SEWING BEE 2021, EPISODE 8: Intentional Lederhosen

Relatable King.

Are you ready for Movie Week that is actually just a secret revamp of 80s week? Because I sure am!

Putting Baby In The Corner

Sadly the Pattern Challenge for the mouthful that is Music and the Movies Week isn’t to make a corset worthy of being worn by Dr. Frankenfurter and is instead focused on forcing the sewers (that’s SO-ERRS) to work with the petulant children of the fabric world: chiffon and satin by recreating the dress worn by Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing

My pernickety film student brain did go into overdrive as everyone proceeded to call Dirty Dancing a musical when it is, to give it its proper genre, a “romantic drama dance film”. AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT.

As well as the tricky fabrics the dress has a number of time consuming elements to add including a bagged out top, a separate waistband, a lace appliqué, an overlapped zip and a skirt with a chiffon overlay both of which require the sewers to do battle with the dreaded overlocker. Take your pick now as to which step Damien completely ignores.

Although Damien this week was trying to turn over a new leaf and had made the decision to finally embrace the use of chalk to accurately draw out the patterns onto the fabric. He wasn’t a completely reformed man however as he still numbered every single piece of the pattern in pen

“Don’t worry, I’ve some Vanish soap with me!” he reassured a completely stunned Patrick and Esme – and in all fairness to him, he managed to wash that ink out so someone get him an advertising deal.
He and Farie both fell into the trap of spending A LOT of their time focusing exclusively on the top and with it being made out of 10 separate pieces and needing bagging out, who could blame them? It does however mean they fall behind and both of them give up on the very concept of hems while Damien also has to forgo the overlapped zip and instead leaves it fully exposed

Front on though, the dress does actually look very good

his bodice has some of the least rippling of the lot but there are just a few little details that he neglected such as lining up the side seams on the bodice and the waistband

which is absolutely the sort of small detail that Esme will have your head for.
His partner in hemlessness didn’t fair a great deal better as Farie’s bodice was impeccably made and then as you move down the skirt it all goes to Hell in a handbasket

I did appreciate the desperate attempt to hide the zip related wreckage by hastily tying a strip of lace around the waist and calling it an appliqué

but nothing can hide a fabric-y imperfection from Esme and her x-ray vision as she makes a beeline for it.

In other applique related misfortunates, Raph never quite got around to putting one on, although I did love him being incredulous that everyone else had managed it but he obviously didn’t know was that all Farie had done was tie it around the waist.
It wasn’t his only misfortune as two thirds of the way through his taming of the overlocker, it threw a strop and decided to sabotage him

in the end the dress still looked pretty good and was evidently very well made

also, a superb choice of colour.

While Farie and Damien waged war against the very concept of time and the existence of hems and Raph was locked in a game of 4D Mind Chess with the overlocker – Rebecca had her own battle brewing against just about everything including Serena, lefts and rights, the patriarchal pressure on women to enjoy romantic movies and the wind

but mostly against Serena who she is tired of being the bridesmaid to in every Pattern Challenge since she got trapped in this never ending Groundhog Day of Haberdashery Hell, SOMEONE THROW HER A BONE!

A Small Disclaimer: obviously the Rebecca vs Serena rivalry is a joke, they’re super good friends. Don’t send them weird hate messages, go touch grass.

With Rebecca’s declaration of war firmly written in stone, the next step was naturally to recruit her second in command

to misquote the Grail Knight: She chose… poorly

this very quickly just became a solo mission.
In order to ensure her win for the week, Rebecca was going to pay meticulous attention to every single detail – a statement she made just as she sewed the wrong sides of the bodice to each other. I, for one, blame Serena.
She also got very hung up on the shoulder straps which had to be attached by hand-sewing them on and despite this she never quite got them to what we shall from henceforth call The Serena Standard

Honestly, to me it looks faultless, just as her dress did

hers is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing – the colour is well chosen and the appliqué detail is really pretty. I personally like the rise and fall of the hem, but they had asked them to even it off so I guess she gets dinged for that.

Her Archnemesis Serena was fresh off the back of having used satin for the made-to-measure last week so had more recent familiarity with the fabric and how it moved, unfortunately this time she couldn’t attach it to some interfacing and had made the decision to use a very pale colour making it harder to cover up any mistakes

The thought of Serena making mistakes is somewhat laughable at this point.
For the most part she sailed through the construction of it and even had enough time to encourage Joe and Damien to try to do the famous Dirty Dancing lift, which sadly doesn’t come to fruition

if they had broken anything, at least they had Serena, Future Doctor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, on hand to fix any broken limbs or bruised egos.
Her final dress was, as ever, finished to a very high standard

the contrast appliqué is a little distracting, even she hated it, but the rest of the dress is exceptionally neatly sewn including the perfectly trimmed and hemmed skirt and perfectly attached shoulder straps – which they rudely cut to Rebecca while the praised the accuracy of the hand-sewing

DEEP BREATHS, REBECCA, DEEP BREATHS! You had a better appliqué, hold onto the small things!

