The Great British Sewing Bee: Semi Final
June 10, 2021 9:24 AM - Season 7, Episode 9 - Subscribe

It's the semi-final, and the sewers go back to the 1940s. They create a pair of Oxford bags [trousers], dresses from parachutes and a Dior New Look outfit.
posted by ellieBOA (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As in tennis, Serena and Raph! I knew Farie would go but I love her so much!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:31 AM on June 10, 2021

I go back and forth in my head between Serena and Raph for “Oh yeah, X has this whole thing in the bag.” (Or I guess “all sewn up”.) Serena’s lack of garments of the week before this one is interesting; she’s super technically skilled but…? Less creative? Less adventurous? Not sure.

Kind of glad Farie didn’t edge Rebecca; Farie’s inability to finish things was definitely starting to outweigh her ability to frequently pull out something really creative in the M2M.
posted by supercres at 6:48 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

At one point someone (Patrick?) called the sewers "stitchers", and that's actually a great word and I wouldn't mind it taking over.

I do wish Farie had finished everything this week, but I'm glad it was such a good experience for her. I think I would have liked to see what she'd do for a made to measure in the final, and I really liked how she played along so well every time when Joe interrupted her. She's a mom, she probably gets interrupted by her kids all the time, and it just felt like she was playing with Joe the way she would with a kid.

I kind of wish they wouldn't do the scenes of the two judges whispering together about people's work from above. They mostly say negative things and I'm not sure what it adds. Then you get a vibe of people talking behind your back but saying other things to your face, like when they criticized Rebecca's floral fabric privately but to her (at least in the edit) just said things like "that fabric is certainly you".
posted by trig at 11:33 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Serena's made to measure was really spectacular. I loved the shape of that jacket and the sleeves were amazing. Her transformation garment was also terrific--I thought it was very creative, the most creative of the bunch. She's a great seamstress--I think technically, she might be the best they've had ever--but she's not as creative, usually, as Raph, who tends to push things like this week's use of modern technical fabrics. But I thought her creativity really shined this week.

Poor Farie. I think she's so good, she's just not great with the time pressure, and really, she doesn't need to be to make beautiful clothes for her family at home. I'm going to miss her.
posted by ceejaytee at 9:55 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

My mother's 1946 wedding dress was made from parachute silk, so I loved the parachute challenge this week. I thought Serena's ruffled dress was beautiful and such a lovely simple idea.

Her made-to-measure was exquisite. I want that jacket! Raph's was also gorgeous but the finishing on Serena's jacket, with those sleeves the exact same length as the jacket hem, was perfection.

I didn't get 'Dior New Look' at all from Farie's dress and as soon as I saw that fabric I knew she was in trouble.

I'm very happy about the three finalists. It really is anyone's game. Rebecca is the underdog, but it's so close between the three of them that any of them could win. I'm so looking forward to the finale.
posted by essexjan at 3:24 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think at least early in the war parachutes were made from actual silk - modern onesw like they use here are ripstop nylon, which is much easier to work with. Real silk would have been ideal for wedding dresses and underwear, heavy nylon not so much. Nylon may have come in later in the war, though, as I clearly remember having a weird sort of white playsuit with black trim (?) made of some sort of nylon that I was told was parachute silk some time in the early 50s.

Incidentally, if you can get BBC iPlayer, all six seasons of Sewing Bee are now available. I#ve just finished the first, and it is very interesting to see how the series has evolved; Patrick is there, but no Esme or Joe (replaced respectively by a terrifying sewing teacherand Carol Vorderman with her weird hair). The challenges seem to be a lot simpler too.
posted by Fuchsoid at 7:55 PM on June 11, 2021

a terrifying sewing teacher


The host was Claudia Winkleman, though :-)

The first season was a bit of a weird animal (only 4 episodes!) Enjoy the second season if you haven't seen it yet - it has some of my favorite contestants of all time. Just in case anyone comes here who hasn't seen the previous episode's post, here's a link to an archive of all the seasons so far.
posted by trig at 9:03 PM on June 11, 2021

