made PANTS OUT OF A CASHMERE CARDIGAN ONCE.

Matt is completely flummoxed by the open zip, which personally I don’t know why they’re putting a close ended zip on a jacket in the first place, and ponders over this solution:

poppers sewing

Not on the BBC you can’t.

The final ranking for the bomber jackets is:

  1. Mark’s Blue Affair
  2. Clare’s Only If I’m Drunk Jacket
  3. Liz’s I Didn’t Know How To Make This Goth Jacket
  4. Therese’s Yakuza Uniform
  5. Matt’s Pockets EVERYWHERE
  6. Nicole’s Dafuckishe so low?
  7. Peter’s Eyesore

Laundry Bag Couture

The transformation challenge for the week is to take plastic laundry bags and turn them into any garment of your choice, the long walk to reveal this to the sewers was on a par with driving from London to Durham. Anyway, how you feeling about the challenge guys?

clare and Liz scandalized


The stipulations for it are that they can only use 3 of the plastic bags, any trimmings they like (this turns out to be a trap) and NO OTHER FABRICS.

Because of the rigidity of the plastic bags lend themselves well to very structural and architectural designs, the judges are realy expecting some wild and avant-garde garments. In the words of The Dread Pirate Roberts: “Get used to disappointment” because while some of them do want to make something kind of out there and wack-a-dack, there is bit f a constraint in that they only have 90 minutes so what we get are 2 voluminous skirts in various geometrical shapes from Liz and Clare whose mannequins look like twins going to a martian disco in an 80s sci-fi B-film

liz puffball skirtgeometric skirt

Clare’s has a lot more construction to it and Liz’s literally just looks like someone stuck their legs through a bag which Joe actually did as a gag:

joelycett in a plastic bag

And because she broke her zip and had to sew in an emergency one, she just has a long length of it hanging limply off the bag of the skirt like a very sad tail. And in some true judge-fuckery, they lament the fact that Clare’s skirt is far too neat and tidy – these sorts of critiques are why you end up with so many unfinished hems.

Nicole and Mark find themselves in a raincoat dog-fight

rain kimonoplastic bag raincoat

which Nicole marginally wins because she used more than one colour of fabric and it had a belt, whereas Mark’s only embellishment was a pocket which Patrick could put his pheasant in. *looks to camera*

Peter of course with a 90 minute constraint makes the same garment he has made for the majority of these transformation challenges and yet nobody has clocked him for it. Granted the skirt is pretty cool:

knock off vivienne westwood version 4

But that bodice looks like the toothpaste tube of your worst flatmate and we’ve seen this knock-off Vivienne Westwood 3 times already now.

And then we have Matt and Therese, the first of which decides that this is the perfect challenge to try and make a wedding dress in and remember in Bakeoff where the final challenge was to bake and ice a wedding cake in like 3 hours? The result was similar to that:

plastic bag wedding dress

The utter brain fart of that red feather trim? Iconic levels of what-the-fuckery – DIVORCE HIM MISS MARTINI.

Oh and Therese created this beetle larva

therese beetle larva dress

That the judges went utterly gaga over because of her clever use of zips on the shoulder straps and I feel like they massively overlooked the general hideousness of the overall outfit.

The judges’ ranking for the laundry bag transformations is:

  1. Peter’s Voveonne Wastwood
  2. Therese’s Larval Moth
  3. Liz’s Totally Mental Crazy Puffball Skirt
  4. Nicole’s Rain Kimono
  5. Clare’s Fart Catcher
  6. Mark’s Burberry Hunter
  7. Matt’s Case for Divorce.

At the end of the first two challenges the sewers in very precarious positions are Peter, Nicole and Matt but that doesn’t mean Therese isn’t going to put in a valiant effort for elimination….

