Sewing Bee 2022, Episode 9: Dress of Many Deli Meats

Sorry, I just needed a clickbaity looking screenshot for the title card.

This is the most kimonos a reality TV show has seen since the Madonna themed runway on Drag Race Season 8.

I think many a heart sank when we were shown that this week’s theme was Japanese Week after how Bake Off’s Japanese Week went down but without a single mispronunciation of the word “kawaii” or a single misattributed cultural phenomenon they seem to have learned from the sins of the past. Mostly…

Look, I’m just happy they didn’t use the royalty free “mystical panpipe” music Come Dine With Me does every time someone serves sushi.

Kimono, There Are People Dying

This week’s pattern challenge saw the sewers having to make a kimono, or at least a “kimono inspired garment” which Esme and her Japanese designer friend Wakako had come up with – I think it was quite a good way of going about it because the kimono, especially at the moment, has a very fraught relationship with the contemporary fashion industry as we define what’s cultural appropriation, appreciation or just straight of exoticism. And to further add the the Japanese theme the sewing room had been stocked with Japanese fabrics, although not always enough as Brogan very quickly found out

they were advised to make a contrast lining, both to add to the aesthetic and “bespokeness” of the garment but also, the show has a budget to consider and the fabric required for the outer piece of the kimono alone could’ve served as an extra runway for Gatwick

and then of course there’s the lining which is the same length to consider as well as a belt, the making of which looked like a scene from Anaconda

Debra however had somehow found a bolt of fabric with enough meat on its bones to do both her lining, outer piece and collar in the same fabric

*shade rattle*

Her decision to forgo any contrast in her kimono did mean that it was a little plain looking

and there were a few minor errors here and there such as her sleeve being sewn on a little too low down which was pulling everything at a funny angle – which Esme wasted no time on blaming on the lack of a contrast lining and Debra was almost comically penalised because of it – to be fair, Esme did try to warn her by very threateningly circling her like a lionine art teacher

But you know, it wasn’t as though Brogan’s newly deployed contrast lining helped very much in the end as she forgot to leave a hole in the seam to bag the whole thing out through which she then had to unpick and didn’t get enough time to seal it because bagging out a kimono is hard enough for regular sized people, let alone 2 Fanning sisters in a trenchcoat – the whole process made changing a double bed duvet look like a Royal Ballet production of Swan Lake so I can’t blame Brogan for having a little breakdown in the corner as she longed for a return to the safe shores of a puffed sleeve

but her aesthetic choices were very nice – the blue dragonfly print and the beige work very well together

I did love the fact she really tried to sell the fact she was using blue as pushing herself – I imagine it took an incredible amount of self restraint to resist the call of that pastel pink bolt

she could have used it for the lining and said it was a gender reveal kimono and then burnt down the sewing room to both add to the authenticity and get revenge on Esme for making her contend with 5 Brogans’ worth of fabric.

Having shown up in a pair of matching pink jumpers, Annie and Man Yee continued their twinning experience by both opting for a red and cream colour scheme. The two of them didn’t seem to have nearly as big a struggle as Brogan and Debra did – the biggest shock Annie faced was that after 9 weeks of this show Sara Pascoe had only just learned what a bobbin was

which had… consequences

oh no – but you know, given that Pooch Perfect used footage of furries, mistaking them for anime cosplayers, we should maybe just be glad this pattern challenge wasn’t a fully customised fursuit

there’s always next year lads. Welcome to Online Week, this week you will be doing a Fursuit Pattern Challenge, a Novelty RedBubble T-Shirt featuring memes from 2015 Transformation Challenge and a Made-to-Measure Met-sona Gown for a Met Gala theme of your choice.

Man Yee had gone with the red as the bulk of her kimono and the whole thing toned very nicely together

there were a couple of issues here and there – like Brogan her lining was too short and causing her hem to pull up and her collar, much like anyone who drank bone broth in 2015, to stand a little too proudly but over all her sewing was very neat and she had managed to bag it out properly.

