Sewing Bee 2021, Episode 7: Unlicensed Frankensteining

Sewer. Artist. Damien.

From Lumberjacks to Christmas Parties, Winter Week certainly has all its bases covered – so get your coat because there are some icy stares.

Highway To Flannel

Kicking off Winter Week is the challenge to make a flannel shirt that any lumberjack would be proud to wear. The shirt had to be a very traditional checked shirt with a perfectly matched pattern across both the horizontal and vertical planes, which is one hell of an ask considering the pattern had 17 pieces and at the best of times Damien’s table looked like Dr. Frankenstein creating a monster out of Abercrombie and Fitch castoffs

at least it never got to the point where Esme had to threaten him with no cake during the filming breaks.
Damien was at least feeling a little more in his comfort zone and was very much hopeful for a win off the back of making a shirt and it wasn’t looking too bad for him until the moment The Damien Switch was flicked on and he decided that because he had made a few collars in his time he was going to skip a few steps and it would be fine. Readers, it was not fine

of course Esme notices it immediately and his win would have been secured had he done it properly because between him and Serena he had the more stylish of the shirts

it also considerably helped that between Farie, Rebecca, Raph and Andrew you could maybe scrap together one whole, well made shirt but you would look like a mildly offensive Canadian circus clown.

As mentioned earlier Serena continues her absolute domination of the pattern challenge (the lowest she had placed is 2nd) and produced a perfectly matched, perfectly sewn shop ready shirt

even the yoke was perfect and this comes directly after Damien declared “The yoke is curved so you’ll never be able to get it spot on” – it turns out you can, you just need to be a doctor to do it. Not to completely discredit Damien’s unlicensed Frankensteining.

While most of them went with your usual red and blue flannels, Rebecca was drawn to the one slightly femme option with her tiny pink check flannel

it’s always good to separate yourself from the rest of the pack but the smaller your check the harder it is to match up perfectly, which Rebecca unfortunately found out when it came to her yoke

I guess that’s a “no” on the burrito method, huh Rebecca?

but from the front it looked perfectly cute, it might not have her usual level of polish and finish but within in this round? I think we can chalk it up as a theoretical win

the one element that does get a bit of notice, other than the askew yoke, was her decision to make the top button significantly smaller than the rest

which Patrick thought was odd but I’m going to defend Rebecca and say that is absolutely a feature that some men’s shirts have, and at least she could button up her shirt whereas Raph didn’t quite get around to it and created something for the middle ground of a surfer and a lumberjack

there has to be at least one tree felling surfer out there? Surely.
I really liked his fabric choice though, the blue with the statement orange was a very good choice, it did unfortunately also make the lack of a matched pattern that much more noticeable

it wasn’t his best pattern challenge but it was still enough to land him a whole point higher than Farie who had swung wildly into Bad Farie Mode at the very mention of pattern matching

and she got VERY in her head about it, spending what seemed to be double the time of anyone else, carefully cutting out the pieces of her fabric so that they matched and it certainly paid off in that regard, however her shirt was less a shirt and more of a flannel cassock

The fact that she was gleefully prepared for Esme to rip her to shreds did slightly lessen the blow that she had utterly failed to make the 2 piece collar (which is actually made of 4 pieces) or put any of her buttons on the shirt but they go very gentle on her and complimented the 60% of the task at hand that she did complete, I suppose with no buttons to rip off Esme’s usual brute force was rendered useless.

Lastly we have Andrew who I think had my favourite fabric of the bunch

the shirt does hang a little weirdly because he managed to distort the fabric while either cutting it out or sewing it meaning it doesn’t match (it’s not too noticeable from a distance though) but at least the buttons were nice!

An Official Flannel Shirt Ranking

  1. Serena’s Little Lumberboy Blue
  2. Damien’s Renegade Collar
  3. Andrew’s Warping of Time and Flannel
  4. Rebecca’s LumberFemme
  5. Raph’s California Lumberjack
  6. Farie’s What We Shall Generously Call A Shirt

Scarf Ace

For the Winter Week Transformation Challenge the sewers were tasked with transforming that essential piece of winterwear that somehow everyone has at least 3 too many of: The Scarf! They could make any outfit they wanted for any gender they wanted but could only use up to 5 scarves so making sure they were cohesive in colour and texture was essential.

