The Great British Sewing Bee 4 – Episode 4

Aka L’Abielle Qui Coud Pour Grande Bretagne

1. It’s International Week on The Great British Sewing Bee! Unfortunately for the contestants, this doesn’t mean they got to leave their waterside workroom for foreign climes, like in one of those episodes of The Apprentice where Margaret wore an off-white pant-suit and pulled cringey faces at the contestants’ inept Portuguese (the thought of the announcement of this being done in the style of America’s Next Top Model, with Esme shouting “YOU’RE ALL OFF TO ROTTERDAM” as Patrick cavorts at the side in clogs, a pinnafore and blonde pigtails, makes this denial especially cruel). Instead, each challenge was based around the contestants making a garment from a foreign culture, presumably for Katy Perry to wear on her next International Tour as she sings “Roar” surrounded by 14 dancers dressed as slutty giraffes. Garments from nations such as China, Africa, and Sort Of India/Middle Eastern Ish Well Inspired. You’ll notice that none of these are EU nations (AT LEAST NOT YET, AM I RITE NIGEL?), presumably because the BBC are too busy trying to stuff socks into Chris Evans’ mouth to have to deal with being accused of blatantly PRO BREXIT/PRO BREMAIN! for whatever reason people could trump up.

2. I mean…look at Joyce here

Sunglasses! In this country! In Autumn! She clearly thought she was off to the French Riviera at the very least, International Week is a LIE! (Joyce was saying in this talking head that her tactic this week (BOO! GAME PLAYER etc etc) was to keep it simple and not over-complicate things. I guess “completely ignore all instructions” is keeping it very very simple indeed).

3. When Owners Start To Look Like Their Pets : Part 17 In A Series

4. Our Pattern Challenge this week took us to China as demonstrated by these

rather natty cards that were given out by Patrick at the start of the challenge (I scoured the International School next to my University for a Chinese Top and couldn’t find one etc etc) which rather give rise to the idea of Sewing Bee Top Trumps, which I’m sure we’d all agree is a craze that has the potential to sweep playgrounds nationwide. The challenge here was many layers – the Chinese Top (called a “qipao”) incorporated many layers, was tight fitting, had an elaborate brocade to be fashioned, and most disorientatingly of all, was FORRIN. So FORRIN none of the sewers had ever made one before, although Joyce did ruefully talk about having made a brocade before in much the same tone of voice you’d use to say that you’d tried hopping off the Number 14 to Hillfields before it had come to a full stop. Fortunately Esme was there to encourage everyone to embrace the Orient Experience by turning up

dressed as Fu Manchu’s lesbian auntie. Coming into the challenge it was Josh who was feeling the pressure most keenly, fully aware as he was of his Bottom 2 Goddess status, and knowing that a 4th week in a row of completely fannying up the first two challenges before progressing on the back of a half-decent Made-To-Measure challenge probably wasn’t going to cut it. Things didn’t start well, with a shot of Josh very deliberately marking his shiny qipao with tailor’s chalk, after a whole section of the other sewers wracking their brains as to how to avoid using it because it leaves marks (they mostly seemed to settle for “stick pins in the garment instead”) and got worse as Claudia visited to ask him if he’d done any sewing yet (with a silent “in your life, ever?” on the end) and then made vomit faces behind his back over his choice of fabric. Ever the supportive hand. Still despite all this, Josh perservered, and plodded on to VICTORY. I mean…he didn’t finish first, he’s still Josh, but he still managed 2nd in a round where his previous record has gone 9th-7th-7th, so good for him. Also doing well was Angeline, even if she *did* make the garment a little tighter than necessary (Angeline’s gonna Angeline I guess), and Tracey, who ended up not only winning the challenge, but finishing so early that Claudia got her to do the “TWO MINUTES TO GO!” warning, to save her own voice.

Claudia’s not seen that face that close up since someone accidentally sent Tess a text meant for Vernon.

Faring less well was Charlotte, who got the pattern wrong and hence stretched her garment out in an ugly fashion (although trying to force it over her mannequin without undoing the zip first can’t have helped) and Jade. Jade whose chief problem during the challenge was spending the whole time listening to and taking advice from Joyce, who had suddenly acquired a rebellious mood in the minibus on the way to the studio, deciding to stick the binding for her garment on the outside, despite clear instructions not to, just because she felt like it. Her supreme

DILLIGAF Face when told by Patrick that this meant she automatically finished last was a thing of beauty in deed. JOYCE IS OFFICIALLY TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT, SHE’S A MAVERICK WHO PLAYS BY HER OWN RULES, AND SHE GETS RESULTS YOU STUPID CHIEF.

