Sewing Bee 2023, Episode 2: Anti-Crocodile Dundee Agenda

The Magic School Bus’s trip to a cloning facility ran into some issues for Ms. Frizzle.

Where did I put that D-ring?

It’s Travel Week so I hope you’ve got all your travel essentials at the ready

Esme is currently drawing up a pattern for a Raisin Pocket as part of next year’s Doomsday Prepping Week.

She’s Back Back Backpack Again

Having learned absolutely nothing from the Converse Rebellion of 2022 in which Annie nearly burned down the mill after being told to make a pair of shoes

Esme was once again taking us away from the more expected pattern challenges and tasking the sewers with putting together their very own rucksacks

the challenge obvious being devised entirely because it would inevitably lead to someone innocently running around pondering where they’d left their D-ring

the “Sewing Bee or Sweatbox?” Sporcle quiz I’m putting together is going pretty well.

Some of the sewers were lucky enough to have previous experience in various sizes of bag making

Tony R was continuing his affinity for camo and had added a stripe of if it across the front of his backpack for a little bit of Tactical Gear: FOR MEN! flare

and his previous bag making experience had paid off landing him one of the top spots, the only thing he was being marginally penalised for was the fact his additional stripe was a fraction lower on one side. But Because Rony was the bag-making maestro for the day, he was in demand around the sewing room

I fully believe this is the first time Gillie has ever been called “mate” in her life.
Gillie was having a rough time of it with this challenge but had kind of dug her own grave a little bit by opting for a light weight outer fabric with a heavier lining, which Patrick did point out and she promised she’d swap them

she did not in fact swap her fabrics

her reasoning being potentially the most Gillie thing you could possibly imagine

Gillie has two stylistic reference points: Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris and Crocodile Dundee and everyone falls somewhere along the spectrum

you cannot convince me Rony hasn’t wrestled a crocodile and Lauren has at least considered it. Lizzie is true neutral.

Gillie wasn’t the only one to not finish, with Mia not having enough time to finish off the central strap which she’d just tied to the d-ring – potentially because she had to take regular breaks because her fabric was giving her a migraine

and that wasn’t the only safety feature, because her bag was also able to regurgitate its own stomach lining like a sea cucumber

international travel can be dangerous, a girl needs options! And at least it had a lining to excrete, Lizzie hadn’t quite gotten that far because she got tunnel vision over her contrast top stitching on her denim

and in its unfinished state it does look a bit like the only piece of evidence in a missing hiker case, and if Esme isn’t careful she’s about to be that missing hiker

I’ve only ever seen a look like that on the face of a hungry mountain lion.

Naturally denim was a popular choice amongst the sewers, it might have been a bit aesthetically boring but I can’t deny that Lauren’s looks really smart with her perfect contrast stitching

and I love that her lining fabric was the same fabric she’d made a matching pair of outfits out of for her Brother and his girlfriend

it was just a bit of a pity that she’d got her straps a bit mixed up so the raw edge was showing on the wrong side – but the strap instructions were basically an ancient Chinese riddle and the only person who was in the clear was Asmaa because she makes a lot of strappy underwear

the rapidly added “knowledge” is because Matthew’s transformation outfit is still weighing heavily on her mind

we’ll get her into it eventually.

Asmaa went bold with her colour choices as she continues to try to de-gothify her daughter

sadly we’re never get the scene in Casa del Asmaa in which she is holding out the unofficial Mr. Blobby rucksack as her daughter screams “IT’S NOT A PHASE, MUM!”

it was a really well made rucksack though and if you throw a piercing on the alarmingly tongue-like flap, I’m sure she’d love it!

Asmaa was however pipped to the top spot by Vicki, whose rucksack I am slightly sad I do not own because the fabric combination is really lovely

but I have about as much a use for a rucksack as Esme in her three strands of statement pearls

I think the last time I used a rucksack was on a school trip when we were climbing Mount Inyangani in Zimbabwe and the teacher realised halfway up that I was still wearing my pyjamas – I’ve never seen someone more furious and disappointed in my life because I was meant to be the smart kid.

