Sewing Bee 2021, Episode 10: No Solidarity With The Ditchless

Happy Pride Month to Jim The Neckless ONLY!

It’s the final and the theme for the week is Celebrations (the events, not the box of disappointing chocolates) so expect fun, frivolity and a simmering undercurrent of over competitiveness.

Always The Bridesmaid…

Kicking off the final is a challenge for the sewers (that’s SO-ERRs) to make a child’s bridesmaid dress complete with a stiffened crinoline skirt hem, a bagged out sash and a devilish little bound buttonhole the likes of which you apparently see on couture gowns because the only people that have enough patience to do it are the ones being paid by Oscar de la Renta.
The intricacies of the construction aside, the sewers were also all expected to choose to make their lives harder by opting for beautiful silken fabrics, and I’m pleased to tell you everyone succeeded in at least being better than the example dress

I have never seen anything aim so hard for Champagne coloured only to land firmly in Slightly Musty Victorian Smock In A Small Village Museum. Hi Dulux, if you need someone to make up your paint names, I’m available for hire!

Fabric wise, Raph and Serena decided to bleed the BBC dry and use silk taffeta at roughly £50 per metre while also making life very difficult for themselves because it’s a slippery little bugger and prone to fraying. Which is how I describe myself in all my dating profiles. They have both also never used the fabric before, while Rebecca decides to use Duchess Satin which she used to make her Christmas Party Dress

which made her a little more confident with the challenge, and I’m sure the constant grunting and sighing from both Raph and Serena as they cursed their fabric choice to an eternity in Haberdashery Hell didn’t go amiss either.
They fraying of their taffeta silk made the bound buttonhole particularly hard and given the fact Patrick struggled to do it on a 10 times larger scale it’s amazing either of them got theirs done at all

even if Raph’s did look a bit like a postbox with botched lip fillers

It exists, and we respect that, even if Esme did cruelly shame it for its miniscule flanges.
The buttonhole wasn’t Raph’s only woe as he became possessed by the Spirit of Damien and instead of sewing his bodice, skirt and lining together separately in everyone’s new favourite method: “stitching in the ditch” he did it all in one go which resulted in a mildly engorged seam that might have gone unnoticed but he insisted on confessing his sins to Esme

As far as the dress goes, Raph had the best fabric choice although maybe not the most traditionally wedding-ish,

and he would be roasted for it on Four Weddings. Remember that show though? My God, the early 2010s were a wilderness for reality TV concepts.
The shoulders of the dress are a little wonkus but of all of the dresses he achieved the nicest bow

although this could have been because Serena was having to jam her mannequin into a dress and tie the sash with 5 seconds left on the clock.
Esme of course brings up unditched stitch and the fact the buttonhole doesn’t quite meet in the middle which did bring about another realisation: the cursed child mannequins have zips on their backs

The thought of being able to unzip their gumby little selves and extract whatever vaguely skeletal form they’re inhabited by is… beyond Eldritch in its horror.

Raph wasn’t the only one to skip the ditch as Serena makes a rare misstep as she too is possessed by Damien and forgoes page 6 of the instructions but because she’s under the Hippocratic Oath she unpicks it all and redoes it correctly, which absolutely did not help Raph’s situation – there’s no solidarity with the ditchless.
Despite her brief foray into wrongness, Serena once again turns out a near perfect outfit

it’s as neat and precise as you could want save for the buttonhole that I’m shocked Serena didn’t yeet into The Thames.

While Raph and Rebecca waged a war against taffeta and barely won (It’s the Great Emu War all over again) Rebecca’s biggest problem was the fact Patrick was politely looming over her and looking very much like an Elizabeth Gaskell character

I watched North and South for the 100th time this month and have a lot of John Thornton feelings again, can you tell?

