This week is all about activewear, which reminds me of exercise, so I'm not starting this in a great mood. For the pattern challenge, everyone is asked to make a men's cycling top. Patrick and EsMay point out all the potential difficult bits on a green sample version which looks like it would be precisely nobody's colour (though it looks even worse in the book, it has to be said).
Rumana reminds us that she hasn't won anything yet, which always means "I'm about to win" or "I'm about to stuff up royally". She is SUPER stressed and down on herself throughout the whole challenge, which doesn't suggest that the former is too likely. In amongst the cuts of Sad Rumana, we have Claudia being completely amazing:
Charlotte: This fabric wants to go out of shape and wibbly. That's what it wants
to do. It's like it's designed to upset you.
Claudia: Yes. Like weird boyfriends.
Rumana: My husband has been asking me to fix a button on his coat for three years and I still haven't done it.
Claudia: What?! ...Mind you, I've never knowingly done anything for my husband.
Claudia: You know what you need? DRUGS.
I want Claudia to narrate my life. How do I go about getting that?
EsMay and Patrick have taken to standing on a balcony looking down on everyone in a slightly sinister way. I assume this is an attempt to make them seem scarier and more intimidating, but I'm not sure this is an improvement on having them slink up to the contestants and undermine their confidence. This is one of the things the Sewing Bee is really good at; being able to point out or direct people away from an unfortunate choice without doing that stupid Paul Hollywood thing of staring at them for eight years in a way that he clearly thinks is both scary and oddly sexual and it just makes me want to hurl lemons at him. Sorry. Sewing show. We are talking about a sewing show.
Everyone is given a coverstitch machine, which none of them have used before, to finish their cycling tops. There is a lot of frustration directed at these machines, especially from poor Rumana. Predictably she comes last with a stretched out collar and understitching on the wrong side. She is followed by Jade's similarly stretched out collar and messed up coverstitching, Charlotte's not-quite-right collar and Joyce's not-quite-right zip. Tracey, who has done basically nothing wrong, is once again the winner of the pattern challenge, which she must be getting pretty used to by now.
For the alterations challenge, it's 1980s ski suits. Jesus. They want everyone to produce a piece of outerwear for a child. ALL of the ski suits on offer are horrible, horrible colours. "WHY would I find it fun?" Joyce demands as she cuts into a jacket the colour of sadness and disease.
Our concession to history and education this time is a short lecture on the history of ski jackets, which I just do not care about in the slightest I'm sorry. Let us return to Claudia, who is on exceptional form this episode. She has changed into the one remaining ski suit and... yikes. It is pale banana yellow with busy pink print, and it is astonishing to me that people with eyes put that thing together. While using a ruler as a ski, she assures us she is taking this seriously. "You'll all be glad to know," she calls, "that my legs are sweating". I love her so much.
As everyone brings their mannequins up for judging, let us take a break here to sing Cold As Ice as loudly as we can and do some air drumming, as our viewing party did.
Tracey drops to the bottom for this challenge as her coat was too tight on the mannequin, followed by Charlotte's fur-trimmed jacket (Patrick has basically docked her points because he's "not a huge fur fan". Get over it, Patrick, fur is natural and wonderful), Joyce's embroidered disease-orange bomber, Rumana's FLAMINGO jacket which should have won and the judges are nuts, and Jade wins with an exceptionally puffy jacket that I think Patrick is going to try and steal despite it being made for a six-year-old. He seems dangerously close to squeeing when he talks about it, while EsMay just says "very 80s" over and over again in the tone of a woman who thinks her grandson is a tiresome waste of space but still really wants him to be happy. Imagine having EsMay as a grandmother. She would have the best
For the final challenge, everyone has to make a yoga outfit, which I also just don't care about. I've tried to do yoga and it bores the stretchy two-piece activewear off me. In many ways this is not my episode. Joyce says that her favourite yoga position is where you lie down at the end, because Slapdash Favourite. Though saying that, Joyce may well be having the same problem with the week's theme as I am, because she is in a really strange mood this episode. I think she's starting to get sick of it, which is sad. I enjoy laissez-faire Joyce, but irritated and slightly bitter Joyce is not so much fun. Maybe she hasn't had enough wine. Let's all send wine to Joyce.
Rumana is in similarly unenthusiastic form and seems committed to having a super stressed week. She talks herself down a lot during this challenge, saying that she picked a simple pattern because she'd mess up a more complicated one, refuses to sew her elastic with the overlocker because she's tired of trying to do things she's no good at, and generally walks round looking like she'd rather be anywhere else at all. I want to give her a hug.
To lighten proceedings, EsMay slinks up to Charlotte and talks to her about her use of the coverstitch machine. "The other option was to turn it over and zig zag it, which would have looked a bit amateur hour" says Charlotte, to which EsMay pauses, deepens her voice and intones, "I agree." This is not the same kind of terrifying she was in the first episode, but terrifying it is nonetheless. I approve.
Joyce randomly decides to make a matching cardigan to go with her already quite overpowering matching T-shirt and leggings. I'm not sure that's a good idea. Apart from anything else, there's only so much of that colour blue one body can take before it drowns. "It's not very good, but who cares at this stage" she says. I care, Joyce! Be ON the show, dammit! Your defiance was fun when it was gleeful, not defeated! Why is everyone so down this week? Maybe that's why Claudia is working overtime with the delightful battiness. Joyce takes an angry swig of coffee as judgement time approaches.
Patrick and EsMay think Charlotte's looser leggings and drapey top work well, and she's proved she can get the fit right by making a built-in bra that they can't criticise at all.
Joyce's outfit...doesn't really work. She's sewn it well, but the judges don't like the fit or proportions. I hate the colours and the fit of the raglan sleeves is distractingly bad. Dammit, Joyce!
Jade has done really well, apart from the unevenly-spaced straps. Her fabric is awesome and I kind of want it, except that would mean wearing activewear and no thank you.
Tracey has a bit of weirdness at the crotch and her top doesn't quite fit. The judges seem to throw a lot of criticism at her here but then don't mention her as a contender for elimination, so I'm not really sure what they think of it. What I am sure of is that Tracey and I have basically opposite taste in fabrics. Yeesh.
Rumana has chosen good fabrics and her leggings fit well. Patrick accidentally tickles the model when he pulls at the waistband and she leaps away from him, which is precisely what you should do if a strange man starts pawing at your midriff. Rumana's bias binding isn't very well done, though, and because she's chosen to do it in bright red on a black top, it's very obvious.
Jade wins Garment of the Week again, which is the right call given everything else. Jade is turning out to be something of a dark horse. The judges suggest that Joyce could be up for the chop, but the clear eliminee was Rumana, who's been in a defeated funk all episode. She gets emotional and says that sewing let her have her own style and taught her that she could like herself, which strikes a chord with me and I find myself almost tearing up at the goddamn Sewing Bee. I am such a dork.
Next week: the semi-final and "technically challenging" garments that aren't specified. I am excited nevertheless. Let us hope for some really weird garments and a happier Joyce.