The Great British Sewing Bee 2 : Episode 2

When the SEWING gets tough, the tough get SEWING.

(We’ve got so many more of these puns to come. So many many more)

1. The theme of this week’s Sewing Bee was “patterns”. Apparently the theme last week was “basic fabrics”. No, I didn’t notice either. This show definitely needs to signpost its theming more clearly, preferably via a manner involving Claudia in fancy dress. Although actually the thought of Claudia wearing anything with a PATTERN on it is disturbing indeed, so let’s move on in a hurry. The hard part of working with patterns, as anyone who has received a Christmas present from me will know, is getting your bits of material to neatly line up so that the join between them is seamless, thus satisfying even the most OCD of visual standards. And, unlike my Christmas presents, the sewers of the Great British Sewing Bee couldn’t manage the join by burying it under 17 layers of Sellotape until it all became one beige blur. [Like you ever wrap presents anyway. You always just give me mine in a giant Debenhams bag. – Steve] And then stuck a reindeer’s face on top. Although you get the impression that Julie might have tried if it had been a diamante reindeer. I have no idea what future themes are going to come up, although given the escalatingly sexual nature of the Made To Measure challenges, Lingerie Week can’t be far away (*wink*).

2. After last week’s flurry of personal information about the show’s most obviously tv friendly contestants (the deaf woman, the Buddhist Prison Chaplain, the crippled former policeman, Simon from t’mill, African Phenom Chinelo) this week we delved a little into the lives of the show’s less obvious stars. We found out that Jenni (who I previously have been identifying solely by the fact it looked like she’d dyed her hair by having the ends of it dipped in an ink-well a la Mallory Towers) makes all the clothes for her and husband’s pub jazz-band. Posh Blonde Number 1 Tamara works as a gothic children’s entertainer, presumably called “Nanny Something”. Posh Blond Number 2 Heather made her own wedding dress, which looked very Sarah Waters. (If she made her husband’s suit she didn’t mention it, presumably because by the looks of it it had undergone a last minute fitting session involving an office stapler). Post Blonde 3 Cerina likes to make matching party dresses for her and her daughter (we didn’t get a name for her daughter but I’m betting it’s Udeena or Lafinya or Rowbuta) and her husband is a middle-aged hipster who still wears a hoodie. Also, Julie loves bingo. Try to look surprised.

3. As if to make things confusing right from the off, we started with a Pattern Themed Pattern challenge. Sadly the client for this challenge was not former Governer Of Hong Kong and current BBC Trust top-bod Chris Patten. Unless he likes wearing box-pleat skirts. And you know…with Tories it’s always best not to rule it out. The fact that the skirt was box-pleat added several dimensions of trouble to the pattern matching process, what with all the folds and joins, and as a result this challenge only made the already apparent trenches between our contestants experience-wise deeper. Mostly via already-obvious front-runner Heather, who whittered merrily about the intricacies and nuances of the classic patterned box-pleat skirt whilst Jenni grinned nervously that she’d never made one before and Julie announced loudly that she doesn’t do patterned box pleat skirts ’cause patterns are shit and box-pleat skirts make you look fat (more on my heroine Julie in a minute). Also having problems was David, who spent most of the challenge fretting over the size of his box. At first it was too small to fit the amount of pleats he wanted, but in the end, as a result of frantic over-revision, it was sadly too large. This mispatterning ultimately resulted in his skirt being far too small for the mannequin, leaving it dangling from the crotch like a sad looking gingham apron. As Chinelo ran around in a panic swapping patterns every 5 seconds and Simon constantly flipped his hair about in a panic trying to spot approaching “Great White Shark” Patrick Grant to his work station (I’d say he was more of a Tiger Shark myself) (*wink*), Heather in fact finished early, and made sure everyone knew it, capering around the workroom cackling in everyone’s faces like Shockheaded Peter that she was “a bit ahead” of them. Heather’s kind of annoying, in the best possible way. Sadly, this was not the challenge for a glorious come-from-behind victory as the spoils went to Heather, who won the challenge easily and smugged it up something fierce. Plaudits also went to her fellow Posh Blonde coven members Tamara and Cerina (who this week was lugging behind her a ginormous and terrifying sewers toolkit that made Claudia quite frankly moist), whilst the dead last losers were David’s tiny dress, Jenni (messy waistband) and Simon (split his pleats) (I’d split his pleats etc etc). Oh and Julie.

4. Yes, this week Julie decided to completely ignore the brief yet again, inserting a forbidden invisible zip, marking her out as the official Sewing Bee Rebel. You can only imagine how this laissez-faire attitude would go down on other reality shows.

Alan Dedicott: Dancing the cha cha, will Julie and her partner Pasha take to the floor please?

Lordalan: Teams, this week I set you the challenge of sourcing 10 items for Tottenham Hotspurs football cl…
Julie: Sorry yer lordship, ah culd’nt be fecked wi’ that so instead Team Whippet created its own Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise.