Matthew had tried to bring a little chicness to his rucksack by opting for a very deckchair-esue blue stripe

as he does love a stripe if the ghost of Willy Wonka that he keeps in his bedroom is anything to go by

but it was making life harder for him given that Patrick and Esme hate nothing more than a misaligned stripe

which isn’t entirely true I suppose given that this episode proved they hate stomach excreting bags, liningless bags and Gillie’s anti-Crocodile Dundee agenda (Esme’s nonsense dress appeared in that film, Gillie! Stop slating it!) quite a bit more than a misaligned stripe.

Wony and Fauve had both opted for the denim trend, Fauve going for a darker denim with purple straps that looked really nice

but it might not be the best bag to use for any valuables given that it had more holes in that than the average Julia Fox outfit

it was still a good enough bag to land her in the top half though, with Wony not quite getting as much leeway for his unrollable flap

the fabric may have needed to be heavier, but the colours did go really well together.

Lastly we have Maria with her charcoal and yellow bag

the only real error was that the straps had caused her so many issues she’d had to repeatedly hack the ends off to get right

and you know how the famous phrase “cutting your straps to spite your rucksack” goes.

An Official Rucksack Ranking
1. Esme’s New Life as Glamorous Hiker
2. Asmaa’s Unlicensed Mr. Blobby Merch
3. Tactical Gear: FOR MEN!
4. Lauren’s Love Language is Jungle Prints
5. The Fauve, The Son and The Holey Bag
6. Maria’s Hacked Straps
7. Wony’s Unrollable Flap
8. Matt’s Askew Deckchair
9. Mia’s Sea Cucumber Satchel
10. Lizzie’s Villain Origin Story
11. Gillie’s Anti-Crocodile Dundee Agenda

Give Me A Windbreak

For their Travel Week Transformation Challenge the sewers were having to make rainproof outfit out of windbreakers, said windbreakers coming in three different colour stories: Your Average Macaw, Union Jack, Summer Sunrise and Instantly Blocked on Twitter

Esme was also quick to tell the sewers that they wanted something impressively structural

so under no circumstances were you to just drape it over the shoulders of your mannequin like a poncho and sew some tri-

LIZZIE! Patrick and Esme were really hung up the orange ruffle on the front, which Lizzie had only added to give her bright orange and yellow garment “a pop of colour”

and sadly her hopes for camp extravagance were dashed

but to be fair I do think it looks a bit like something one of the Featherington girls might have been forced to wear on Bridgerton

but it was another penultimate place for Lizzie and the Kill Bill sirens were starting to really kick in

but at least she can rest safe in the knowledge that she beat Vicki whose garment looked a bit like someone was being devoured crotch-first by a haunted Mondrian painting

the emergency triangle to help the trousers fit a little better had potentially only drawn more attention to the fact they had the death-grip of a boa constrictor

I do commend the bravery for even attempting to make trousers out of that fabric though – everyone else opted for skirts or coats – with the only person braver than Vicki being Lauren who was risking another Tea Towel Cape situation

but to be fair, her cape at least looks like it belongs to a superhero creatively called Parrotman who possess the power of flight but can only use 5 different short phrases one of which is a slide whistle – he’s a C-tier member of the X-men

whereas Alex’s tea towel cape looked like tea towels on your shoulder

I will never forget how that cape was not deemed the weakest garment in that round.

Matthew was using the same colours as Lauren and Vicki and going all out with an over exaggerated hood

which might have potentially been big enough to negate the inevitable side-boob

just cut little eye holes in and OH NO, DON’T DO THAT! UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU CUT EYE HOLES INTO YOUR BIG POINTY HOOD. We’ll just accept the side-boob and move on.

Matthew wasn’t the only one going with a big hood, as Maria had made the perfect garment for a Xenomorphic suffragette

Doreen Alien, if you will.

I was a little surprised that there weren’t more hoods given that they’re the easiest way to make something read as rainproof, the only other hood came from Rony, who was kind enough to model it himself and was serving some Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van realness

said hood was a little hard to notice in the final garment though because the fact he’d given the cagoule Spongebob proportions was a bit distracting – it’s all torso and twig arms

but there was only so much fabric to go around so you did have to use it wisely, or as shrewdly as possible

and Esme was rather taken by said bow but given that she’d used 80% of her windbreaker to make it, I’m not sure quite how waterproof Mia’s outfit was unless the rain was coming from a very specific 45 degree angle

although they never said *how* it had to waterproof – you’d never get splashed by a car in that thing.

