Great British Sewing Bee Series 6 Episode 7 – 80s Week

Home » Great British Sewing Bee Series 6 Episode 7 – 80s Week

So we are down to 6 contestants for the time that fashion forgot – think excess everything – big hair, big shoulders, teeny tiny waists, lots of neon & some questionable music!

See my latest video below

**Spoiler Alert, I mention who won garment of the week & who was eliminated**

Round 1 – Power Jacket

The contestants had 4 hours to make a Power Jacket, which had big lapels formed from the facings & dramatic shoulders, featuring double shoulder pads! This is the 1st tailoring challenge that they’ve had & was made from 14 pattern pieces with darts in the front & side panels rather than princess seams. They were advised to choose a suitable tailoring fabric with good structure, something that would hold a press, such as wool. The judges warned that the lapel & sleeves needed careful handling as they would show any imperfections & pressing is key to give the jacket it’s sharp shape.

The book that accompanies the series doesn’t have this pattern & once again I think that it has been drafted for the show. I’ve found another free pattern from the Mood website, the Ercilla. It isn’t an exact replica but could be used as a starting point. This one is fully lined, reversible & includes the trousers! I’ve never used any of the Mood free patterns, so can’t comment on either the quality of the drafting or instructions but would be interested to hear if anyone else has.

The Butterick 6738 is a very similar shape, except that the bottom is squared off & not curved. Also, the jacket is fringed, so may not have any facings, so they would need to be drafted & if you really wanted to achieve the 80’s shape with the shoulder pads then the shoulder may need to be re-drafted. I do own a couple of 80’s patterns but not any jackets but after having a good look at my contemporary patterns I found the New Look F6013 which isn’t an exact match but is a nod to the pattern used & an old Prima pattern which is collarless with a similar lapel but a bit on the boxy side, maybe if I blended the 2 together I could achieve the Power jacket look if I really wanted to. I also own New Look 6351 which may be a little boxy in comparison

You could clearly see on this challenge that all of their seams had been overlocked but didn’t see anyone complete this step, which is key for an unlined jacket. You didn’t see anyone using the gathering technique for easing in sleeves either, just matching notches, (I wonder why as the sleeve head would have been really big). The ease in the sleeve had to be in exactly the right place to accommodate those massive shoulder pads. Schiaperelli was responsible for these exaggerated shoulders in the 1930s calling it hard chic. Armani did an 80s interpretation – think Joan Collins & Grace Jones.

Therese Chose a Satinised cotton in Emerald green, which looked blue on the screen. The one below has a bit of elastane in it from Minerva crafts, I wonder if hers did & that was why it was resistant to pressing. She was a long way off finishing with only 30 minutes left she had her facings to finish & only 1 sleeve in. At the end she still had a button & buttonhole to do & attach the shoulder pads & give it a final press.I really think most of her problem was bad fabric choice as opposed to lack of sewing skills or time management. 6th

Matt chose a bright orange brocade, very similar to the one below from Minerva crafts, which is a poly/viscose/lurex mix. The judges loved his fabric choice & couldn’t find anything wrong with his jacket at all, his darts were beautifully pressed & the pitch of his sleeves & positioning of the shoulder pads were perfect. Patrick claimed it to be the epitome of the 80s power jacke which earned him a well deserved 1st

Nicole took leave of her senses & chose to colour block her jacket with black & red PVC/pleather, similar to these from Minerva Crafts, the colour combo was pure 80s. PVC is possibly not the best choice when pressing is so key, maybe if she had more time she would have had chance to make a better job. The judges pointed out how much her seams were springing out & that her sleeve had stretched out. She did use a walking foot to evenly feed her fabric but perhaps a teflon foot would be better? 5th

Clare chose a fucsia pink or red synthetic wool, similar to this from Minerva. The judges said that she had done a good job, it just lacked a final press. 2nd

Liz chose a beige/gold wool & synthetic mix. It may be this boucle from Minerva crafts, which is a poly/viscose mix. I also found the beautiful fabric below which is 100% wool from the Heart of Huddersfield range at Fabworks, while it isn’t an exact match it would be a lovely alternative & is spun, woven & finished locally to me in Huddersfield, just up the road. The judges thought that she did a good job over all but she had just got the shoulder pads in slightly the wrong place. 3rd

