Sewing Bee 2020, Episode 7 Recap: A Magpie with a Kink

glad i was dead

We’re heading back in time this week to revisit the 80s which dredges up a few unfortunate memories for Liz:

80s bridesmaid dress

It’s no wonder she ended up a goth if she was forced to wear that and Nicole has pitched up in an ode to both Prince and MC Hammer

nicolesatin jumpsuit

Meanwhile Patrick can’t be bothered to try for the theme, Esme is 8 months early for Christmas and Joe is dressed as a Jacamo budgerigar

judges outfits 80s week

Power Suits

The pattern for the challenge his week is to make a sharp, perfectly tailored power suit – think Joanne Collins and Grace Jones AND ABSOLUTELY NOT MARGARET THATCHER FOR GOD’S SAKE – three times I had to jeer at the television, the best part of the week was the reference footage they used:

archive 80s 1archive 80s 2archive 80s 3

As a broad shouldered woman, I feel so seen.

The power suit was your standard big lapel-ed, broad shouldered, cinched waist fare with the judges looking for cleanly pressed darts which meant the sewers (that’s SO-ERRS) must use a fabric that kept it’s shape, so tweed was the call of order unless you’re Nicole and immediately gravitate to the PVC like a magpie with a kink.

A lot of the discussion of the episode was where the sewers were drawing their inspiration from, you will not be surprised to know Mark pulled from Cilla Black because the only thing powerful about his mother was her spoon apparently (oh normative gender roles of the 80s <3), Matt is hoping for a dramatic Alexis Carrington moment (not in orange tweed you aren’t), Clare very much inspired by Margaret Thatcher and who would have guessed the vintage clothing nerd would be a Tory? Then there’s Therese who has constructed a whole fantasy in which Angela Ripon will wear her blazer to present the news, but specifically on St. Patrick’s Day, because it’s green. Except it’s not green at all:

thereseblue fabric

Ma’am, that’s Celtic blue.

Less inspired is Liz who bobs around muttering “this isn’t very goth” while making a blazer out of the turdiest brown tweed you’ve ever seen:

Liz power jacket

Gives a whole new meaning to “business suit” doesn’t it?

Truly out on a limb though is Nicole with her red and black PVC blazer that Patrick and Esme do everything in their power to warn her away from but she is 100% committed to making this Michael Jackson cosplay come Hell or high water unfortunately the pressing is much more difficult than she imagined because she can’t risk heating up the iron too much unless she fancies herself a partially melted lapel. She’s far from the only one struggling with pressing, Clare has a bit of a Madonna cone bra moment going on for a while and Therese spends so much time writing Angela Ripon’s St. Patrick’s Day Adventure fanfiction that she falls so incredibly far behind and that’s why her suit ends up with massive nipple dents:

therese power jacket

And that might be the least of her problems because she doesn’t manage to get a buttonhole or a button on and her shoulder pads aren’t sewn in, WHAT WERE YOU DOING FOR FOUR HOURS?

The darts aren’t the only things giving everyone trouble, as a lot of the sewers have never used shoulder pads before Matt and Clare are the only ones that really pull them off properly, Mark’s are awry and cause his left sleeve to look like it’s arm is permanently pinioned by a mugger:

mark wonky sleeve

Liz’s are also askew and nobody has time to critique Nicole’s because Esme and Patrick are still baffled about the PVC, although honestly I think her jacket was one of the best ones

nicole red pvc jacket

but apparently being “boardroom appropriate” was a large and unspecified part of the challenge, give me this Dynasty/ Mortal Kombat crossover over the abundance of tweed any day.

Clare and Matt’s were by far and away the most successful (at least in the eyes of the judges) and actually quite similar to one another both opting for rather off-putting shades of orange:

clare blazermatt dorito jacket

Matt’s particular shade of orange and the stiffness of his fabric does have the tendency to make it look like he’s made a blazer out of Doritos and I swear to God everyone’s grandmother owned a jacket with Matt’s button on it. When I pointed this out on Twitter my mentions were filled with an abundance of women very angry that I had called them grandmothers and who were very quick to inform me that their granny didn’t because it wouldn’t have been practical on a farm in rural Ireland, AND I’M SORRY ABOUT THAT SIOBHAN. Consider me cancelled.
I did love that Clare was entirely making hers for herself, she loves those slightly pastel shades, and even tried on her garment and in doing so was completely taken over by the spirit of Joan Collins

clare as Alexis Carrington

personally would have preferred it she had suddenly launched into a rage and had a 5 minute catfight with Esme.

