Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Great British Sewing Bee - Week Two Recap



We head into week two - Children's Week - with seven contestants left.



After only one week I don't have strong feelings about who I like in the contest.  There are some pretty disorganised, and possibly very under-skilled, sewers in this season.  I hope it's just the pressure of being on the show that resulted in some rather poor makes.   It will be interesting to see how the contestants shape up in week two.

SPOILER ALERT!  I am going to discuss, in detail, what happens in week two of The Great British Sewing Bee.  If you haven't had a chance to watch this episode yet, you might like to sneak off and do that before you read this summary, but please stop by again after you have caught up.


The Challenges 

1. Sewing from a Pattern

Sew a baby grow  (techniques include sewing with stretch fabric, sewing a gusset, knit binding and cuffs, and adding snaps) in 3 hours 15 minutes.

Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee

The baby grow is a simple one piece, stretch outfit.  It has snap fasteners that go up the left hand front of the suit from ankle to neck.  These are the construction steps:

Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


Jamie chose a really cute tractor print fabric, Joyce an adorable fish print, Josh a cute animal print and Tracey a nice star print with a fleecy back.   Ghislaine chose an odd combination of plain cobalt blue, paired with a white and pastel print.

The gusset seemed to give contestants the most difficulty.  Some had puckers and holes, but Ghislaine got it spectacularly wrong when she sewed it off centre, and it ended up in the side of the leg rather than the in crotch.  Ghislaine also managed to sew one of her leg bindings inside out, with the seam allowance on the outside.  The binding, while fiddly, seemed to be handled well by most contestants.  Jamie decided to use a different technique and ended up with a binding that was too narrow.  The poppers also gave contestants lots of trouble.  Charlotte & Tracy had trouble using the snap fastener tool, as it seemed to require quite a lot of wrist strength.  Contestants had poppers falling off, misaligned and even muddled up the male and female parts and so they wouldn't fasten at all.

Once again, there was some lovely teamwork with Tracey helping Joyce with the poppers and then helping Josh dressing his mannequin.  Jade and Charlotte both helped Ghislaine, in a desperate attempt to finish her outfit and dress her mannequin.

By the way, did anyone see the very scary look Claudia gave the camera after she declared Josh's outfit was "edible".



The judges gave their most positive comments on Rumana (overall very neat and tidy, with good gusset and cuffs), Josh (neat but with small mistakes), Jade (binding neat and even with snap fasteners in the middle, cuffs good, but pattern flipped, so it fastens on wrong side of body), and Charlotte (which Patrick declared "looks absolutely first rate", seams were lined up, gusset pretty good and snaps work).

Their most negative comments were on Angeline (hole in gusset, gathering in top of sleeve and top snap fastener missing), Tracey (snap fasteners wrong way around, so suit fastens with small side over the top of big side), Joyce (also fastens with small side over big side, one male pair of snap fasteners), Jamie (not following pattern and doing different binding method) and Ghislaine (oh dear!).  Patrick summed up Ghislaine's disastrous make by saying it had "all just gone really badly wrong - in all sorts of ways we couldn't have even imagined it was possible to go wrong."

The results from 9th place are Ghislaine (no surprise there), Angeline, Josh, Jamie, Tracey, Joyce, Rumana, with Jade in second (very nicely made, but pattern cut back to front), and Charlotte in first.


Images courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


There were lots of fiddly techniques in these patterns, and overall contestants seemed to cope pretty well.

2. Alter a Basic High Street Item

Take a bridesmaid dress in silky fabric and turn it into an outfit for a child 1 hour 30 minutes.  

The contestants were each given a bridesmaid dress, and were asked to be imaginative and creative.  Based on last week, the judges are looking for something really interesting.

Tracey, Rumana, Jamie, Jade, Joyce and Charlotte decided to make party/bridesmaid dresses.  Angeline planned to make a mermaid dress with a fishtail, Josh a sleeveless bomber jacket and Ghislaine a sporty jacket and shorts.

Tracey was sewing shirring at lightning speed, Angeline seemed to be having trouble sewing the light fabric with her machine.  Later she added random sequinned sections, that didn't seem to make a lot of sense.  Rumana and Jamie both decided to drape on the stand.  Rumana later added a sparkly butterfly detail on the front of her dress, hoping it would distract the judges.  Jade and Charlotte both added gathered net skirts.  Charlotte added a beaded trim on the waistband, but had to rip it off as it prevented dress stretching over the shoulders of her mannequin.

Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


The judges gave their most positive comments on Rumana's butterfly dress (gone to town on the draping, made butterfly from scratch), Tracey's petal fairy dress (lots of good stuff on this, liked the petals) and Ghislaine's sporty shorts and zippered top (stood out from all the others, well handled fabric, lovely appliqué details).

Their most negative comments were on Josh's sleeveless bomber jacket (least imaginative, doesn't fit mannequin), Angeline's mermaid dress (haphazard, fabric hacked up, didn't like the sequins - poor Angeline looked heartbroken).

The results from 9th place are Josh, Angeline, Jade, Charlotte, Joyce, Jamie, in second was Rumana (really lovely, beautiful handwork and lots of imagination), and in first place was Ghislaine (executed well, with very nice details).

Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee

3. Sew a Showstopper

Sew a woollen cape for a child to fit a real model in 6 hours.

A quick Google search of wool capes for children showed quite a variety of possible choices for the contestants.

Image courtesy of Google


There isn't a lot to get excited about with woollen fabrics.  Angeline chose a nice red fabric with a tartan contrast, Jamie chose a nice tweed paired with a blue lining that makes me think of Sherlock Holmes, and Josh had a nice checked beige wool. Charlotte chose a very ugly redish-brown tweed, and Rumana went for a very thick grey jersey wool that looked completely inappropriate for a cape.

Jade selected an interesting pattern with a hood, fur trim, and buttoned panel on front.  Charlotte's pattern for a full circle cape looked nice, but did she a weird thing at the end where she folded the edges back at the arms and used snap fasteners to hold them in place.  I liked the look of Jamie's pattern choice, but felt it should have been a bit longer.  Actually most of the capes seemed to be cut a little short.  The worst of which was Ghislaine's, which ended up as a capelet rather than a cape.

I was rather excited to see Ghislaine doing freehand drafting, but it became obvious very quickly that she didn't really know what she was doing.  She cut the neckline too large, and ended up having to pleat the fabric to make it fit.

The judges gave their most positive comments on Charlotte (nice combination of fabrics, good pattern choice, loved the turned back sleeves), Jamie (very original, fantastic piece of work, pockets well done, although some were unfinished), Angeline (fantastic piece of clothing, godet works really well with the bow feature, lining well handled, "an absolute cracker").

Their most negative comments were on Rumana (bow looked like a dog biscuit, using a jersey wool resulted in "bouncy" seams), and Ghislaine (an awful lot was not quite right, scallops uneven, collar doesn't fit),

The Final Results

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

Those in danger were:

Ghislaine - produced the least successful cape, baby grow was a disaster, but they loved her alteration challenge.
Josh - made a pretty good cape with perfect pattern matching, but had the least successful alteration.

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

Garment of the week went to … Angeline for her children's cape.  Angeline had the best surprised face, so I had to include a couple of pictures.

Images courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


The contestant leaving this week was … Ghislaine.




Final Thoughts

Ghislaine had two disastrous makes this week.  Her baby grow was as bad as it was possible to be, and her self-drafted cape was full of errors.  She is definitely no Chinelo Bally, and should probably have stuck to using a pattern instead of trying to self-draft her cape.  Unfortunately, her win in the alteration challenge wasn't enough to save her from elimination.

Up next week is lingerie.  The closest I've come to lingerie is a camisole and knickers set from Tilly and The Buttons, which was quite fun to make, but not so easy to fit.

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.  She posts some lovely tutorials on sewing techniques.
  • The Fold Line - have a list of all contestants and links to their blogs, website and social media. They have also reviewed the new GBSB Season 4 book.
  • By Hand London - Elisalex De Castro Peake has reviewed by new GBSB Season 4 book.
  • 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.
    read more "The Great British Sewing Bee - Week Two Recap"

    Saturday, 21 May 2016

    The Great British Sewing Bee - Season 4 Begins




    If you've read my blog before, you know I'm a fan of The Great British Sewing Bee.  I love the fact that there is a popular sewing program on a major TV network ... and it's not full of bitchy, horrible people, who make incomprehensible things in the name of fashion.  It's good, old fashioned sewing, done by people who seem like they'd be fun to sew with.

    I managed to do a blog post on all the episodes in Season 2, but didn't quite manage Season 3 - I still have a half-finished post on episode 1 in my drafts.  I've decided that I'm going to have a go at doing posts on the episodes this season.

