Sewing Bee 2022, Episode 6: A Deflated Pantomime Horse

You either die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain.

Sadly it didn’t turn out that Music Week would involve turning a tuba into a piece of women’s formal wear.

I don’t ordinarily talk about the opening skits of the show because morally I do not feel we should be endorsing them, but I did enjoy the absurdity of the fact they clearly needed to have Patrick and Esme doing something in the background for this one so they just sort of made them stand next to Angela’s wrap dress and hold its sleeves like they were posing for a family portrait with their headless daughter

or do they just do this every time they open the sewing room in the morning? A quick, 15 minute sleeve inspection.

Free Parka-ing

If you were expecting choir robes, a very short ABBA wrap dress or the sort of ill-fitting suit only a music teacher could wear, then you were being far too literal about Music Week. Instead we’re kicking off by having the sewers each make a Parka, the uniform of the Mod Movement, Oasis and Bella Swan’s Forks, Washington era.

It was definitely the most stressful pattern challenge they had, which is saying something because they did have to insert 28 eyelets into a pair of shoes during Machiavellian Psychological Experiment Week. Part of the problem was the fact there were so many pattern pieces, as Angela’s Unassembled Parka Road will illustrate

and then the other part was the dratted zip which, much like ogres, onions and some truly upsetting savoury slices over on Bake Off: The Professionals, have many layers – and the instructions for said zip might as well have been an extract from the Voynich Manuscript

and it pretty much stumped EVERYONE, all except Man Yee who began explaining how to put the zip in like she was Guy Goma on BBC News

and surely enough, one by one The Acolytes of The Zip each began to realise that their prophet was nothing but a charlatan, a mountebank and a fraudster

Truly an iconic case of the blind leading the even more blind

Angela vs Irons, a never ending feud.

The only downside to this turn of events was the fact that Man Yee’s zip was also very wrong, something Patrick was far too smug about pointing out to her – and he better watch out because there’s nothing more dangerous than a cosplayer scorned

sleep with one eye open Mr. Grant

Despite her zipper woes, Man Yee did manage to fully complete her parka, and in a rather charming, distinctly unMod-ish polka dot fabric

the only real downside to it was the fact that the raw edge of her placket was visible, not that a great deal of people had much success with their plackets

I don’t know Debra, why don’t you ask Man Yee?

Debra eventually managed to decipher the placket making instructions so her blue Parka was at least fully complete

but said placket was, in the words of Patrick, “A little bit weird.” and she hadn’t managed to get the popper snaps onto her collar – again, it was a bit of novelty if anyone actually managed to complete their Parka – but as no surprise, Brogan very much managed to do so despite falling foul of Man Yee’s zipper masterclass

and it’s doubly impressive because she did also have to make the time to fit in her Beliebers Anonymous meeting

I love that from only this exchange and the fact she also owned up to being obsessed with JLS, I know EXACTLY what kind of girl Brogan was at school – I can smell the The Saturdays branded Impulse body spray now.

Cristian also managed to finish his Parka, which he had chosen to make in white – so if there’s a cult leader that needs some outdoor wear, you know who to go to

I love the fact he did the pockets in a subtle contrasting colour, I think it adds a nice sense of depth to the garment – there was however one minor issue in that his cord channel had slightly overshot itself, so Cristian was pipped to pole position by Brogan – and the resentment is beginning to set in

It was Cristian in the Sewing Room with Angela’s errant flap

with so many pattern pieces floating about the place, it was inevitable that something would go astray and while she spent her time trying to wrangle her parka pieces together like a cowboy rounding up cattle, Angela never quite got to fully completing her parka – missing both the waist cord and collar fastener – and the zipper only really being in by the skin of its teeth

it is at least a fun colour, which I’ll always appreciate.

Much like her experience of trying to make a pair of shoes under duress, Annie did once again slowly lose her mind as this challenge progressed – pondering what on earth a hem cord was while she toyed with said hem cord like it was an anxiety aid

and then by the time she reached the point of putting a popper in, her mind was was as addled as mine in my (first) GCSE maths exam

Well Annie, you could start by teaching everyone how to make a zip when you have no idea how to make said zip in the first place, thus becoming the pariah of the sewing room.
Annie never did figure out how to make herself a hole though but had valiantly tried to deceive the judges by sticking the facade of a popper fastener on anyway, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Esme look more disappointed in a sewer before

but the rest of her parka did actually exist and wasn’t just a Looney Tunes style illusion painted on the side of a cliff

I really love that she used a contrasting anxiety aid hem cord to add a little more interest to the parka and that slate green colour fabric is very nice.

