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The Great British Sewing Bee: The Quarter Finals

The quarter finals of The Sewing Bee was all about getting physical last night, with the remaining contestants dealing with some of the hardest challenges yet. All three rounds focused on Active Wear – which was a twofold challenge in many respects. The garment had to be fit to purpose, e.g. snug fitting, but not too tight and was made from stretch fabrics.

The first round so the sewers attempting to make a men’s lycra cycling top. The pattern called for multiple pattern pieces – three at the front, consisting of two chest plates joining on a slight curve to the third lower section. All of this would then be joined to the back via the shoulders and side seams.

In this round, it seemed that the pressure was getting too many of them as they did not seem over confident with the garments they were creating. When it came to the judging it seemed that they had all made the same mistake… they had all stretched the collar whilst sewing it. This can be easily done while sewing stretch, if the fabric is pulled through the machine rather than fed through.

For the alterations challenge the contestants went back in time again and were presented with an 80’s ski suit and asked to make a children’s jacket. Esme warned them that they were not allowed to use any other fabrics, they could use trims and haberdashery but should try to use the various zips, buttons and poppers on the suits. Whilst the sewers rushed to select their suit from the rail, we the viewer were treated to a history lesson.

We learnt how sewing first became popular as a recreational sport in the 1930’s – 40’s, however there was no such thing as dedicated ski-wear. As such, people had to use the winter wear they already owned – often tweeds and wools. While this would keep them warm, one tumble in the snow would mean they stayed wet for hours. It wasn’t until a few years after Skiing’s rise to popularity that a German ski instructor based in Colorado had the idea to fashion a jacket out of a duvet. He hoped the down in the duvet would provide warmth, and after his students showed an interest in the design, the ski suit as we know it was born.

Joyce impressed the judges by creating a small jacket with embroidery on the back and on two patches on the front. Rumana’s creation stood out from the rest as she created a flamingo-inspired jacket. Using buttons for eyes, a felt beak and excess fabric from the ski suit to creating ‘wing/feather shapes’  – the judges were so impressed with her originality they awarded her second place.

First place however went to jade, who created an 80’s style bomber jacket. In order to create the new shape, from the ski suit she had had too totally re-fashion the sleeves, keeping in mind the print of the fabric.

The third and final challenge was to create a complete yoga outfit. As usual the contestants were allowed to choose their own patterns, but this would be the first time they had to fit them to the model. Charlotte seemed like a girl after our own hearts, creating looser fitting leggings and a sports top with bra; noting that when you are bending over in all sorts of poses you may not necessarily want clingy pants showing off your bum.

Joyce seemed to fall down with this challenge as Patrick called her leggings “more like trousers” due to the fact they were baggy around the ankles and seemed a tiny bit longer than conventional leggings for yoga. We had high hopes for Joyce, she finished sewing well before everyone else and so decided to create a waterfall style cardigan out of the same fabric. Whilst the judges were not over-awed with the leggings and top, they did note the cardigan had shown a good handling of a difficult fabric.

Jade opted for a monochrome affair with hot pink accents. The judges called out her binding for being slightly too long, and therefore not pulling the fabric in enough around the arms. Esme told her that the fact the binding was in such a contrasting colour, only made it more noticeable. The pink and black straps that formed the back of the top were also criticized for not being equally spaced. This must have been the only sticking point for the judges though as she went on win garment of the week with this outfit.

Sadly, we saw Rumana leave the competition this week. She left us with a wonderful little quote shown below:

Rumana Quote Quarter Finals


If you want to sew your own active wear our ‘Vegas fabric’ would be perfect for leggings, whilst our Ponte Roma fabrics are great for casual day wear garments inspired by active wear.

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