Big Brother:Julie, you have now been evicted, please leave the Big Brother House

And so on. It speaks loudly to Great British Sewing Bee’s flappy diffident helming from Claudia, May and Patrick that Julie is still somehow on the show despite not bothering to do more or less anything they’ve asked her to do. You’d never get this with Paul Hollywood. (Lynda briefly considered joining Julie in her act of invisible zip rebellion, but instead decided against it) (The great big Welsh Wuss)

5. Now I didn’t watch the first series of this show, but I cannot imagine that this week’s Great British Sewing Bee History wasn’t the greatest ever Great British Sewing Bee History Bit. Is there anything that could possibly beat a sordid saga of forbidden chintz? It had everything! Class warfare as the lower middle-classes were finally able to afford patterned dresses, putting the upper middle-classes noses out of joint (sorry, this show recognises no class other than the middle class). A fabric historian called Girogio Riello! A taste of the exotic with tales of mysterious Indian men with comedy moustaches dipping cotton in buffalo milk and bees wax! West Side Story style gang-wars between rival gangs of linen lovers vs champions of chintz featuring women getting viciously bombarded with ink! The very notion that chintz could be something exotic, mysterious, exciting and forbidden…the twerking of its day. Frankly, I will never look at my nan’s tea-set in the same way ever again. All hail dirty, alluring, nigh-on EROTIC chintz.

6. The Alteration Challenge this week was to take two patterned mens shirts and create one new garment out of them. (Official Monkseal Blog Solution : a shirt for Siamese twins of differing taste levels). And these weren’t nice patterns they were working with either, as evidenced by Simon and Jenni’s simul-squealing of “VILE!!!” as the covers were whipped off, in a fashion that made it very hard to believe that in fact neither of them is a gay man. [I own one of the shirts that Heather was working with. Oh, the public shame. – Steve] The dash to grab the best shirts to work with left poor David, hobbling around everyone else on crutches, even more vulnerable to a shoeing than usual, and so it proved as he was left with the most gopping shirts of the bunch, the likes of which haven’t been seen in public since the days of prog. Despite his best efforts to overcome the hideousness of what the fates had left him, this left him wallowing at the back of the pack once again, with Patrick Grant questioning his taste level. Joining him there were Simon, who seemed to just hack off the sleeves of one shirt then stick it over another one, in the manner of an early 90s baggy indie band like Ride or Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, and Heather, who frankly didn’t even try, just sewing the top half of one shirt to the bottom half of the other. Obviously she was still too high off the fumes of her own smug from the morning to put that much effort in. At the other end of the scale were the more inventive sewers – Chinelo with her invention of the “button-down boob tube” which was if anything even more amazing that that sounds, and Tamara who went all-out, somehow managing to fashion a lovely cummerbund out of the sleeves of one of her two shirts. The combined force of these two garments was enough to leave May staggering around the floor open-mouthed gasping like a landed guppy, which is more use than I normally find for her well done. The fight for the last podium place meanwhile was between Lynda and Cerina, both of whom had gone for possibly the most obvious answer to the question posed by this challenge – make the new garment one for a tiny person (aka a child). In this battle for bronze, victory went again to the Posh Blonde Coven, as Cerina won by a tiny margin, possibly because her tiny person dress was sailor themed. And that always goes down well on BBC 2.

7. The final challenge this week was, like last week’s, a nightwear challenge, but this week with men, as the contestants were challenged to make patterned pyjamas. Right from the off it was clear that Tamara, was going all out for the victory, picking out a newsprint based pattern for her pyjamas, leaving the daunting possibility of two entirely different headlines being hilariously run together, like “Growing Threat Of Nuclear War Breaking Out In Cheryl Cole’s New Underwear Range”, “Cancer Risk Increased By Daily Consumption Of Madeleine McCann” or “Justin Bieber Wins Award For Singing”. Unfortunately this gambit was derailed at the first as Patrick revealed that he hated her fabric because it was too gimmicky. Poor Tamara. By contrast Chinelo decided to play it safe, producing a really basic pair of pyjamas with no collar, no cuffs and no fly, but she met with success, as her execution was perfect. This of course is in contrast with what normally happens when people try something “simple but effective” on reality shows, which is that they still manage to hash it up, leaving Gregg Wallace standing there spitting out bits of glass from his scrambled egg on toast (without the toast because it got burnt). Other than their two differing fortunes, this challenge was mostly distinguished by the sewers acting like rampaging perverts to their male models, particularly Heather, who seemed to spend the entire challenge advancing on her model’s crotch making noises like a randy Frenchman and demanding that he get naked right now. Like I said, really annoying but in the best possible way.


  1. Simon’s Model
  2. Chinelo’s Model
  3. Cerina’s Model
  4. Tamara’s Model
  5. David’s Model
  6. Lynda’s Model
  7. Heather’s Model
  8. Jenni’s Model
  9. Julie’s Model

No offence to anybody.

