Sewing Bee 2022, Episode 1: Post-Cockapoo Stress Disorder

I see they’re recycling the clothes that Joe Lycett left behind.

It’s back! And not only is there a new host but they’ve moved up to Yorkshire, and it is quite frankly rude of them not to have invited me to come and model a variety of insane sleeves for them.

As a helpful guide as to who the new batch of sewers (that’s SO-ERRS) are, I made this handy chart

And here they are in a D&D style alignment chart

which is perhaps the more useful of the two charts.

Skirting Disaster

Kicking off the series is a week themed around the Capsule Wardrobe – which is absolutely just them running out of cohesive themes so they just had them make a random assortment of clothes. You can reuse themes guys, nobody remembers the first series, it’s fine.

The first challenge of “Capsule Collection Week” was for the sewers to make a woollen mini skirt that featured 2 patch pockets that had to be lined as well as an exposed zip on the back. I think it was a good first challenge, the pattern is relatively simple and they had been merciful and given the sewers premade piping, although Angela was going for extra brownie points and making her own piping

I’m not really surprised she did so well given that she used to be a witchy nurse

it’s simply unfair to allow someone with blatant magical abilities compete against the likes of Mitch who seemed to be waging a war against everything in the sewing room

a war that he at least didn’t lose

although unfortunately his skirt got caught in the crossfires of the Great Haberdashery Battle of 2022 and featured a scientifically baffling hem

can CERN please stop playing with their Large Hadron Collider for a second and focus on unravelling the true mystery of the universe: What is Going On With Mitch’s Hem?

I was very excited that this group of sewers seemed to be keen on going for brighter and more interesting colours, although I think Cristian got a little too excited

they are called “patch pockets” so I can’t really blame him for going full patchwork quilt on them but something about this skirt is reading both clown and peasant girl in a German Expressionist movie – it’s a fascinating aesthetic dichotomy – F.W. Murnau would be proud.

Also going with checkerboard was Steve who is this year’s Very Straight, Much Heterosexual Sewer (that’s SUE-Err)

only time will tell quite where he lands on the Damien Scale of Heterosexual Disasters but his decision to combine red and mustard check with a baby blue piping suggests he will be embracing chaos at every turn

I at least admire the valiant attempt to pattern match the pockets which is only ever slightly off kilter – but for someone who had never done any component of this challenge I think he did pretty well – especially considering he had a brief nervous collapse when Sara told him that his skirt was the West Ham colours

and that’s the entire quota of football chatter used up for the series, one more mention of Millwall F.C. and it’s curtains for you Steve! You’re on a yellow card.

The last of the male sewers was Richy who looks delightfully like Paul Bunyan’s polite British cousin who owns an apple orchard and produces a lovely cold press cider

I really liked Richy’s skirt – it’s about as gothy as a woolen mini skirt could ever hope to be

it was certainly one of the more successful contrast piping, although I think the trophy for best colour combination has to go to Debra’s use of purple and orange (which is wonderfully Spiro)

I bet she’s more than a little relieved that Patrick essentially forced her to read the entirety of the instructions before sewing instead of just skimming the first page and praying there were no road bumps in the way. Chichi on the other hand was eager to stress that she had in fact read the instructions and was not telling a lie, and for the most part managed to make a perfectly lovely skirt – and I do love that the grey with the black piping does make her skirt look a bit like a sleeping elephant

and as a bonus feature she left an untrimmed thread which allowed you to make the elephant frown like it was having nightmares

I don’t think she was rewarded enough for this feat of skirt puppetry.

The most traditional looking skirt probably came from Gill who used a very lovely brown wool with a brown trim

it’s smart, it’s casual, it looks ever so slightly like a very nice throw cushion – it’s basically everything you could hope for from the challenge, except for the absolutely miniscule amount of facing that was showing at the back which Esme narrowed in on like a kestrel

it’s not the biggest mistake in the world and she was barely penalised for it.