Rebecca’s only real issue was the fact her sewing machine wasn’t going fast enough for her, which is an incredible flex when your only other competitors are like 10 feet away from you swearing at buttonholes that are slowly dwindling out of existence. The relative ease of her Duchess Satin came in handy and resulted in a very cute little dress that out of all of them looked the most wedding ready to me

the shaping of the skirt is truly magnificent and she had the most even shoulders of the lot, but when it came to the bow she should maybe have used a slightly less stiff fabric because it does look a bit like her bridesmaid is being held together by scaffolding

it’s all very stiff and straight (I will resist the obvious joke here) but the silver (or if you’re Patrick it’s just grey) does work very well with the robin’s egg blue.
She only really gets dinged for the fact her sash is slightly wobbly on the front and it showed up more because she opted for the contrast colour – such is the peril of good aesthetics.

An Official Bridesmaid’s Dress Ranking

  1. Serena’s Midnight Navy Bridesmaid
  2. Rebecca’s Magnetic Bridesmaid
  3. Raph’s Ditchless Bridesmaid

And thus Serena has won 60% of the pattern challenges, beating Neil and Juliet’s 50% records in Series 3 and 5 respectively.

Sewing Fest ’21

For the last of this series’s Transformation Challenges (THAT THEY DEFINITELY AREN’T RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS FOR) the sewers are tasked with creating a festival going outfit with household items, the camera then proceeded to sweep over a collection of things that absolutely meant this challenge was just Make A Pride Outfit

which at least Raph noticed as he immediately gravitated towards the metres of luridly coloured rainbow fringe

can you imagine what Damien could have done with that?
While Raph rummaged for enough rainbow paraphernalia to put Brighton to shame, Rebecca was carefully curating a colour palette of silvers and soft golds

she was going for a much more Coachella, Instagram influencer look and hey if James Charles can wear ass-less chaps to Coachella, Rebecca can make a skirt with one hell of a viewing window in it

that’s going to leave some questionable tan lines.
It’s very well made, it is just unfortunate that despite being very pleased with how sparkly it was, Raph had bisected a neckless mermaid and rolled it through the Wookey Hole gift shop

I was worried we wouldn’t see anything as wonderfully, overtly gay as Matt dressing his boyfriend up on a leather bondage-esque gown last year and I’m *thrilled* that Raph didn’t let us down. It’s just a joyfully silly outfit that makes you happy, just look at Patrick wearing the slightly too small headband

I will now be writing a script for Pirates of the Caribbean 24: Pride Before a Fall.

Not to be too outdone by Raph’s general chaos, Serena had ripped down every single pair of curtains and dangling decor she possibly could like she was some sort of vengeful house cat that had been left on its own for too long. And from this she brought forward what I can only describe as an office worker having a crisis

I just love how formal the trousers are and then you turn them to the side and BAM! there’s nothing there but thigh

Not even the modesty hearts are going to hide anything so best to invest in some nice underwear for wherever this is going.

An Official Festival Outfit Ranking

  1. Raph’s Bisected Mermaid’s First Pride
  2. Serena’s Office Party Acid Trip
  3. Rebecca’s Glamorous Tan Hazard

A Chip Off Your Shoulder

Seeing the series out is a challenge for the sewers to create a red carpet ready off the shoulder dress, so it’s no straps, all corset baby! As usual the models have been replaced by their friends or family members: Raph has his fellow textile artist Becca

Serena has her brother’s girlfriend Sarah

and Rebecca has Grace who she waitressed with while in her teens

Braver than the troops, we thank them for their service.

Coming in to the final challenge it was pretty much all to play for, the last few years it’s been pretty clear who would win but this year felt particularly exciting, especially as self-described dark horse Rebecca was promising a vision of a dress

anything with some flounce and I’m there in a heartbeat, and boy was there a lot of flounce for her to try and tame

she did though and with barely any issues throughout the challenge turned out one of the most stunningly well made garments we’ve seen on the show, it’s utter perfection

it’s very Fan Bingbing at Cannes, which is the highest compliment I can possibly bestow on a garment. My only gripe is that I might have preferred it if the flounce had been lined, the white underside is a little stark and does jar a touch with the rest of the outfit but my God, Grace looked immaculate and I love how happy Rebecca clearly was with it

it’s a jump for joy that would put the credits of every teen movie in the 80s to shame!