Asmaa and Gillie had both grabbed the Red, White and Blue windbreakers and both garments looked very much like they were being worn by people who had camped out for 10 days to get premium seats for the 10 seconds that Ol’ King Chuck was in direct eyesight for during the Coronation – Gillie’s being a more traditional coat

while Asmaa’s royalist was going all out and doing some Elizabeth I cosplay with the puff sleeves and the high collar

I do enjoy how much the sleeves look like the sort of boiled sweet you only ever find on the bill at a restaurant with a mildly concerning TripAdvisor rating of 3 stars.

Asmaa’s biggest competition in this round was Tony W who had made a really cute little puff skirt dress

Esme and Patrick both appreciated the addition of the neon pink binding which does give the look a little bit more life and character which Fauve had also tried to do by adding a few embellishments

unfortunately her “rosette-y things” were oddly positioned on the back of her sleeves so they didn’t show up very well

and if you’ve won Best In Show, you really ought to show that off.

An Official Rainproof Garment Ranking
1. Asmaa’s Colgate Queen
2. Wony’s Pop of Pink
3. Rony’s Spongebob Cagoule
4. Matthew’s Free The Nipple Campaign
5. Parrotman Goes to Pride
6. Bow Chicka Bow Bow
7. Gillie’s Corriebobs Coat
8. Votes for Xenomorphs!
9. Fauve’s 9th Best In Show
10. Lizzie’s Villain Origin Story, Continues
11. Vicki’s Triangle of Infinite Tightness

Swimsuit Edition

Seeing out Travel Week was the Made To Measure Challenge in which the sewers had to make a bathing suit – which Patrick and Esme specified had to have a “complex element” – complexity being a nebulous concept based entirely on your own perception of your personal sewing abilities so something a bit more concrete might have been needed. They did also specify that it could just be the sort of swimsuit you don’t actually swim in and disappointingly not enough people made anything that would be considered a real drowning hazard, although Lizzie got my hopes up when she promised the Godzilla of ruffles

and given that I concocted the image of a wafting stegosaurus of a woman, I was a little disappointed by the size of the ruffles, but the swimsuit was still very pretty

Mia was the only one embracing true impracticality and spent most of her time constructing a pair of sandwich ham pauldrons

which did thankfully look a lot more fashionable come the catwalk

I don’t love a red and pink colour combination but what I like about this is the fact you could wear a skirt or a pair of palazzo pants over it and it’d still be a really cute outfit – which was also Lauren’s goal for her belted swimsuit

I love the colour but nobody ever really wants to hear Esme say these dreaded words

and then follow it up with “we’ve got folds”, but Lauren did get a few bonus points for being the only sewers to attempt an asymmetrical swimsuit, which counted as a complex element.

A couple of the sewers went with skirted swimsuits to offer a little modesty – or very little more modesty if you’re Tony W

this is oddly toeing the line of being a bit ice-skaterish but I do enjoy that it feels a bit like the Bond Girl version of Daniel Craig’s infamous speedos

but I think the most Bond Girl swimsuit has to go to Vicki purely because I think “Vicki Battenburg” sounds like it should be the name of a Bond Girl already

we’ve seen many a sewer come undone by the court jester quadrant but Vicki pulled it off perfectly and I just loved her model, every year there’s a few models who just rule North Yorkshire Fashion Week and this year it is definitely Vicki’s model who has an unmatched strut

and Maria’s model who is absolutely the queen of finding her light at the end of the catwalk

and she almost even made Maria’s unfinished swimsuit kind of work

and then on the other end of the spectrum is Gillie’s model, who may have been cursed by a witch because she’s 2 for 2 on wearing the eliminated sewer’s garments

although blaming it on ritualistic black magic might be a stretch as Gillie did this to herself because as good as her Extremely Continental Swimsuit looked

adding a (presumably Portuguese) binding around the neck wasn’t exactly stopping it from being exactly what Esme and Patrick didn’t want to see

Now had she done a full Victorian bathing suit complete with pantaloons, we might have been talking.