I had thought Brogan would be the one to lead The Pastel Army and be the first one to embrace the Chanel aesthetic, especially considering she spent a lot of time accidentally describing herself as Villanelle

and then she churned out a, admittedly very well made, military green skirt – has the British Army considered a uniform rebranding, utility skirts could be useful!

Esme was particularly impressed by her top stitching and the general evenness of the skirt.

So with Brogan busy making an army sergeant’s utility skirt, it was up to Man Yee to take charge of the pastels

I do hope that her tactic for every single challenge is to go the cosplay route, especially considering she got into sewing through cosplay

she was however very quick to stress that she does not still wear the Japanese school girl uniform, and considering nobody asked and the vehement way in which she denied it, suggests she absolutely still wears the Japanese school girl uniform – live your Haruhi Suzumiya fantasy out loud, I support you.

I thought Man Yee’s was the most “Chanel” however Patrick was convinced that Annie’s pastel green offering was the more Coco of the bunch

I’m not sure I entirely associate this colour with the brand, but I like it, it’s at least interesting and different – her piping was however perhaps a little bit bulky for a look that was trying to skew elegant.

And lastly we have veterinarian Marni who amidst trying to make a skirt was also taking regular breaks to stare into the void every time Annie mentioned her cockapoos

some of you might not have noticed that Annie had dogs due to the intensity at which her father was Blue Steeling to camera

quite how Marni feels about sausage dogs that regularly get dressed up in outfits to make their owner’s clothes remains to be seen

but I eagerly await to find out more about Marni’s canine neuroses. Afghan hounds, yay or nay?

Despite her Post-Cockapoo Stress Disorder, Marnie whipped up a really quite lovely skirt

first of all, the colour of the wool is divine and the black trim certainly helps pick out the darker flecks within the fabric and there’s no complaints to be had with the construction with everything being flat, neat and perfectly in order – she would have won had Angela not magicked up her own piping, which still surprises me that she managed to do after she struggled to turn on an already on iron

well, we found the fire hazard.

An Official Woollen Mini Skirt Ranking

  1. Angela’s Self-made Piping
  2. Marni Prevails Against The Cockapoo Menace
  3. Brogan’s Grenade Carrier
  4. Debra’s Spiro Aesthetic
  5. Cristian’s German Expressionist Peasant Clown
  6. Gill’s Traditional Skirt
  7. Richy’s Hunting Lodge Emo
  8. Annie’s Peppermint Chanel
  9. Man Yee’s Elle Woods Cosplay
  10. Chichi’s Elephant Puppet in Progress
  11. Steve’s Colour… Choices.
  12. Mitch vs The Machines

Lounging Around

For the first transformation of the series the sewers had to transform loungewear into party tops, and Patrick was having a lot o fun putting the fear of God into them by unveiling the ugliest garment they’ve inflicted on the sewers since the infamous cat shirt

and rather reasonably, Richy in his Mary Poppins side-character finery was AGHAST

luckily for him not all of the options were quite so psychedelic and he had managed to procure himself, as he dubbed, “Georgian-style” colours, including bright orange and that colour famously favoured by the Hanoverian royalty: leopard print

Georgiana Cavendish rolls in her grave.

As with many a sewer before him, Richy’s tactic was to mostly just tuck and pin things on a mannequin, which worked out for the most part with Esme loving the drape of the back but the front was a bit of a jumpscare

but it could have been worse because for one brief moment he did consider going with bright pink, only narrowly avoiding going the full Animal

I demand more Muppet outfits!

At a certain point “going out wear” started to mean “Disco” which is why there was so much fringe this episode – the beaded curtains that Damien has parted. Some people were more successful with their fringe choices than others – for example Man Yee’s use of fringe that made her outfit look a bit like an Andean condor in a bikini went down very well with Esme and Patrick

and then there was Angela who grabbed a silver fringe that she herself was horrified to have even picked up

and despite all of her cognitive functions telling her not to, she persisted to use it to complete Anne Boleyn’s trapeze outfit

it is the most delightfully hideous garment – I think it should be mandatory that Esme has to wear at least one of the transformation challenge pieces, and my vote would definitely go to Angela’s bizarre Christingle circus blouse, which she was very much claiming was for a popstar

Apologise to Beyonce RIGHT NOW, Angela.