The final ranking for the challenge was:

  1. Matt’s Not Appropriate For An Irish Farm Blazer
  2. Clare’s Alexis Carrington’s Horcrux.
  3. Liz’s Not-Goth CEO
  4. Mark’s Pinioned Arm
  5. Nicole’s Michael Jackson
  6. Therese’s Angela Ripon’s Guinness Drinking Weekend Bender

Neon Party Wear

The transformation challenge for this week, in true oh-no-what-do-we-do production team brainstorming fashion, is to turn high-vis safety wear into 80s party clothes suitable any cringe MTV dance party. The sewers are allowed to use only 3 items of clothing and have to make sure it is very 80s, so very geometric, incredibly gaudy but absolutely no embellishments, unless it’s a smiley face on your tit, that’s fine apparently.

The transformation challenges feel more and more like it’s just an excuse for Joe Lycett to dress up and this week he saunters around trying to “butch it up” dressed as a builder, and the best moment of this is when he goes to Clare who is making a ruffled skirt he says “I’ve ruffled a few sk… FEATHERS! In my time” – the panic in his voice when he realised what he was about to say and how that sounded

ruffled a few feathers


Obviously when confronted with the garish neon Liz immediately retreated to the back of the sewing room like a vampire hiding from the first rays of dawn sunlight. God bless her, I can’t wait to see her spiral out of control on next week’s dance week as she screams that the cha cha outfit she has to make doesn’t gel with her Blue Banana aesthetic. She flounders around for a while and ends up making what I think most children of the 90s would have made when confronted with green and yellow day-glo

day glo tinkerbell

It’s a poorly disguised Tinkerbell costume, and bless her for trying to hide it as best she could with that random band around the skirt but it’s the raw hem that does it in for her because apparently “raw hems don’t feel very 80s”. Clare, who is the same age as Liz, I KNOW PLOT TWIST, decides she’s going to pay homage to Madonna’s cone bra, a garment that debuted in 1990 and was inspired by the clothes of the 1950s, Clare is going to Clare. The end result is a very fun garment though, and her colour blocking and shaping is certainly the most MTV New Year Dance-a-Thon

clare 80s dance

Perfectly in their element though are Nicole and Matt, the latter of which is making the feminist boobtube we’ve all been clamouring for

breastfeeding boobtube

UNLEASH THE NIPPLE. His idea is very simple though and as such he has more than enough time to whack a smiley face onto one of the tits like he’s making the costumes for the only reboot of Watchmen that I will accept. Nicole’s experience of Parties in the 80s were mostly “kiddies parties” which took me far longer to realise she was going to children’s birthday parties and not that “kiddies parties” was some slang for cocaine fuelled raves than I care to admit, Nicole was only about 6 in the 80s, as were most of the sewers. Her garment is a rouched asymmetrical top

rouched 80s

Which the judges love and I mean, I did too if only because it looks like it could be worn by a backing dancer in a Robin Sparkles music video, and if I’m honest everyone’s outfits could have done with a much larger dose of cringe 80s teen idol.

The only sewer likely to have any concrete memories from the time is Therese and she is going full Eurovision with hers and hoping to recreate the infamous Bucks Fizz skirt reveal of 1981 which she does with all the grace of me trying to open an Amazon package

skirt reveal

You also have to have a skirt underneath to reveal to Therese, which she does realise and whacks up a a tasselled gladiator number

gladiator skirt

But wait, there’s another reveal:

gladiator skirt back


Her entire outfit goes down like a lead balloon with the judges, who are mostly dismayed with her use of sequins. SEQUINS, IN THE 80S? Never heard of such a preposterous idea. Mark also falls foul of the Sequin Brigade with his roller disco garment that he’s making in memory of the first drunk text his partner sent him

mark roller disco outfit

who said romance was dead? His shorts are good enough though to pull him up a fair few places in the ranking and forgive him his Sequinned Sins.

The judges’ ranking for our party-goers is:

  1. Clare’s Pancake Tit Disco
  2. Mark’s Shakespearean Shorts
  3. Nicole’s Robin Sparkles Backing Dancer
  4. Matt’s Maternity Club Wear
  5. Liz’s Tinkerbell Dumpster Fire
  6. Therese’s Niche Stripper Outfit

Going in to the final round Matt and Clare are riding high while Therese pretty lies dead in the water and for the sake of fairness they have to toss around Nicole’s name too.

Cocktail Dresses

The final challenge of 80s week is to make an 80s cocktail dress, quite where these cocktail parties are I have no idea but it seems to be anywhere from film premier after-party to Christmas office party, all the judges want to see are exaggerated shapes, peplums, dramatic silhouettes and Esme is back on her bow bullshit again, that was a really fun time last year, in which nobody could make a bow begin enough to satiate her desires.

