Amateur sewers test their sewing and dressmaking skills. The four remaining sewers face three challenges - none of which permit a pattern for guidance.
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It's the semifinal of the Great British Sewing Bee.
Over the past six weeks
our sewers have had to create some extraordinarily difficult items,
from nylon anoraks to taffeta dresses.
Well, this week they're about to face the biggest hurdle of all,
because they have to make some amazing garments with no pattern -
Last week the quarterfinal saw the Sewing Bee go back in time.
I shall never use a 1930s pattern again.
Heather's blouse won her the pattern challenge for the third time.
This collar is beautifully flat. The shirring is neat.
Chinelo proved she could make do and mend like no other...
It's pretty ingenious, actually.
..and Lynda's 1940s coat was awarded garment of the week.
Oh, my God!
But it was David who missed out on a place in the semifinal...
..and whose departure brought everyone to tears.
I'm really sad that David's gone. He's been my hero.
This week, a place in the final is at stake...
This is the scary part!
You could cut the air with a knife.
So who will fall at the last hurdle?
I feel sick!
That's really exactly what I didn't want to do.
Three challenges remain before The Great British Sewing Bee Final,
and just three of the home sewers will make it through.
I'm absolutely delighted to be in the semifinal!
I can't actually believe I'm here.
Learning support assistant Lynda
has won garment of the week three times,
but has been inconsistent across the challenges.
Lynda's work varies. We need her to produce one of her best weeks
to get her place in the final.
Now I've got to this stage,
there's that little, little butterfly-in-my-tummy feeling
of being on the edge of something massive.
Yoga teacher Tamara creates ambitious garments
and has constantly surprised the judges with her originality.
It's just amazing!
I think she needs to strike a good balance between her natural
exuberance and giving herself enough time to finish everything
to the standard that we're looking for.
Now I'm here in the semifinal I can see the finishing line
and I think I want to make a big dash for it.
Dressage trainer Heather is the most traditional sewer of the group.
You have got a beautiful handpicked sewn-in zip.
Heather is technically very, very good.
However, sometimes she's playing safe,
and I think if she plays it too safe, she could be in danger.
The final is just so close,
and there is no room for error - every stitch is going to count.
Media graduate Chinelo is the youngest in the Sewing Bee
and the only sewer not to have won the pattern challenge -
although she excels at the others.
I think it's incredibly impactful.
The fitting is exceptional.
Chinelo does have that natural flair for balance and fit.
This week we've taken away the patterns,
and this might just play to Chinelo's strengths.
Congratulations on making it through to the semifinal.
So, you know that the first challenge
is when we give you a pattern.
So, Patrick, what have you got for them today?
Well, we've tested you on pretty much every pattern under the sun,
so this week we'd like you to make a dress,
but we're not going to give you a pattern at all.
-Oh, my goodness!
-We're going to have to make one ourselves!
Heather wants to weep already.
We're giving you a mannequin,
three metres of fabric and some pins.
And what we would like you to do is cut it, pleat it, gather it,
shape it, drape it,
and we would love you to make us a dress using all those techniques.
You do have three hours.
Your time starts...
Does it drape?
I think it's going to be fun, this challenge -
I've not done anything like this before.
I like this, it's pretty.
Yes, I'm going to go for this one.
I'm looking for a drapey fabric.
But I don't want it too flimsy, cos I don't like floppy fabric.
I'm really excited about this challenge, actually.
It's a chance to really be quite creative...
and I love that.
There's not three metres on this.
Oh, there is. Just three metres.
I'm looking for drapey fabric, and I think I've got it.
It feels all nice and soft, and...
Hopefully it's going to be kind to me.
I have done this,
but generally I've had a lot more time to play with it.
It's a lovely bit of cloth, as my mother would say.
Let's see if I can get it right this time, eh, kids?
Course you will.
The only thing I've seen is when I've been in fabric shops
and they've got the material pinned onto the mannequins,
and I've always thought, "Wow, that's fabulous!
"But I don't think I could ever do it."
And here I am.
Patrick and May, why have you chosen a no-pattern week?
Any good sewer needs to be able to create garments from scratch,
and for that they need to be able to either draft a pattern
or drape a garment.
I mean, it can be the case that people don't feel confident
to make things without a pattern, but there are other ways.
I'm going be making a halter neck sort of dress
that's going to drape from the bust right down.
This is going to go around the neck, like so.
This is the first time I'm doing this,
so I'm just going to be going off on a whim here.
