March 31, 2014

Tuesday’s episode saw us all getting to grips with vintage sewing machines. For me, it was a touch of déjà vu as I was instantly whisked back in time to my old school sewing room, sitting in front of the very same model of sewing machine (colour and all!) and feeling very excited as I had earned the dubious accolade of being seen fit to operate the only electric machine in the classroom. Oh, heady stuff!

Very fortunately, I wasn’t the one to break it – I can only imagine Miss Gibbons may have sewn the cuffs of my blazer together behind my back if I had!

So the first challenge, as you all saw, was an old pattern with holes punched into it! Slightly daunting, but as the pattern pieces were laid out, all became obvious. The front and back pieces looked like any other blouse pattern, and so it was easy to work out what the rest were.

The fabric choice demanded something with a nice drape to it, and being so over train spotter grey, I chose a pretty turquoise with little flowers. Just gorgeous.

The make up was fairly straightforward but the shirring a little tricky. Time was a big factor for all of us as there was a lot of detail and careful sewing required; quite hard when you’re under pressure!

The outcome was that there were varying degrees of finish because of the time, with Lynda not up to her usual amazing standards, and David also struggling to get the shirring correct, but when does a bloke use shirring?

There was not a lot to choose between Chinelo, Tamara and myself, and this time, I succeeded in claiming the pattern challenge, so pressure off a little for the alteration challenge to come later in the day.

And so it was on to the alterations.

What awaited us was something I don’t think any of us could have guessed; a suit to be transformed, without the use of any haberdashery. Thank God, because it saved me from going completely mad with hundreds of buttons and yards of totally inappropriate lace. Hooray! Never going down that road EVER again!

As usual with this challenge, we only had 90 minutes (hardly enough time to have a cappuccino and biscuit) to make a totally different and wearable garment. Now, lets face it, any garment is wearable if;

1. You’ve got the figure
2. You’ve got the guts
3. You have no dress sense whatsoever
4. You’ve had a bucket of gin

So the varying degrees of creativity/undress to my eyes seemed perfectly reasonable…

The outcome, however, proved that Patrick, as usual, remained poised, in control and kept his sense of decency intact. (I wonder what HE’S like after a bucket of Dom Perignon? Maybe the hair wouldn’t be quite so perfect!)

And the result was that Chinelo with her mannequin hugging dress/suit came out top of the pile and the naughty ex-schoolgirl Lynda with her pinafore dress took second place, and my executive backless boob tube came in at a respectable third.

David came fourth with his not-so-changed jacket top and unfortunately Tamara didn’t please the judges this time with her wild and wacky asymmetrical jacket rendition. Very Vivienne, I thought…

Day one disappeared into the mists of time, and there we were, all over again, back to complete the big challenge: the vintage coat. Having had a chance to cut out the majority of it the day before (you can’t really make a coat in 6.5 hours) we were ready to sew our way into these historic designs, hopefully using some vintage techniques along the way.

Bulky fabric, linings, interlinings, hand sewn canvas facings…all of these methods were employed to try and recreate a garment with authenticity, the sort of thing my mother would have sewn in her day. David chose a policemen’s jacket from the 1940′s. His fabric was about as thick as carpet. He broke several needles trying to get through all those layers.

Tamara, on the other hand, had a completely different crisis going on. Her fabric was so loose in the weave that it practically unravelled just looking at it. What a nightmare!

The rest of us chose fairly standard fabrics. Lynda chose flannel, Chinelo chose camel and I chose a cashmere and wool blend.

I had something very particular in mind when I was searching for a vintage pattern. What I ended up with was the swing coat that you saw because as a child, I used to dress up in something almost identical. At that age of 4 or 5, my mothers 3/4 length coat absolutely swamped me, dragging behind me like some glorious coronation robe.

My coat was fairly straightforward to sew, but first I interlined it with cotton poplin to give it a little more structure, and hair canvas was used in the front facings to retain the shape and fall of the front of the coat. Having contrast cuffs gave me extra work to do, but well worthwhile I thought, until time caught up with me and the outcome was that I wasn’t going to be able to get the hem finished by the deadline. What a pity! I had seriously thought that I may be a contender this time for the garment of the week; something that has eluded me so far.

Again Lynda was triumphant in this department and as we all lined up for the execution (as it was now being referred to), we all held hands, so hoping that we had done enough to stay in the competition.

David, this time, was the unlucky one. What a wonderful team mate he’s been. Always so helpful and cheery, funny and supportive. I think out of all of us it has been David that has made a meteoric rise in his sewing skills, with this competition taking him into realms he perhaps may never have encountered voluntarily! Dave, you’re FAB!!

And so another set of challenges over, we see the rest of us heading towards the semi-finals, knowing that things are only going to get harder and harder.

So who will it be that leaves the sewing room next week?

Keep watching!!

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