Sewing Bee 2021, Episode 5: Cyber Pilgrim

Does anything sum up The Great British Sewing Bee better than a man crouched on the floor amongst the wreckage of a child sized mannequin and a mermaid costume?

It’s Children’s Week which means fun fabrics, an insane fancy dress challenge and really fiddly little pockets!

Romp Around The World

We’re kicking off Children’s Week with that toddler classic: The Romper! Which according to Amber Butchart started life being called “The Creeper Apron” which is the name of my new heavy metal band. Prior to this babies were often put in overwhelmingly fussy dresses that restricted movement and made your baby look a cherubic hovercraft

They should really give us a warning before parading us through a whole slideshow of cursed late 19th century baby portraits, I barely slept a wink, all I could see what Churchill’s sketched, bored expression whenever I closed my eyes

I’m just going to write “Churchill wore a dress” here because I need the blog hits, thanks.

The upside of Children’s Week is because it always brings out the zany fabrics – we’re never going to get anyone making a peasant-style blouse out of Rebecca’s dinosaur print or a man’s office shirt decked out in dragons and knights and I think that’s a crying shame. As well as a fun print the sewers also had to take into account the durability of it, you can’t make a silken romper for a baby, but if anyone wants to make me one, that’s cool.

The episode did give us a bit of insight into how the sewers prepared for their Pattern Challenges, Farie carefully underlined the important bits

Serena read through it first like every good university student does and Damien… Well he flicked through it looking for which page to skip this week

His fateful choice? To not do the elasticated waist in the exact style that Esme and Patrick wanted which brought him down a few marks despite a romper that looked very cute

As to what the print is? I have absolutely no clue, it’s like Kazimir Malevich painted the Great Barrie Reef – perfect for a baby!

Damien wasn’t the only one having issues with his elastic as Adeena cut out 17 inches of it only to realise that it was meant to be 17 centimetres

Luckily she hadn’t measured everything out in inches and accidentally make an adult’s romper. Although there were a few other missteps for Adeena as she sewed the bib on the wrong way round and then created a sort of strap flap that greatly perplexed Esme. I wonder what sort of a distraction could have lead to this…

Men were a mistake.

I really loved her choice of fabric though, the jungle print is exactly the sort of thing I’d have loved as a child

I wont mention the fact the snaps broke because Esme was literally tugging at them with the force it takes to open a jar of Branston Pickle as she was clearly in a bloodlust frenzy after all of the snaps on Andrew’s fishy romper succumbed to her grabby hands

Andrew gets slightly dinged for the fact the garment was white and we’ll just ignore the fact ALL of the baby gowns and rompers in The History Bit were pale colours…

Due to its durability and light weight, African Wax Print fabrics were a popular choice as both Farie and Raph opted for them. Raph has some experience in the world of rompers, having made the previously seen Big Gay Rompers for he and his bandmates to wear to Pride. Sadly he wasn’t making a Baby Gay Romper but we did get this very well made purple and green offering

the symmetry on it is outstanding and each of the different pattern pieces beautifully flows into the next, the one issue the judges have is the fact his elastic is a little moveable in the back.
Farie’s fabric placement was also very good and slightly superhero-esque with the circle on the chest giving me major Iron Man vibes

she did have something of an upper hand in that she regularly makes clothes for her children but at the same time, the children aren’t going to look at the stitching and tell you that you used periwinkle coloured thread when it should have been lavender.
The judges’ exacting standards and general aversion to contrast seams put Adam under a lot of pressure as he set about trying to make a romper out of three different fabrics, which is really fun and I feel like we should encourage more of this on the show – to misquote Paddy McGuinness: “Let the dinosaurs see the unicorns!”. The different fabrics each required a different coloured thread and if Project Runway and Drag Race have taught me anything it’s that changing thread on TV is an arduous journey fraught with peril at every turn. Adam does succeed in his threading marathon though and the final product is a very cute accidental Dutch flag

Patrick has issues with the white bib and being able to see through it ever so slightly, quite how you can look beyond the adorable cartoon zebra is BEYOND ME

Do you not feel joy, Mr. Grant?
as for Esme, she’s too busy breaking Adam’s snaps, only one of which is strong enough to withstand her murder mittens.
One of my favourite things in this episode was everyone calling the chest piece “a bib” and Adam calling it “a bodice” which is technically correct but does bring to mind a baby dressed like a woman in an 18th century period drama. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane Eyre?