Obviously with the pandemic some people hadn’t been going out much recently so they didn’t quite ascend to Patrick and Esme’s Studio 54 dreams – the biggest offender probably being Steve who did at least seem tor realise that his mangled Sailor Neptune outfit was a little too boring

and not even Patrick describing it as being “for a rave at a tennis club” could really save it from only narrowly missing last place.

Obviously Mitch had the largest amount of ground to catch up and he was coming into the challenge with high hopes and big dreams

and unfortunately it did in fact get worse for him as within minutes of starting he had sewn his butterfly mesh in backwards – and I loved that he described the butterfly mesh as being sexy… Mitch’s idea of sexy is.. certainly a journey: from accidental Dennis the Menace to bootleg ABBA, his tastes and predilections certainly span quite the range.
The texture of the butterfly mesh did also make his top look a bit like a cartoon character that had been run over by a car

and in a moment of madness he realised that his shirt wasn’t “partytime” enough so he lopped off the sleeves because THOSE were the issue and not the fact it looks like Winnie the Pooh came off second best to a monster-truck

I’m not sure a vest is more dressy. Or more disco.

But Mitch was from from the only one struggling with the dressiness of the challenge because at some point Debra seemed to totally give up and just rolled forward a mannequin dressed in the sort of top you’ve had for years and is now solely relegated to being worn when you need to deep clean the house

Gill’s also got similar critiques for being “too casual”

I think they were more suggesting that her approach was too casual because she had made a wrap top, and fully knew the next challenge was going to be to make a wrap dress – so while not particularly adventurous, I do have to somewhat applaud the lifehack of it all.

Speaking of lifehacks, Chichi appeared to have gone the full 5 Minute Crafts because it did still look a bit like you had cut a hole in the crotch of some pants that you were wearing them as a top

but she was saving herself with the dramatic backlessness, which to be fair was finished off very nicely

whether going back was entirely due to design or her using up a significant amount of the 90 minutes having a dance party with Sara Pascoe can’t entirely be said

I’m going to assume that Chichi was patient zero in the spread of the Disco Fever that slowly but surely plunged many of the sewers into bedazzled and fringed chaos. Annie meanwhile was pulling from her own personal style

and she certainly kept true to that plan with her glorified bra

it could have maybe used a little more glitz, but then you do risk looking a bit like you’ve designed something for a burlesque dancer who just wants to be comfortable – which is what Angela found out the hard way.

Marni was also pulling from personal experience and having grown up in the 80s she was embracing that particular aesthetic with her rouched sleeved top

the best part of it all though was the fact she spent the entire challenge talking about how ugly she thought her outfit was and slowly descending into madness like she had just seen a pack of cockapoos

only to then go on to win the challenge and being utterly baffled as to why Patrick and Esme were praising this outfit that she had brought kicking and screaming into existence

it’s honestly iconic behaviour.

The best use of anything sparkly was probably from Brogan with her strappy croptop

there’s a lot to like about her top – I find the bustline and the drape of it to be quite pleasant – the black trim of the bottom does unfortunately look a bit like a moustache and if you put eyes on the boobs it does look a bit like Thomas the Tank Engine’s offensive Italian cousin is judging you HARSHLY

his name is Tommotore del Carro Armato.

Lastly we have Cristian who I think was certainly onto something with his outfit

there’s a lot of very cool shapes and layering going on, it just doesn’t look particularly finished and I would have loved to see what he could do with this idea if he got to sit and really mull it over but right now it does look like a very pissed off cat made it.

