13 March 2014

The Great British Sewing Bee - Week Four Recap

We have reached the halfway point in the competition.  These are the sewers left:

Most of these sewers seem very technically competent, and experienced.  Jenni and David are probably the least experienced, which definitely shows in the number of times they have faced elimination.  Heather, who early on seemed incredibly efficient and unfrazzled, found last week a real test of her skills.

The focus this week was on sewing for children.

The Challenges 

1. Sewing from a Pattern

Sew a pair of dungarees for a toddler (techniques include double rows of topstitching, flat felled seams, snap fastenings, dungaree clips) in 3 hours.

Image Source - Impkids
The pattern was a basic children's dungaree, with no pockets.  Contestants were asked to choose a sturdy fabric and were supplied with a range of cotton drill and corduroy.  There were some very cute fabrics available.  I especially liked the orange and white pig patterned cord Cerina selected, as well as the plain cords.  I also liked Heather's cammo print cotton drill, which would look so cute on a little guy.

Everyone who used cord seemed to have no problem getting the nap to run in the one direction.  Cerina chose to use a thick, contrasting thread for her topstitching, however this made it even more difficult to sew, and every error stood out noticeably. Lynda had never done flat felled seams and had to spend time unpicking them when she sewed them in the wrong direction.  Heather, Tamara and Lynda seemed unfamiliar with dungaree clips, and Tamara put hers on back to front.  The snaps (poppers) on the waist seemed to give everyone the most trouble.  Heather and Chinelo needed a quick lesson from David, while Lynda didn't seem strong enough to secure them.  Tamara and Lynda had snaps fly off during the judging, and Heather had added hers back-to-front.  The toddler mannequins also kept falling apart, resulting in some scary decapitations and arms falling off, accompanied by Claudia declaring Chinelo should never have children.

Heather was the only one who deviated from the pattern.  She made her own bias tape, and added it as a piping trim on several of the seams.  While it looked pretty, this resulted in her having to sew through five layers of fabric in some spots, which her machine struggled to do.

The judges gave positive comments on:
  • Jenni's overall good sewing, neat hems, double stitching, good use of a contrast thread and perfectly matched back seams.
  • Chinelo's nice, even sewing, secure snaps, well executed flat felled seams, although her back seams weren't perfectly matched.
  • David's "good, solid, robust sew", which was what the judges were looking for.  His back seams were beautifully aligned, snaps were fastened strongly, his top stitching was neatly finished.

Their negative comments were on:
  • Heather's unfinished hems (one of which Patrick though "looks like it was sewn with your feet"), snaps on back-to-front, but back seams were well done.
  • Lynda's flat felled seams not caught properly, missing double top stitching and snap falling off.
  • Cerina's untidy top stitching, flat felled seams not caught properly, and work not being neat and precise.
  • Tamara's snaps falling off, clips on backwards.  Also the addition of bias piping, which the machine struggled to sew though, was a nice idea but not necessary and took time away from perfectly finishing the garment.

The results from 10th place are Cerina, Lynda, Tamara, Heather, Chinelo, Jenni in second, and David in first.

Image Source - GBSB Facebook Page

This is the first time I'be seen David really show just why he earned his place on the show, let alone still being here on the fourth episode.  He followed the pattern perfectly, and produced an absolutely perfect looking garment.

2. Alter a Basic High Street Item

Take a red child's sweatshirt, blue child's track pants and a plain white pillowcase and transform them into a dressing up costume in 1.5 hours.  

David seemed to spend about half of the challenge trying to come up with an idea of what to make.  The red and blue seemed to flummox him completely.  Eventually he paired it with some red and black polkadot fabric and made a ladybird costume.  Heather and Chinelo made frilly, princess-ish dresses.  Tamara made a superhero costume for her niece Alice, Lynda made a Queen of Hearts costume, Cerina made a totally adorable pirate costume, and Jenni came up with an absolutely brilliant dinosaur, which involved a stuffed spiky spine and tail on the back of the top.  It was so fun.

Overall there were good comments on all the costumes.  The judges gave their most positive comments on Lynda's lovely costume with a lot of different techniques used, Jenni's fun and really effective dinosaur, Cerina's brilliant pirate costume.

Their most negative comments were on Chinelo's costume not fitting her mannequin, and Heather's fairy/princess costume that they were unsure about.

The results from 10th place are Chinelo, Heather, David, Tamara, Jenni, Lynda in second and Cerina in first.

Image Source - GBSB Facebook Page

3. Sew a Showstopper

Sew a prom dress for a teenager to fit a real model in 7 hours.

This week's challenge gave the contestants a chance to sew for someone they know.  The models were daughters, nieces, and friends.  Everyone was surprised and delighted to see their models, and Cerina was so busy watching everyone else that she was totally startled to find her daughter standing right in front of her.

