The Great British Sewing Bee 2 : Episode 4

Earnest Hemming? WAY-HAY!

(So many more)

1. Now, our style of blogging of BBC 2’s tweecore crafty-reality has led before to an accusation of misogyny. So I will tread as gingerly and lightly as I can when I say that this week’s theme was “children” and it sent all the women on the show absolutely ovarian. To be fair, the producers’ Macchiavellian instincts were finally honed and weaponised when they laid out this week’s challenges, asking the contestants to dress, in order, a toddler, then a primary school age child, then a teenage girl on the cusp of womanhood. Psychologically this meant that these women (and man) were birthing, raising, and setting free an imaginary child in the space of an episode, speeding through three of the seven ages of man in just under an hour of tv time. The end result of course was that they all went absolutely doolally – front-runners were brought low, under-dogs had their day, a child got decapitated (and…erm…dearmitated) and we had our first official (sort of) SHOCK BOOT of the series. I only hope that, drama now stirred up thoroughly, we move on to the logical next step, and that very soon the contestants are asked to dress animals. Why do I think some of these women might be already pretty well versed in that?

2. It should be made very clear from the offset though that one woman remained absolutely unmoved by the thought of dressing adorable imaginary moppets. Yes, whilst the other 5 ladies were getting broody, Chinelo was getting moody, as she proclaimed every 5 seconds that she hated children, and had no interest whatsoever in making tiny widdle pocket-wockets or tucking her hem-hems into the top of any wee shoosie-woosies. It remains to be seen how Chinelo’s reputation as current Public Favourite (that I can tell) bears up after this week of her clomping around gleefully ripping off the heads and arms of baby mannequins, looking a bit like a Nazi Propaganda cartoon from the dog days of the 1930s, but I can’t imagine it will have made much difference. Or at least I hope not.

3. Our Pattern Challenge this week to construct a pair of dungarees for a toddler (just a quick sidebar vis a vis the Pattern Challenge – it feels like the least interesting challenge televisually, given that is is really just following a pattern and testing your basic techniques, and yet it seems to take up the most time of the three challenges in any given episode. Maybe it’s my bias towards all things creative and flouncy, but I did come out of this episode feeling a bit robbed we hadn’t spent more time watching fancy-dress whimsies be born and a bit less time watching people very slowly cutting out denim). The pattern for the dungarees involved no less than 9 pieces of fabric, and a hell of a lot of poppers. Over the course of this show’s first half-hours we saw misplaced poppers, burst poppers, pinging poppers, tight poppers, loose poppers and poppers that awkwardly burst apart the second Patrick Grant approached them (we’ve all been there). All in all there were more poppers flying around than at Heaven on a Friday night. Aside from getting your poppers in order, the most daunting parts of this challenge were two-fold – firstly that all the seams were top-stitched, meaning that they were visible for the most intense of scrutiny, and secondly that one of those seams was the dreaded FLAT-FELLED seam, usually only seen on jeans, which takes a hell of a lot of strength to pull off. As such (and sorry for the gender-stereotyping AGAIN) Last Man Standing David wound up as top of the heap, winning the challenge with enough time to spare to help the poor weak wilting ladies of the sewing room, as damsel-in-distress Lynda was left attacking her dungarees with pliers wailing for Patrick to come HAYULP. The rest of the space at the top was taken up by Jenni and Chinelo (who had both made their dungarees out of exactly the same fabric to more or less the same standard, making for even more exciting TV) whilst slumming it in the basement were the aforementioned hapless Lynda, Cerina‘s adorable but sloppy orange piggy dungarees (messy stitching, actual gaping holes in the fabric) and Tamara (dropped stitches, back-to-front clips and suicidal poppers), setting off the raincloud of doom that would follow her for the rest of the episode.

Yes, Jenni and David WERE the top two in a challenge. I said they all went a bit doolally didn’t I?