Serena was also going big with volume, that’s 100 gathers and 16 metres of luminous yellow tulle to be precise

and of course, once again, Serena sits behind that sewing machine, eyes flashing as she whispers the fateful words

I hope Serena at least tried to get the production team to get Jodie Comer to be her finale model.

With Serena having exhausted the nation’s precious tulle supply, the last big job before the critique was trying her best to get Sarah into the dang thing without smudging her makeup, a problem that was mostly solved by Serena covering her face with a paper towel

I hope her bedside manner as a doctor is at least slightly better.
It was also probably worth having your face smothered with a paper towel to get to do your own little Beyonce in the Lemonade video cosplay

all that’s missing is a baseball bat and some minor vandalism.
It is also stunningly well made, the judges are particularly impressed by how neat the gathering on her skirt is considering there’s 16 odd metres of tulle going on there

I have never done anything so neat in my life.
Esme believed there could have been more volume in the skirt in order to match the bodice, I think it’s perfect as it, any bigger in the skirt and it would have been a little overwhelming.

Of all the three of the sewers, Raph had the most issues, mostly because he had the most going on – which is quite something when Serena is wrestling a tulle monster and Rebecca has to lasso umpteen metres of flounce. While they had gone for your kind of more ordinary red carpet dresses, Raph was going for something a little more avant-garde and whimsical and drawing heavily on the imagery of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights video to essentially dress his model up as a Victorian gothic window

Finally, someone has realised what women really want!
He had A LOT of work to do – bone the corset, create the corset backing and of course perfectly drape metres of red lamé fabric and bows to create a flattering shape on his model. The latter of which did at least allow him to look like the campest matador in all of Madrid

it’s a vibe.
With all the draping going on and the fiddliness of it, time did get away from Raph and he couldn’t quite get around to hemming everything BUT, I think his model looked great – she has the look to pull it off, it’s very pop-punk and I could see this at something like The Grammys or The Brits quite easily

She would inevitably be described as looking like a Christmas present in the tabloids, but it’s a cute dress! It’s just unfortunately not quite up to the high standard that Raph has set himself. He clearly wasn’t happy with it and went so far as to say he was ashamed of himself and I really hope that was hyperbolic at the time because there’s absolutely no reason to be – it’s hardly The Jellyfish Incident of the Series 5 Finale. RICCARDO I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU.

An Unofficial Red Carpet dress Ranking

  1. Rebecca’s Floral Flounce
  2. Serena’s Expanding Tulle Universe
  3. Raph’s Gothic Window Dressing

And with that it’s all over and in the laps of the judges. It’s been a phenomenal series, we’ve weathered multiple storms: Damien, Farie’s scuffles with time, Damien, Adam’s premature elimination and of course Damien. But we’ve had some phenomenal highs: Farie somehow winning three Garments of the Week, Andrew’s sock vest, Serena’s expansive range of murder dresses, WHALE DRESS, Yoda The Cat and of course Damien. Ultimately there can of course only be one winner and it’s…

A thoroughly well deserved win, utter and complete domination in the pattern challenge, nary a misstep anywhere else and hardly a stitch out of place – which is hopefully what her medical reviews are like in the future. Any words Serena?

That’s how enter every room these days!

Of course a congratulations to both Raph and Rebecca for doing so well, they too have given us some phenomenal outfits (WHALE DRESS, both of their Disco outfits and The Octopus That Haunts The Sewing Room to name a few)!

Before we get to the Alternative montage, if you’ve enjoyed the recaps and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small tip over at my Kofi account HERE. And a thank you to everyone that has donated during the series, I am beyond grateful – it’s been a wonderfully validating experience seeing all the support these recaps get!


It’s been a truly superb series, lovely people, lovely clothes, it’s all we could have hoped for!

And congratulations once again to Serena!

TOP: Catherine, Adam, Adeena, Andrew
Middle: Damien, Farie, Jean, Julie
Bottom: Lawratu, Raph, Rebecca, SERENA.

And if you’ve enjoyed reading the recaps and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small tip via my Ko-fi account HERE.

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