Chinelo and Lynda have both started by immediately draping
and roughly pinning the fabric on the mannequin.
What you doing?
Right, making the skirt,
then is going to be draped over the shoulders.
But somehow I've got to figure... I want to make it into a top
with some sort of fancy something, and make it up as I go along.
Heather and Tamara have taken a more methodical approach.
My plan is to make a little sketch first.
Then I'll know what shapes I want on the mannequin,
and then I'll cut it out.
Well, I'm just sketching through a few little ideas.
So, I'm just going to play and see how I feel about the fabric
and then we'll crack on.
Tamara, Tamara - can I tell you what I love about you?
First thing you did was draw.
-Have you worked without a pattern before?
Would you describe this as a tea dress?
-Yes, very much a day dress, tea dress.
-A picnic dress.
-Picnic! Who doesn't love a picnic?
OK, where do you begin?
So you did... I love the fact you started with a belt.
What I'm going to do is cut my pieces out and tuck them into that,
so it helps me get it all together.
-How are you?
-So, you've got fabric draped on the bias.
-It helps drape, doesn't it?
-Because you've got this cross-way grain.
Are you going to do anything more with all of this excess here?
I'm going to cut this off, so it's going to be bias draped body,
-and then I'm going to make a skirt part...
-On the straight, or...?
-I'm going to make it on the straight.
-I think it looks great.
-It's a good start.
I'm actually pinning to the mannequin at this stage.
Once I've finished I'll go round and baste stitch the whole thing.
Then I'll take it off and sew it.
With designs decided upon,
the next challenge is securing the shapes in place...
I won't be needing that!
The pins are on the floor.
What are you...?!
I'm getting down.
Hurry up, Claudia, I need those pins.
You've not cut this piece of fabric at all.
I have, I have cut out the top half of it that I need,
this is not what the top half of the dress is going to look like.
Ah, OK. You're just pinning this out of the way for now.
I'm just holding this up because I want that tulip shape.
What an interesting shape.
But as designs begin to form,
it's not long before ideas start to change.
I'm trying to fit the top onto the mannequin.
I'm actually thinking this might look nice as an Empire line.
See, this is how things are with me. This is what I like to do.
I like to fiddle about and change things.
It's lovely, I love it.
(How do I do this, how do I do this, how do I do this?)
I'm doing a more fitted bustier at the top,
because I think it'll show a bit more technique.
Have you changed your plan?
I did change my plan!
Yeah? What did you go with instead?
I've gone with something completely different.
Hello, Tamara. What stage are you at now?
-I've draped it, so I'm going to stitch in my tucks.
I'm going to hem this neckline here.
What are you going to do...?
-Oh, you've got tucks on the shoulders, as well.
So I've got tucking there and some tucking at the waist,
-and then for the skirt I'm going to attach a separate piece.
One hour gone.
Right, let's have a go tacking that in place.
I'm just basting my pleats in.
Stabilising it, so when I take it off the mannequin, they stay.
Loose temporary basting stitches
keep the pleats and tucks in place...
I just don't want it to go, "Swoosh!"
..to ensure the fabric retains its shape once taken off the mannequin
Oh! I've gone all the way round.
This is the scary part!
It's not totally falling apart.
So, I'm just detaching the pins.
Really want to make sure my pleats are in line.
Sometimes you just have to close your eyes
and get it under the sewing machine.
Draping fabric is the most ancient way of making clothes there is -
just look at the Greeks and Romans.
But draping fabric on a mannequin, that was made popular in the 1930s
by a Parisian couturier who created a brand-new look
that was going to be copied by generations to come.
The availability of supple fabrics like chiffon and satin,
following the end of World War I,
enabled fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet
to pioneer a new way of designing clothes,
and she began to hone her art.
What Madeleine Vionnet did was work directly on a stand,
and the original stands were quarter scale, so she worked in miniature.
So she didn't sketch designs, as most designers would do,
she worked directly with fabric and with the human body.
Born in 1876, Madeleine Vionnet
started work as a seamstress aged 12,
and after working for eminent fashion houses,
she founded her own Parisian salon
referred to as the "Temple of Fashion".
One of Madeleine Vionnet's great innovations
was the use of the bias cut.
So in traditional fabrics you have a warp and a weft -
by cutting across the fabric at a 45 degree angle
you create the bias, which gives you stretch and elasticity
that allowed her to create dresses that moved with the body
and celebrated the form.
After World War I women's fashion was at a crossroad.
