This is a momentous occasion, everyone. Not only is this the final of the Great British Sewing Bee, it's also my 100th post on this blog. Hooray for me! As a special treat for us all, here is a particularly enjoyable gif of Dwayne The Rock Johnson, the man who just keeps on giving:
(That smile at the end just KILLS me. We don't need a recap now, right? We can just keep watching this instead? Oh, fine. Spoilsports.)
For the final, the theme is eveningwear, starting off with a men's pintucked dress shirt. Yeesh, shirtmaking. It feels like one of those things I'll never be able to master. Or attempt. The judges (which this week include EsMay in the most insane sparkly jacket which is monochrome on one side and multicoloured on the other) will only be looking at the precision of the finalists' sewing, so it's all been pre-cut for them.
Charlotte explains the function of the pintuck foot. Charlotte is actually really good at explaining things, and I will be buying her inevitable book or online classes or what have you. Patrick and EsMay stand around and quietly bitch about how long everyone is taking on their pintucks, despite the bit where they DEMANDED PRECISION.
Since it's the final we have to check in with the contestants' families. Joyce and her family are drinking wine, because of course they are. Yay Joyce! She says she made one shirt for her husband, and he only wore it once so he didn't get any more shirts. Damn right. Charlotte eats biscuits with her children while her extremely American husband tells us that Charlotte would be more proud of winning Sewing Bee than she was of her PhD. Alright, so you're that good at sewing AND you have a doctorate. Hmph. And then we go to Jade, who was apparently going to be an Olympic swimmer before she injured her knee. Why is everyone so good at everything?
Precise topstitching, complicated plackets and confusing collar stands galore. Everyone is rushing and stressing out, while Patrick and EsMay stand up on their weird balcony observing them. I'm definitely not on board with this new balcony-lurking thing. After a last-minute rush to get all the buttons sewn on, everyone manages to get a finished shirt onto their mannequin.
The judges break out a tape measure to check the width of the pintucks. Joyce's are slightly smaller on one side, and she's sewn her top button in the wrong place, but other than that there are no flaws to be seen. Sharp collar, neat topstitching. Jade's pintucks are also narrower on one side, and her button spacing is off, but she too has done everything else very well. Charlotte's collar is too short because she used a slightly larger seam allowance on it than she should have, and her buttonholes are off-centre. She comes last, Jade is second, and Joyce wins. She thinks this is a pretty okay start to the final.
For the alterations challenge, everyone is given a dinner suit and instructed to turn it into a little black dress. Interesting. EsMay informs us that one of her little black dresses is part of the V&A's permanent collection. They show a picture, which I assume is Young EsMay next to the dress, but I would never have guessed it was her. There is a lot of mannequin flesh on show in that dress, so I think "little" really is going to be the operative word here.
Joyce makes a strapless dress, which EsMay thinks would fall down around the wearer's waist as soon as they tried to dance in it. For this reason she comes last, Jade is second again with a heart-shaped neckline and button-through skirt, and Charlotte wins with a halterneck fashioned out of a bow tie. They start referring to Charlotte's attempt at the previous round as "Shirtgate" which, no, Sewing Bee. Going into the last round, nobody has outdone or fallen behind anyone else, so the judges have nothing useful to go on.
For the final challenge, floor-length evening gowns in luxury fabrics are the order of the day. I am excited. Claudia doesn't see how anyone is going to outshine EsMay's crazy-ass jacket. The finalists have each picked a model from their family for the final challenge (Charlotte's model is her children's stepmother, which seems like a disgustingly healthy family setup), and there is hugging galore.
Joyce is making a corseted bustle dress in black and silver. Claudia suggests it be accessorised with a live horse. I wish Claudia got to art direct the catwalk bit of this show. The bustle is made up of loads of complicated folds, and Joyce is having trouble putting all the pleats together so that it falls properly. She has to redo it several times and it puts her behind on time. She is also putting a large white lace trim on the hem of her black corset, which seems... unwise.
Jade is making a low cut dress with beaded straps and train. Her beaded fabric is odd - it looks like those pictures you make when you're five by spreading glue onto a piece of paper and tipping sand over it. Jade says her model would look good in a bin bag, and I suddenly want coral and beaded bin bags. The judges stand on their Bitch Balcony and whisper about how the fit on the bust isn't great.
Charlotte is making a purple satin dress with a diamante waistband, which will be hand-finished as far as possible. She gets all emotional about it and hugs her model. DISGUSTINGLY healthy. Charlotte is my new life role model. I want her to write a book telling me how to lead my best life and I will follow it to the letter. Charlotte puts her zip in by hand, and it's not quite right. She decides to forgo a hand-finished hem in order to redo the zip. "Just get her to hold it," Claudia advises. "She's your ex-husband's new wife, it's the least she can do."
Judgement time! Charlotte's fabric moves beautifully, the proportion is right and the fit is good. However, even after being redone the zip still isn't right. She looks very sad about this, as is Charlotte's way.
EsMay thinks Joyce's dress is costumey and says "it looks like it could be in a film" disapprovingly. How is that an insult, EsMay? It's a good fit on the corset but the skirt is way too big. Patrick manages to pinch out about eight inches from the back. Eesh.
The judges think Jade's dress is eye-catching (though her model clearly can't walk in it) and they love the beading. However, the train hem isn't finished, and they point out that train hems should ideally be weighted to keep them behind the wearer. Good to know. EsMay also has a problem with the fit.
All the previous contestants return to the sewing room to poke around all the garments everyone made. Josh claims that he would have made exactly what Jade made during activewear week, which a) no you wouldn't, you would have tried to make some kind of denim nightgown instead and done it very wrong, and b) what the shit is up with that hat? Apparently he heard me complaining about his backwards baseball hat and has turned up in some enormous pith helmet thing. NO, Josh! That's a bad Josh! Everyone has views on who's going to win, except Tracey, who wouldn't touch that decision with a ten-foot pole.
After the least helpful final judges' summary ever and all the hugs with the past contestants and the finalists' families, it's the moment of truth. And the winner is... Charlotte! Yay! She was the right winner, and not just because I suddenly decided she was my life role model this episode. Though her winning makes it more likely that I'll be able to get my hands on her secrets, and this pleases me. She clearly knew exactly what she was doing, she never screwed up memorably despite Claudia trying to make "Shirtgate" happen (was she ever in consideration for elimination? I don't think she was), and for bonus Sewing Bee points, was often the person everyone else asked for help and was always willing to give it. Hooray for Charlotte! Everyone is happy and hugging and crying, because that's the Sewing Bee way. Charlotte gets a trophy - a mini dressmaker's dummy wearing a sash. I love the way British reality shows just don't bother with prizes at all.
What happened next? Everyone made more things! Ghislaine made a functional babygro, Josh made an incredibly ugly jumpsuit for his girlfriend, Rumana continued not to bother with her husband's coat, Jade made mini versions of all her challenge garments for her sister, and Charlotte got a tattoo of a bee. Awww.
So, this was fun, right? I really enjoyed it. I'm actually tempted to buy series 3 from the BBC store and retrospectively recap that, too. If I did that, would anyone be interested in reading it?
In conclusion: yay Sewing Bee! The most good natured reality TV show of all time! May it make better people of all of us.