Consider this episode a tie-in with Euro ’16, except with more Claudia Winkleman running around offering everyone crack.
1. The theme this week? Activewear. Meaning anything you might wear whilst active, from cycling shorts to yoga tops to that special harness you wear madam, yes you, we all know, shut your curtain a bit tighter next time. Personally I favour passivewear myself, but you can’t really make much of a three-challenge edition of a semi-beloved reality franchise out of cream/beige chinos, wooly scarves and a check shirt from the Gap. I don’t think I’ve worn anything designed specifically to be exercised in since I left school, except maybe at some point for fancy dress, so much like Joyce, I find myself a little all at sea this week, and apparently without even, say, a task to recreate a look from the video for Physical by Olivia Newton John, or the sight of Patrick in a pair of Speedos to make up for it. In practice, really the theme just turned out to be “things that are stretchy” which…I’m a little more comfortable with.
Boy that recently announced reboot of Reservoir Dogs is really going to piss Internet nerdboys off isn’t it? (Steve and I debated whether this was different enough from his Pussycat Dolls joke from last week to merit inclusion and we have decided that it is)
3. Rumana came into this week knowing that, whilst puttering along in the middle does you fine for the first half of a competition, once you reach the quarter finals it’s time to start pulling in those wins and those “perfect sews”. Unfortunately, Rumana then heard the word (/”word”) “activewear” come out of Claudia’s mouth and
all bets were off. You have to guess these ladies at this point were thinking “hang on, why does it have to be bras and mens jodhpurs from the 1950s and lycra wingwangs? Can’t I just make a nice dress?”. The first challenge in the ACTIVEWEAR ZONE was to create a men’s cycling top in just under 3 hrs, designed for maximum aerodynamics, and thus free of ridges, puckers, or (sadly) great big feck-off African superhero capes. Varying levels of experience with lycra abound – Charlotte seemed to have worked with lycra a few times before, but in a “we don’t like to talk about it” sort of way, Tracey admitted to making a few things for kids out of it, and Joyce admitted that whilst she’d never sewed with lycra before, she had “touched it before”. Said in a tone of voice that suggested this had happened when she’d stuck her hand in a hole in a cliff-face in Corfu. Rumana meanwhile was struggling with using an overlocker, never mind lycra, and as we’ve already established, Jade is 4 years old and has done none of this before ever, except for how she came out the womb trying to knit with her own umblical cord. Fortunately, Claudia was on hand to bring some levity to proceedings by sidling up to Joyce as she talked about the Tour De France serving as inspiration for her yellow lycra “jersey” and offering her some performance enhancing drugs to go with it.
As the Undisputed Champion of 60s Week, Joyce approved. If you remember the Sewing Bee, you weren’t there man.
Despite the contestants’ inexperience with stretch, and a round moan of “no!” towards the end of the challenge when Rumana asked if anyone was happy with their efforts, both Tracey and Joyce won almost universal plaudits for their jerseys, with Rumana and Jade both having to eat crow, mostly because of their inability to attach their collars properly, and in Jade’s case adding additional unnecessary lines of stitching to her cuffs. Charlotte meanwhile sat in the middle, as a “chewed neckline” marred what was otherwise a success. I presume this is because for Activewar Week they replaced the usual cake and coffee offerings from the catering trolley for healthy celery and green tea and Charlotte GOTTA EAT. You could tell though, that despite triumphing in the challenge, Joyce wasn’t totally happy with her performance as she eschewed her normal post-challenge pledge that she was off to get rat-arsed on chardonnay and instead threatened to hurl her sewing machine out the window. What HAS Claudia been cutting her supply with, I’m worried.
4. Bonus points this week go to Tracey, for undermining the whole ethos of activewear week by turning up in a top
covered in booze and ice-cream sundaes.
5. I know I joke a lot about how they should force Patrick to wear these clothes but
it’s the Alteration Challenges where they have to zoosh up particularly hideous clothes where I really feel it the most. Thankfully Claudia was
much more obliging. Sewtestants were required to make a piece of outerwear for children based on one of Anneka Rice’s cast-offs here. I love the specification that it had to be OUTERWEAR, like anybody was going to design a training bra out of bits of minging skisuit. The jumpsuits gave the sewers a lot to play with, with three separate layers of hideous fabric to work with, but in the end the five remaining women are only human and as such, despite their best efforts the fnal designs still all ended up looking
like outfits rejected at the design stage for the Crystal Maze. I mean, Jade’s (the one in the middle) WON, and it was for the quality of its craftsmanship rather than being fashion forward let’s put it like that. You can also tell which one is Rumana’s at first glance, because Rumana’s most salient characteristic so far has been to immediately go costumey as soon as she feels like she’s backed into a corner, and this is quite possibly a flamingo too far. Still the judges liked it, as they more or less liked every design offered to them in this round, presumably grading on a curve based on what the participants had been given to work with. The only person to really get dinged was Tracey, for producing a jacket that was too tight, although I was more concerned by Esme’s describing it as “the green one”. Ain’t no green jacket there Esme, look again. Or make a viral Internet sensation out of it, either way. When Charlotte was losing points for the tackiness of including fake leopardprint fur in a design (admittedly it was a LITTLE “hooker from a 1978 episode of Coronation Street” but LOOK AT JADE’S THAT WON) you knew the pernickity police were out in force to try to make the ranking make sense. All this meant that all 5 sewers were more or less level pegging going into the final round with Joyce and Jade a little bit out ahead on points if you wanted to get mathematical about it.