With up to 5 scarves of varying lengths at their disposal the draping possibilities were endless and while most of the sewers did channel their inner Adams, Damien was steadfastly using but a single scarf with a neck hole cut into it and, not to harp on about it again, it was giving me serious teatowel cape vibes again

(again, I am so sorry Alex)
obviously the warning bells chimed in Damien’s head too and thus began is foraging for embellishments

sorry, wrong image, this is Damien looking for embellishments

note the turquoise blue beaded fringe in the right hand shelf which SOMEHOW, against all natural instincts, he manages to resist and instead begins attaching dried flowers to the neckline like he’s recreating the May Queen outfit from Midsommar

this wasn’t quite enough for Damien (will anything, ever be?) and so he once again raided the haberdashery and I had everything crossed that he would grab that turquoise beaded fringe, sadly he didn’t but he did return with these great big plasticky stones that he overly generously describes as “diamantés”

and with that his sacrificial Swedish-Mexican poncho was finished and ready to be presented to the dulcet tones of Patrick Grant singing Edelweiss

it’s very cute but at the end of the day, it is kind of still just a scarf with a hole cut into it and Esme ponders “Do you think *HE* took a coffee break in the middle of it?” and I just love that they absolutely knew this was Damien’s outfit from the moment they set eyes on it. His brand is unrelentingly strong.

While the more cotton-y scarves proved the most popular, Andrew took a gamble by grabbing every green and brown chunky knit scarf he could possibly get his hands on in order to create a garment that I can only describe as being the exact thing my Half-Elf druid wears in Dungeons and Dragons

it’s an incredibly adept transformation with a lot of very interesting details like the woven, almost corset like back and the chunky stitches on the side

it has so much character and I think we can all say a big thank you to the sock vest for preparing him for this moment AND he did it all while being pestered into a palm reading from Joe Lycett dressed in every possible scarf he could and looking like both Robin Hood and Little John in their fortune telling disguises

everyone just check to see if your jewellery is still in tact, the BBC had to get the stuff for All That Glitters somehow.

Andrew wasn’t the only way creating a character cosplay outfit as Serena proudly declared that she was making something gladiatorial while applying a generous heap of paisley scarves to her mannequin

azure blue and chintzy prints don’t immediately read as gladiatorial and I have to say that if Russell Crowe had worn this in Gladiator (2000) the film would have been 100 times better

more men fighting in statement sleeves, I say!
It’s a very interesting outfit and you could certainly make quite the entrance in it – actually, screw Russell Crowe, get one of the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills to wear this and throw wine in someone’s face – that’s the drama this outfit was made for! I also appreciated that Serena really thought the character over, with each knot in the belt representing a battle they had won, so you know, don’t challenge Serena to a fight to the death.

Our drapiest garment of the night went to Raph, who was taking a much calmer approach to this challenge after his attempt to out clock Usain Bolt in the dying minutes of the pattern challenge

This might be the closest we get to The Olympics this year, so savour it guys.
I really loved what Raph did with his scarves, the graphicness of the outfit very much appeals to me

it also gives me a real Japanese streetwear kind of vibe and is the sort of thing only the most intimidatingly cool teenager would wear and I’m surprised it didn’t appeal to Esme more who thought it was too obviously scarf-like. BUT THE STRUCTURE GUYS.

Every year there’s an outfit that I will vehemently disagree with the judges on, last year it was Nicole’s pleather Power Suit that deserved better than to be ranked 5th out of 6 designs and this year it is very much this creation from Rebecca

I am delightfully confused by nearly every aspect of this outfit from the fact most of it looks like you’ve been cast as Peasant No. 3 in your community theatre’s ill-advised production of Anna Karenina and then there’s the whopping great big bow on the shoulder that looks like she wrangled one of the pool toys from Children’s Week onto it. It is an anomaly of function and I applaud Rebecca on the Magnitude 8 brainfart that was declared 3rd in the ranking.

Seeing as Raph’s was declared “too scarfy” I had some worries for Farie as she created a very nice, quite scarfy, maxi dress out of a pair of animal print scarves

I was worried that they’d call it too simple, which for Week 7 it maybe is, but both Esme and Patrick were rather taken by its sleekness and perfect fit.

An Official Scarf Transformation Ranking

  1. Farie’s Wild Side
  2. Andrew The Level 3 Druid
  3. Rebecca’s Emergency Floatation Device
  4. Serena’s Glam-diator
  5. Raph’s WOZZ ROBBED
  6. Damien’s May Queen Regent

Festive Party Animals

As the show begins to run out of ways to get the sewers to make dresses the Made To Measure Challenge becomes ever more specific as this week they have to make a dress fit for a winter party. Basically what they meant is they want something made out of either satin, brocade or velvet. Or in the case of Damien, for the man is a law unto himself, just good enough to be in or around an office during the winter as everyone got their glitz one, Damien was going distinctly totalitarian with his design

this is the outfit of a woman that has an entire nation under her thumb.
With his use of tweed came the arduous task of pattern matching it all, which he had done very well in the flannel challenge and it didn’t give him too much grief, nor did he create an ungodly mess but that was more because Esme was watching him like a very concerned hawk

he didn’t take very good care of the dress during his sewing though and Patrick did have to tell him off for leaving it in a crumpled heap on the table – I imagine getting Damien to put his socks in the laundry hamper is an absolute nightmare. As ever, the build up may have been Damien’s usual brand of weird masculine chaos but it resulted in a very well made dress, so who am I to blame his method?

