Sewing Bee 2023, Episode 1: Flamboyant Danish Seagull

This is very me coded.

Sleeves, what are they good for?

With it’s slightly later than usual return, the doors of Sunny Banks Mill have once again been opened to the latest dozen people whose job is as much to keep our hope in humanity alive as it is to sew whatever Machiavellian garment Dr. Esmestein designed in the 60s for her legion of glam rock friends

I would like to request a minimum of 4 months of jail time for whoever made the decision to cast two people named Tony so until Tony R succumbs to lingerie week after an unfortunately placed skull print they shall be known as Rony and Wony

glad to see we’re already off to an unhinged start.

Twist and Doubt

For their very first challenge the sewers were faced with the devious challenge of having to make a twist-front blouse out of Kaarija

and after several series of sewers choosing the dullest single colour fabrics, Esme and Patrick specified that the sewers all had to choose a fabric that told us something about them, this did largely amount to many of the sewers choosing something that kind of resembled what they were wearing in the case of Fauve

and Vicki

I’m a little bit obsessed with Vicki because the way they edited her talking about her husband suggested she and him got married in a hot air balloon

which would still only be the second strangest Sewing Bee wedding after last year’s ABBA tribute band nuptials.

Needless to say that Matthew, who had turned up in a pair of killer heels and the pelt of the Grape Ape

grabbed the glitteriest fabric he possibly could and after one or two mid-sewing mental collapses was more glitter than man

and yet despite the fact they’ll be trying to get glitter out of the carpet for the next 4 series, there was still a reasonable amount of sparkle on the top

and it was excellently made, landing him a solid spot in the top 3.

While most of the sewers went for the busiest fabrics they could to avoid having to even contemplate pattern matching, Asmaa was looking to make her mark in the sewing room, and not just by claiming The Big Table™ like she was playing a game of Risk and it was Australia and Rony was New Guinea (she’s coming for your beanie next)

she was going to attempt to strategically place her floral fabric so that it matched on either side of the blouse, and just to make life even harder for herself she was using a silk and because she’s some sort of lingerie obsessed saint it worked perfectly and was ready to be worn by any mother-of-the-bride at their daughter’s second wedding

it’s literally perfection and as a first episode flex, basically murdered 11 other sewers on the spot, who were definitely huddled in the corner discussing how the twist of the blouse works and not how best to slip a little *something* into Asmaa’s tea

Gillie may waft around the sewing room constantly sounding like she’s about to burst into song like she’s in her own personal 1940s Hollywood Musical but an upside down sleeve could push anyone to their limits

she did at least have time to unpick it and set it back the right way up, but it was very much still pinned on for dear life

and yet somehow it wasn’t the only instance of an upside down sleeve with Catherine doing the same thing and realising a little bit too late so her blouse looked like it had been designed for someone’s evil twin that lives in the attic

there was at least the positive that she’d got the twist the right way around, a part of the challenge that had escaped a few of the sewers, including Maria who had designed the the blouse most capable of a wardrobe malfunction

but she was far from the only one to get the twist the wrong way around, with Lauren making the same mistake but still ending up with a top that lay very nicely on the mannequin

and Mia was much the same

I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened if #her army of adorable mice and tiny songbirds hadn’t been unable to help her because Patrick insists they keep the windows closed for his historically preserved tweed’s sake

I’ve finally manifested a literal Cinderella after years of making the same joke about the most angelic looking contestant having an army of mice to do their bidding. Is this… nirvana?

The Tony Dyad were a tale of two halves with Skateboarder Rony having the better time and landing in the top 3 with his rather psychedelic offering

while his partner in Tonyism, Wony, only narrowly avoided the bottom 3

the big sin being that his seams were a bit wobbly, or “wonky-donks” as Mia called it

he was mostly spared because Lizzie had ended up with seams that were even wonkier and donkier than his

An Official Twisted Blouse Ranking
1. Asmaa Started The Blouse War
2. Rony’s Trippy Blouse
3. Matthew’s Only Non-kink Offering This Week
4. Vicki’s Jungle Run Blouse
5. Fauve’s Personal Wardrobe
6. Lauren’s Reverse Twist
7. Mia’s Mouse Ban
9. Putting The Wony Into… Wonky
10. The Wonky Donk Woman
11. Gillie’s One Armed Blouse
12. Catherine’s Evil Twin Blouse


For the very first Transformation Challenge of the series the sewers had to take office staples and transform them into a garment that expresses their personality – these challenges were specifically set up to be a litmus test of who the most boring contestant was so they could jettison them and then Catherine wandered through the doors and and said “Hold my sleeves.” – although her sleeves were both on and the right way up this time (they were however nowhere near the same size)

and because at least 50% of what we know about her is that she owns a cat that looks like Groucho Marx

she’d added a feature that looked like a hoard of cats were about to spill out from another dimension like Azazel in Sandman

stare into the abyss and the abyss meows back.