Winter Knit Dresses

The made-to-measure challenge this week if a bit different because unlike last year’s recycling challenge which was just to make a garment out of a pair of curtains, with curtains basically already being a large piece of fabric that is easy to cut shapes out of, this year they have to make a inter dress out of old knitwear, which adds the complication of the fact that whenever you cut into something it just disintegrates like Thanos had a particularly bad grudge against angora as Matt discovers – luckily he had enough items to finish Katniss Everdeen by-way-of Anastasia Romanov costume

twirlign knit fire dress

The things I would do to own this outfit. It was made so much better by Matt’s model spinning in it and living her best life and Peter’s model sitting there styled like the Wicked Witch in a community theatre production of The Wizard of Oz giving THE BEST stank face. I absolutely thought it was going to be the recipient of the “best thing I’ve ever seen on Sewing Bee” that the BBC have been pushing since the series began but alas it went to a possibly equally deserving Nicole:

knit dress nicole

It might not have the drama and sheer fabulosity of Matt’s burning Russian socialite but it is polished and well executed – and probably the most “wearable” of everything that got made – I can very much see it hanging on he racks of Wallis or Per Una.

As with the bomber jacket challenge the obvious route was to go with a very geometrically patterned garment, as we’ve already seen with Matt and Nicole. Liz making a true return to her goth roots, in that she is using purple and black which as much as is required to be goth on this show, makes my Old School Runescape character:

liz mmorpg gme character dress

Her name is Belldonna H3x.
Mark goes a similar route and is desperate to showcase his piano jumper in some way and ends up making a rather aggressive turtleneck:

aggressive collar

That is just a very decorative Cone of Shame; and somehow nobody addresses the fact he clearly ran out of fabric and couldn’t make two sleeves because I don’t believe for a single second that he in anyway meant for it to be this asymmetrical

mark one sleeve

That short sleeves finishes at just the most awkward length.

Clare is much happier back in her wheelhouse of vintage kitsch-ery with a 1920s colour block skirt made out of an interesting material

puffin dress

Wool was really hard to get ahold of in post-war Britain and they had to use something – you should see what they used to make underwear – there’s a reason you don’t see many snakes in Britain. You can pretty much feel her excitement as she goes along, clearly delighted that at the end of all this she could probably wear it herself

puffin dress in action

the judges have a few issues with the way the fabric occasionally puckers along the colourful panel but it’s very minor.

And then you have the two strugglebuses of the round in Peter who has apparently bought every single item of knitwear in all of Brighton’s charity shops and yet seems to only use maybe 3 pieces at best. This does Leave Joe with enough to rummage through and serve up some TK Maxx sizing issues realness:

too small

Despite these 4 bags of knitwear available to him he still only ends up with half a garment, most of which was just a napkin flopped over his models head

that big hood

Albeit it’s very good budget Madame Vastra cosplay

madame vastra jacketmadame-vastra-neve-mcintosh

The real telling moment for Peter’s inevitable elimination is the moment he looks around the sewing room and ponders “why does everyone else’s look like dresses and mine looks like a jumper?” Well maybe if you had… sewn some of it it might have helped.

And if this wasn’t a prophetic sign of how Therese’s round would go I don’t know what is:

therese shrunk

Her design starts off as a colour blocked dress with huge flappy sleeves bringing a similar element of drama as Matt’s autumnal hankerchief skirt

batwing jumper dress

But then seemingly decides that that’s to hard so makes the decision to… Just put a jumper on her model and hope the judges wont notice:

just a jumper

SPOILER ALERT, they notice and Patrick intimidates Therese into actually putting some effort into it unless she wants to end up like Alex draping a towel over a mannequin’s shoulders and calling it a cape. The end result:

therese knit dress

It’s just a jumper with a different collar and a panel on the bottom to make it a dress. God bless her. She made a valiant effort to be eliminated but it was no match for the crimes Peter committed against his model:

wicked witch cheap

Honey, sue him.

So with Peter eliminated (my pool of suspects as to who makes the Marge Simpson Carnival nightmare is rapidly shrinking) that leaves a contentious argument over Garment of the Week which result in both Nicole and Peter’s knit dresses getting the award.

Next week:

clare as Alexis Carrington

Clare wins Snatch Game!

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