Sewing Bee 2021, Episode 9: The Pin Making Economy of Redditch

Can we just appreciate the mammoth size of these trousers?

It’s 1940s week so don’t eat too many potatoes, your mother has to use them for soap, or something.

Bags of Fun

If you’re wondering what 1940s week is going to hold for the sewers (that’s SO-ERRs) I think Serena has you pretty much covered

I do also love the fact they’ve decided to have a 1940s week a year after Clare literally time travelled from the era and was forced to embrace the 80s and science-fiction. I imagine she’s at home seething in a perfectly tailored tweed blazer and balling her rationing list up in a clenched fist

Keep calm and MAKE HEADS ROLL.

For the 40s pattern challenge the sewers all have to make a pair of Oxford Bags which are basically a pair of loosely fitting trousers that allowed men to be better at the lindyhop, or so Amber Butchart and her headwrap inform us

That’s what I tell all the boys.
Beyond the dancers the other reference point is mostly just Harry Styles because Raph had reached week 9 of the competition and was being horny on main

if this recap goes entirely loopy at any point, know that I was vaccinated today and I’m not sure they’ve thoroughly monitored the side-effects they may have on people that do exhaustively long recaps about reality television, I am happy to be a guinea pig.

As it was 40s week, the sewers were expected to maintain true to the era by which we mean they had to use period specific fabrics and not that Farie, Rebecca and Serena got 30% less time than Raph. The trousers needed a fairly sturdy fabric so that they could achieve their distinctive shape, so wools were very much en vogue. I am however sad to say that nobody embraced patterns even though Farie spent a while wondering around with this incredible plaid fabric

Normalise wearing dog blanket trousers.
Farie eventually went with a much safer brown fabric and as ever waged her own personal war against the very concept of time and seemingly very quickly accepted with utter certainty that she was not going to finish on time

I can only admire her conviction to stand up for her right to leisurely sew even with Esme bearing down on her as she finished off the fly she just spent about 50% of the time making knowing full well she wasn’t going to put pockets in. It was a time of rationing, pockets were probably being used as handkerchiefs or a child’s mittens.
Her trousers did look deceptively good from afar

The pleats are maybe a little over exaggerated but they hang nicely, the legs are the same length and she had a waistband! It was just unfortunate that said waistband was once again being held up only by Bad Farie’s weapon of choice: The Pin

She’s doing wonders for the pin making economy of Redditch if nothing else.

Farie wasn’t the only one battling as Rebecca went toe-to-toe with the dreaded three part fly consisting of several nigh on identical pieces of which one managed to escape her and lay dormant on the table for quite some time

this was until Esme came over, holding it aloft and asking her about it in the same fashion that Poirot does when he reveals the last, crucial piece of evidence that categorically incriminates the murderer

there was some minor hubbub about this on Twitter and whether Esme should have helped Rebecca or not – I don’t really mind, I’m choosing to believe it was a very fabricated moment and Rebecca had indeed noticed her mistake and they merely shot it this way for narrative purposes. Either way, without the crucial fly guard Rebecca’s trousers were more successful than Farie’s

a fantastic colour choice and a wonderful drape, there are some minor issues on the waistband such as the fact the edges don’t line up square

and then Esme, just to rub it in, points out that Rebecca just jammed her fly guard in and as a result there is some extremely minor doubled up stitching where nobody would ever see it

truly it is an unforgiveable crime.

The challenge was, as ever, pretty smooth sailing for Serena, her only real trouble was dodging Joe Lycett’s visual gags and the moment she came up against a minor lump in her waistband and proceeded to obliterated through the power of the iron alone

sadly this seemed a touch detrimental to her trousers and the waistband was never quite the same but they remain very well made trousers and she had the most exact turn-ups, which I did mishear throughout the entire challenge as “turnips”, which I have no doubt were probably made into items of clothing during war-era Britain, a pair of lovingly carved turnip brogues perhaps?