She wasn’t the only one to go for a “party in the back” reveal as Rony had just designed a pair of shorts that you could have feesibly assumed he’d brought in with him

he did get dinged for the fact that half the outfit was from the scraps bin, but they never said anything about the fact a good deal of Lauren’s outfit was also from the scrap bin and I’m not sure I’d describe an entire skirt’s worth of waxprint fabric “a scrap”

I’m also just really not a fan of the colour combination.

The Troublesome Tonysome were paired at the hip in this challenge with Wony also getting dinged for not using enough of the corporate clothing to make his… corporate clothing

apparently he likes to wear waistcoats to his teaching job and the kids love it, and it’s definitely not because he turns up in the classroom looking slightly like a magician. Wony wasn’t the only person making something he’d wear as Mia had basically just made exactly what she was wearing

and given that it must have been pretty obvious it was hers, I would find it hard not to take it personally that I was placed 8th.
I’m also pretty confident in saying that Matthew probably made something that he owns

I’m obsessed with this – it’s half Italian opera clown, half Scandi industrial metal band (the two genders) and the greatest thing about someone unabashedly bringing kink gear to the Sewing Bee is that we have confirmation that Patrick knows what a sex dungeon is

can you get tweed-print leather? And Patrick and Esme weren’t the only ones taken by it

I hope they both last long enough to become fast friends so Matthew can make her demure kink gear and she can make him a perfectly fitting bra for his drag – they need one another like Esme saying whatever the hell pops into her head needs a Patrick Grant reaction shot

Patrick, we know you know what clamps are now, stop playing innocent.

The only real contention for Matthew’s win was from Vicki who had designed a blouse that looks exactly like the Yokohama shopping district mascot Coppel-kun who is a flamboyant Danish seagull who I am unreasonably obsessed with

she is basically me.

Joining Matthew and Vicki in Top 3 was Lizzie who had created what very much comes across as something a milkmaid would wear

which might still count as office clothing depending on if the dairy has a filing cabinet or not.
Asmaa had a bit of a dip in this challenge with her panelled maxi skirt

it was well made but truly nobody’s skirt was a match for the sheer *checks notes* “come-hither-ishness” of Gillie’s shin-length, uniform grey skirt that that looked a bit like someone’s secretary had just fought a tiger

it was at this point that I became genuinely convinced that Gillie had accidentally arrived via 1920 and has a side hustle selling ankle pictures to the boys


Given that the judges wanted a dramatic transformation, I’m not entirely sure why Maria went about making the plainest, most sleeveless top you’ve seen since Gillie attempted a twisted blouse

was the Official Damien Beaded Fringe Emporium off limits for this challenge? Because this really could have done with something, LITERALLY ANYTHING, thrown at it. Fauve had at least deigned to give her slightly boring blouse a boob tongue

who doesn’t want their chest to look slightly like a ham sandwich?

An Official Corporate Clothing Transformation Ranking
1. Pierrot in the Streets, Hatari in the Sheets
2. Coppel-kun Supremacy
3. Lizzie’s Bohemian Milkmaid
4. Come Hither ad Gaze Upon My Ankles
5. Catherine’s Feline Void
6. Asmaa’s Plain Skirt
7. Lauren’s Skirt-sized Scraps
8. Mia vs Mia
9. Fauve’s Boob Tongue
10. Office to Office
11. Rony Draws the Short Straw
12. Just a Vest

Cut It Out, Right Now!

For their first Made To Measure Challenge the sewers had to put together a dress that featured cut outs, which I can’t say thrilled me as a brief because I am not a cut outs person, my least favourite thing about online shopping is clicking on any moderately cute outfit on ASOS only to find out under closer inspection that the garment has 17 cut outs and looks like it was involved in a mafia crossfiring. Sadly the show isn’t catering exclusively to my tastes though, or else they’d just be making dresses inspired by flamboyant Danish seagulls.

Most of the sewers opted for single cut outs on the back, Maria was taking the brief to the next level with a perforated broderie anglaise fabric, meaning she had to line the whole thing lest there be a nipple poking through a lace hole

there is a lot of extra work having gone into it with the lining and it’s a perfectly lovely Wimbledon VIP outfit but it doesn’t really excite me – it also might be because the studio lights are so intense they completely blanch the dress out so you can’t really see the texture of the fabric.

The back cut outs were probably the most sensible choices, and at least meant you weren’t running the risk of your model having to go down the catwalk bra first like a lorry’s headlights on a rainy day. Matthew however has never met a nipple he didn’t want to free and was going with a very large boob window

this outfit was something of a dichotomy with Matthew talking lovingly about how the print is inspired by his nan and then following that up with the reveal that he would of course be throwing a harness on it because he wasn’t going to run the risk of being eliminated before he could do it

unfortunately for Matthew, Patrick was a bit all dungeoned out for the day and didn’t quite take to the maximalism of his Miss Erotica Sweden outfit

the boob window and the harness are having an all out war and nobody’s truly winning, least of all his model’s boobs but I appreciated it purely on the grounds that it was interesting and made me smile.

