Sewing Bee 2021, Episode 2: Rocket Lolly Babushka

Need a hand Serena?

What show other than Sewing Bee could feature a priest’s husband wearing speedos, a cat named Yoda, a tumbling Frenchman and enough turquoise fringe to please every drag queen in Britain?

Bags of Fun

For Summer Week’s Pattern Challenge the sewers (that’s SO-ERRS) have to make a pair of paperbag shorts that must feature the elasticated waist that gives them their name, 2 pockets, turned up hems and a bagged out belt with acute, pointed ends, and Esme will be very particular about the pointedness of these belts.

In order to achieve a visible, structured gather on the waist the sewers have to be very careful with their fabric choices and opt for something with a degree of stiffness and Farie ponders the question as old as time itself

as it turns out her choice of some sort of peachy linen looking fabric was a little too stiff and her belt very much began to look like she was making one of those plush snakes that you only ever see in zoo gift shops being hung from a snake rack

the shorts are very cute though but the belt does remain a little too puffy for Esme’s tastes

the belts caused almost unanimous frustration across the board but at least the bagging out phase allowed them to take out a considerable amount of their frustrations

despite his belt related rage, Adam’s shorts came out looking adorable, the nautical print gives them a real 50s pin-up vibe

the belt however is hiding a fairly wonky elastic channel, which was a problem many of the sewers had due to the fact they were having to sew over up to 3 layers of fabric in some places as the goal was to catch the top of the pockets within the seam, something Rebecca failed to do. I’m honestly surprised that Rebecca’s shorts are still so long because her turn up went slightly awry and she had to lop the bottom of the hems off which I had thought would result in a pair of paperbag mini-shorts but no, she wasn’t even close to risking a butt cheek

Lawratu had the same issue with her pockets although her shorts looked perfectly fine

however the pockets could be deployed at any given moment to make your pelvis look like Dumbo the Flying Elephant

changing it up in terms of pocket related drama were Adeena and Jean, the former creating a pair of shorts with pockets that went in two different directions to keep the pickpocketers on their toes

and Jean took her pockets right up to the top seam of the elastic channel meaning only someone with the smallest of hands could get anything in or out of them

Not even Esme, the woman who I thought was only as tall as a child’s mannequin, could get her fists in them.

After last week’s Shell Top Shenanigans, Damien had promised that for this challenge he would take things a little slower and properly read the instructions which all went great at first, his pockets functioned as pockets should and he probably had the best belt of the lot

He didn’t quite get to the part about the turned up hems and just blithely decided to hem them with a contrast seam

It’s the closest we got to reliving the Statement Pocket Palooza of last year’s palazzo pants challenge.

Not content with just being “the guy who covered Brad Pitt in blood” it turns out Raph also likes to do amateur gymnastics

Bit rude that they didn’t give him another take to land the tumble, ruder of me to preserve for forever. I’m also furious that they left it until this episode to reveal that Raph also has a cat

Way to bury the lede guys.
Most of the sewers based their fabric choices off the stiffness or the utter lack of a pattern on them because who has time for pattern matching in this world? Raph however continued to choose his based entirely on how tangentially French they are, as it turns out this beautiful African wax print fabric had French written on it so it was destined to be his

beginning to get the distinct impression that Raph might be really into horoscopes.
With an African wax print fabric, pattern matching is essential, as well as being VERY careful about pattern placement, we’ve seen many a sewer on this show going accidentally vaginal but Raph did very well, there is a bit of a yellow schlong going on but they’re really very beautiful shorts

Patrick goes so far as to say that he would like a pair and I would very much enjoy seeing Patrick Grant wearing a pair of wax print paperbag shorts before the series it over. Or at least make him do it on his inevitable Strictly run in 2022. Let’s manifest THAT.

Serena had similar success in her pattern matching with a pair of very cute floral shorts

The turn ups aren’t absolutely what they asked for but they weren’t as sinful as Damien’s, they still at least had the look of turned up hems.

Andrew also made a cracking pair of shorts complete with properly turned up hems in a particularly violent shade of tangerine

I did love that the fabric was also printed with what is maybe scientific paraphernalia?

I see a lot of fossils, some pencils, insects and what I believe might be The Mars Rover below the octopus? And yet not a single person brought it up. I want to write a thesis on this print just to solve the riddle I believe it is trying to tell.