Yes of course, Claudia Winkelman! I always muddle them up, because of the very slightly similar names, but Carol Vordreman has regular hair. I'm two episodes in to the second season now, and greatly impressed by the lady who cuts everything freehand

The first season was a bit odd, and had rather too high a range of skill levels, I thought. Of course (spoiler) the lady who had been sewing continuously for 75 years was going to win!
posted by Fuchsoid at 2:27 AM on June 12, 2021

I don't know, Serena might have given her a good run for her money!
Ann was frustrating (to me) because while her skills were great, I... really disliked the things she actually made. But that's just personal taste.

Chinelo is probably my favorite contestant ever -- Esme would have loved her style -- and I loved how her approach to sewing was completely different from everyone else's.
posted by trig at 3:35 AM on June 12, 2021

One other thing that struck me, on re-watching the last bit of this episode is that because of Covid, people have been ordering fabrics for their made-to-measure online, and when it isn't quite what they want when it arrives they are just stuck with it. Farie mentioned that her fabric was much floppier than she had wanted, and I think others have said something similar in previous episodes, which is just not a problem that would arise if you could actually see the stuff in a shop and pick the right texture. Faries pattern here still would not have been quite right for the brief, but it would have looked much better with a more solid fabric.
posted by Fuchsoid at 6:13 PM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Serena and Damien both had their bubble disasters because of that. (Lesson: avoid satin!) I kind of wonder if the producers just never considered that possibility when planning the season. I'm also wondering about logistics now: do people order fabrics the minute they know they've made it to the next round and just trust that delivery will happen within the week? If not, then when?
posted by trig at 9:38 PM on June 12, 2021

The Sewing Bee is made by the same people as the Bake-Off, and in a Q&A in People magazine, this question was asked:

"How far in advance do the bakers know the challenges?

Very far. The bakers are told every single challenge — save for the technicals — right when they’re cast on the show, The Guardian reported. They have to supply the show’s food producer with every signature and showstopper bake recipes, even if they don’t make it to the end.

“We get four weeks to come up with the recipes for the challenges, which didn’t seem like a lot of time at all,” 2014 finalist Chetna Makan told Digital Spy. “Four weeks to come up with nine weeks’ recipes, so 18 recipes."

So I'm guessing it's the same for the Sewing Bee in relation to the Made-to-Measure, but that the other two challenges are a surprise to the contestants. For one thing, the illustrator/animator has to prepare all the drawings, which would be a stretch if they only had a week to do it.
posted by essexjan at 2:13 AM on June 13, 2021

Right, but fabrics can be really expensive, so I wonder whether the show just pays for everyone's fabrics right at the start, knowing that the majority won't be used, or if they do the actual ordering closer to the event but don't let contestants check that they got what they expected.

Interestingly, during the challenge where they made things out of old jeans there was a flash of a nicely bound document with a picture of Rebecca's dress and a written explanation of how her grandmother used to do piecing, which makes it seem like the contestants have to provide quite a lot of detail on the projects they have planned, probably so the judges and production team know what to focus on.
posted by trig at 3:19 AM on June 13, 2021

Ann was frustrating (to me) because while her skills were great, I... really disliked the things she actually made. But that's just personal taste.

Just caught up on season 1 (thanks for the link trig-- somehow I was never able to find most of S3) and this is dead-on. That last evening dress was a total snooze. I'm extremely glad fashion and personal style has become a bigger factor over technical minutiae.
posted by supercres at 11:17 AM on June 15, 2021

Same. I think Esme probably paid a part in that - I remember in the transformation challenge in her first episode on the show, when the judges came into the room and saw everyone's work lined up, her reaction wasn't the usual "how wonderful" but something along the lines of "I'm so disappointed, you all made skirts and they're all so boring." Which was kind of great.
posted by trig at 11:56 AM on June 16, 2021

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