The “tricky” Great British Sewing Bee semi final
It’s the Semi Final….hang on a second SEMI FINAL!!! How the heck did that creep up on us?!
In order to celebrate this momentous occasion (I mean punish us), it seemed like a great idea to give us a lace, satin, neoprene and leather all in one week. I mean seriously people, why would you do that? Added to this was the early announcement from Claudia that a further two people were leaving the sewing room at the end of this weeks challenges. So soon after saying goodbye to Ryan and Amanda too. Sewing really was about to get brutal.
First up this week then. A racey lacey little number, consisting of a pencil skirt with a lace outer and a satin inner, complete with darts and an invisible zip (because we all love an invisible zip right…Right?). Even though we’ve had waistcoats and corsets in the previous weeks, this design felt as if they’d really upped the bar on the pattern challenge.
The feeling and intensity in the room really changed this week, Maybe it was because our 10 was now 5, but the room certainly appeared emptier. I think we’d all realised what it meant to be here, and the immensely talented people we’d seen leave our group over the weeks, we had to do them proud. The pressure was on to deliver the high standard of stitching that May & Patrick where looking for to reach the final.
It was pretty tricky stuff putting invisible zips into lace and satin, this was going to be all about precision and accuracy. Which would be great….if we didn’t have a blimmin’ hard time constraint rushing up on us! During the challenge we had some little chats between us and tried to help each other where we could, but it was also time to put your head down and concentrate.
Somehow the hours just whizzed by, they really did. But with the lace skirt made, satin lining done, zip in, facing on, it was now for the moment of truth, lets go get them judged.
Now I’m well aware of the stiff competition I was up against, but I really am not a competitive person, which my brother finds quite frustrating when it comes to playing stuff like monopoly.
So when the judges were inspecting, critiquing and ranking our makes, imagine my amazement when my name claimed the No1 spot. I mean, me, number one, not Neil, but me!
I think my face may give away how stunned and proud I was.
There was only one word that would do it….BOOM!
Next up was the alteration challenge. It’s one that can alway stump one or two of us, and this one was a particular brute, just imagine, if you will, being given a wetsuit and told to change it into a ladies dress, Seriously?
So back I go into the mind fog of what the heck to do with this rubber number. I was thinking halter neck and some layered skirt element, and in my mind it was quite good, however on the mannequin it wasn’t quite working. So I opted to chop off the straps, a bold strategy and one that I don’t really think altered my fourth place ranking too much. Unfortunately in doing this I accidentally took the zipper clean off the top of the zip. So had to quickly do some extra securing in order to ensure it still fitted the mannequin.
We all had a good dose of laughter therapy when Lorna chopped the bust out of her wetsuit. She was really going for the bold design statement this time. Madonna eat your heart out. At least there was no cape for the model to be pulled off the stage with
I thought rather than throwing the offcuts to the floor, why not slip them on to remain warm. Again I’m truly glad that Lorna didn’t do this.
I have to say I really felt for Paul during this challenge, he had a tough time with the sleeves and the clock was rapidly ticking down. I think we both struggled a little to be honest.
But what a transformation Debs made. It was pretty awesome and showed some great vision plus some gorgeous fabric. It just worked perfectly. Well done Deborahhhhh.
With that out of the way, off we went for a nights rest. Well actually it was off for a night spent cutting out pieces of leather ready for tomorrows challenge.
After what felt like 5 minutes after closing my eyes, it was time to get up for the big day, here we are ready to make a ladies leather jacket in just 6.5 hours.
I’d selected to make a smoke grey jacket from pig skin. This was a bit nerve wracking to begin with, having never stitched leather before, but it’s actually not as tricky as you first think. In fact the hardest part is that you can only stitch it once, as the needle you use slices rather than punctures the leather, so if you make a mistake, it’s likely to show up forever more.
I chose a collared biker jacket with a diagonal zip and popper fasteners. The collar was by far and away the toughest part of the jacket, and it took an age to get the stitch just right and the corners turned out. So my time spent on this meant that I didn’t quite have time to put in the lining, which was actually made up, but I figured I’d just do what I could as well as I could in the time remaining.
To get plaudits from Patrick, and I’d just like to quote “The precision with which you’ve sewn this is unquestionably incredibly high” gave me a great sense of achievement, even if the final fit was a little snug on the shoulders.
Paul’s leather was pretty darn tough, so much so that he broke at least 4 needles stitching it, but it was such an awesome shape and colour, I just loved it. Remember people, this man brought Pink Snakeskin Leather and Glitter denim to GBSB!!!
Poor Debs though, when that zipper came off the top, just like it did on my wetsuit, there was very little any of us could do. It was one of those moments when I could see the despair in her eyes, but we were all helpless. It truly was a very hard time for us all, but especially for Debs.
But again a huge congrats to Neil on winning garment of the week, with his fantastic “lined” jacket. Whats that now…7 challenges he’s won?!
So after a very very long pause, Paul and Deborah’s names were read aloud, and to be honest, part of me sank, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, that room most definitely will never be the same!!
….but believe me, we went out and partied hard that night ;o)
If you are feeling inspired to give leather a try, then checkout my beginners guide to leather.