While the white fabric was an issue for Andrew and Adam, there was now such hang ups for Serena’s very sophisticated citrus romper

this is a child you can trust wont eat worms or fling spaghetti across the room and whose first word was probably “Humus”. It really is impeccably made and Serena continues to cement herself as The One To Beat.

Lastly we have Rebecca and her dinosaur romper which, much like Serena’s, is exceptionally well made

I really like that she payed attention to the placement of the dinosaur on the front bib, there was nothing more frustrating as a child when you had a print like this and you couldn’t really see the dinosaurs properly. I’d have chosen the Stegosaurus (a God Tier dinosaur) but I wont hold a grudge.

An Official Romper Ranking

  1. Serena’s Posh Baby
  2. Rebecca’s Jurassic Romp
  3. Farie’s Baby Superhero
  4. Raph’s Vitruvian Baby
  5. Damien’s Alternative Route
  6. Adam’s Dutch Patchwork
  7. Andrew’s Maritime Spill Hazard
  8. Adeena’s Romper as Destroyed by Esme

Something Fishy’s Going On

As it’s Children’s Week the Transformation Challenge is inevitably the fancy dress challenge and this time they have to transform wetsuits and assorted pool items that were leftover from Drag Race Season 1 into an underwater fancy dress costume. As ever, ingenuity and off the wall thinking are always highly rewarded in these challenges and your best bet is to not go for the low hanging fruit. Unfortunately, some of them learnt NOTHING from last year’s Watermelon Showdown and we got a Three-way Mermaid Brawl between Adam, Raph and Damien. The last of which was pretty much a write-off considering he got halfway through the damn costume, realised he couldn’t visualise it and fell into his usual habit of adding trim to the bottom and hoping for the best

the tail is a little more rocket ship blasting-off than it is a mermaid’s tail but there is something about the patterning of it all that does remind me of a neon tetra

not that that’s what Damien was referencing at all and I am not going to give him credit for that because it’s entirely down to the untreated wetsuit tube that he shoved his unfortunate mannequin into.

One of the biggest issues with any mermaid costume is your movement, they’re one Hell of a way to trick your child into sitting still for an afternoon, Ariel costumes are just straightjackets with more glitter. Adam didn’t quite solve the movement conundrum and the unsuspecting toddler that wore it would be waddling around like a swaddled penguin

it’s not the most mermaid-y outfit I’ve ever seen, I think the fact it’s all green kind makes it look a bit plant-like and as though a harrowed parent has had to make a beanstalk costume for the school’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk

but of all the mermaid’s, the tail is the most successful as Raph went for more movement and a more fashion-focused mermaid tail gown

it’s very pretty and I really like the waist bands to differentiate the tail for the body, and the shell bra is a nice touch that adds clarity to the concept. It just wasn’t pushed that extra step that garners ringing praise from the judges.

Mermaids weren’t the only thing having a showdown as Rebecca and Serena went toe to toe and compared tentacles (I have read that 40 times and I’m only 70% sure I wrote “tentacles”). Serena’s fighter of choice: The Jellyfish while Rebecca took up The Octopus – it’s truly a battle for the ages. George Foreman vs Mohammad Ali has nothing on this Battle Royale of limbs and miscellaneous extremities.

Like all Jellyfish, Serena’s costume started out as a condom

and from there she raided the entire embellishment wall and I think we now understand why Damien couldn’t bedazzle his mermaid because Serena’s jellyfish is over in the corner looking like it ate a junior school disco

Not wanting to be penalised for encumbering her child with about 50 different trip hazards she than hacked into it like she was in a competitive cnidarian topiary competition

and thus produced a jellyfish with a chic Victoria Beckham bob

It’s a truly stellar costume, it’s fun, it’s cute, it’s VERY sparkly. My one wish is that some of the tentacles had been kept longer, just to give it that more floaty feel but nonetheless it’s perfect and Serena could probably wear it herself judging by the noodle size

If you see a pack of junior doctors in Edinburgh wearing jellyfish costumes anytime soon, I think we know who to blame.

As for her opponent, Rebecca was having to whip up 8 tentacles in the time and try and sneak some blue fringe out of Serena’s stash

It’s also a very cool outfit and I think the hat with the eyes on the top is very cute. I’m mostly glad she didn’t opt for the ping pong balls like Joe Lycett did

r/CursedImages indeed.
I also liked her addition of the fringe, it gave it some movement and a little bit of camp western flair.