For some women, having tasted independence
doing their bit for the war effort,
they wanted to wear something more liberated.
Well, it took Madame Vionnet's determination and visionary approach
to make that happen.
Before she came along
it was normal for a woman to wear layers and layers of clothing.
A heavily restricted corset, a bust enhancer, a bodice -
layers to create an artificial shape.
Vionnet combined her interest in ancient Greek art
and her background in lingerie making,
to create exquisite dresses
that flowed over the contours of a woman's natural body
It was completely perfect timing for Madeleine Vionnet to come along
and be a woman who was creating clothes for other women
who wanted to wear less restricted clothing
that allowed them a physical freedom to go with the political freedom
they were demanding.
Considered one of the greatest couturiers of the 20th century,
Vionnet's designs saw her become a true trendsetter
for 1930s fashion.
She remains an inspiration to many home sewers
who choose to make beautiful clothes without using a pattern.
Sewers, you have one hour to go.
-HEATHER: You are kidding.
That is just the most depressing thing I have heard today.
This is my first armhole pleat that I'm stitching in.
People are so focused on what they are doing.
You could cut the air with a knife.
At the moment I've got two pieces - my skirt and bodice.
Once this is joined up, then I'll have a bit of fun with draping.
I HOPE it'll be fun.
Not much time. Definitely panicking about the time.
At this stage of the competition
having an unfinished garment is not even an option.
Cos third place, even, isn't that fantastic now!
I think the atmosphere is very concentrated.
Everybody's just trying so hard to get this challenge done in the time.
So, yeah. Hard concentration.
That's really exactly what I didn't want to do.
I've just caught the front and the back here.
Right, let's do it again.
I'm a bit of a perfectionist,
and if it's not entirely right I'm not happy with it.
Tamara, what are you doing now?
I'm just adding a bottom part of the skirt.
Once I've added that, I'm going to zip up the back.
-OK. What happened to your waistband?
-I scrapped that.
There wasn't time.
I'm literally just learning on the job, so...
Well, that's kind of the point with this exercise -
is that you slightly do it on the job.
Some of you have planned more than others.
Well, I did plan, and then I actually scrapped my plan,
-because I felt it wouldn't work as well as this.
I wanted to get as much drapey-drape as possible.
All right. We'll get out of your way.
That is lovely. That is a picnic dress, Patrick -
you'd look good in it.
Sewers, you have 30 minutes left.
Now the top and bottom sections of the dresses are joined together...
That'll have to do.
..the finishing touches can be made.
I'm just putting all my fabric to the side...
and I'm making a massive dirty great big pleat.
This is the fun bit.
You probably think I'm going to pleat this -
this is pleated so I'm thinking... whether to pleat...
Decisions! I'm thinking. I don't know what to do.
What are you doing here?
-All I would say to you is don't do too much.
-It can be a really simple dress.
-It doesn't need to be yards of drapery.
Because what I really would like is a big bow,
but I thought that wouldn't be enough.
-You don't need to...
-..give us three metres of fabric...
-..on that dress.
-That's great, then. That's great.
I love him.
-Sewers, you have ten minutes. Ten minutes.
-Oh, my God.
It's a bit long all the way round.
Almost. Almost done.
I have no idea whether I've got enough time here.
I just don't know. Just don't know.
I'm just sewing the band down on the front,
and then it's just tidying up and sewing the bow on.
I'm just putting in a little bar at the back.
This wasn't planned, but like many things,
you don't know how something's going to turn out
until you actually do them.
-It's exciting, isn't it?
I mean, this is the true Magical Mystery Sewing Tour, isn't it?
I don't know where my bow is going to go yet.
Looks quite nice there.
-Just about to do a rolled hem.
-No, there's no time!
No, there is.
I shall be really disappointed if this doesn't work.
OK, we're done. We're done, finished.
You have to step away. Step away, Heather.
Let us grab the mannequins, take them next door to the judges.
# It's a great feeling
# To suddenly find the clouds are silver-lined
# When the sun breaks through... #
Four dresses made in just three hours without a pattern.
Chinelo, you come up first, please.
# As long as I've got someone to embrace
# As far as I'm concerned... #
I'm not sure the skirt works for me.
It isn't really a tulip. It's just hanging a little bit.
I actually love the shape, I love this tulip shape.
-Not completely symmetrical.
But I think that it's ALMOST worked.
I think the bodice - it's not terrifically evenly sewn.
It's a bit lumpy-bumpy.