An Official Going Out Top Ranking

  1. Marni’s Existentialist Sweatshirt
  2. Man Yee’s Armpit Extensions
  3. Annie’s Comfy Bra
  4. Brogan’s Angry Train Face
  5. Cristian’s Scratching Post
  6. Chichi’s 5 Minute Crafts Top
  7. Gill’s Practice Wrap
  8. Steve’s Tenniswear
  9. Rich’s Leopard Print Jumpscare
  10. Whatever Was At The Back of Debra’s Closet
  11. Angela’s Community Theatre Production of The Greatest Christmas Showman
  12. Dennis The Roadkill Menace

That’s a Wrap!

For the first Made to Measure Challenge of the series the sewers were given the task of making a wrap dress, with the only real requirement of it to…well… wrap, so there was a lot of opportunity for creativity and additional style choices in regards to hem length, sleeves, collars, sadistic uses of organza, flounces – the possibilities were endless! And despite the show stressing how it was Diane von Furstenberg who was THE fashion designer of wrap dresses and doing them before they were cool, Debra was namedropping Erdem, complete with a divinely phoney French accent that she had clearly spent hours practicing because she didn’t want Esme to correct her. I was worried for Debra because they did show a couple of the Erdem dresses and they are stunning, and £1750.00 (eat the rich)

which immediately sets high expectations which are going to be hard to clear, and yet I think Debra excelled

it’s beautiful – and the way it wraps with the very curved edge and the contrast trim is reminiscent of a Chinese qipao dress without being weirdly culturally appropriative – and her fabric choice was gorgeous! Although I think my favourite fabric of the night was Annie’s African floral print which suited her very fluttery dress extremely well

it is very much a dress I would like to waft around in and the amount of time she spent on the frill was definitely worth it.

Despite Debra taking inspiration from a high end designer, I think the most “red carpet” of the dresses was Man Yee’s, mostly because deciding to make an organza dress in only 5 hours is exactly the kind of workplace violation that Dior has their seamstresses go through in the lead up to The Oscars

now it might not be an Oscars dress, but I can see Maisie Williams wearing this to a more casual event – especially weird Post-Met Gala Blonde Maisie Williams.

While Man Yee took the hard road, Brogan merrily skipped along, basically singing like a Disney princess about how she was using cotton and it was so easy and her life was perfect, which of course resulted in a lovely dress

it definitely felt like one of the more current dresses, mostly because it very much looks like one of the few outfits on ASOS that seems wearable – are we, as a society, ever going to address ASOS’s addiction to random cutouts and drawstrings? They are in need of an intervention.

And while Brogan amassed an abundance of tiny little animal friends through the power of song, Chichi was having a bit of a nightmare and could really have done with an army of sewing mice to help her complete her dress – the big issue seemed to be that she had decided to, once again, go backless and fitting it to her model was proving a difficult task, but for the most part she seemed to at least wrangle the fit on the front into shape as long as you stood quite a distance away

but because she had to spend so much time on that she hadn’t completed many of her hems and the ones she had done were a little rushed and bumpy.

Rather surprisingly after breaking a machine in the first round, Mitch wasn’t being forced to handstitch his dress together, however apparently the thread had got wind of his crime and was very mad about it

for his wrap dress, Mitch was of course taking inspiration from ABBA because is current wife, who introduced him to his ex-wife, is part of an ABBA tribute band that he joined to specifically get a date with her – if Ryan Murphy is looking for his next project, I think we found it. Kathy Bates to play Mitch, obviously and then Sarah Paulson and Emma Roberts can duke it out over Ex-wife and Current Wife.

The specific outfit he was using as a reference were their kimono outfits because it is law that every musician has to go through a weird use of a kimono phase

and aside from the Thread Revolution, Mitch seemed to get on with the challenge just fine – he didn’t seem to have to unstitch anything or cry in a corner, but then he got to the end of challenge, put the dress on his model and realised it was VERY short

it’s very me buying anything that says “knee length” and forgetting the model in the dress is probably a dainty 5 foot 2 and I am 6 foot titan birthed from Uranus and Gaia themselves.
Despite the risk of flashing, his model gamely twirled in her dress and then Mitch had to bluff his way through the judging claiming that yes he absolutely meant for his dress to barely skim the buttcheeks, it’s sexy, it’s inspired by his wife, it’s sexy.