Joining Rebecca and Serena in truly inspired looks is Andrew and his crab that he was hellbent on making the moment he locked eyes on a hench crab and imprinted on it like Jacob Black imprinted on his best friend’s new born baby

Hi, I’m Ariadne Griffin and I’m still making very dated references.

Most of Andrew’s design involved wrangling pool noodles into formation and I’m very pleased to announce his crab has the correct amount of legs, assuming we count the child’s legs as part of the crab

I’m not entirely sure why the pincers have been distressed to the point that they look a bit like they’re smeared with the blood of anyone who dares oppose the tyrannical rule of our new crustacean overlord, but I’m not going to question it oh Great and Powerful Fiddler Crabstro.
It really does rival the Robbed Sushi outfit from last series in terms of sheer creativity and execution – I love it.

Now, not all the designs could be winners and sadly Adeena suffered the same fate as many a sewers does in these rounds and tried to keep the costume looking a bit too much like clothes. She was attempting a sort of Rainbow Fish dress and for whatever reason it ended up looking like Jojo Siwa as a Victorian debutante

it’s a really pretty dress and the draping of the fabric is beautiful, it just really looks nothing like a fish.

Farie showed similarly clever sewing skills as she created a set of gills out of cap peaks for her planned baby shark (doo doo doo doo doo doo) outfit

she didn’t quite have the same success with her fin that looked less like a threatening fin to make any beach goer too scared to go in the water and a little more like K9 from Doctor Who

so in the end the outfit didn’t quite come together as a whole and really looked more like a cyber pilgrim

Esme gave a charitable guess of “a razor clam” which I am taking as a challenge to create a razor clam Halloween costume this year. Even with Patrick and Esme dubbing it “a space gnome”, it still wasn’t enough to put her in last place…

An Official Under The Sea Fancy Dress Ranking

  1. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Crabst
  2. Serena’s Chic Bobbed Jellyfish
  3. Rebecca’s Rhinestone Octopus
  4. The Little Beansprout
  5. Raph’s Mobile Mermaid
  6. Adeena’s Victorian Rave Outfit
  7. The Mayflower-bot 3000
  8. Damien’s Wetsuit Tube

Rain, Rain, Go Away

To round off Children’s Week, Esme and Patrick have set the sewers a doozy of a challenge with a child’s raincoat that has to be unisex both because, to quote Joe Lycett, the weather knows no gender and they could only get 3 kids in the sewing room due to Covid rules and because of the social distancing rules they will spend a lot of their time herded into the corner watching in fear as Adam sinks further and further into chaos

as he battles against the monster that is Polyurethane Laminate to hopefully make his unsurprisingly boat themed coat

which also handily serves as great Georgie from It: Chapter One cosplay.
PLU is notoriously hard to sew because of the fact it is both a slippery little bugger and you can’t iron it meaning you can’t press seams and therefore have to top stitch EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. As you can probably imagine, in the case of a raincoat that’s A LOT of seams and Adam’s time was eaten by them and the machine proceeded to chew up its own foot as he made the hood meaning he had to drop the cute boat shaped pockets as well as any hope of correctly aligning the poppers. He did give his child two whistles to blow in case of an absolute Esme roasting

It was such a cute idea and I’m so sad for Adam that he didn’t get to complete it to his usual standard. It was an ambitious project for the time limit and he deserves some kudos for biting the bullet on that.

Obviously the key feature of a raincoat is that it has to be waterproof and while most of the sewers opted for your standard polyester fabrics, Damien had brought in a novelty shower curtain

it goes without saying that it’s not really made for sewing garments with, it’s incredibly stiff and quite thick. Due to the transparency of the shower curtain, it meant his lining would show through and he took advantage of this by using a shifting taffeta fabric to give it a watery feel.
I think we all had Damien down for an utter disaster from the moment he sighed “one of my fabrics is shrinking!” but like a cat tumbling from the top of a particularly high poplar tree, Damien lands on his feet

It’s really, really cool. The shimmer of the taffeta under the shower curtain comes across very well and the whole thing is immaculately sewn save for the slight tuck in the lining where it caught in the hood. Speaking of the hood, the magnetic strapping holding it in place is a nifty idea, and I’m assuming make it all a touch easier for him and the fact he didn’t have to worry about attaching it wrongly, a hitch Rebecca ultimately came up against

it’s honestly a wonder that she had a hood at all considering her first attempt resulted in more of a statement collar worthy of a Priscilla number

she did manage to remedy it by sewing the correct sides to one another and gave us a very cute little coat

there are a few mistakes such as the aforementioned hood as well as the marginally misaligned snaps that give it a slightly wobbly appearance but on the most part, another very good turn out for Rebecca, save for the fact she had to relive the trauma of trying to get a toddler’s arm in their sleeve

the distant, haunted look in her eyes <3

Adeena had apparently struggled to find a waterproof fabric she liked and so was planning on trying to waterproof a different fabric using a cover which did mean that, yes, the dinosaurs did indeed ride again

unfortunately for Adeena the covering fabric she chose was a little to opaque and the dinosaurs kind of looked like the they had been trapped in an ice age style apocalypse