4. The hormones sloshing around this week weren’t just confined to the contestants, as the whiff of talcum powder and muddy-green sick in the air brought out the very best in Claudia as she drifted, as she so often did when presenting Strictly Come Dancing : It Takes Two, off into the realm of private sexual fantasy. All it took was the discovery that Heather was making her dungarees out of camouflage material in honour of her husband (a solider) to get Claudia’s South Pole defrosting. Here are some excerpts of her slightly rabid interview with Heather mid-sew :

Does he sleep in camo?”
Does he STAND STRAIGHT (does a full body impersonation of, frankly, an erect penis) and EVERYTHING?”
He’s wearing CAMO (*dribbles*) and he’s bringing you TEA! (*removes shoe and beats self in head with it whilst barking at the moon*)
That’s so much better than what I’m getting

Not 10 minutes later she was marching around loudly announcing that she was coming off the Pill. You draw your own conclusions.

5. This week’s History Bit focused on the moment when Queen Victoria sent her son Prince Albert (later King Edward VII) out onto the deck of the Royal Yacht dressed in blonde curls and an adorable powder-blue sailor suit. At that moment, apparently, “children’s fashion” was born. And also possibly the Gay Rights movement. The people of Britain loved Queen Victoria’s affinity with the common man as demonstrated by sending out one of her beloved children dressed like one of them and also bought up similar sailor outfits for their own children as well, as their sturdy canvas and wool surge construction meant they could easily withstand the rigours of a seaside holiday. From this moment of patriotic copy-catism, the idea of children being dressed as anything other than Mary Poppins style mini-mes of their parents was born. Thank you for gifting me that insight Claire Rose : Needlework Historian. I have to admit that I’m a little sad that the History Bit for children’s fashion only covered such a narrow timeframe, as personally I am eager for explanations for what could possibly have led the world to the horror of junior jeggings.

6. This week’s Alteration Challenge was to turn a pillowcase into a fancy dress costume for a children’s party (Official Monkseal Blog Solution : Ghost). So as not to be completely unfair, the contestants were also given a basic long-sleeved pullover and comfortable trousers. The talk of infants inevitably led the parents amongst the cast to reminisce about how they’d made costumes for their own children, with Cerina waxing nostalgic about how she’d “got involved” (we all know what that means, yes?) with her daughter’s amateur dramatics at school and Lynda sighing about the time she’d made a Princess Jasmine outfit for her own offspring. I hope it was a darned sight better than the Princess Jasmine outfit my friend from school wore to a fancy dress party once. In that there was substantially less magic carpet on display. [I once wore a homemade Aladdin fancy dress costume. I was 24 at the time. – Steve] David though, was left wandering around without inspiration, as we all know that dads don’t really get involved with that sort of thing – they’re a taxi service, not a costumer. Heather’s experience with dressing junior fancy-dress was similarly limited, although she did recount grinning the time she went down the pub for New Year’s Eve dressed as Jane wearing only three chamois leathers and a stuffed monkey. In the rain. She didn’t mention whether her husband was a similarly moist Tarzan, presumably because Claudia would have become so dangerously over-aroused that HBO would have started making docudramas about her. In the end, as usual on this show, experience outed, and Cerina won the day with a pirate outfit that frankly could have walked off the set of Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 : The Next Generation and Lynda pegged in close behind with a darling Queen Of Hearts (presumably in honour of Chinelo’s frequent “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS” decapitation of the baby mannequins) complete with net petticoat. David and Heather on the other hand both crashed and burned with his roughly appliqued ladybird outfit and her “Autumnal Flower Fairy Meat Princess” (no fair – that’s my grindr profile as well!) respectively. Tamara meanwhile was safely in the middle, but still snitted that the judges just didn’t get her and the beauty of her mediocre superhero outfit. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. We all remember how mental Tomato Bread from The Great British Bake Off went. And how quickly. (Chinelo of course finished last, yelling STUPID FANCY DRESS IS FOR STUPID BABIES the whole time).