Annie had inverted Man Yee’s colours but opted to make it from the same pattern in the two different colours which looked really cool and I think made it look that much more expensive

Esme and Patrick really couldn’t praise the garment enough, especially as she had gone the extra mile and down a split contrast lining for extra brownie points

it’s the semi-final ladies, UP YOUR GAMES because Annie is apparently laying down the gauntlet.

An Official Kimono Inspired Garment Ranking

  1. Annie’s Kimono Inspired Garment
  2. Every Other Kimono Inspired Garment To Ever Exist
  3. Man Yee’s Inverted Annie
  4. The Brogan Blues
  5. Debra Being Overly Penalised For Being a Bit Boring

What A Stitch!

This week’s transformation challenge was a little bit different as the sewers were not having to frankenstein together a Harajuku inspired outfit out of several mawashi, instead they were having to decoratively mend a piece of denim clothing in a style known as Sashiko – which translates to “little stab” which also happens to be Esme’s prison name. Japan has a variety of artforms that focus on mending broken objects to make them look more beautiful or add value to them – Kintsugi, the process of filling cracks in pottery with gold, springs to mind.

I’m not sure how well the whole meaning and purpose of Sashiko was explained to the sewers because most of the critiques were “this isn’t really sashiko” – but in their defense they did only have 90 minutes which doesn’t exactly lend itself particularly well to hand stitching, especially when you’re losing your needle in plain sight

so Man Yee whipping up a really good rainbow in the time was easily the star of the challenge – the way she used the mending stitch to make the patches look more like clouds was really clever

and it gave Sara the perfect opportunity to show off her outfit

or at least her shoes, because despite being dressed like an archeopteryx at a Pride March and waving her arms around to show off her rainbow fringe, the editor insistently only used close-ups except for ONE time

they showed so little of it I genuinely began to wonder if it had a potentially offensive slogan on it.

Man Yee really ran with the weather theme for the rest of the skirt

and Patrick and Esme particularly liked the fact she had embroidered a sun onto one of the back pockets given that Japan is known as “The Land of the Rising Sun”

the jury is out on whether that was an intention or if it’s just fun to say “bum sun”.

Brogan also went with quite a strong theme, choosing to exaggerate the holes in her skirt by cutting them to look like stars, and while I think the final result is really kind of cute, it wasn’t exactly Sashiko as the judges wanted it to be

Debra fell into a similar trap with her denim pinafore which wasn’t so much Japanese artistry as it was Kentish farmhouse kitchen

it’s very neat! But I think that’s almost it’s greatest undoing – had she fixed the patch on with a flock of the embroidering birds instead of machine sewing it on, it would have done the outfit a world of good – but again, 90 minutes and a rogue needle.

Annie managed to nab herself a denim jacket which lends itself quite well to patches and embellishments, and I do believe that she made the most fashionable looking garment in this challenge, but it was a little light on the sashiko

I would be interested in them redoing the Sashiko challenge – this served as a good cautionary tale and it can come back for one more time before being canned entirely like The BBC did to Lightning AND I WILL BE MAD ABOUT IT FOR A WHILE.

An Official Sashiko Denim Ranking

  1. Man Yee Doing Actual Sashiko
  2. Annie’s Fashionable Jacket
  3. Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shootin’ stars?
  4. Esme’s Sudden Grudge Against Debra

I Fold

For their last chance to make it to the final the semi-finalists were tasked with creating an origami dress, a challenge you might remember from the 2019 semi-final in which Juliet made the James Bond gun barrel sequence but fashion

and Riccardo made a rendering of Lara Croft from 1996

so there was a slight added pressure of having a fairly recent batch of sewers having done the challenge already – and I think they all rose to the occasion, I was particularly pleased with how much actual origami there was as all of them brought in pieces of origami on which their outfits were based on, such as Annie’s rabbit

although sadly the dress wasn’t going to look like a rabbit, and Esme was visibly disappointed that the bust wasn’t going to feature two floppy bunny ears

but there were still enough pointed shapes to hint at the source of the inspiration and the whole thing very much read as folded paper with Annie having added boning to give her taffeta that little bit of extra body

it really is a beautiful dress and I am delighted by the general Elle Woods-ness of it all, you could very easily convince me that Annie had somehow drafted a pattern for an origami version of Elle Woods at the fake costume party and I would believe you