Things weren’t completely lost for Mitch though because much like Chichi, Steve struggled to get his Ukrainian flag dress finished

it was nothing major, there were just a few pins left in the turned up sleeves, but the moment Esme described any part of it as “a mistake” Mitch’s ears IMMEDIATELY perked up

it’s like a cat hearing the gentle rustling of a box of Dreamies, or a corgi hearing the squirty cream

he might have ended up being the first boot of the series, but Mitch certainly leaves a very wholesome legacy – sexy ABBA costume explicitly designed for his wife and all.

Mitch wasn’t the only one going down the kimono route with Richy also opting for one, justifying it as an exploration of historic importance like he’s trying to steal Lucy Worsley’s job – or at least collaborate with her, they could talk for hours about antique underwear

I did love that Richy proudly showed off a replica regency stay he had lovingly made for a friend during lockdown and all Esme could add to the conversation was this

her ability to kill a conversation with only a single sentence is honestly a God-given talent – it’s a verbal assassination every time.

But I think Richy might have had my favourite dress? I can’t be too sure on how much I love the dress, or how much I love the way his model UTTERLY stole the show by serving camp glamour on the runway

truly the shining star of the show!

But while Richy went for soft and flowy, Marni’s approach was a little more “drinks and a stepping on if you’re lucky”

her decision to go quite structured and powerful certainly made her dress stand out, and she had also bravely gone for a contrast top stitch which managed to impress Esme and also made the whole thing look a bit like it was made from denim.

After winning the first challenge and then making Jane Seymour’s sexy Mrs. Claus outfit in the second round, I was very curious as to where exactly Angela would land in the grand scheme of things – and I think it was mostly on the positive side of the spectrum

I personally do not like the colour, I do like the print though and I think there were a lot of smart and interesting design choices though – I’m also a sucker for a statement sleeve and the shape of it is all very well done.

While many of the designers went for big and bold designs with statement colours, Gill went much more neutral

and while I would like something with a little wow factor, she was drawing inspiration from Kate Middleton who is vanilla made sentient so she pretty much nailed what she intended to do and the finishing of the garment was beautifully done and I hope it gives her confidence to maybe be a little more whacky in the future because she’s clearly got the skills.

And lastly we have Cristian who was the polar opposite of Gill with his sort of 70s Georgia O’Keeffe print dress

which really reminds me of these outfits that Destiny’s Child wore to the American Music Awards

obviously Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Poor Michelle would not wear a wrap dress in their Destiny’s Child phases but it’s at least closer to a Beyonce outfit than Angela’s Yuletide Catherine Parr.

An Unofficial Wrap Dress Ranking

  1. Debra’s Erdem Courtcase
  2. Annie’s Floral Frills
  3. Richy’s Model in His Kimono
  4. Cristian’s Beyonce Adjacency
  5. The Masochistic Organza Dress
  6. Marni’s Whipped Wrap Dress
  7. Brogan’s Highstreet Dress
  8. Angela’s Eye-searing Lime Dress
  9. Kate Middleton Cosplay in the Year of Our Lord 2022?
  10. Chichi’s Dress From Across The Room
  11. Steve’s Ukrainian Wrap Dress
  12. Chichi’s Dress From 4 Feet Away
  13. My Wife, The Sexy ABBA Lady

I think this was a very strong episode and nobody was a complete disaster and in any other series I don’t think even the lowest ranking of this lot would have been eliminated so it’ll be a stiff competition this year. Of course decision do have to be made and the Garment of the Week went to Debra’s Erdem-inspired dress

and then sadly we did have to lose someone and as much as they wanted to imply that it could have been either Chichi, Steve or Mitch – it was pretty obviously going to be the adorable Cheetah cop from Zootopia Mitch

he’ll at least go out being very fondly remembered though because he came across incredibly well and very personable so I think he should be pretty pleased despite it all.

And so, we’re left with 11 sewers

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