An Official Dirty Dancing Dress Ranking

  1. Serena as The Bride
  2. Rebecca as The Bridesmaid 2: Electric Boogaloo
  3. Raph’s Absent Appliqué
  4. Farie By The Whisper of a Zip
  5. Damien’s Rogue Zip

So, how’re you taking second place Rebecca?


Oh no.

It’s Curtains For You!

The Transformation Challenge in a Movie themed week was only ever going to involve curtains, it was only a matter of choosing between whether you wanted to make it a Sound of Music or a Gone With The Wind theme – the show ultimately decides on the somehow less problematic of the options and challenges the sewers to create a child’s play outfit featuring mandatory shorts as inspired by Maria in The Sound of Music.
And if you haven’t seen The Sound of Music, Damien has you covered with a brief synopsis

He’s not, not wrong.

As for Damien’s outfit, he initially had plans for a playsuit, the one issue being that he didn’t really know how to make one or he at least doesn’t remember reading the instructions for the child’s romper they made in Children’s Week but he did remember that Rebecca once made a playsuit

That’s what you get for not rigging Serena’s sewing machine with live spiders, Damien. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN NOW.
Somewhere along the line Damien gives up on the playsuit and fully embraces the lederhosen life adding in a set of press studs almost exclusively because it allowed him to hammer something and make VERY loud noises. All of this resulted in what is basically a child’s version of the outfits that Måneskin wore at Eurovision

Damien is at the cutting edge of fashion, actually.
The proportions are a little bonkers, those are some very lowrise child’s trousers… But the fit of them is quite excellent.

Raph went a similar route except his lederhosen were intentional lederhosen and made them while he sang as much of the Sound of Music songs as the BBC could legally allow before they had to cough up that cold hard Disney money. And while we were all so distracted by the turquoise beaded fringe, we somehow allowed the cowboy fringe resurgence to sneak up on us

when you’re eventually not distracted by the gummy child’s mannequin hand, you will notice that the outfit is VERY good, he did benefit from getting one of the few pairs of curtains that didn’t look like they’ve been in Dunelm since 1987. It really reminds me of the stuff that last year’s lot made in International Week, something about those greens and yellows has a very Continental look to them.

While everyone else tried their best to find a decent pair of curtains to use, Rebecca only wanted the ugliest ones that she could possibly find and in that mission I think we can say she was successful

the reasoning behind this isn’t exactly clear, other than the fact I suppose it might make your outfit more eye-catching, in which case I can’t believe everyone ignored that red pair at the back

Who wouldn’t want their child to wear a romper that looks like the wallpaper of a haunted Victorian manor house? Instead Rebecca was making an outfit that riffed off of her netball kit with a skirt that goes over the shorts

it’s VERY cute, the elasticated hem is a nice consideration and the bow adds a nice bit of a flare, somehow this wasn’t Esme’s favourite part (I imagine it was too small) and instead she thoroughly enjoyed playing that classic party game Hunt The Shorts


steady on.

While most of the sewers went with very expected children’s wear designs, Serena was somewhat pushing the boat out with a sort of couture child’s kimono

I am routinely quite jealous of child’s clothes (where are the adult sized dresses bedecked in glitter and unicorns please) but I think this might be the most jealous I’ve ever felt, it’s just so chic. I initially thought that her attempt to redeem her previous appliqué by cutting out the floral print and placing it on the front of the top was a little unnecessary but it’s very well placed and definitely worth the extra effort.

Lastly we have Farie who had a bit of a nightmare with her zip in the last few minutes of the challenge in which her sewing machine wasn’t sewing the back of it down meaning that it wasn’t actual function and he child’s mannequin was flashing a fair bit of leg

remember to aerate your children, guys.
But as a whole, it was a pretty neat looking outfit with a distinctly 90s style to it

I could see the Olsen twins wearing this in one of their many dubious capers and the statement sleeves, like Rebecca’s bow, give it that little bit of flair and style that’s always nice to see in the Transformation Challenge.