Lastly we have VERY YORKSHIRE Cathryn who made a lovely pair of shorts in a fabric that screams MS DOS video games to me

Esme pointedly points out that her belt isn’t quite pointed enough but the overall shape of the shorts is exactly what they’re looking for.

An Official Paperbag Shorts Ranking

  1. Raph’s Long Schlong Shorts
  2. Serena’s Floral Shorts
  3. Andrew’s Eye-searing Science Print
  4. Cathryn’s Yorkshire Shorts
  5. Farie’s Plump Belt
  6. Damien vs The Rules
  7. Rebecca’s Ever Decreasing Leg Holes
  8. Adam’s Rough Channel
  9. Adeena’s Pocketed Roundabout
  10. Dumbo the Flying Pelvis
  11. Jean’s Inaccessible Pockets

Need for Speedos

For the summer themed transformation challenge we will once again be reliving the very hard task of creating a “summer evening outfit for a woman” except this time they wont be using towels but will instead have to contend with using TK MAxx’s entire supply of unsold men’s boardshorts from last year, which yes are obviously all in nauseating colours and patterns

Sadly none of them feature cats, sorry about that Jean.
Amongst the boardshorts there are also a number of speedos which under no circumstances anybody should have grabbed considering A. you only get 4 pairs of shorts to make the garment so why waste it on a sneeze of fabric and B. for some unknown reason they were beige and slightly transparent as Andrew proudly showcased

There isn’t anything quite like a priest’s husband proudly wearing a very snug pair of speedos on primetime BBC1.
Farie also went with a pair of very skimpy shorts but had the dignity not to model them and instead turned them into the top half of an outfit that I can only describe as being that of a sex worker in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Esme had a few concerns about the fact the elasticated hem would rise up and expose everything, an issue Farie was far from the only one to have as Jean turned her boardshorts into a strange rocket lolly babushka

which did come with the slight downside of the fact you couldn’t lift your arms without the entire garment just about disappearing over the top of your head

However, I don’t think Jean was advocating for wearing it as a dress, it was very much a top, a route that Cathryn also took with her very well chosen and matched colours and prints

it’s much subtler than most of the other pieces, except for maybe Serena’s very lovely little skater-style dress

She had even made sure that Velcro of the boardshorts was placed so that it was easy to get in and out of the dress, or at least we think that’s what she had done because even Serena looked a little bit surprised and perplexed by it

just smile and nod girl!

Serena wasn’t the only one putting functionality on display as Damien fused together beachwear and marsupials to create a very useful boob pocket

however he learnt nothing from last week and like a sailor to a siren’s song he was once again drawn right back to that turquoise beaded fringe

at least this time it actually matches the colours, it doesn’t however “make it more evening”

did he get halfway through attaching that top strip before time was called or do we think that was a genuine choice?
It’s a vast improvement over last week’s tube skirt, the colours actually go together and I think had he just done the fringe along the skirt’s hem, it would have been fine but as it is Esme is not a fan and Damien looks genuinely heartbroken that the fringe didn’t go down very well (again)

I eagerly await what he does with it next week.

While Damien didn’t hesitate a second before adding his fringe, Andrew agonised over whether or not adding some orange trim to his would be too much and honestly, when your garment somehow looks like a tropical dirndl, you might as well go all out

Patrick and Esme HATE THIS, like almost irrationally, it’s not a great garment but the only thing they thought was worse than it was Lawratu’s dress with a prolapsed baby sling

This outfit is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, sealed in a code and set on fire. it is joyously baffling and entirely enraging. I love it.

Hoping to continue his success in the previous challenge Raph created the first Hawaiian spacecraft

the goal of the mission is to be the first to put a pineapple on the moon.

I’m surprised that Esme and Patrick didn’t give Rebecca any grief for the fact the flamingos on her the boob tube she made were horizontal

it deeply hurt my soul.
She hadn’t just created a boobtube though, she’s not as lazy as ballroom dancer Alex who draped a towel over his mannequin and called it a cape last year, she had made an asymmetrical skirt too

I suspect the reason for the asymmetry is largely due to the fabric wasteland she left in her wake

does this mean she’s the Bake Off Laura of the competition? Can we expect her evening dress in the final to completely and utterly melt? Time will tell.