5. The Alteration Challenge gave the contestants probably the most fabric to work with in this challenge they’ve ever had, with contestants given their choice of saris to work with. Saris which went on and on and on and on and on. The catch being that, being saris, they’re mostly made out of very sheer fabric, so bunching was required to avoid acccidental knicker flashage. Not that the mannequins in the Sewing Bee wear knickers. Thankfully. The brief was to take the sari and turn it into something “Eastern Inspired”. If you thought you was just asking for rampant stereotyping you are right, as people nattered away merrily about Aladdin this, harem that and belly dancer whatever, although it was all worth it for the sight of Jade cavorting around the sewing room with the sari wrapped around her waist singing “NING NING NING NING NING, NING NING NING NING NING NING NING” before realising that

yes, there were cameras on her and yes they were recording all of this, and also for Charlotte saying very earnestly “I might make some Israeli trousers!”. In the end though, Charlotte came off her Guardian reading cloud of earnestness and wallowed in the Carry On mire with the rest of them, producing a truly spectacular pair of panto harem pants

that Patrick spoke very favourably of. Very favourably indeed. To the extent that he said he’d like to borrow a pair for himself. Lucky Mrs Patrick. I think. I mean, let’s face it, Patrick’s an attractive man, but not so attractive that the thought of his dangly bits flapping about visibly under purple chiffon wouldn’t give you pause, erotically speaking. Sadly, these harem pants, whilst carrying Charlotte up into the echelons yet again, did for Josh, as his own attempts at trousers, whilst somewhat accomplished, came up short in comparison, plonking him back into the bottom 3 again for the 6th time (of 8) so far this series in the ranked challenges. Ah well, it was a nice moment in the sun whilst it lasted. Joining Charlotte in the top were Rumana for this

truly monumental construction, and Tracey, who won her second challenge of the week, for keeping things neat and tidy and symmetrical, if a little unmemorable. Forming the bottom two yet again though were Jade and Joyce – Jade for not giving her trousers sufficient arsespace and sewing in a random panel into a pair of trousers that rather resembled a dorsal fin, and Joyce who pinned her trousers directly into her mannequin. Joyce at this point

was so over the whole thing you could quite happily photoshop her in that picture onto the back of Dennis Hopper’s motorcycle in Easy Rider. Such a gangster. After her dismal showing over the first two challenges, Joyce announced her intention to go home, get pissed, and watch telly. Amen.

6. The final “International Garment” (well that’s what Claudia called it) this week was to be a dress inspired by West Africa made out of a wax-print fabric. What a wasted opportunity for a Chinelo guest appearance. Ah well, maybe for All Stars? This immediately led to a History Bit, explaining the history of how batique (aka “a wax printed fabric”) came to be associated with West Africa. Turns out it’s because a load of Europeans dumped it there on the cheap when nobody else wanted it. HISTORY OF A CONTINENT, AM I RITE GUYS? Apparently the technique is traditionally Indonesian, but when the Dutch tried to mass-produce it there and sell it on nobody was interested, so they sent it all to West Africa instead, where it slowly became individualised to local areas, and their customs and myths. All of this was explained to us by Amber Butchart : Fashion Historian

who was very brave to carry on this segment after a giant blackcurrant jelly baby skydived onto her head and died there.

7. Back to the challenge, and it seemed possible that Tracey was on course for her third win of the week when she turned up

already with a piece of batique on her, bragging about how she practiced at home and made this. I mean…it’s a little Ribenaberry Realness but any rehearsal is a good rehearsal right? Well not if the end result is this

I’m not sure what sillhouette she was aiming for there but “wooden woman who comes out of a clock at the stroke of midday and does a little bow” is what she’s landed on. Charlotte also got dissed by the judgery, by which I mean “Patrick hated her peplum and compared unfavourably to Angeline’s peplum”. Can we not have two succesful women in the public eye without their peplums constantly being compared, I find myself asking? At the other end of the scale meanwhile

was this, from Rumana, which is easily the favourite thing I have ever seen sewn on this show ever ever ever other than maybe Heather’s riding gear cum bondage outfit. It’s a sexy hourglass figure hugging African inspired dress with a little bit of booby showing and a BLOODY GREAT CAPE. It is everything I want from this programme and already I am petitioning for Storm to wear it in the next X Men film. How it didn’t win Garment Of The Week I don’t know. I mean

any garment that is used by Claudia Winkleman for the purposes of sexual harassment automatically has to win some sort of award right? Jade was also praised for a sexy little dress (ALSO with a peplum) although Esme and Patrick both were a little concerned about how tight it was. The prudes.