And lastly we have Gill who got off to an ill-advisedly confident start by deciding to exert herself as The Sewing Room’s Alpha by grabbing a grey camo fabric that she literally had to rip from Annie’s hands like a crow mobbing an osprey on Springwatch

I mean, if you’re going to make a mistake, make it confidently

the fabric didn’t lend itself very well to being used while having to sew at speed – if I remember correctly, a lot of the sewers in last year’s Children’s coat challenge came up against similar problems with their fabric slipping and sliding all over the place. And in trying to tame the fabric she didn’t manage to complete quite a few things, but she was cheerily optimistic

I don’t know Gill, I saw the way Man Yee glared at Patrick as he revelled in the schadenfreude of her zipper crisis

truly the face of a man that knows he’s on borrowed time.

While Gill’s choice of fabric may not have worked on a technical level, the white, snow camo does suit a parka

and as neat as certain aspects of the coat were, there was no ignoring the fact it was distinctly the most unfinished of the bunch, which is impressive considering everything that happened.

An Official Parka Ranking

  1. Brogan’s Noel Gallagher Cosplay
  2. Cristian’s Saintly Parka
  3. Annie’s Illusory Popper
  4. Debra’s Blue Period
  5. Man Yee’s Masterclass
  6. Angela’s Big Purple Parka Eater
  7. Gill’s Slightly Lacking Parka

Yee Haw!

For their musical Transformation Challenge the sewers were having to use secondhand denims and shirts to make a stage outfit worthy of a country star – a challenge designed for the sole purpose of getting Patrick to wear a cowboy hat

and we’re very grateful for it, especially Debra whose heart appeared to melt before our very eyes when Patrick did the finger gun

oh, *someone* has had The Dream™.

The tricky thing with Country Music is that there two distinct types: “Tradwives & Sad Boy Patriots” and “Slutty Bar Girl & Sad Boy Patriots” – so the level of revealingness in the outfit was very disparate, but one thing was a constant: EMBELLISHMENTS! Because after The Great Turquoise Beaded Fringe Drought of 2022, the sewers were finally being implored to use as many rhinestones and as much glittery fringe as they possibly could!

Man Yee was on a bit of a backfoot with this challenge having admitted that she wasn’t overly familiar with what exactly Country Music was

and with all of the sewers being very nice people, nobody lead her astray by telling her that country stars all wore baggy parachute pants and letterman jackets – and thus she created spaghetti covered war general with telescopic arms, which is distinctly more David Bowie than quite a few of the David Bowie looks

and I genuinely think it might be one of my favourite things that’s ever been made in a transformation challenge, I just think it looks really cool and eye catching, which is exactly what a stage outfit should be. I do wish there was a little more shape to the garment, which might have made the starcrossed nipples read a little better.

Man Yee wasn’t the only person whose nipples were seeing stars, as Gill was similarly embracing the cheekier side of Country

I really love the top, I think it’s cute and silly – I do think the skirt could have been two inches shorter, and I think I’m just not a fan of a contrasting godet, which Angela had also done with what looks like an entire picnic blanket hanging between the legs of her mannequin

it’s like a cowboy riding a deflated pantomime horse. The judges however had more issues with her neckline, thinking it could either be more conservative or more revealing – the two country music genders.

The most traditionally country looking outfit was probably Annie’s outfit, at least from the bust up

the outfit does slightly run out of steam the further down you go, but the yoke she made was really cool

it was very well embellished and I liked that the burgundy frills kind of looks a little bit like a bolo tie, which are severely underrated western accessories.

With the amount of rhinestones on offer, it was pretty clear that they obviously wanted them to go as Dolly Parton as possible – they had paid for Jolene and unearthed this picture of Esme Young dressed as Dolly Parton after all!

and the only sewer to namedrop Dolly as their inspiration was Brogan

I mean, Dolly could probably wear it as half a dinner napkin – the top was obviously a little small, but as someone who has barely a tit to speak of, I appreciate the representation. She had embellished it quite well, but something about the combination of stars and leaves was very much reading as Canadian to me

and that’s not to say Canada doesn’t have country music, Shania Twain is Canadian and so are Nickelback – and yes I will die on the hill that Nickelback is actually a country band

That is a country music lyric if I ever heard one.