7. If we’re talking about the effect of Ovary Week on the contestants, then honours in madness must go to Jenni who went into the week the child-free Independent Woman leader of an indie-jazz band, hoping it was a Cowboy themed week as befits her own youthful Urban Cowgirl style, and who somewhere around sewing together the 3rd back-scale for her Baby Dragon outfit (which finished 3rd) visibly melted into a broody mother to be. I bet she went home immediately after this challenge and ground her partner’s pelvis into dust. On a more downbeat note, the surging hormones from her babymaking region seem to have left Jenni slightly adrift for the week generally, as she muttered sadly about the skill-level amping up and it almost being her time despite finishing in the top 3 for two challenges and safely middle-of-the-pack for the third. Not to cast aspersions on Jenni’s overall skill but I can’t imagine she’ll have moments of triumph as clear-cut as this week (when I would have her overall first or second) and I just wish she’d seemed to have allowed herself to enjoy it a bit more.

8. The final challenge this week was to design a Prom Dress. With a special twist. The models were to be PEOPLE OUR CONTESTANTS ACTUALLY KNEW. Now, on other reality shows, contestants would have been made to fit the…third (?) most special dress of a woman’s life for the daughter of a DIFFERENT contestant, resulting in Lyndra repeatedly bashing Heather’s head into the over-locker after she accidentally implied that her daughter was a bit flat-chested. Happily (/sadly), this show is a much classier affair, and contestants were required to dress up only people who were familiar to them. And also the models were mostly kind of of the “my daughter’s best friend’s cousin’s uncle’s mid-life crisis girlfriend” variety. Of course, this being Ovary Week emotions were at such a fever at this point that the contestants hurled themselves crying at the models anyway, with Lynda in particular wandering zombie-armed weeping at “her daughter’s best friend”, a girl I envision her only normally interacting with on a “thah berrah not be pot I can smell young lady or else I’m throwing you out the car” kind of way. Mostly I’m surprised that Chinelo knew any children that didn’t immediately hide under a chair as she approached, but apparently she knows some girl from church or something who was willing to risk being jabbed by pins. The most important thing though is that the arrival of these outsiders was discovering the origin story of PINDOG, Heather’s sidekick and the world’s greatest canine superhero after K-9. And Ace The Bathound. And Dynomutt. And Krypto. And Hong-Kong Phooey. (Heather’s model made Pindog. That’s about it. In a erm…nuclear explosion or something).

9. Garment Of The Week went to Lynda who dressed her daughter’s best friend in floral reds. Although apparently the win really could have gone to any one of Chinelo, Heather or Tamara, whose outfits were only marred by an outsized bow (I know speaking ill of Chinelo’s designs is verboten, but she’s a little over-fond of MASSIVE SHOULDER THINGS for my liking), uneven layering, and a belt that looked a bit like anal beads respectively. Not that the judges put it like that, but I definitely will. One thing that did unite the top tier though is that they were all very well skilled in boning. (Chinelo apparently having taught herself by watching videos of boning on Youtube) (Again, we’ve all been there).

10. The above, combined with Jenni’s sudden surge and the general heavy weighting of the last sew of the episode, left us in the rather bizarre position of the judges deciding between the two people who had previously won challenges in this episode to determine who went home. Because their prom dresses were just that hideous. David produced a baby-blue mummy for his niece, binding her body with an incredibly tight fit, burying her lower half in waves and waves and waves of fabric, and giving her bizarre detachable manta-ray shoulder-ruffles. Cerina however managed to produce a prom dress that committed an even more cardinal sin than skin-tight naffiness. It was just plain boring, a shiny LBD that was missing the overskirt that Cerina had planned to give it any sort of pizazz (and possibly to hide the fact that it was slightly unflattering around the bottom). The whole dress was the unfortunate downside of Chinelo’s plan in past weeks to make simple things well. It was a simple thing made badly. And so, despite the fact that Cerina has up-til-now looked like…well not a frontrunner but someone who could become one at any second, she went home. Such is the madness of Ovary Week I guess.