Mark’s fabric looked like a pink Chanel type of boucle with sparkle & a large OTT button, very similar to this jacquard from Minerva crafts. The judges loved his choice of fabric but spotted that he had one shoulder pad higher than the other & that his sleeve hadn’t been inserted correctly. 4th

Round 2 Transformation

The contestants were given HiVis outfits, consisting of vests, trousers & polo shirts to transform into an 80’s party outfit in 90 minutes. It’s always interesting to hear what is said off camera about what the judges are looking for such as the coherent use of colour, boxy on the top, RaRa skirts & boob tubes, graphic & geometric no embellishments or sparkle.

Clare made a ruffled RaRa skirt & a top with a nod to the conical bra that Madonna wore. (A few people have pointed out that this was actually 1990!) The judges loved it – simple & striking & it was definitely the neatest. 1st

Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier corset 1st worn on her Blond ambition tour 1990

Mark went with a roller disco theme & made shorts, with a netting panel & top combo. 2nd

Nicole made a bubble skirt with an off the shoulder top with ruching & some edging, which the judges didn’t like. 3rd

Matt made a boob tube with an appliquéd smiley face over one boob, he didn’t seem to have plan beyond that but came up with a multi-coloured pencil skirt, which the judges deemed too long for the 80s. 4th

Liz Made a top with a sweetheart neckline & a skirt made largely from netting, she left the hem raw & jagged, I think she was attempting to make a bubble skirt. Patrick commented that it was neither chic not completely mad. Mood have a free bubble skirt pattern below, should you wish to make one! 5th

Therese made a rip off skirt a la Bucks Fizz, which had a secondary skirt underneath & cropped top. I think her incorporation of sequins & tassels got her downgraded as she came 6th

Completed garments from the Transformation round – courtesy of the BBC

Round 3 Made to Measure Cocktail Dress

The contestants were given 5 1/2 hours to make an 80’s inspired cocktail dress. They’re able to practice their garments at home but need to perfect the fit. Think Lacroix sweetie darling, exaggerated shapes & excess, lurex, satins & bows.Tight at the waist with big shoulders & peplums. The judges were looking for drama & boy did we get it!

Matt took inspiration from an Alexis Carrington doll & self drafted a pattern based on the picture below making it shorter & added a peplum. He kept the humongous sleeves square neckline in his design. He made it from 2 different gold lames, one was crinkled, very similar to the one below from Minerva crafts for the sleeves & peplum. He had a nightmare with the fitting & had to recut the back, adding an extra 3″ (that is a lot to get wrong!) The bust darts were also way above the models apex & he remarked himself how weird the shape was.The skirt had the same issue & he didn’t have enough fabric left to recut it, so had to insert a triangle of the crinkled lame to get it to fit.

He ended up having to leave the room as it looked as though he wasn’t going to be able to finish. Patrick went out & had words, advising him to omit the sleeves & he seemed to calm down. I think the judges were very kind & took into consideration that he had thought on his feet to remedy his errors but without the sleeves it was an unfinished garment that essentially didn’t fit. Patrick said that the overall impression was powerful but some of the sewing wasn’t terrific.

Nicole went for PVC again with her split & shimmer dress in a striking electric blue & white combination, which had a deep v crossover front & princess seams & was half blue half white. She took no chances on the shoulders, using bra cups & shoulder pads to give her shoulders extra oomph! These 2 glossy PVCs are from Minerva (again!), i think that hers has some sort of glitter in them though & her neckline & cuffs were sparkly, so she must have inserted some trim that we didn’t get to see. The pattern that was shown on the show was a vintage New Look N6636, view 1 – just look at those shoulders.

We had more high drama from Nicole this time when she realised that she had cut out her sleeves incorrectly. I’m not sure exactly what she did, whether they ended up inserted incorrectly, she said that she was putting them in the wrong armholes but the judges didn’t seem to notice, which is surprising, they also ignored that the fit wasn’t great at the back. Patrick said it was visually stunning, powerful, sexy & dramatic. Pure 1980s power dressing with masterful shoulders!

