Great British Sewing Bee 2021 – Second Episode

This week the theme was “Summer” and, not surprisingly, the contestants were required to make items of summer clothing. However, Joe did point out that given the reputation of the British weather, anoraks might be more appropriate!

First up was the Pattern Challenge. The contestants were given a pattern for paper-bag shorts with an elasticated waist, bagged-out belt, side pockets and turn ups. Patrick warned that contestants should think carefully about the choice of fabric to get the required finish. With the pockets being sewn into the side seams they needed to be positioned precisely with all the notches correctly matched up.

Several contestants didn’t follow the instructions for the turn-ups correctly and ended up with the hem stitching showing. Sewing the elasticated waist also proved tricky as they had to catch in the belt loops and the pockets but not the elastic.

There is a tutorial on sewing an elasticated paper-bag waistband HERE.

Raph's winning shorts

Raph’s winning shorts

Textile artist Raph was the winner of this challenge.  Esme loved the bold fabric he had used, as well as the crisp, sharp finish and his correctly executed turn-ups. Jean came last with several mistakes in her garment – including the fact that you couldn’t even fit a hand in her pocket as she hadn’t lined up the notches properly.

If you would like to sew a similar pair of shorts then we can suggest the following pattern:

On similar lines is the following pants and skirt pattern:

For fabrics we would suggest looking at our ranges of Cotton Poplin, Bio Linen and Linen/Cotton.

The summery theme was continued in the Transformation Challenge where the contestants were confronted with an array of board shorts and other items of men’s swimwear. They were asked to make a woman’s summer evening garment using up to four items of swimwear. The judges explained that they wanted to see items that reflected the bold character of the shorts and incorporated some of the existing details in innovative ways.

Adam (a cruise ship entertainment director) won this phase. Patrick loved the way he had combined the different fabrics and played with the stripes in them. Esme was very taken with the way he had used the pocket on the bodice. Lawratu came last – she had made a striking sunset-coloured dress but the judges didn’t like the draping she had done on the skirt, feeling that it looked too untidy.

Great British Sewing Bee 2021 - Second Episode - The contestants' board short transformations

The contestants’ board short transformations

Finally for the Made to Measure Challenge, the contestants were asked to make a button-down sundress. Patrick and Esme felt that this would be a deceptively difficult challenge, particularly as each dress would incorporate a sizeable number of buttons which would need to be perfectly lined up. In addition, the darts, seams and waist need to be done with care to ensure a good fit on the model.

Some of the contestants went for bold printed fabrics – such as Damien with a palm-leaf print, Jean with a bold, colourful floral and Farie with an African wax print. Others went for more traditional summer printed cottons. Some contestants were inspired by 20th century fashions, such as Adam’s 1950s style navy and red polka dot dress and Andrew’s elegant 1940s style fitted dress. The buttons used in the dresses also gave scope for the contestants to personalise their work. Damien fashioned his own buttons out of coconut shells whilst Raph matched his nautical fabric with anchor buttons.

Buttons and buttonholes were a key part of all the dresses and there are some great tips and tricks on getting perfect buttonholes in THIS ARTICLE.

Adeena, a student engagement office, had opted to draft her own pattern for this challenge and included a two way neckline, pin tucks and an off-centre button fastening. The judges felt her dress was the epitome of grace and had been executed beautifully and fitted the model well. They also appreciated the fact that she had designed something different from everyone else. Adeena was quite overcome with the praise and tissues had to be proffered for her to wipe her eyes! It was no surprise then when the judges chose this as their “Garment of the Week”.

Great British Sewing Bee - Second Episode - Adeena's Sun Dress

Adeena’s Sun Dress

If you are looking to sew your own button-down sundress then the following patterns would be suitable:

For fabrics we would suggest looking at our range of Linen/Viscose, Cotton Poplins and Chambrays:

Unfortunately each week someone is chosen to go home and this time it was Jean, an art psychotherapist from County Down. She had come last in the pattern challenge and her made-to-measure dress had a mismatched waist seam and an unlevel hem with a raw edge. However, whilst sad to leave she said she had enjoyed her sewing and the whole adventure of being on the Sewing Bee!

We are looking forward to the next episode when we are told the theme will be “Gents Classics”.

If you are wondering how they were able to film the series in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – there is an interesting article on THIS LINK.