8. Garment Of The Week though went to Joyce, presumably just to really confirm in the minds that, despite spending the first two challenges doing the Sewing Bee equivalent of having a fag out the back, she deserved to survive the week because let’s be honest

there’s not much exciting about this Olive Oyl bathing dress, no matter how well made it is. I mean, the only criticism she got from the judges was that they would have liked to have seen more of the lining and…when you’re pining for lining you know a dress isn’t terribly exciting. I like Joyce, but stronger cases have been made for Garment Of The Week. (I also feel a little bit like the message here was that Joyce saved herself by selling out and putting out a nice and slightly bland dress and behaving at that is NOT THE JOYCE I FELL IN LOVE WITH)

9. This week’s departure was particularly tragic, as after Josh had a great first task, and a…not the worst second task, Esme took took one look at his African Inspired dress and went “no, it’s shit bye”, and he was summarily dismissed in his 4th week of amiable bumbling along the bottom rungs of the show’s ladder. In fairness, his dress was a bit of a mess, with the pattern not really matching at any point where one panel joined another, and random lumps appearing halfway down peoples thighs but…it’s JOSH man. Rarely has a token out of their depth straight white male on one of these BBC Craft Reality shows been so charming (I found it very sweet when Josh was so proud at the start of the episode to be the last man standing. Out of a cast of three men. One of whom was Duncan). In the perennial words of Claudia Winkleman

look at his ickle face. Not that I don’t love a good reality tv show Vagina Party, but I’ll miss him.

10. So here we are at the halfway point of the series, with 6 sewers remaining and a guarantee already of an all female final. On record, Tracey, Charlotte, Angeline, and Joyce, as the only contestants to have won challenges would appear to have the upper hand over Rumana and Jade, who haven’t, but this is the Sewing Bee where anything can happen and by anything I mean “Beta Matt”s, and both of our underdogs have shown some talent to get this far. Personally at this point I’m guessing an Angeline-Joyce-Charlotte finale and pulling for Angeline-Joyce-Tracey (although if Rumana does another Cape Of Power I might be swayed), but feel free to hammr out your opinion below :


15 thoughts on “The Great British Sewing Bee 4 – Episode 4

    1. Huriye

      Have you noticed Bake Off Winner Nadiya is now wearing a sleek 1940s Hollywood stylee Norma Desmond cap? Makes her look very different! ❤

      1. monkseal Post author

        I saw her on The One Show with it on. It was erm…well it’s her choice.

  1. Sue Howarth

    The problem was the history bit. We saw glorious Ongina headpieces and origami pleats tumbling from bum’s, then got occasional peplums, it was all a bit of a let down. Apart from the cape.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I think it’s probably not for the best to expect these people to operate at the level of actual fashion designers.

  2. Huriye

    I’ve only ever seen one full edition of this show, but your blog recaps are so much more entertaining, I don’t feel I’m missing out. 😀

    Going by your pics, yes definitely Rumana for Garment of the week. #Rumanawuzrobbed I sincerely hope trended on Twitter.

    1. monkseal Post author

      Expecting a show on BBC2 about sewiing to trend on twitter is probably a fool’s errand…

  3. Lin

    Point 1: I can’t believe Tracey’s wearing the same thing week in, week out. It’s the same pattern, but with different fabrics. When she said she’d practiced the batique at home, I thought to myself, “Yeah, she’d practiced seventeen times before getting round to using the actual batique.” She must have only had a bit of it and didn’t want to waste it, or something.

    Next week she’ll wear something that’s not a smocked-top with-panel-insert-and-contrasting-main and I won’t recognise her.

    Point 2: Charlotte seriously can’t take the heat. She’s got the smuggest expression I’ve ever seen – even her “resting face” is smug. I didn’t expect that other extreme of expression when she said she’d stretched the front of the Chinese top. I thought she was going to scream, cry and throw the iron at Patrick.

    So, she can sit there all smug when things go well, but can’t hack it when things don’t. Other contestants over the years have had melt downs, but they’ve usually been on a pretty even keel smugness-wise at better moments (ie they don’t rub it in when they’re speeding through a challenge). Oh well, I suppose the bigger you think you are, the harder it is to accept reality.

  4. Linda

    Fu Manchu’s Lesbian Auntie! I am never going to get that out of my head!! Thank you SO much for all the laughs – on the basis that a good sleep and a good laugh are the two best cures for anything, the NHS should make Mighty Monkseal available on prescription and pay you zillions. The nation would never be the same again…


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