Mark bought his pattern from his local charity shop, it was the Simplicity 9910 which was shown on the show, he made view 3 the pink one on the left with the asymmetric drape across the skirt in a purple taffeta which he described as a quality street! I haven’t found his fabric, shown below on the show. Esme insisted that he should use double shoulder pads. You could use any long sleeved shift dress to replicate this & add the wrap over skirt.

Liz made a dress inspired by her cartoon hero from Jem & the Holograms, I’d never heard of this cartoon but below is an inspiration picture that I think she used & she got it pretty spot on. The dress was a purple satin off the shoulder asymmetric number with a ruffled asymmetrical frill in a pewter satin & a large organza bow on one shoulder & another at the hem. She used the Butterick B4343 pattern, probably view A but was taking a lot out of the side & would have had to cut the hem asymmetric from the lower hip down. She spent a lot of time making adjustments to the pattern to ensure that the princess seams fell where they should & fully lined it, using the lining to check the fit, which is a top tip! She also sewed a rolled hem but only managed to attach one of her bows, as I think that she ran out of time. She did say herself ‘If in doubt bang a bow on it’!

Clare went for the more is more look with a velvet bodice & silver lame asymmetric puffball skirt & puffed sleeves. Her pattern was very similar to the McCalls 4264 view A but she made bottom ruffle into a puffball. Mood have a free puffball skirt pattern below. I think that her lining was little bit too short & was pulling the hem up & the sleeves weren’t puffy enough for Patrick!

Therese made a black & gold dress with a fully lined detachable peplum & giant bows on the shoulders using McCalls 6838, which again, was shown clearly on the show. It looks as though she has shortened hers to cocktail length & altered the bodice to have a v neck & shoulder straps. She used a black satin & more gold lame. She made the peplum detachable so that it can be a little black dress. The judges said it was bold, dramatic & elegant with a lot of good sewing. I found both of these satins at Minerva.

The Results

The judges did say that both Therese & Nicole’s dresses would have to be exceptional & that someone would need to have a bad day, suggesting that they were both in contention for elimination. Despite Matt having a complete nightmare round, we had to say goodbye to Therese this week, despite having a well sewn, impactful well fitting cocktail dress. While they loved Liz’s dress & it seemed to fit the model well it was Nicole who won garment of the week, perhaps because she fought & won the battle with a tricky fabric this time, despite having her sleeves in backwards. I was a bit surprised that Matt didn’t go to be honest as without the sleeves his dress lacked drama & wasn’t well sewn but since he won the 1st round I guess that ensured his safety.

My Challenge

Each week I have been sewing something inspired by the episode, using fabrics & patterns from my stash. Needless to say I don’t have much use for a jacket with mahoosive shoulder pads in, I don’t think my husband will appreciate me cutting up his high vis jacket & I only wear cocktail dresses when I’m on a cruise & I can’t see that happening anytime soon! The dress that I’m wearing in the video is from an original 1983 pattern, Very Easy Vogue 8322. I could make another like it but to be honest I rarely wear that one as it requires a strapless bra, which are ok for a couple of hours but not all day!

I’ve decided that I will make the New Look Pattern 6351 as I need a jacket for work. It is similar enough to the pattern used in the show, in that it is collarless & uses the facing to form the lapel, so it will be a similar experience sewing it except that it won’t have the shoulder pads. I’ve already made a toile for fit & found that I need to go up a size but it came together really quickly, so hopefully I will be able to complete it in the 4 hour time frame, however, I won’t compromise the finish of it just to fit to the time constraint, as I’d rather have something that I will wear.

Toile of New Look 6351, it fits Mandy ok but a bit snug on me!


Next week is international week, which I’m looking forward to. I have lots of African waxprints, Thai batiks & 2nd hand saris that I want ideas for & while I can’t see any suitable patterns in the new GBSB book, there are plenty in the old ones. Although, it looks as though I they are sewing a Filipino pattern, upcycling tablecloths & sewing a Spanish influenced made to measure, so maybe not!

Let me know below if you have any fabric & patterns that will fit the bill & have you made any 80s inspired clothes?

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