Some of the techniques needed to do well in this challenge were the ability to fit a formal garment (most contestants choose to do a strapless dress), and many used boning and invisible zips.

I wasn't a fan of David's shiny, slippery, sky blue fabric, which looked like it would be very hard to sew neatly.  Heather had a great combination of shot taffeta in magenta and orange, with sheer overlay skirts in matching colours.  Tamara had the best fabric by far with a brilliant blue printed neoprene, that she planned to use as a paper-bag skirt.

David, Heather, Chinelo and Cerina all used invisible zips.  It was the first time David had used one, and he did a creditable job.  Chinelo's zip refused to close, and she had to unpick it and sew it again.  Patrick spotted Tamara's uneven pleats (fortunately at the pinning stage) and she started again.

Lynda seemed to manage her time well and her model was already wearing her dress, while the rest of the contestants were running around trying to finish.  She even had time to whip up a little fabric corsage.  Chinelo was busy ironing her dress while her model was wearing it.  But the best last minute panic came from David, who stood his model on the table next to the sewing machine while he tried to sew the hem of the lining.

The judges gave positive comments on:

  • Heather's effective layered overskirt, good fit on back, although there were a few minor problems (a bit loose on the front, zip not perfect).
  • Chinelo's lovely fit, good invisible zip, although Patrick felt the bow was a bit overpowering and was twisting the dress.
  • Lynda got the sexy music, that reminds me of a Marilyn Monroe movie, when her model entered so you knew it was going to be good. Her dress had a nice shape, great fit, interesting finish on the hem, and she even had time to make a cute corsage.
  • Jenni's good fit, nice buttons and rouleau loops, but Patrick felt there was too much fabric in the bodice and the dress was overwhelming the model.
  • Tamara's great fabric choice, nice shape, well fitted back, use of binding on hem, even pleats, however, her zip looked unfinished and the ragged ends were sticking out, and the front was a little loose.

Their negative comments were on:

  • David's dress was too tight in places and was stretching, the lining hem was mangled, and May felt it was too tight to dance in - she even gave a dodgy demo of her groovy dance skills.
  • Cerina's dress was not finished (she ran out of time to make the overskirt), her hem stitching was showing, and her zip was not flat or neat.

The Final Results

The contestants went off for a coffee, while the judges discussed the weekend's work.

Those in danger were:

David - his dungarees were faultless, his ladybird costume came 5th, and his prom dress was too tight.
Cerina - her dungarees came last, her fantastic pirate costume came 1st, but her prom dress really let her down.

I was surprised that Tamara and Heather didn't rate a mention in the bottom.  Tamara came 5th in the dungarees, 4th in the refashion, and her prom dress was great.  Heather came 4th in the dungarees, 6th in the refashion and her prom dress did well.  David came 1st in his dungarees and Cerina came 1st for her pirate costume.  There seemed to be an equal mix of good and bad in the judges comments throughout the show, so I was surprised to hear there were only two contestants in danger.

The contestants were then called back in to hear the final results:

Garment of the week went to … Lynda for her Prom dress.  It was apparently closely contested this week, with about four others garments vying for top spot.

Image Source - GBSB Facebook Page

The contestant leaving this week was … Cerina

Image Source - GBSB Facebook Page

Final Thoughts

I'm glad David stays on for another week.  I like that he is totally different from all the other contestants (and not just because he's a bloke).  I thought Cerina was delightful.  I especially liked her comments that she doesn't have sewing friends in real life, and that it was fabulous meeting so many other sewers. I hadn't really thought about it, but I'm the same.  Perhaps that's why I like to do a bit of blogging (reading and writing) - as a way of connecting with other sewers out there.

Next week the contestants are apparently going to have to deal with the most challenging fabrics yet.  One of which will be … leather.  I've never sewn with leather, and I'm curious to see just how difficult it is.  We also got a sneak peak of contestants busy making trousers for themselves, including a few dubious looking inner seam fittings!

Want to Read More About GBSB?

You might also like to check out these other blogs that have done some posts about this episode:

  • The Thrifty Stitcher - Claire-Louise Hardie is the Sewing Producer for The Great British Sewing Bee, and usually does posts about the patterns used in the first challenge on each episode, and also has some nice posts about techniques used.  
  • Little Black Duck  - Victoria Peat has posted some great links to tutorials that cover some of the techniques you can use to make your own GBSB inspired pieces.
  • The Mighty Mighty Monk Seal - Steve & Chris present a very witty recap, which is written as fans of reality television review, rather than as sewers themselves.

    If you know any more blogs with interesting recaps or useful advice related to the GBSB, leave me a message and I can include a link.

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