Adam once again found great success in the tried and true technique of mostly just draping anything and everything on the mannequin until it makes a vaguely appealing outfit

It all works very well from the front and I’m sure he only used that navy and white stripe for the back of the skirt because he didn’t have anything else but I really love the fractured stripe that he made on the bust, it’s a really fun little detail and very eye-catching.

Finally Adeena’s dress had a really fun, youthful 80s feel to it in that it looked like all of the outfits Millie Bobby Brown wore in Stranger Things compiled into one outfit

it’s very well panelled and the prints do work surprisingly well together considering they all look a bit like the covers of Paperchase notebooks.

An Official Boardshorts to Eveningwear Ranking

  1. Adam’s Dislocated Stripe
  2. Serena’s Velcro Revelation
  3. Adeena’s Paperchase Windstorm
  4. Cathryn’s Tonally Correct Top
  5. What Little Remains After Rebecca’s Fabric War
  6. Damien’s Audition Tape for My Strange Addiction
  7. Raph’s SS Honolulu
  8. Farie’s Video Game Strumpet
  9. Jean’s Russian Flasher
  10. Andrew’s Tropical Dirndl
  11. Lawratu’s Low Hanging Baby Sling

Sun’s Out, Guns Out

For the final challenge of Summer Week the sewers have to create a button down summer dress featuring as many buttons as they can possibly get on the dress within the time limit – whoever gets the highest has some serious bragging rights. Knowing she was in the firing line Lawratu was very much after the Button Queen crown and was aiming for 17 buttons on her dress and fell just short with 15 but an absolute knock out of a dress

It might just be the styling of the model but it looks very Taylor Swift to me, it has the cute, faux-retro aesthetic and the way the crossed straps sit on the back is perfection

she needed to really pull it out of the bag having landed in the bottom 2 for both challenges and she more than did what she needed to to get out of danger.

It wasn’t only the amount of buttons that mattered but which buttons you chose, Adam faced quite the dilemma as he had a choice of smaller red buttons which seemed insignificant against his polka dots or the big red buttons which had a faceted surface and were a little distracting

Esme was Pro Small and Patrick was very much Pro Big so it came down to him deciding on who to let down, the answer should always be Do As Esme Says but alas Adam caved into Patrick’s wishes and went with the larger red buttons


I think he made the right call, the red accents finish off his vintage nautical aesthetic very well

It’s a little ordinary, in that I’m pretty sure you can walk into most highstreet dress shops and find something very similar but it moves wonderfully and is very well made. There was meant to be an underskirt to give it more volume which might have just put it over the edge but unfortunately it didn’t fit and his model was left to inelegantly hop out of it while someone mercilessly filmed it


Andrew was also throwing it back, although he wasn’t stopping at the 50s and was going all the way back to the 40s to create a dress that made his model look like she was on her way to ruin someone’s garden party in a deliciously camp Joan Crawford movie

but it gets better because when she puts her mask on she goes from Joan Crawford’s Baddest Biddy to the best dressed Mortal Kombat character I’ve ever seen

I can’t say I’m a fan of the dress but it’s also not made to appeal to me. It’s very well made though, bar from the lack of beltloops which means the belt rides up exposing the fact he hasn’t fitted the waist of the dress to his model’s natural waist.
Andrew’s waist issues were nothing compared to Jean’s which made it look like her model had been the victim of a renegade magician’s saw trick

despite having Escher’d her models waist, the actual outfit was kind of lovely and very much Jean’s brand of slightly migraine inducing

I truly think her model could pull of anything though, I suggest we put her in Damien’s tube skirt of many awful colours to test the theory.
The waist isn’t the only error though as the hem was a little dodgy because she kind of ran out of time and just needed to make sure the dress could be buttoned up without having to spend too much on nipple censors.

Farie blew passed all the issues of fitting a waist by making a very loose fitted shirt dress out of a stunning purple African wax print fabric that she painstakingly pattern matched only to then lose another battle against the concept of time and not get around to attaching all of her buttons

hoisted by her own petard!
At least it’s a very cute dress and I’m sure she made this for herself so I hope she gets a chance to put the buttons it and finish as it deserves to be finished.

Cathryn also had button related woes and spent far too long trying to pattern match a fabric with such a small print that you really wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t matched up

dedicating so much of her time to that, like Farie, resulted in a mostly fine if slightly ill-fitting dress

but the buttons were hanging on by little more than a single cotton thread and a stern talking to

That button is coming off the moment Esme looks at it sideways.
I’m mostly disappointed that the pockets, which in the sketch looked big enough to hold most of a family’s weekly shop in them

but turned out a little smaller than expected. You could maybe fit your panicked Sunday morning Little Sainsbury’s shop in them.