Next Week : the lingering effects of this week’s hormones continue as the contestants have a leather party and rip off one-another’s trousers. Steve will recap whilst trying to make it not sound TOO much like a porno. [Fat chance. – Steve]


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22 thoughts on “The Great British Sewing Bee 2 : Episode 4

  1. min

    I loved Dave’s model sat huffing and eye rolling like a stroppier Darlene from Roseanne. I bet her parents will be paying off the bribe it took to get her there long after the trauma of having a sewing machine operating an inch away from your ankles has worn off.

    And Pin Dog was made by one of Heather’s dressage students. Perfect 🙂

    Reply
    1. monkseal Post author

      To be fair, I bet it was entirely obvious at all times in the process of its construction what David’s niece was going to have to wear on national television.

      Reply
  2. Isolde

    I was very interested to meet Chinelo’s control freak (supportive) husband this week. The GBSB must be a real taste of freedom.

    Reply
  3. Pauline Vernon

    Perhaps Jenni was pouring out her secret baby brooding on her dog when the VT showed she’d made him some kind of coat thingy. She would totally be ready for a ‘dress the animal of your choice’ week.

    I think more emphasis is placed on the Pattern Challenge because it focuses on a particular sewing skill. In such small ways does the Beeb remember its charter to ‘inform, educate and entertain’. Not that I will ever make a flat-felled seam, but at least I now know such a thing exists.

    Reply
    1. monkseal Post author

      I don’t think they should get to choose. It should just be like WHAM Claudia’s leading in an alligator on a chain.

      Reply
  4. durnovarian

    I only started watching this because you (plural) are recapping, and I’m so glad I did. But, with a horrible sinking feeling, I’m remembering that Series 1 of Strictly didn’t exist and Series 2 was a belter (even though Denise wuz robbed), and it was all downhill from there. Please don’t let that happen to GBSB…..

    Reply
      1. durnovarian

        I meant the programme going steadily further down the barrel with each series. Your recaps, on the other hand, never fail me. And are the single reason I’m still bothering with the farce that is now SCD.

  5. ynysmon

    I loved it when Jenny said she was taking Chenilo out on the lash
    Child hating Chinelo is now a Goddess on a plinth, but the shoulder thing is done now girl
    I would have made a proper wonder woman outfit with shorts and boots and headband and false tan and a wig
    So going back on last weeks promise-last years final saw friends and relations brought in a surprise models, they had to make cocktail dresses/long frocks. The results were considerably better than all of this weeks horrors

    Reply
    1. monkseal Post author

      I loved May saying “I’m not very up on my super-heroes”. Like a frilly froo-froo cherry red jumpsuit with an A in the middle of it belonged to somebody in the Nolanverse or something.

      Reply
  6. Pops

    I liked Jenni’s “This is a vintage pattern so a 12 is more like a 16. Not that I’m calling you big.” It was almost on a par with Anne’s daughter in the first series final revealing that Anne had rung up her to moan that the model they’d given her must be a really funny shape because the measurements were so odd, not realising her daughter was the model. What with that and David saying his wife is useless for testing wrap dresses on because her hips are so big, they could do a spin off where the traumatised relatives come to terms with their newly discovered body issues.

    Reply
  7. tabithakitten

    All of which leads one to conclude that anybody (non-professional) foolish enough to model for this show must be
    a) Keira Knightley
    b) Have no insecurities or vague worries about their appearance
    c) Have very few of the above and pretty much be Keira Knightley

    You have any curvy bits – you are the embodiment of evil in dressmaking terms (i.e. it’s a feck of a lot more difficult to make anything for you – you awkward womanly bint!)

    Reply
    1. ynysmon

      Curvy bit=darts, that could be next weeks theme. For those interested in the purity of stitching(just me) that would be fascinating. For everybody else less so. However it does lead to this interesting speculation of how Claudia would cope with a fitted dress

      Reply

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