9. Garment Of The Week this week went to Lynda’s candy-striped pyjamas, which apparently were perfectly executed. To be honest with you, I’m not really feeling this whole “Garment Of The Week” deal. Firstly because it seems to be tied to the third challenge, when really we all know that the Garment Of The Week this week was one of Heather’s Box Pleat Dress Of Smug or Chinelo’s Button-Down Boob Tube. Secondly it’s clearly an inferior award conceptually to The Great British Bake Off’s “Star Baker”, which represents the contestant who performs best across the entire theme (in this case probably Cerina). Thirdly “Garment Of The Week” is a crap name. This blog demands that “Garment Of The Week” be changed to an award representing overall achievement, and to be given one of the following names : “SuperSewer”, “Cloth Cween/Cing” “Hemline Hero”, “Stitch Bitch”. I thank you.

10. At the end of Pattern Week, the pattern that was most throughly covered was the pattern of all the male sewers sucking and then going home. This week’s victim was sadly Simon, who couldn’t be saved by a last-gasp pair of adequate pyjamas, although really it could have been either of the two remaining blokes. My heart bled a little for Simon, cut from the competition dressed in the away strip of a 1928 football team for some reason, and sent back to t’mill to…do whatever Simon does. Work a loom for tourists. But really, even only two episodes in, it was time. This leaves David as the last man standing, a fate he clearly finds incredibly daunting, buried as he clearly is about to be under a mountain of middle-aged blonde middle-class totty.

Next week : Steve recaps as the contestants face unusual fabrics and Heather starts yelling about gin because OF COURSE SHE DOES.

19 thoughts on “The Great British Sewing Bee 2 : Episode 2

  1. Scottieboy (@merseytart)

    You may need a strong drink for this: they didn’t even HAVE a History Bit in the first series. Instead, Claudia narrated a project for you “to try at home”, while a pair of anonymous hands sewed a cushion cover or an apron with a patch pocket. You could download the pattern off the website.

    1. ynysmon

      Considering the core audience of middle class, blonde, middle aged women interested in sewing, the “try at home”projects were pants. Glad they have been replaced

  2. Jan

    Week 4 and the contestants are asked to use the pattern to create a pair of gentlemen’s trousers.

    Contestant 1: I’m going to make a skirt.
    Claudia: They were quite specific about it being trousers.
    Contestant 1: Yeah… but I love this fabric and this fabric would look great as a skirt. It’ll be fine.

    Contestant 2: I’m going to make the middle bit using this tweed here then use this faux suede to add a sort of “chaps” look to the rest of it. Like a cowboy, but with tweed.
    Claudia: How do you think the judges will feel about that?
    Contestant 2: I don’t give a shit.

    I love this show. Enough not to mind too much the loss of Beautiful Simon and his chewing of pins like a Seamstress Clint Eastwood. (I once read an article about a woman who did that and accidentally inhaled one and it ended up in her lung and she had to have part of the lung removed or some shit like that so actually don’t do it, people.)

    I vote for “Stitch Bitch”. And the model who wore the William Morris, please, whoever’s he was.

      1. suze

        Ooh yes – it was one of the guardian’s ‘it happened to me’ bits in the Saturday edition (the pin swallowing, not the tweed chaps). Freaked me out somewhat…

      2. Jan

        It should. Maybe in Hellraiser remade by the W.I.

        suze – that was it! It put me off badass pin-chewing for life, so all my flat’s upholstery is liable to be used as a pincushion now. It’s easier to remove a needle from your arse than your lung. (Probably.)

    1. monkseal Post author

      I can’t wait til she face-paints Claudia as Spiderman and it’s still somehow more of a more human colour than the base.

    2. TrevvyTrev21

      None of the kids looked happy either, so she’s an evil kids’ entertainer. Sigh. She better not win. Chinelo >>>>

      Love that this is being recapped!

  3. ynysmon

    I paid more attention to May this week. It is clear that without her Patrick and Claudia would sit in a corner making champagne cocktails skimming bobbins across the sewing heads, we need May the Matron
    I am missing Stuart last years 4th place, he was the Robin Windsor of the quilting world, and a great foil to Patrick. Where are we on the sexuality of Patrick BTW

    1. Penny

      Wikipedia says he has a girlfriend. But since Wikipedia also claims he has a diffusion range in Designers at Debenhams, which I refuse to believe, I’m doing a blanket denial of the whole thing.

      1. monkseal Post author

        Heaven forbid I just navigate the world via stereotypes but he seems very straight to me.

  4. Robbie

    Love the re-cap, as ever…. Loving Lynda, Julie and Cerina…

    BUT there was another show this week with a crafty, garment-making focus…. PLEASE do a re-cap of Rupaul’s Drag Race! Please!!

    1. monkseal Post author

      I’m pondering. Might do an entry this week about the first two episodes combined. We’ll see.

  5. Neio

    Chinelo’s boob tube refashioned from the shirts should so have been Garment of the Week. She wuz robbed!

  6. Lougarry

    Only just catching up as I didn’t realise you two were blogging this.

    I may be hallucinating, given what others have said, but I seem to remember there being history segments in the previous series. They were very basic animations which reminded me of Mr Benn or something but in sepia tones. Possibly I dreamt it.


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