I don’t think it’s particularly a party dress, you could rock up to your 9 to 5 and nobody would bat an eyelash except for maybe the notch in the skirt and I fully believe that someone on The Apprentice has maybe worn this exact outfit – which is a compliment or an insult depending on how you want to take that.

Raph was in need of quite the redemption and was resting all his hopes on a very large brocade bow leading front and centre for his little gold dress, which almost didn’t come to fruition as Raph nearly ran aground on the concept that are a woman’s hips but they coped with it and delivered a very cute dress

I love the regency era vibe as the bow gives it kind of an empire waist and his model positively glows in that gold, I am however not a fan of the neckline and think it’s a little too blocky for such a sweet dress and I’d have personally preferred a boat neck as Rebecca did for her very cute little skater dress

this is just perfection and they really nailed it with the styling too, as a whole, I have to say, it’s one of my favourite looks on the show and she put so much work into as she overlaid the lace and succeeded in perfectly even pleats all the while achieving the necessary volume to create the swishy skirt.

Serena was also battling with multiple layers as she set about making her tuxedo style dress, once again inspired by Villanelle

I am OBSESSED. Also, I want her to get to the final because it’s the best chance we have of someone actually recreating this look

Do it Serena. Do it.
The tricky thing for Serena was that she was using satin, which is very lightweight and this requires interfacing to bulk it up that you can achieve some sort of structure with it. Unfortunately interfacing is a temperamental little bugger and is prone to bubbling

it is the scourge of the sewing world.
Despite the bubbling she persists, even going as far as to make her own covered buttons and I think the result was sublime

Yes please. Assassinate me, I will thank you.
It’s just so striking and somehow without looking anything remotely like the dress she wears, it reminds me A LOT of the infamous scene of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. I could gush about this outfit all day regardless of the bubbling on the front.

It wouldn’t be a Christmas party without anyone wearing velvet and both Farie and Andrew opted for the fabric and even more coincidentally both chose purple, a colour that Patrick somewhere along the line has developed an aversion to. Has he always disliked it? To me this is like John Torode suddenly announcing he hated red peppers in the 5th week of MasterChef this year, YOU ATE A STUFFED PEPPER WITHOUT COMPLAINT THE NIGHT BEFORE JOHN.

The biggest risk of a purple velvet gown, in my mind at least, is that you are permanently at risk of looking like a wizard and Andrew was not helping matters by trying to add silver embellishments to the proceedings

he does at least veto the slightly sad, limp silver organza bow which I absolutely expect to see on Damien’s Disco outfit next week. Lets just manifest THAT quickly.
He does however continue on his quest for Bow Supremacy by adding a pair of rather unwieldly bows to his model’s wrists and as she did her walk tragedy struck and we were 1 bow down

and I have to see amongst all of the shocked reactions to the event, Serena looking absolutely mortified and avoiding eye contact with anyone or anything was my favourite

it is however not entirely bad news for Andrew as it turned out everyone hated the bows anyway but I quite like their ridiculousness

You do however have to embrace the peril of potentially knocking everyone’s drinks over any time to reach over to grab something – they might have been a bit better served being on the shoulders maybe?
As for the dress, it’s a little lumpy and bumpy, especially on the back where every seam looks as though they were ready to fight one another

and it was unfortunate for him that Farie’s purple velvet dress came out so well despite the fact she did everything in her power to seemingly increase her chances of going home as she took extra long to cut and pin her dress and didn’t do a single fitting for her model

it’s the sleeves that make the dress for me, I have never met a balloon sleeve that I don’t love. There is the one pleat on the bust that escaped her seam but it’s still a very wearable dress and the adjustable belt makes it very Christmas dinner friendly.

An Unofficial Winter Party Dress Ranking

  1. The Tuxedo’d Assassin
  2. Rebecca: ON ICE!
  3. Raph’s Golden Moment
  4. Farie’s Expandable Waist
  5. Damien’s Party-going Dictator
  6. Andrew’s Optional Arm Hankies

There were a lot of outfits to choose from for this week’s Garment of the Week, I think I’d have personally given it to Andrew’s Woollen Druid but that also would have meant he would have been ineligible to go home, I think – I feel like with this lot we’re getting ever closer to someone both making the best outfit of the episode and getting sent home. The judges however give the Garment of the Week award to Raph for his golden brocade dress

I love that we’re 7 episodes in and still the only people to still be in the competition and have won Garment of the Week are Farie and Raph who are now tied for 3 a piece.

I had thought that they might declare it a non-elimination because by the end of it all everyone was pretty evenly ranked but they do make a decision and Andrew is given the chop. It’s a sad farewell and it was largely down to the bow falling off but we’ll always have The Sock Vest

I cannot explain how much joy that damn vest has brought me, I think about it at least once an hour.

And so, only 5 sewers remain

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