Well it’s finals week this week & we were down to the last 3 contestants to crown this seasons winner. I think that Matt, Clare & Nicole all did exceptionally well to get so far & it was an even playing field going in. We saw Patrick & Esme dancing the Gay Gordon & Esme revealed that she had sat on a windowsill watching the Notting Hill carnival with David Bowie.
Below is my YouTube video looking at the patterns & fabrics that the contestants used on the show aired on the 24th of June 2020.
**Spoiler Alert – I reveal who won **
Round 1 – Boy’s Kilt
The contestants had 3.75 hours to make a kilt for a child with a frayed edge, 2 kilt straps & a snap fastening. There was no pattern provided this week just a long list of instructions, that involved a lot of Maths which centred on the size of tartan repeat. Starting with 1.5 metres of fabric they were expected to calculate how to evenly pleat the kilt, the judges were looking for precision & regular squares. More maths was then required to calculate how much to reduce each pleat to form a waist. The waistband was also expected to pattern match.
The theme this week was ‘Celebration’ & while the kilt is a traditional Scottish garment with a long rich history dating back to around 1550 it is also now a favourite for weddings etc. One of the older GBSB books, Fashion with Fabric, has directions for making a mans kilt, as it was a challenge in series 3. Alternatively, here is a link to how to make one for yourself, using calculations, from Wikihow, covering everything including how to select the correct tartan.
If you don’t fancy drafting your own, below are a couple of patterns, another from Folkwear, which has male, female & a child’s kilt & McCalls 7736 – both include patterns for a jacket & vest.
Below is a brief overview of the fabrics they used & how they were ranked.
Matt chose a larger scale red tartan, similar to the one below from Minerva & seemed to be out of his depth almost immediately as he really struggled with his calculations & even had Nicole helping him out. His finished kilt was too big at the waist, as he hadn’t taken it in & he hadn’t got the pleating quite right. He also inserted 2 male press studs, much to Patrick’s amusement, so the kilt wouldn’t fasten! 3rd
Nicole chose a black & white tartan, she had more success reducing the top of the kilt into the waistband but her waistband didn’t match & her pleats were slightly off kilter. 2nd
Clare chose a yellow tartan. She quickly realised that the smaller the repeat in the tartan the easier it would be to achieve an even pleat. I was surprised that there were only 27 pleats, I thought that there’d have been be a lot more. Because she had opted for the smaller squares, it meant that she was reducing each pleat by 2mm into the waistband! The judges liked the pleating & felt that she had evenly reduced the waist line adding that it had all the movement & drama that a kilt should have. 1st
Round 2 – Transformation Challenge
The contestants had 90 minutes to transform a piece of swimwear & a prom dress into a carnival outfit. A challenge that encouraged them to be as exuberant as they wanted to be. Below is a brief description of what they made, along with the position.
Clare used the fabric of the dress & yardsticks to create wings which were anchored down with strings, with added feathers at the hip & some fringing at the bottom of the bikini. She realised too late that she should perhaps have added more embellishment to the bikini to satisfy Esme. Despite it being an amazing feat of engineering she came 2nd
Matt used an upside down bodice from the prom dress to form part of the skirt, added a few embellishments over the bust & some feathers to the back of the outfit. Patrick didn’t feel that the colours of the feathers tied in with rest of the outfit & that it was under embellished. 3rd
Nicole was in her element & embellished a bikini top with as much bling as she could get her hands on & cut out the top of the bikini,. She had an embellished choker & used some of the dress to the sides of the bottoms. The judges loved it describing it as part belly dancer part Wonder Woman & 100% carnival – as expected she came 1st
Round 3 – Made to Measure
The contestants had 6 hours to produce a stunning red carpet evening gown which incorporated a cut out element for drama & glamour. They had chance to practice their final dress & cut out the pieces before the show & they were able to choose their own models.The judges were not only looking for great sewing & fit but good placement of the cut out section which added drama & had impact on the model.
Matt had a lot of work to do going into the final round as he had been placed 3rd in both of the previous rounds. He finally got to make a dress for his partner Greg aka Miss Martini, using Faux leather he self drafted a dress, (so no pattern here). It had a nod to bondage with a harness type bodice which had a cut out from the front winding around to the back, incorporating grommets & lacing at the front & a ring at the back. He bound the edges with 2 metres of leatherette which he got to look perfect despite struggling getting it through the machine. He used 7 metres of brocade for the skirt part, which was essentially giant rectangles gathered into the waist & added a lining & what looked like horsehair braid or crinoline into the hem of the skirt to give it structure.
Patrick declared it to be fabulous, glamorous & powerful, saying that he had never seen anything like it before, loving the juxtaposition of the edginess of the bodice with the femininity of the skirt. Esme liked how well thought through & dramatic it was.
Nicole used the Simplicity 8330 pattern, which is described as a mermaid style dress with an open back in an orange satin, similar to the one below from Minerva. The skirt part was made from a sequinned feather fabric, which I haven’t been able to find, it could potentially have come from a shop that doesn’t have an online presence, such as Barnett Lawson in London. I have been able to find some rather beautiful, non orange (& not cheap) feathered fabric from top fabrics, below.