Man Yee also went with an origami animal to base her dress on, opting to use the iconic folded crane as her inspiration. She was being a lot more literal with the design and had basically just sewn a great big patchwork crane onto the front of the dress which was giving me Bjork’s Retrospectively Great Swan Dress vibes

I ADORED Man Yee’s dress – I thought her colour combination was really lovely in a sort of cottagecore kind of way and there was a TON of work in the dress, from the pleated trims on the sleeves and bottom hem to the disappearing folded collar, that she had indeed drafted herself which the judges didn’t give her nearly enough credit for and it seemed to mostly be because Man Yee had accidentally antagonised Patrick over whether or not she would be doing a zip at the back – which she seemed reluctant to do, imaginably because of Post-parka Trauma. And then it didn’t help things that the hook fastening that she had done wasn’t attached very well

but it all looked pretty great while the model was wearing it and not having Patrick pulling at every available strand of thread

I just really like the dress and I don’t think the judges appreciated it enough, but because none of this ended up mattering anyway, I can’t be too mad about it.

After a bit of a nightmare last week, Brogan was once again coming into the Made To Measure Challenge on a little bit of shaky ground and with the judges very loudly declaring they wanted sharp lines and straight edges, she began looking at her stack of neoprene deli meats with fear

but to be fair, she was using the lotus flower as her inspiration, which is quite a rounded shape as far as origami goes

but it is debatable about quite how much her outfit met the criteria of the challenge beyond the origami flowers on the neckline that very much feel like they were implemented when The Fear began to sink in

which isn’t to say it’s a bad dress – I think it’s really cool and would have looked perfectly at home at the 2019 Emmy’s when everyone showed up in pink and red

but I do like the very pop art, graphic feel of it and the bright colours with the very rounded shapes reminds me a lot of Yayoi Kusama and her art

and I would love that to have been her intention.

Debra was also going for a floral heavy inspiration, giving herself the Herculean task of somehow folding over 100 origami flowers in order to create a gradient that was reminiscent of Mount Fuji during the blossom season

and do you know what the best thing about that colour combination is? TRANS RIGHTS

if you saw the dress without knowing how she made it, it might feel a little bit like she just glued some origami flowers onto the skirt and called it quits, but the fact the sleeves and the back of the dress are all one piece of fabric is an astonishing piece of sewing – and we get a brief glimpse into the Sewing Bee pre-production documents

and I love the big rounded shape it gives – it has a real feeling of avant garde couture, the likes of which Commes de Garcons specialises in

I was very impressed with Debra’s outfit this week.

An Unofficial Origami Dress Ranking

  1. Origami Elle Woods
  2. Debra Said “Trans Rights”
  3. Man Yee’s Bjork Origami
  4. Brogan’s Dress of Many Deli Meats

Garment of the Week was a two horse race between Debra and Annie with the judges eventually deciding on the latter of the two

meaning Annie goes into the final having won 3 of the last 4 episodes and equalling Debra’s 3 wins meaning Debra had to congratulate her with the distinct energy of someone about to push someone else out of a window


This did however leave Brogan and Man Yee in a precarious position and the judges had to decide on whether or not they eliminate Man Yee despite the fact she had a relatively strong episode or eliminate Brogan who has a pretty squeaky clean track record. Ultimately they decided to choose neither of them and instead of pulling a Project Runway and making them both redesign their dresses in only 15 minutes (REMEMBER THAT FIASCO?) all four of them go to the final and everyone has a cry

I’m usually not thrilled about a null and void episode – but I really do think all four of these women deserve to be in the final – I love what they’ve sewed over the series and getting to see more of their creations is a treat and a privilege, and I DEEPLY appreciated the collective reaction to the news – Man Yee’s sudden loss of cognitive function is VERY funny

but it does mean I don’t get to update my elimination wall

If you’ve enjoyed this recap of Sewing Bee 2022’s Semi-Final and would like to support the blog you can donate to my Ko-fi account HERE!

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