If you thought Serena had a great time in this challenge, Raph was practically gliding through it and I’m sure it was all down to Harry Styles, Patron Saint of Good Lads. And also his little duck mascot that I have just noticed

I am aghast that Monsieur Canard has not had more screen time, I will not stand for this erasure. A PENANCE FOR THE SLIGHT AGAINST THE DUCK!
While we work out the legal proceedings of that very serious court case, here are Raph’s handsome trousers

they’re literally perfect, right down to the fact he managed to correctly catch the raw edges in the waistband and he garners the highest compliment you could possibly get: Patrick Grant would indeed wear them

that is the face of a man that has started the mental undressing already.

An Official Oxford Bags Ranking

  1. Raph Politely Helping Patrick Grant Into a Pair of Trousers
  2. Serena vs Lumps
  3. Rebecca and The Curious Case of The Fly Guard in the Night
  4. Bad Farie and Her Pins

Crash Landings

Seeing as they had blown the Annual Curtain Transformation Challenge last week, they desperately needed to find something for 40s week and eventually settled on giving them another unwieldly load of fabric in the form of a parachute AND, for the first time in Transformation Challenge History [citation needed] the sewers could share their fabrics, mostly because shock horror they had only managed to locate 4 parachutes for this challenge and it was a lucky dip as to what you ended up with

Naturally because they all ended up with roughly 100 square feet of fabric they all immediately gravitated towards making gowns despite the brief being open to any garment for a man or woman. Raph had big dreams of creating a wedding dress and immediately began trading his purple parachute fabric away for any white he could get his hands on like a child in the early 2000s desperate to get their hands on a Charizard Pokémon card.
With the masses of white fabric he had accumulated and his seeming determination to use every scrap of it I had expected his dress to end up looking a bit like someone had tried to recreate Diana’s wedding dress out of bedsheets but in actuality we got a pretty dang fabulous dress

It had a real look of the Moschino 2016 Fall collection about it – it’s one of my favourite collections of all time, everything had this period quality to it but was overly distressed and burnt, thoroughly recommend scoping it out. And Raph’s dress comes with a secret weapon: consummation quick release chords

adding those to the old Pinterest Wedding Mood Board.

The upside for Raph and his decision to use only white was the fact he didn’t have to contend with the fact Esme and Patrick seemed to hate the colour of every single parachute and would thus criticise the sewers for the colours as though they hadn’t just forced them to use these very limited fabric options. I felt particularly sorry for Rebecca whose dress was lovely, actually

It’s not going to set the world on fire but it’s a lovely dress with some great details such as the obi style belt and the quilting on the bodice

and yet Esme hated it because of the colours, and in specific that gorgeous mustardy yellow. I demand justice for this dress.

Farie also came up against the wrath of the judges’ prismatic opinions for her combination of purple and pink

I don’t think it’s that bad, it’s kind of a mix of Vivienne Westwood and early 2010s Giambattista Valli – a collection I mostly vividly remember because Emma Stone wore it just about everywhere.
Farie’s dress just looks a little incomplete to me, the asymmetry doesn’t quite read as purposeful so much as it does “this is how it is because I couldn’t make the parachute do anything else”.

And then we have Serena who basically re-did the children’s sea creature costume challenge

it’s delightful, just so whimsical with a dash of 80s style prom to it, I would very much like to wear it and twirl.

An Official Parachute Gown Ranking

  1. Serena’s Ruffled Sea Creature
  2. Raph’s No Fuss Wedding Night
  3. Farie’s Freeformed Freefall
  4. Rebecca’s vs Earth Tones

New Year, New Look

For the final challenge of 40s week the sewers find themselves faced with the almost insurmountable task of trying to create an outfit that lives up to the legacy of Dior’s New Look collection in which they essentially revitalised the entire fashion industry. But the judges don’t just want a straight up recreation of a Dior dress, they wanted to see it updated for a more modern feel. In terms of a thorough modernisation I think Raph was the most successful as he kept true to the classic Dior silhouette of a nipped in waist and a full skirt but used fabrics such as scuba, ultra lightweight nylon and of course Space Mesh, which is the name of my new electronic funk band

the sheerness of the blouse alone gives it a much more youthful, contemporary feel and the fact he managed to sew with a fabric that has all the substance of a sneeze deserves some sort of medal.