She stitched the lining on to the wrong side of the dress & had to unpick & resew with only an hour left & attach her skirt. She then broke a needle attempting to sew through the feathers & again attaching the embellishment to the choker. I’m not sure why she decided to use the machine for this, as hand sewing would have been a lot easier. In the end she decided to only attach the skirt at certain points, which Esme spotted. With 5 minutes to go she was seen chopping off the bottom of the dress! The judges loved how joyous it was & how it reflected her personality.
Clare used the 1930’s Evening Gown pattern from Decades of Style to create a very elegant understated but stunning dress in red silk backed crepe. The bodice is constructed of 16 panels & front neckline is V-neck with a triangular cut out with a dramatic low cut back.The pattern description says that the side skirt piece is cut to take advantage of bias drape, which may explain why the hem looked slightly uneven, as ideally the dress should be hung to allow the bias to drop. She took a huge risk as she was unable to fit the dress until almost all of the sewing had been done as the dress doesn’t have a waistline.
As Esme said, the simpler the garment is, the more the mistakes show up. Patrick said it was chic & refined, the epitome of elegance & she managed to get the fit right at last! Despite a small pucker to the front the judges loved it & felt that she had done a good job of a tricky to sew pattern.
Going in to the final Clare had the least Garments of the week under her belt, only having one for her Sci Fi creation the week before, (Matt had 2 & Nicole had 3), but she had a really strong start with her kilt & was 2nd with her transformation, Matt was 3rd for both rounds. I think that all 3 final dresses were amazing in their own way but feel that Clare was a well deserved winner. Her sewing had been great throughout & she was able to keep her nerve under the pressure. I think that the look on her face said it all, that she was truly surprised & her mum was fabulous.
It’s important to remember that the judges were taking into account everything that was produced throughout the whole episode not just the final dress. I feel that each contestant had a round the appealed to their strengths, the systematic & tidy pleating of the kilt for Clare, the flamboyance of the carnival in the transformation round for Nicole & the chance to show off Matt’s creative & technical skills in the made to measure. While Matt’s final dress looked stunning, the skirt part was perhaps too simple for the judges & maybe Nicole had just bitten off more than she could chew with attaching the feathers to the bottom of the dress correctly.
While I was researching this I found a Wikipedia page which listed all the details of previous episodes, including a chart that details who won Garment of the week & who was eliminated each week, which pleased me no end, being a bit of a geek, so I’ve produced one of my own, which I’m ridiculously chuffed with, as I’ve never used this function on my lap top before – Ee, it’s the little things 😉
Each week I’ve been challenging myself to sew something inspired by the episode using fabrics & patterns that I own. While I have the instructions to make a kilt I don’t really need one, although it does appeal to me as I love trying to fathom out things like that. I definitely don’t need a carnival outfit either & as far as I know I don’t have any red carpet events in my diary any time soon!
I had a look through the patterns that I own & was surprised by how many patterns I have with cut out details or red carpet potential.The Butterick B5136 is beautiful but not my size unfortunately & I like the idea of the Butterick B6413 but not so sure I’d feel comfortable with that keyhole under my bust, I can see me constantly fiddling with it. I keep pulling out New Look 6429, I really like the main picture, so I might have a bash at that one, it’s been lurking in my stash for far too long!
I’d pulled out the Cotton & Chalk pattern to make as part of my summer sewing plans, you can’t tell from the cover picture but there is a racerback option & maxi length, a very tenuous link to the brief I know but I’m desperate! I got the Simplicity K8051 free in a magazine a couple of years ago which has a cut out detail to the back & would make a nice sun dress for a garden party perhaps. I’ve also been meaning to make the named Saraste shirt from the Breaking the pattern book, again definitely not red carpet but my brief is ‘inspired by’ – I don’t see the point of sewing up a fabulous dress & using up metres of fabric for it to sit in my wardrobe!
I’ve not had much luck finding any free dress patterns with a cut out detail either, it looks as though Burda may had one but I think they’ve changed their website, I can’t find anything free at all on there now. Once again Mood have some patterns that may be red carpet worthy such as the Todea below the back is kind of cut out & in the right fabric would be stunning. Or you could add the Iris skirt below to a bodice & again, the right fabric would definitely add impact & drama- that seemed to be the order of the day! – I should have done a count up of how many times those 2 words came up this series – Mm another table perhaps 🤔
So I will decide during the week which of these I will sew & come back with what I’ve come up with – Oh & I haven’t forgotten that I promised to do reviews of some of the patterns from the GBSB Sustainable Style Book, I will post those too, I’ll have a bit more time on my hands with no Sewing Bee to watch each week 😢
Let me know below if you’ve had any of these patterns lurking in your stash waiting for their moment of glory, or if you’ve sewn any of them up, any hints & tips would be gratefully received.