I also really loved Cristian’s use of embellishments for his outfit, which did very much look like the country music version of the Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story

I think he definitely managed to best capture the more modern, Coachella going side of the country scene, I reckon you could convince Kacey Musgraves to wear this without having to resort to bribery.

And then we have Debra who at some point name dropped Taylor Swift so I’m not altogether too surprised that the resulting outfit looked like it would be worn by the third runner up in a pageant on Toddlers and Tiaras given that everyone thought Taylor Swift was about 12 years old when she was in her Country Pop era

I do agree with the judges that the choice of trim somewhat takes it away from feeling particularly country and decidedly more towards early 2000s preteens, but I do like the shape of the skirt!

An Official Country Musician’s Stage Outfit Ranking

  1. Gill’s Starcrossed Nipples
  2. Brogan’s Canadian Dinner Napkin
  3. Cristian’s Novelty Lamp: Texan Edition
  4. Debra’s Early 2000s Child Beauty Queen
  6. Angela’s Deflated Pantomime Horse Costume
  7. Annie’s Sad Bottomed Cowboy

Bowie-ing Out

This week’s Made To Measure Challenge saw the sewers having to draw inspiration from David Bowie, which is a very similar prompt to my all time favourite challenge The Frida Kahlo Inspired Outfits from last year. However, I’m not sure this was quite as successful because it did mostly amount to “I liked this song, and Bowie wore this outfit in the music video, so here’s a simplified version of that outfit!” whereas the Frida Kahlo challenge asked them to use something 2 dimensional and metaphorical, which resulted in much more creativity. I also think it was a little bit of a disservice not to give them all male models, which would have allowed them to toy with the idea of gender a lot more flagrantly because I’m not sure putting a woman in a boxy blazer or a trouser suit reads as “breaking the gender norms” in the year of our lord 2022. It is also unfair to ask people to try to create something that lives up the monolithic legacy of David Bowie – and I know it’s probably sounding like I didn’t like the outfits, I really did! I just didn’t have the same “wow moment” as when Farie’s Frida Kahlo dress hit the catwalk

that dress takes up an unGodly amount of space in my brain.

Another of my favourite outfits from last year was Serena’s asymmetric green satin office party dress

and so I was rather delighted when Annie essentially made the same dress in an equally eye-catching electric blue

this was pretty fabulous and she did incredibly well to get it looking so crisp with such a temperamental fabric – and it does give me the necessary Bowie vibes – I think a well tailored blue suit will always, to some degree, read as a nod to the music video for Life On Mars? and the ostrich feathers were a nice bit of extra camp.

Debra had also deployed some tactical ostrich feathers on both the collar and trouser cuffs of her Ashes to Ashes inspired trouser suit

this is incredibly chic and sharp looking – you could really tell that her model absolutely adored wearing it too because she was stomping that runway like no man’s business

my *only* issue with it (and this is exceptionally petty) is that it’s hard to ignore that River Island and ASOS have been selling these feather cuffed suits for a while now, and while I wouldn’t mind that in any other challenge and in fact I would praise someone for making something that looks highstreet ready (and I have in past recaps) I think if there’s one thing Bowie should never be, it’s highstreet ready – his outfits were grand and spectacular, but they did also look a bit like something a particularly dedicated grandmother could whip up for a school play – which is what I particularly loved about Gill’s dress

which was indeed giving me flashbacks to the Bowie inspired gown that Joe Black wore on Drag Race UK season 2

there was a bit of a fit issue with the waist needing another good inch and then some taken in, but there were some good sartorial choices – the addition of the lapels, the colour choices were VERY Bowie and she had roughed up the tulle to give it a more grimy 70s feel and better evoke flames

I’m not sure the model entirely appreciated Gill doing said “roughing up” while she was wearing the dress

the shriek I let out as Gill just began hacking those scissors here, there and everywhere! But you know, The Universe told her to

Ah yes, I too am familiar with the philosophical musings of one Friedrock Nietzsche

Your honour, she’s making terrible jokes again.