RIP them.
The lack of visible dinos does mean the outfit lacks a bit of fun but the bigger issue is the fact her toggles don’t really work because her loops are just a scooch too big meaning they come undone at any given moment.

Not all the sewers were going for zany fun ideas, Andrew was hoping to create something for the sophisticated 9 year old because, in his words, “you don’t want unicorns and rainbows all the time.” meanwhile Farie is over in the corner making a soggy unicorn costume that has all of Twitter willing to commission her to make them one. ME FIRST. The grand idea behind Andrew’s intellectual raincoat was that it was going to be reversible to symbolise the two different sides to his childhood. The first side being, I guess the serious side?

It’s very chic, the striped cuffs and pockets give it a very Gucci feel, which is a weird thing to write about a child’s coat. I do think it’s a little on the small side and I’m surprised the judges didn’t say anything. As for the reversible nature, it turns into…

a navy blue raincoat? I think a more dramatic change would have given him more clout with the judges but it’s successful nonetheless.

On the other end of the spectrum, Farie gave in to every single iota of childhood whimsy she possibly could when she brought forth the unicorn raincoat complete with ombre, braided tail

I think across every single series of the show, Farie has been the most successful in creating truly bespoke pieces that have that special homemade quality. The others are all exceptional sewers but Farie just has that sartorial flair. We truly have no choice but to stan.

Serena had a similar issue to Adeena in that her fabric choice lacked that little bit of a fun, it’s very cute but the colours are very muted

I think my favourite part is her pockets, the print is very well placed with the buttons going in the middle of the two flowers – it’s a nice, neat little detail that makes the coat looked that bit more polished.

I was immediately taken with Raph’s design as he was drawing inspiration from the national bird of Guatamala, the Resplendent Quetzal

which happens to be my third favourite South American bird. The first being The Hoatzin and the second being the ridiculously shaped Sword-billed Hummingbird. That is a challenge for someone next year to make me a sword-billed hummingbird inspired trench coat.
Raph was mostly just borrowing the colours from the quetzal, which he had picked really quite superbly

I do wish there was a little more iridescence or glitter but I’ll take it because the final little coat was pretty cute

it’s perfectly proportioned, nothing feels too small or too large and even the lining is beautiful and deserves its own garment to be honest

I think if he really wanted to catch the judges’ eyes, it would have benefitted him to turn it into a character coat by making the hood look like the bird’s head, but it would have lost some of its stylishness. Basically, I just want a raincoat that makes me look like a giant quetzal. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR?

An Unofficial Raincoat Ranking

  1. Farie’s Potentially Soggy Unicorn
  2. Damien’s Aquatic Adventure
  3. Raph’s Chic Quetzal
  4. Andrew’s Metaphorical Coat(s)
  5. Serena’s Somewhat Sedate 9 Year Old
  6. Rebecca’s Wobbly Snap
  7. Adeena’s Disappearing Dinosaurs
  8. Adam’s Coat at Sea

For Garment of the Week, I do kind of wish they had wheeled in Andrew’s crab costume under the cloth and tried to pretend that nobody knew what it was, but in actuality Farie just continues her domination of the Made to Measure and wins for the third time in a row

the way there’s been 5 episode and Farie has either won them or failed to finish her garment – we all thought Damien was The Pendulum of Chaos, but it was Farie the whole time! She’s just an elaborate Kakegurui gambling bet!

It was then time for the truly heart-breaking news that I think we all knew was coming because of the fact he was the only one to not finish his coat and it was Adam’s turn to say goodbye

It was a very upsetting goodbye because he seems like the loveliest guy and was basically everything that Sewing Bee should be about, and if you miss his nautical antics as much as I think we all shall, you can follow him on Instagram at AdamJamesBrooks_ and I eagerly await his win of Sewing Bee: All Stars starring him, Matt, Nicole, Leah, Ricardo, Janet, Chinelo, Rumana and Ballroom Dancer Alex.

And so 7 sewers remain…

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