Liz and Therese however didn’t take I the cautionary tale of Leah from last year and decide to step up the plate and try to make a bow worthy of Esme’s praise, Therese with her golden shoulder bows and Liz with this bizarre choice of placement:

liz 80s cocktail dress

Thank God she ran out of time and had to just whack a knotted bit of organza onto the shoulder and I would say it was big enough:

liz bow

never has someone been so saved by a lack of time management. Also, the lipstick and blush draping on Liz’s model?

blush draping

Chef’s kiss.
Liz thankfully spent less time pondering how she could make this challenge goth and more time just fangirling about how great Jem and The Holograms was to anyone that would listen.  Both sets of bows manage to pass the Esme Certified Bow Exam with flying colours, although the distracting golden rectangle on Therese’s peplum is very distracting. The peplum is also detachable for no reason other than Therese really loves an outfit reveal apparently and so that Esme could wear it as a cape

esme in a cape

The irony of Esme looking like Edna Mode and wearing a cape is DELICIOUS. Of all the outfits though I think Therese’s looks he most 2020 inspired by the 80s,

therese 80s waterfall

I could see any number of young celebrities wearing it.

The rest of the sewers did a pretty good job of creating a full range of 80s disaster outfits that your children laugh at when they look through the photo album in 30 years time, the best of which is Clare’s that she tries to pass of as “luxury” because it’s velvet and silver lamé

clare cocktail dress velvet and lame

Everything currently happening to this poor model is UNFORGIVABLE and I’m willing to train as a lawyer just to make sure she gets justice. Of everything the sleeves are a contentious issue for the judges as they seem very deflated because she made the decision not to stuff them with netting. Mark’s is suitably shiny:

mark wrapping paper dress

Esme and Patrick both praise the cut of his dress and how naturally everything falls, which couldn’t have been easy seeing as he made the whole thing out of wrapping paper.

Nicole for some reason goes through the whole rigmarole of making an outfit when she could literally have just put her purple jumpsuit on her model and fucked off and gone to a cocktail party of her own, I’d have allowed it. She’s opting to make a dual-toned blue and white sparkly dress with a zip detail back to help make sure that the split is 100% straight. She has a bit of a nightmare with the sleeves, having cut them out In the wrong colours and risking making her outfit look even more like an American football cheerleader than it ended up looking. Luckily because she stuffs the shoulders with shoulder pads, netting, bra cups and the last shreds of Liz’s sanity she manages to hide the faults and creates a really stunning outfit:

nicole blue and white shiny dress

It’s beginning to be hard to see a reality in which Nicole doesn’t win.

Less successful in their turning around of errors is Matt, oh sweet baby angel Matt, who is making a life-sized replica of the dress worn by his collectable Alexis Carrington doll:

alexis carrington doll

I assume nobody is surprised by this fact. Because of this though he doesn’t have a pattern and had to make it up himself, and when you see his design, you could literally find that pattern all over Pinterest and in any number of 80s pattern books, it’s not some avant-garde Thierry Mugler garment, it’s a gold dress with floofy shoulders and a peplum. He claims to have practiced it at home but says this with all the conviction of Gregg Wallace claiming he didn’t like something on Masterchef. Needless to say the fitting on his model goes terribly as first of all the bodice is too small

bodice bad

so he has to recut it which means the darts are in completely in the wrong place making his poor model look like her boobs are stuffed with cotton wool. But it doesn’t stop there because his skirt as the exact same issue and he has to insert a piece of the peplum fabric in because he has now completely run out of gold lamé. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! His sleeve has decides to give up the ghost and refuse to co-operate sending Matt into a complete downward spiral resulting in him going and standing out on the balcony like a widow hoping that her husband might one day return from sea

matt on the balcony

Luckily Patrick is on hand with these turn words of encouragement: “You’ve still got a gold dress with a big peplum!” which kicks him back into gear and in one final display of the cursed haberdashery his zip refuses to go up:

matt broken zip

How’s his model feeling after this intense emotional labour?

matt's model

I hope he bought her several drinks afterwards and yet the end result though isn’t THAT bad:

matt gold lame dress

It’s gaudy as all Hell and strikes me as very Little Girl in the Nativity Play choir, but with all his troubles and set backs, at least he had something wearable. Patrick really likes that the emergency insert matches the peplum, which before we give him to much credit for that decision, it was literally his only option.

When it comes to garment of the week it’s a toss up between Nicole’s and Liz’s cocktail dresses, with Nicole’s just taking the crown. Which leaves them to reveal that despite making quite a nice dress the disasters in both the power suit and party wear challenge means Therese is a goner.


u ok hun shirt

Matt asks the important questions.

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