Cristian was also going suitably theatrical with his outfit inspired by what I’ll generously call half a catsuit that Kansai Yamamoto designed for the Ziggy Stardust Tour, with the original version making David Bowie look like Rum Tum Tugger got stuck in a Christmas Jumper

and I think Cristian’s Cirque du Soleil Superman costume perfectly captured the same sort of energy, but I think we need to put Henry Cavill in it, just to be sure

using lycra did come with its own perils and while most of the outfit fit really rather well and the curved panels looked pretty dang seamless – the bum, it had a nasty case of The Hunger

I did enjoy the fact that Cristian owned up to thinking that the measurements would be fine because his practice garment fit him the same way and as his model is smaller than him, it shouldn’t have had the same issue. My only take away from that being that Cristian owns a very snug one armed, one legged lycra catsuit.

I was a little surprised that only person went for the Labyrinth reference, that would have absolutely been my first port of call, although perhaps I don’t blame most of them for shying away from it – it can’t be easy to find a pattern for a codpiece

Angela simply chose to ignore paying homage to David Bulgie and was taking the steampunk-esque aesthetic of the film for her sort of coat dress

I ADORE this, but that shouldn’t be a surprise because Ringleader of a Claude Monet themed circus is very much my vibe – I can however kind of see what the judges meant by it not reading as Bowie, the colour was just that little bit too pastel and polite – but I do really think those cuffs and front panel were really clever stylistic choices.

Brogan was also speaking directly to my soul

and while yes, her sleeves do rate at a 9/10 on the Ariadne Sleeve Scale, the rest of the outfit was just kind of cute

I really think some sort of harem-esque pants to mirror the sleeves and give a similar effect to the infamous Yamamoto jumpsuit would have really tipped this over the edge into Bowie levels of overt fabulousness

but a good effort nonetheless and I will gladly take it off whoever’s hands the dress is currently in, even if there’s no way that at 6 foot 1 I could ever wear that in public without being charged with indecency.

And lastly we have Man Yee who was trying her best to play into David Bowie’s playfulness when it came to gender norms, drawing particular inspiration from the lyrics “She’s not sure if you’re a boy or girl” from Rebel Rebel

I really did like Man Yee’s interpretation of the brief, I do think if anyone would have benefitted from being given a male model for this challenge, it definitely would have been her because it would have tied in with her approach a lot more obviously but I think she still managed to achieve a sense of androgyny, which the styling certainly helped with

and the fact her model does look a bit like a Chinese restaurant gained sentience certainly hits the grungy gaudiness of much of Bowie’s 70s sartorial oeuvre.
The blazer is certainly the star of the look – both because of the print that looks a bit like the sort of thing I expect a member of the Yakuza would wear

but there was a lot of work in it, with the structure of it all as well as the fact she had lined the whole thing too!
She could have easily just left the blazer as a sort of coat dress, much like Annie’s, and completely forgone the skirt and undershirt and it would probably would have benefitted the look, but I still appreciate the sentiment of what she was trying to do.

An Unofficial Bowie Inspired Look Ranking

  1. The Redemption of the Asymmetrical Coat Dress
  2. The Ringleader of the Claude Monet Circus
  3. Man Yee’s Genderqueer Yakuza
  4. Debra’s Highstreet Bowie
  5. Gill’s Danger Dress
  6. Cirque du Soleil Spiderman
  7. Brogan’s Big Sleeves, Little Skirt

The last challenge was a little bit of a runaway success for Annie and she very deservedly gets her first taste of Garment of the Week for her assymetrical coat dress

and Debra only narrowly missed out on getting her fifth GotW.

Of course we did have to lose someone, with the choice coming down to being between either Man Yee or Angela and with the latter having lower placements in the first two challenges, it was Angela who got the chop

I guess the irons won the feud.

And so, we down to a mere 6 sewers!

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One thought on “Sewing Bee 2022, Episode 6: A Deflated Pantomime Horse

  1. Andy

    Man Yee’s transformation challenge would’ve been a good fit Willow Pill with those sleeves! As for the print she used for her Made to Measure, I know I’ve been watching too much British TV when my first thought was that Kathryn from The Apprentice probably sells pyjamas like that.

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