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The Great British Sewing Bee: Episode 4

Maybe it is just a coincidence that the Euros are starting this week, where all the national football teams get together for a kick about. Maybe the brains behind The Great British Sewing Bee had just planned this week’s episode long in advance. If you’re not sure what I am talking about, I am of course talking about the fact it was International Week last night.

For the first challenge the contestants were given the pattern for a traditional style Chinese top, otherwise known as a qipao top. The pattern called for either satin fabrics (learn more here) or silks (view here) which presented the first challenge for the sewers. As the fabric was slippery the sewers had to decide on new ways to mark it, when marking their darts. Patrick warned us viewers at home that one of the unique challenges presented by these fabrics are the fact that the chalk normally used to mark the cloth would rub straight off.

Many of the sewers decided to go for tailor tacks, which involves sewing what is in essence a small loop of thread to mark the place. The Craftsy website, has a wonderful little guide here, on how to use them; should you fancy trying them yourself. Josh seemed to be falling behind, using chalk rather than tacks he appeared to still be cutting out the pattern whilst the rest of the gang were well into sewing.

The pattern also had other hurdles, with many of the contestants failing to place and match up their notches accurately meaning that the zips were often slightly out of place. The biggest problem seemed to be thoroughly reading the pattern. The pattern called for the bias binding around the neckline to be inserted on the wrong side of the fabric – so that it would not be seen when worn. It was only when Jade proudly showed Patrick her work in progress that he pointed out the error as to where she had placed the binding. Slowly around the room, the contestants realised they had all made the same mistake, which was an especial shame for Joyce who had hand-stitched hers.

Not to let her handwork go to waste, Joyce decided the binding, and other alterations she had made to the pattern would not be re-done, she told us she “may be marked down for it, but I like it.” She was indeed marked down for straying away from the pattern. Patrick called her infuriating as both judges praised the level of sewing but noted it was not what they had asked for. Joyce landed in last place, whilst Tracy went on to win the round.

In the alterations challenge, the contestants were given Sari’s to transform. This fabric too had its own challenges; not only was the fabric fine it was also embellished in many places. With diamantes and sequins to navigate, the sewers had to be careful when using the sewing machines. If you are a fan of embellished fabrics, you can view our range here.  Jade seemed to struggle with this challenge; the harem pants she created did not fit the mannequin. As such, she inserted a panel, but only on one side – Esme joked that if she had done a panel at each side they may have presumed she had created jodhpurs. Sheer jodhpurs, admittedly.

Josh bucked the trend of only creating one piece, and seemed to redeem himself from his poor performance last week. We were convinced that he would win this round, however he was just pipped to the post by Tracy who won her second round of the week. For the final round, all eyes were on her – could she make it a hat trick.

The final round, where contestants can choose their own pattern and practise it before hand was all about African dresses made from Batik fabric. Batik fabrics, are made by using wax during the dying process to get bold statement patterns, you can view our last remaining batik fabrics here to see an example. Traditional African dresses were all about showing off the female figure and dramatic peplums and ruffles. The judges stated from the start that they would be looking at mainly the fit of the garment, rather than the design.

Rumana’s creation seemed to surprise Patrick, who sounded shocked as he stated “I actually like it.” Though devoid of statement peplums, her dress was figure hugging and teamed with a cape, allowed a hint of cleavage to peek through. Charlotte fell down with the fit, with Esme pointing out that her dress seemed rather loose around the top to the model’s chest.

Josh also seemed to struggle with the fit, and with creating the necessary hour glass shape. His dress seemed to have a slight curve from the hip, bagging out unevenly. Whilst sewing he told us he hoped that Patrick Grant and Esme Young would appreciate his pattern matching, yet was told that the pattern repetition he had created was “jarring.”

Unfortunately his matching and poor fit cost Josh dearly as he was the one to leave The Great British Sewing Bee this week. The winner of the third and final round was “the infuriating Joyce” – Patrick’s words not ours, for both fit and overall appearance.

If you have ever created an ‘international garment’ we would love to see it! Share it on our Facebook page or email




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