    The first episode kicked off with an introduction to our judges.

    Image courtesy of www.radiotimes.com


    The lovely Patrick Grant has returned, and continues to be elegant and charming.  Mae Martin has been replaced with Esme Young.  I'm reserving my judgement on Esme, but I so far I like the fact that she seems to offer honest feedback, rather than being polite and positive.  She might also bring a bit of cheeky "Mel and Sue" style commentary, which I find amusing.

    The contestants are introduced throughout the show, but here is a quick snapshot of the group:

    Image courtesy of GBSB Facebook page

    Spoiler alert … this is where I'm going to start talking about what happened in week one.  If you don't want to find out what happened, stop reading now!!  You're always welcome to drop by again, once you've caught up on your viewing.

    The Challenges 

    1. Sewing from a Pattern

    Sew a bias cut sleeveless blouse from a linear printed fabric with a chevron design (techniques include cutting on the bias, pattern matching, hidden bias binding) in 2.5 hours.

    Image courtesy of The Thrifty Stitcher


    The pattern chosen was deceptively simple.  A sleeveless blouse, with a hidden bias bound neckline. The tricky part of the pattern, as explained by Patrick, is that it had to be made in a linear printed fabric, cut on the bias, with the centre front and centre back seam meeting in a chevron (a "V" design).  The steps in cutting were explained as follows:

    Images courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


    I didn't think it was a particularly difficult pattern, but was surprised to see several contestants had little or no experience with bias cutting or pattern matching.  Josh spent at least half the challenge trying to figure out how to cut the pieces so they matched in the chevron "V".  Duncan had meant to practice bias cutting before the show, but hadn't got around to it.

    There were some nice fabric choices.  I especially liked Jamie's red with black narrow stripe georgette, Charlotte's black and white triple stripe, and Rumana's white with black narrow stripe fabric.  There was much discussion of how difficult Jamie's georgette would be to sew.  Ghilaine chose a fabric with an uneven stripe that was impossible to match, and ended up abandoning it an hour into the challenge, and choosing something more practical.  Duncan chose my least favourite fabric - a pink, green and blue pastel stripe straight out of the 80s.

    Josh was utterly baffled by the instructions and needed Charlotte to help him with cutting the pieces in the right direction.  At least an hour into the challenge Josh was still trying to cut the pieces out correctly.  Joyce also had to help Duncan figure out his stripes.  In the end Duncan spent so long perfectly matching his chevon pattern, that I'm surprised he was able to finish the garment.

    Angeline had never done a bias bound neckline before, Charlotte cut her bias strip on the straight grain, and Duncan finished his neckline like he was doing a t-shirt neckband.  I know some contestants got frazzled and made some simple mistakes, but some of them seem seriously unskilled for a competition supposedly featuring "Britain's best home sewers".

    I did notice that contestants this year seem to have learnt from previous seasons, and they almost all followed the instructions meticulously.  There were no unnecessary embellishments added, and only Duncan did his neckline binding incorrectly - which might have been down to him not understanding the directions properly.

    Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


    The judges gave their most positive comments on Charlotte (pattern well matched and neckline neat), Jamie (pattern matched perfectly through all four seams and neckline neat) and Tracy (fabric choice gave an interesting finish).

    Their most negative comments were on Duncan (chevron perfectly matched, but binding uneven and hem too deep and falling down), Rumana (chevron upside down, armholes unfinished, neckline stretched at back, neckline binding not fully turned under), Josh (chevron upside down on front), Joyce (seams well matched, but neckline badly stretched).

    The results from 10th place are Rumana, Josh, Duncan, Ghislaine, Joyce, Jade, Tracey, Angeline, Charlotte in second, and Jamie in first.

    Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


    2. Alter a Basic High Street Item

    Take a basic lined maternity dress and transform it in 1.5 hours.  

    Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


    The dress provided was an simple sheath, with short sleeves.  It was, quite frankly, hideous.  It looks like some sort of uniform given to pregnant medical staff.

    Jamie was one of the most adventurous and turned his dress into a sleeveless, floor length gown with a contrast fabric in a mock wrap, Rumana made a really pretty dress with a gathered, elasticised waistband made from an orange ribbon, and cut away some of her back neckline and added criss-crossed orange straps, Joyce added a gold sequinned fabric in godets (which I thought would look hideous) which looked fabulous.