6. The History Bit this week also focused on skiing, with Claudia telling us that it was only with the invention of the ski-lift in the 1920s that skiing really became a popular recreational activity. This to be honest…sounded a bit made up (I refuse to believe Scandinavians would be put off skiing just by a bit of a walk uphill, they are hardy Viking folk!) but I guess I’m no ski historian so what do I know? Do you know who IS a ski historian?
This lady. Apparently the sudden invention of the ski-lift caught the public unawares, fashion wise, as emboldened to ski by getting to combine it with a bit of a sit down, they found themselves without any appropriate specially designed clothing for skiing in! So they all did it in the nud, and continue to do so to this day, the end.
Oh ok, not really, in 1947, ski instructor and all round sex-explosion Klaus Obermeyer
(is that a wave of snow he’s riding or something else I couldn’t possibly comment) made a jacket out of a duvet, and the rest was history. Really I’ve no idea why the duvet-jacket isn’t more popular outside of the ski community, surely it’s the next logical step after the onesie? A bit more tailored for all your hipster langeur needs? Oh and apparently Klaus also invented suntan lotion, the turtleneck, ski boots and mirrored sunglasses. Truly the Thomas Edison of the leisure classes.
7. I’m not saying that the lack of male contestants on this show is starting to send me a bit funny but if
someone could get me this guy in the background’s number I’d be much obliged. I just want to talk to him about my love of Tracey you understand. Find out what she’s really like behind the pastel tabards. Generally I do love that Tracey’s area resembles the office partition of a woman whose colleagues found out it was her birthday at 10:37am on the day and quickly sprinted out to the Sue Ryder shop round the corner.
8. Our final challenge of the week was to make Made To Measure yogawear. Can I just recap that the three forms of physical exertion covered in the show this week were cycling, skiing, and yoga. Even the flipping Bake Off would look at that line-up and go “jeez, be a bit MORE middle-class why don’t you?”. Still it gave us all the possibility of reading the words
“power mesh bra” at 9:40pm on BBC 2, so more power to the challenge designers. (I choose to believe the challenger designers are Claudia idly flicking through an edition of Danish Vogue from 1995 and going “WANT THAT ONE!” and pointing). The key question with the yoga gear was finding just the right degree of stretch. Tight enough to show off your sexy dharmic curves, but not so tight that you accidentally show the world more of your Downward Facing Dog than you ever intended to be seen. Charlotte however rebelled against this tyranny from the start, and decided to drape everything and then stick an air-tight locked down sports bra underneath, which went down well with both Esme and Patrick, although Esme thought it could have stood to be draped a little better. Joyce meanwhile, unfortunately screwed up by wandering off on her own tangent again, adding additional sleeves and wraps and cardigans and all sorts of additional bits and bobs without really bothering to make sure the basic fit of the garment was right. I’m not going to show a picture of the ensuing mess because
Charlotte’s model’s face says more than the outfit itself ever could. I will however show a picture of Tracey’s mess because
well see for yourself.
9. It was left to Jade, in the face of little real strong opposition to take home Garment Of The Week for the second week in a row, and to give her full credit
this looks like an actual yoga outfit, at least as far as I’m aware from the last time I experienced yoga, which is probably when my dad ran us in the car to pick my mum up from it in about 1993. Going into this episode it was obvious that this would be the one that decided whether it was Jade or Rumana who was going to be our designated Journey contestant, as both have been steadily improving over the course of the competition from indifferent starts, and both stand out as being different from the profile of previous winners of the programme. Congratulation to Jade for seizing the day, and quite possibly having *the* momentum at this point going into the semis, as Tracey’s taste levels continue to fluctuate wildly, Joyce continues to rage against the rules and good sense, and Charlotte continues to putter along doing quite well most weeks but without really making much of an impact and without a Garment Of The Week to her name so far. Can Jade carry this momentum forward and become the youngest winner in the HISTORY OF BBC CRAFT REALITY? We shall see.
10. Despite plaudits from both Patrick and Esme for her own personal sense of style, Rumana’s week finished, well, pretty much as she herself clearly expected it to based on her own face when the words “activewear” were uttered. Her final outfit was fine, if a little anonymous, but the judges made it clear that having totted up the scores backstage it was between her and Joyce for the chop, and when it comes down to the wire…you’re just not going to pick Joyce for the axe are you? The deciding moment probably came when Esme sidled up to Rumana and ever so politely, in not so many words, asked Rumana to please use the overlocker (which Rumana had already made abundantly clear that she loathed) and Rumana told her, ever so politely, in not so many words, to fuck off. On her way out Rumana gave a very nice little teary speech about how learning how to sew had made her feel beautiful and encouraged everyone else to give it a go, leaving the rest of us to ponder just what would have happened if a SMILING MUSLIM had managed to win both Bake Off and Sewing Bee in the same cycle. Not even Brexit itself would have been enough to satisfy the Daily Mail.
Next Week : Not much idea for a theme for the semis, other than SHIZZ IS GETTING REAL, but Steve will be here to guide you regardless.