While most people opted for shop bought buttons, Damien had made his own. Out of coconuts. In the shape of guitar picks. I did get very worried about these buttons because they mentioned them at the start of the challenge and only revealed them towards the ends and they’re actually lovely

I had personally expected them to be hairy and to end up looking like a trail of tiny spiders crawling up his model

Damien continues to be a mystery, from everything he chose to do in the second challenge and his inability to read instruction to THIS stunner? I will never understand it, my only theory is that his wife or girlfriend has a fair say in his fabrics and pattern choices at home. I will be turning this conspiracy theory into a 5 part YouTube mini series.

So far this series seems to be on a mission to prove to me that lobster print fabrics can be sophisticated, Lawratu tried it last week and I thought she had made a romper suit for a child and this week was the turn of Raph and his cute little sweetheart dress

I love the dip-dyed effect, I don’t know if he bought the fabric like that or if he did it himself but it’s lovely. The buttons unfortunately are unaligned by mere millimetres and Patrick zones in on it IMMEDIATELY

Patrick also thinks the bust is a bit low, personally I don’t think it is, I think it fits his model remarkably well and because of her relatively small chest (Hi, join the club) the openness of it doesn’t really matter.

A lot of the sewers’ designs completely negated sleeves – it’s summer, they’re a lot of work – who could blame them? Serena however was making them the focal point as she went very cottagecore with her cute floral dress and wooden buttons

I think the sleeves could have afford to be a little bit bigger and give it that real bespoke feel because at present it looks quite pedestrian.
Rebecca was also trying some alternative sleeves featuring a tied detail, which looked lovely in the sketch

but didn’t come out with quite the same when on her model

the shoulders are a good inch out which adds a broadness to her model’s shoulders that absolutely isn’t there but it’s a very pretty fabric and the fit on the waist is lovely despite the off-ness of the shoulders.

While the others all used patterns they had bought, Adeena had decide to risk it all on a pattern that she had drafted herself and featured pin-tucks which she had never done before and a statement collar detail, which would all be done in a fabric that makes you feel a bit like you’re standing at the top of a very tall building

We’ve had sewers try this in the past, remember when Matt tried to upscale the Joan Collins doll dress and it all went a bit pear-shaped and we had a whole scene on the balcony? Well luckily Adeena didn’t have any trouble and pulled off a very unique looking outfit

I can’t say I love the collar flap, I think it’s a little too stark, I’d have preferred it to be lined in a fabric matching the darker greens, or at least to see the white featured in a belt or on the hem – just to carry it all through. Both Esme and Patrick are floored by the whole thing though, especially the fact she went rogue and was the only one to give them off-centre buttons (I wont stand for this erasure of Raph’s mistake) but they do think the pin tucks were unnecessary, especially given that the busy fabric completely eats them up.

An Unofficial Summer Dress Ranking

  1. Lawratu’s Taylor Swift Cosplay
  2. Damien’s Gone Coconutty
  3. Adeena’s Everything and the Kitchen Sink Dress
  4. Adam’s Nautical Button Dilemma
  5. Andrew’s Wicked Witch of the Hollywood Revue
  6. Serena’s Cottagecore Outfit
  7. The Chip on Rebecca’s Shoulders
  8. Reclaiming Lobsters in the Name of Raph
  9. Farie’s Curious Case of the Missing Buttons
  10. Jean’s Dislocated Waist
  11. Cathryn’s Crisis Buttons

Due to the amount of work she put it in and the fact it was a totally unique piece the Garment of the Week is awarded to Adeena for her sun dress

a very well deserved outcome – it might not be my cup of tea but sometimes you just have to reward sheer effort.
The elimination comes down to a choice between Cathryn, Jean and Farie but with Jean placing in the bottom 3 for both the previous challenges and the other two having fairly respectable placings it was Jean who we have to say goodbye to

It’s gutting, I really liked Jean, she was pitch perfect casting for the show but I might (not so) secretly be most sad that we’ll miss out on the full range of Yoda’s many, many, many bonkers outfits. You’ve been a star Jean, and I will get you your BAFTA for that pussycat dress!

and so, 10 hopeful sewers remain

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