We did have something of a three dress pileup with Mia, Lauren and Catherine all pulling from the same elasticated cut out pattern – not that their dresses ended up looking that similar because they’d made alterations both by choice and… god’s own vengeful machinations. Naturally Mia was making something short and yellow

and was continuing the episode trend of “Sleeves: But Why Though?” and had put her sleeves the wrong way round, possibly because she was having to excavate some snapped elastic from within her waistband like she was reenacting the Tham Luang cave rescue

if only someone could have built her a tiny elastic-sized submarine!

they do look a little bit like deflated armbands because of the way it’s all dragging, but truly she was fighting a losing battle in the puffed sleeve department because Fauve had a pattern so big she was going to have to wrestle The Big Table™ away from Asmaa (YOU’LL HAVE TO TAKE INDONESIA FIRST!)

and continued the general theme of “just make something you’ll wear once the competition is over”

back to our regularly scheduled Three dress Pile Up and Lauren seemed to get on the best with it, or at least her sleeves were correctly oriented and nothing was having to be tucked in like an origami nappy

Patrick appreciated the simplicity of the fabric letting the cut out shine, I will not endorse a monochrome fabric – I want patterns, I want gubbins, I want the constant looming threat of a nipple. Speaking of the constant looming threat of a nipple…

Catherine had a Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in the sewing room because she kind of just lost track of time and had issues with her elastic and with about 15 minutes left Rony had more of a petticoat than she had of a dress

but in true Sewing Bee style after a little cry in the corridor and some mildly unhelpful humble bragging from Vicki

(no court would have convicted you Catherine) the rest of the sewers flocked around Catherine like (flamboyant Danish) seagulls on chips to somehow get the dress on her model

and I do think there’s an alternative universe out there where Catherine gets garment of the week for this outfit (and it doesn’t involve 11 meteorites falling in North Yorkshire)

unfortunately we got the universe where the back looks like someone accidentally tucked their skirt into their waistband after going to the loo (it’s easier to do than you’d think)

and unfortunately, for Catherine only, nobody else really had any issues beyond some fitting and inverted sleeves. I suppose Gillie kind of completely flouted the brief and just gave Patrick and Esme a pair of coin slot sized cut outs because anything larger would have been uncouth

but also she was once burnt by cutouts when her mother dressed her like a cruiseliner so I don’t blame her for not wanting to relive the trauma

all aboard the S.S. Gillie!

As is want to happen, Lizzie was pulling her inspiration from high end designer runways which can be something of a risk because it does lead to people expecting great things, especially when it’s from a collection dubbed “Dior Dresses The Modern Day Goddess”, unfortunately she wasn’t recreating the dress that looks like Cousin Itt at Christmas from that collection

but the halterneck dress she did make certainly felt like it was pulling inspiration from the rest of the collection which was all very Grecian and flowy

this was easily my second favourite of the challenge, it had a real elegance and the fabric moved so beautifully, the only dress I preferred was Asmaa’s red polka dot dress which just looked so regal

and then BAM!

now that’s a porthole.

Asmaa did have a little bit of bagging at the back which brought the dress down a little in the judges’ eyes, whereas Wony had used a stretch fabric that really hugged and pulled everything flush against his model and somehow looked slightly like scuba gear

I wasn’t a fan of the cut out, I think it’s a bit too big and not actually that flattering and the judges were a little bit glamoured by smaller details. As a dress it kind of just left me a little bit cold and didn’t really feel like it told me much about him, whereas something like Rony’s rockabilly dress that looks straight out of the Blue Banana window display told us a lot about him and his aesthetic

and somehow 9 series in we’re still learning new things about the colourful life of Esme Young

the way she said it like she’d only just remembered that within her labyrinthine home she has a whole craniology department dedicated to searching for the link between skull size and sewing ability. What happens to the sewers after the show? Don’t think about it too much.

Lastly we have Vicki who was drawing her inspiration from Stranger Things and making a dress out of a fabric that very much looked like it could have been an arcade floor pattern at some point

at least nobody would notice if you got chewing gum stuck to you.

A Cut Out Dress Ranking
1. Business In The Front, Porthole In The Back
2. Dior or Die
3. Rony’s Modern Vintage Phrenologist
4. Wony’s Formal Scuba Diver
5. Vicki’s Arcade Floor
6. Fauve vs Fauve
7. Putting The “nan” in Dominant
8. Maria’s Courtside Lce
9. Lauren’s Blue Period
10. It’s Small, It’s Yellow, It’s Mia
11. The Unsinkable S.S. Gillie
12. Catherine’s Vaguely Held Together Dress

I know her dress wasn’t absolutely perfect but I did really want Asmaa to get Garment of the Week for her red column dress, but for the quality of the sewing and handling of his fabric, Tony W got Garment of the Week which I can’t really argue with

as for the elimination, I think we all knew where this was going which is a shame because I was thoroughly enjoying Catherine in the sewing room

this does leave Pet Wars wide open for everyone else though.

and so, 11 sewers remain

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