Cotton Lawn Croft Mill Sewing Fabrics

The Great British Sewing Bee: Episode 3

The third episode of The Great British Sewing Bee was all about how the sewers managed with delicate fabrics. As such, what better way to test them than to have lingerie as the theme?

As the programme began, we saw the contestants nervously discussing what they may expect in the coming week, almost all of them were hoping that a bra was not involved in any of the challenges. Although Charlotte did say she often made her own underwear, as the fit was better than shop bought bras and there was no need for undressing in public (always a benefit!) Therefore, it came as little surprise to us viewers, when the judges announced making a bra would be the first challenge.

The pattern was of a soft cup bra, with no underwire (the pattern can be found in the new Sewing Bee book – on page 174) made of lace and elastic. In an effort to get the best possible shape Jade attempted to press her lace, but in doing so stretched it slightly, bringing down the overall finish of the garment. As Esme later mentioned, when pressing stretch fabrics (such as stretch lace) one must be exceedingly careful not to pull the fabric, or it may not recover.  One aspect that the stitches seem to struggle with was fit, with one of them unable to fasten the bra around the mannequin. Others however, seemed to struggle with the ‘peekaboo’ elastic and trying to ensure it ran smoothly and evenly. Rumana’s creation looked good, until Patrick touched it and caused a strap to snap loose. The overall winner of the round was Joyce, though it was a hard call between her and Charlotte. If you want to make your own bra, you can find our lace herethis one especially, looks very similar to one featured in the show.

During the ‘history’ section of the programme, we learned about Lady Duff Gordon (the British designer behind Lucile & Co) As the tea dress came into fashion, the Edwardian designer decided that women should begin dressing from  “the inside out” and rebelled against the often restrictive boned corsets and wired underskirts. Her designs were made out of sensual silks and chiffons and included slit skirts and low necklines. Although many found her designs shocking at first (the ladies would often wrap their purchases in brown paper to disguise them, with the company eventually opening a ‘private’ room for ladies to shop in) they soon became popular. With stores in Paris, Chicago, New York and London, it was soon claimed even the Queen of Spain wore her creations.

For the alterations challenge, the judges tried something new – rather than a top or a dress, the contestants had three silk scarves to alter. The only rules to this challenge was that it must be lingerie and the main fabric of the creation must be the scarves (although they were allowed other bits of haberdashery.)

In this challenge, many of the contestants opted for a similar style with both Rumana and Angeline going for a ruffle down the back of the garment. Jamie hoped to gain points by doing something a little bit different, creating a pair of women’s boxers – though the poor standard of finishing let him down. Similarly Josh hoped his unique creation would stand out among the others, and it did – though not for the right reasons. The judges were unsure if it even qualified as lingerie, with the silk scarves made into a rather bland shift style top.

Sewing bee ep 3 josh top

As the third and final challenge of the Great British Sewing Bee began, we were slightly confused by the models. What item could possibly be worn by both men and women? A robe, of course! The contestants had to create a luxury robe, with a pattern of their choice. Naturally they went all out to impress the judges; when it was noted that both Jamie and Josh had chosen the same pattern, we were worried. Surely if there were to identical patterns the judges would have to be more exacting in order to rank them.

Rumana created an “ethnic inspired” piece, which easily impressed Esme. At first glance, Patrick presumed an error had been made as the robe hung so low on the shoulders, however Esme soon corrected him – pointing out that it was designed that way as the area was an erogenous zone in Japan, judging by her reaction, we are guessing this was news to Rumana as well! If you liked Rumana’s robe you can find a pattern like it here on the Burday Style site.

Rumana Kimono Sewing Bee ep 3

Joyce faired well with her creation also, with the only fault Patrick could find being that it was “a bit mumsy” Angeline also did brilliantly with her red floor length robe being reminiscent of Hollywood’s Golden Era.

The fabrics in this challenge ranged from Cotton Lawns, silks and Satin Backed Crepe (all three of which you can buy by clicking on the links.) Jamie had high hopes, he had chosen to create a silk robe in the style of an old-fashioned smoking jacket… complete with padded and quilted shawl collar. Unfortunately he just seemed to be running out of time and rushing the garment, his collar became merely padded, and was poorly joined to the robe, whilst the pockets weren’t attempted.

Using the same pattern but going for a simpler style (think a simple shawl collar rather than a quilted one) Josh managed to finish the garment; the only main sticking points being that the pocket was on the opposite side to where a man’s pocket would traditionally sit. You can find a similar pattern to both of theirs here.

As the show came to an end, Charlotte won garment of the week (and was utterly delighted) whereas Jamie was the one to leave. Every week we live tweet through the episode and it was clear to see from other tweeters he will be dearly missed. We feel that if he had not tried to over complicate his items, and therefore allowed himself more time, he could have gone far.

What were your thoughts?


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