    Image courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


    The judges gave their most positive comments on Jamie's complete transformation of the original dress, Joyce's well executed godets, and Rumana's cleverly reshaped and embellished neckline.

    Their most negative comments were on all of the skirts (Angeline, Ghislaine, Duncan, Jade, Charlotte and Josh) which didn't fit, weren't creative enough and were badly sewn.  The only skirt that got a moderately positive comment was Charlotte's, as it fitted the mannequin well.  They also disliked Tracey's "flouncy" lace top with a chunky, separating sports zipper down the front.  It looked like she had sewn on some of those old fashioned, lace half-curtains from someone's kitchen window.

    The results from 10th place are Tracey, Jade, Duncan, Josh, Ghislaine, Charlotte, Angeline, Rumana, Joyce in second and Jamie in first.

    3. Sew a Showstopper

    Sew a skirt to fit a real model in 5 hours.

    This episode was touted as being one focused on basic garment construction.  Asking contestants to sew a skirt is pretty basic.  In the first episode of Season 2, contestants were asked to sew a silk nightgown, and in the first episode of Season 3, contestants were asked to sew a summer dress.  I certainly hope the challenges get a bit more ... um, challenging!

    My favourite fabric choices were Rumana's beautiful woven brocade fabric that looked like an ikat print, Angeline's azure and magenta floral print on white, Duncan's beige silk "petal" fabric, and Josh's black floral print on white denim.  My least favourite fabrics were Jamie's blue floral brocade with a chiffon flounce, and Ghislaine's red and grey combination.

    My favourite pattern choices were Rumana's self-drafted high waisted obi-wrap maxi skirt, Angeline's fitted pencil skirt with a peplum hem, Josh's long flared skirt, and Joyce's flared godet skirt.  My least favourite pattern choices were Duncan's badly fitted circle skirt, Tracey's skirt waistband that seemed to scoop down too low and accentuate the tummy area, and Jade's self-drafted high waisted tutu skirt.  Along the way Josh managed to lose his yoke pattern piece and had to draft one himself.

    The judges gave their most positive comments on Angeline's well fitted peplum skirt (Esme commented that it "fits beautifully under her arse"), Rumana's obi-wrap maxi skirt drafted from an apron pattern, Jade's well fitted high-waisted tutu skirt (liked combination of grey & black tulle, silver trim and chunky exposed metal zip) that showed her style and personality, and Josh's flared skirt (not the most complicated, but executed extremely well).

    Their most negative comments were on Tracey's puckered seam at the front, Ghislaine's poor choice of a very light fabric, Jamie's flounce badly hemmed and looked odd on front of skirt only, and Duncan's poorly fitted waistband and uneven hem.

    I'm surprised that they didn't comment on a few things that really stood out to me.  Tracey's yoke was cut the wrong shape and scooped too low in the front, Charlotte's waistband either needed to sit higher or be made a bit tighter as the top edge seemed to jut out, and Jamie's appalling choice of fabric and pattern that was so dowdy.

    The Final Results

    The contestants went off for a coffee, while the judges discussed the weekend's work.
    Those in danger were:

    Josh - performed poorly in the first two challenges, but rescued himself with his showstopper skirt.
    Duncan - had come bottom in the first two challenges.  His top was well matched in the chevron, but overall his finish let him down, his alternation skirt lacked ambition, and his showstopper skirt had a poorly fitted waistband and uneven hem.
    Tracey - her top had been pretty well done, they did not love her alteration, and her showstopper skirt was puckered in front and had a very uneven hem.

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

    Garment of the week went to … Angeline for her bottom-hugging, peplum skirt.


    Images courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee


    The contestant leaving this week was … Duncan.

    Final Thoughts

    I like this season of the GBSB.  Esme seems like a promising judge, but I thin it might take her another episode or two to seem really natural in the show.  The venue seems better this year, with the haberdashery actually in the sewing room.  The challenges this week seemed a little easy to me, and I'm not convinced the contestants are as skilled as previous seasons.  I'm looking forward to next week, and am hoping things get a little more challenging.

    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.  She posts some lovely tutorials on sewing techniques.
    • The Fold Line - have a list of all contestants and links to their blogs, website and social media. They have also reviewed the new GBSB Season 4 book.
    • By Hand London - Elisalex De Castro Peake has reviewed by new GBSB Season 4 book.
    read more "The Great British Sewing Bee - Season 4 Begins"