I was surprised that only Raph went with black and white, although Rebecca wasn’t far off when she opted for a blue and white colour scheme and made the daring choice of choosing a printed floral fabric that Esme and Patrick proceeded to roast the living daylights out from the Haberdashery Eyrie. I think the biggest issue with the print was the fact it didn’t read as particularly modern to begin with and the way Rebecca used it was a little dowdy

it’s less Dior and more the dress your great aunt wore to the local street party when the Queen was coronated, it’s fun and spring-like but lacks the sophistication of Dior. I do also enjoy that Rebecca’s model and Andrew’s model from the second week look like they could be in a film about two sisters that inexplicably hate one another and spend the entire 90 minute run time just doing awful things to one another

the title of my imaginary movie is “Stitches of Eastwick”, courtesy of the Sewing Bee Twitter account. We still haven’t thought of a way to pun up Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? And I’m trying to make Mommie Threadiest a thing.
Fabric choices aside there were also a few construction issues with Rebecca’s dress, mostly caused by her frantically having to attach buttons in the dying seconds of the challenge which put everything slightly askew

but she also did the most sewing out of everyone with the outfit being comprised of 39 individual pieces, so props to the ambition.

Rebecca wasn’t the only one facing construction dilemmas as Farie set about making her self-drafted pattern – it’s always a dangerous game on this show. She further found herself on a backfoot because the fabric she had ordered wasn’t quite what she had thought it was and so she was trying to make a very structured gown out of satin, a fabric that behaves like someone biologically spliced a cat with one of those prank dribble glasses

Farie did find herself falling further and further behind time and by the end of it she was just happy to have a dress that her model could actually wear and functionally breathe in for the hour it takes to film the judges’ critiques

I really love the idea of this dress, the drape is very well executed but did come at the expense of not a single hem coming into existence, such is the bargain you make with Bad Farie.

Serena was also going for red and creating a two piece featuring a sort of halfway house between a blazer and your favourite cardigan and a pair of black tailored trousers. The latter gave her a few problems because somewhere along the lines she had miscalculated something and the trousers were magically 2 inches too big for her model – “It’s two inches off” is not something you want to hear a doctor say. But she managed to work through the construction of the blazer at a rapid pace, even while giving Joe dubious lessons on Highland Dancing, and had more than enough time to correct the mistake. Meaning her model didn’t have to walk down the catwalk in the hopes that her trousers don’t fall

It’s beautiful, I both want to be her and just spend an hour in the library that she guards with the ferocity of a bookkeeping hawk. It’s just so chic and elegant, I have no notes, I don’t even care that the buttons are like 3 millimetres out of place, I’ll take it.

An Unofficial Dior New Look Ranking

  1. Serena’s Chic Librarian On a French Cycling Holiday
  2. Raph’s Sheer Dior
  3. Rebecca’s Accidental Joan Crawford
  4. A Hem, a Hem, My Kingdom For a Hem

It’s quite hard to believe that despite constantly delivering incredible outfits that Serena has somehow never won garment of the week but luckily for her that’s all changed as she bags it with her Dior inspired blazer

she could feasibly have won it with the parachute dress too, if we’re honest. I’m a touch disappointed that nobody won Garment of the Week for a transformation creation, there’s usually at least one.
Of course someone had to fall before the final and it was rather inevitable that it would Farie who bowed out

It has been a wild ride with her – the highest highs with three Garments of the Week and the lowest of lows – HONEY, WHERE ARE YOUR HEMS? But she’s been a ray of sunshine and a joy to have on TV, the perfect tonic on a Wednesday night, even with the stress of never knowing quite what could happen with her. I hope she goes far and I hope she takes all the time she needs to make her incredible outfits.

And so, we have our final 3…

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