Aasma was going for a modest approach to swimwear and giving us the first Marilyn Monroe reference of the series – usually we have to wait until retro week for that one

and it was all going so well for her until her freight train ride towards Garment of the Week was derailed by Chekhov’s Iron

so her model was sadly walking down the runway with a panel on her stomach that looked like a Teletubby’s TV tummy was on the fritz (very Marilyn)

I’m glad they didn’t harp on about it because she’d only lightly tapped the panel because she was trying to iron down the ruched fabric, and the outfit was still well sewn and suited her model to a tee.

Matthew, however surprisingly after last week’s parade of harnesses, was also embracing modesty, his reasoning being that he wanted to create a swimsuit that a transgender woman or transfeminine person would feel comfortable wearing

which, as a transwoman myself, I appreciated – but even more than just because swimsuit shopping is my ultimate trauma but you might have noticed the world isn’t being kind to transgender people right now – we’ve become the focus of the latest culture war and are constantly framed as “The Transgender Debate”, “The Transgender Issue” or “The Transgender Problem” which are phrasings deliberately used to obfuscate our humanity to lessen the associated guilt that anti-trans bigots are debating whether or not we get to live. So to see someone on TV treating transgender people with nuance, respect and care; well it felt pretty damn nice for a change, and Matthew was hitting the ultimate gender euphoria high note – The Skirt Go Spinny™

that all being said, the swimsuit was not brilliantly sewn with the darts being a bit of a nightmare

Quick Matthew! Tell them you’re encompassing the entire transgender umbrella – they’re symbolic of top surgery scars and scars are sexy! I don’t know how you’re going to get out of the lumpy straps though

but sometimes we have to support Trans Rights and Trans Wrongs.

Fauve and Tony R were both making swimsuits for cold water swimming – Tony taking the opportunity to literally turn his model into himself (not pictured: the mandatory crocs)

it might be harsh to say Tony deserves jail time for this but… he could have at least sat in the naughty corner for the remainder of the judging, facing the wall and taking the time to process what he’s done and getting a 1 week suspension from touching camo fabric.

Fauve was going to great lengths to make sure her cold water swimsuit was practical by forcing her model to do imaginary lengths

and yes, she was using a mermaid scale fabric and daring to ask the age old question “What if Mermaid, but reverse?”

I didn’t really get what the “complicated element” was – I think it was the gathered shoulders? In which case the scaled fabric kind of hid them so we’ll have to trust Esme and Patrick that they were there.

An Unofficial Swimsuit Ranking:
1. Mia’s Ham Pauldrons
2. Vicki Battenburg, at your service.
3. Marilyn Mon-DOH!
4. Lauren’s Near Belter
5. Alt Universe Girl Rony
6. Lizzie’s Slightly Less Than Ginormous Ruffles
7. The Yassification of Daniel Craig’s Speedos
8. Fauve’s Reverse Mermaid
9. Gillie’s Continental Swimsuit
10. Maria’s Versace Safety Pins Were Intentional…
11. I’m Not The Only Transgender Disaster Anymore

Nobody’s swimsuit was absolutely perfect but I think Mia’s did a good job of standing out because her sleeves weren’t like anything anyone else had done and she thoroughly deserved Garment of the Week for doing something a little daring, but I could have seen it going to Vicki as well

the elimination was a tense affair because I think Matthew quite obviously had the weakest swimsuit in regards to technical finishings and I really did think he was going, however because she played it safe in the Made to Measure and ignored key advice in the Pattern Challenge, it was Gillie going home

which I’m just as gutted about because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about her – she fascinates me no end, I want to know everything about her time in Paris.

And so, 10 sewers remain…

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2 thoughts on “Sewing Bee 2023, Episode 2: Anti-Crocodile Dundee Agenda

  1. ngaio

    I do have to say that I think that Tony W’s swimming costume was also intended for trans etc people but he described it much more obscurely.

  2. Meerium

    I’m almost certain that Maria’s swimsuit was the pattern challenge a few series ago – the year Juliet won?

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