An Official Curtain Transformation Challenge Ranking

  1. Serena’s Kimono: FOR KIDS!
  2. Rebecca’s B Team Netball Kit
  3. Raph’s Western Lederhosen
  4. Damien’s Tribute to Måneskin
  5. Farie’s Toddler Ventilation System

Sewing Bee: The Disco-mentary

For the Made-to-Measure Challenge the sewers have to create a show stopping gown worthy of being worn by the Dreamgirls themselves – think glitter, sequins, lamé and if you’re Damien a lurid blood orange fabric the likes of which you thought could only legally be used within the confines of EasyJet branding

and so it begins as Damien proudly proclaims “Beyoncé would wear this dress!” and if you’re wondering what Damien’s idea of a Beyoncé dress is, well…

there are so many weird choices here but I think the weirdest to me is the idea of a disco pencil skirt. Esme does point out that with all the sharp, structured shapes the dress is actually more of an 80s design, which Damien offhandedly says “We can pass it off as 70s” and Esme shoots him a look that I genuinely think might have been capable of ending not only Damien but the entire universe

I genuinely don’t think in the 4 series that Esme has done this show that we have ever seen her look at someone this way before – incredible scenes.
As for the construction of it, it was a turbulent time with his interfacing being a bit of a disaster

and then the creeping doubt really sunk in as he looked around and surveyed the fact everyone else had gone ham on the glitz and he had made what looks like a knickknack you can buy at Johannesburg airport

It really doesn’t fit the brief at all and the stiffness of the upholstery fabric is fighting tooth-and-nail with the silkiness of his lamé. It’s a lovely dress pattern, and had he done this in his tweed from last week? Stunning. It just doesn’t work here.

The other 4 were much more on trend with their disco outfits as they competed to see who could bring the most bling and while Serena drowned in sequins, Rebecca was going full Midas with her gold

and in an attempt to redeem the chiffon hem from her Dirty Dancing dress, she was creating a tiered fish-tail gown out of an organza fabric that she would have to overlock, which she does do

but just as Esme starts lambasting it as “an absolute mess”, Rebecca lops the whole thing off and her gown is all the better for it

the cut and fit of it is sublime, I’d have maybe liked to see a little more flounce in the organza skirt and I just have to shout out the styling her model, Meg, once again

She could rule the entire world.
And finally, Rebecca gets Patrick to utter those precious words: “It’s a knockout” – we’ll just ignore that it was under mild duress from Joe Lycett.

Also going for gold was Raph who was not stopping at gold lamé and was introducing ostrich feathers, cockerel feathers and a cape – and if you’re thinking that’s going to make his model look like Cruella de Vil hitting up Studio 54, you would be absolutely correct

this is my Pride outfit this year – it is deliciously camp and delightfully silly – MORE FEATHERS I SAY!

Serena was working with the most sequins, in that her entire dress was covered in them as she attempted to combine two separate fabrics into one fluid dress that did look a bit like a Coke can

working with so many sequins does require a lot of patience as needles are want to break, as Farie found out when her needle came off second best against one

and Rebecca had her own issues with hers, at least I think she was talking about sequins here

someone remind Serena to sleep with one eye open, thanks.
As ever, Serena comes out the other end with an incredible dress and her model is THE moment

my favourite part of the show is when you know the models adore the dresses they’re in and this was very much that moment – it’s so attention grabbing and the pattern is incredibly fluid, which does help counteract the fact the skirt gets a little heavy.

Farie also embraced red as she set about making a gown with a thigh slit to make Angelina Jolie blush and a very intricate and slightly strange statement lace sleeve

it, as always, has a lot of attitude and would kill on stage – there are a few construction issues, mostly around the seams which are rippling ever so slightly but you can’t really deny the sex appeal of the whole thing.

An Unofficial Dreamgirls Dress Ranking

  1. Raph’s Disco Dancing Avian Explosion
  2. Serena’s Disco Coke Can
  3. Rebecca’s Golden Girl
  4. Farie’s Red Hot Poker
  5. Damien’s Anachronistic Disco Hostess

For having put up with so much this episode, the Garment of the Week goes to Rebecca for her golden Dreamgirls number

I think I’d have given it to Raph’s disco outfit but it is quite nice to have someone in the semi-finals to have won Garment of the Week who isn’t Raph or Farie.

And then for daring to question the sacredness of the 70s (and a little bit for thinking Beyoncé would wear that dress) it is The Man, The Myth, The Damien who finds himself eliminated

It has been A RIDE with him – there have been some highs (a lot of his made-to-measures were good, actually) and there have been some lows (LONG LIVE THE BEADED FRINGE!) and I think the series has been all the more entertaining for having him around in all of his Afternoon-in-the-pub Dad energy. We’ll never see his like again.

And so, 4 sewers advance to the semi-final

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One thought on “SEWING BEE 2021, EPISODE 8: Intentional Lederhosen

  1. Nick

    Well, Damien could now present Top Gear, as he can do the whole Paddy McGuinness thing, but a hundred times less irritating

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