The skirt looks very well balanced, it flows well.
And I think the bow works very nicely.
And also your bodice is really well fitting,
it's very well executed.
I think it is a very good demonstration
of how you can build something on the mannequin.
You've used tucks for shaping at the waist,
and we've got some tucks under the armholes.
You've got some going one way and some going the other,
so you actually lose the effect.
I just feel sometimes they are fighting each other.
It feels a little bit overtucked,
I think in some instances, a dart would have cleaned it up
and actually given the draped sections a bit more impact.
You instantly see how much better the front is sitting
because it's on the bias, isn't it?
And I love this draped neckline, I think that works really well.
You've got all of these really nice pleats in the back,
which give it a good shape.
This pleat here, I'm not entirely convinced by.
I think if you'd stuck to your smaller pleats all the way round,
you would have had a bit more control,
whereas because your pleat is so deep, it's got caught in, inside.
Patrick and May will now reveal
who has been the least and the most successful
at draping a dress on the stand.
Fourth place is Tamara.
In third place, Chinelo.
In second place is Heather.
We liked the use of you bias cut on the bodice
and the drape of the neckline.
Which means, in first place, Lynda!
We felt that you had just executed the brief excellently
and finished it to a really high standard.
Thank you very much.
# Clap your hands... #
I am very, very happy.
It's a great start to the semifinal. I'm so pleased I can't tell you.
Coming last is always a bit rubbish,
but even more so when you're in the semifinals.
I do feel a bit vulnerable,
so everything I do after this has to really impress both of the judges.
That was a bit like a leg wax, I have to say.
Very painful, and I'm just glad it was over!
So, it was quite a good result.
OK, it's time for our second challenge.
As usual, our judges want our sewers to totally transform
a high-street garment.
This week it's a classic alteration,
but the judges want perfection.
We would like you to add a pair of sleeves to this dress.
We are looking for symmetry, we're looking for a good finish.
Now there are three measurements you need.
The depth of the armhole.
You need the circumference of the armhole,
and your mannequins have arms,
so you need to measure around the arm as well.
Quite quiet. Enormous luck.
You have an hour and 45 minutes. Your time starts now.
When this challenge was announced, I thought, "Yes!"
But then I thought, "Actually, no."
Because you just don't know what they're looking for.
I know that they're looking for perfection -
this is the semifinals, after all.
What are you doing, Tamara?
What am I doing?
I've made sleeves before, but not to put on a dress.
Not to be done in a dress that's sleeveless.
I've never done this before,
but I know what a sleeve looks like when it's flat -
it looks this shape.
This is actually probably one of the most difficult challenges
we've done, cos we're looking here for precision.
In order to do this challenge correctly,
-they're going to have to cut a pattern.
From scratch, and that's not an easy thing to do.
It's an interesting shape.
They need to understand how to draw that shape,
so that it fits snugly round the underarm
but then you've got some fullness to ease it over the top of the shoulder.
I am just working out the size.
It might take a couple of attempts, but I'll get there.
By taking the circumference and depth of the armhole,
the sewers can draft a pattern to create a sleeve
which is both a good fit and symmetrical.
May I ask you, what kind of sleeve are you going to make?
I'm going to have a little gathered top into a little puff.
So, I'd like to make a little gathered puff sleeve,
so I need to make the top of my sleeve a bit wider
so I have enough room to gather at the top.
And I also want to gather around this part of the arm.
So, I'm just working out what the circumference of the actual arm is,
and then I'm going to allow a few more inches for my gathering.
This is going to be sort of tucked
to create fullness just around the head of the sleeve.
I'm always doing crazy little things with sleeves,
like all this, and funny little things.
I hardly ever do just like a standard set-in sleeve.
Lynda is the only one attempting sleeves with no gathers.
That's the sleeve that will set in to the armhole.
And that's the bit that's difficult, I would think, to get right.
Her sleeves will have to sit smooth and flat against the shoulder seam,
so it's crucial she takes accurate measurements
What kind of sleeve are you doing?
I'm thinking, down and then either into a cuff, if I've got time,
or it'll be a band and a loop and button.
Did you draw a pattern?
Let me have a look at it.
I think it might be too big up there.
The thing is, the problem for me is, I'm not a measurer.
I do everything by looking.
I know, but today you have to measure.
Well, I have. Ish.
Just going to look at some fabric.
Once they've drafted their pattern,
the sewers should choose an appropriate fabric.
I need quite a stiff fabric for the look I'm going for with my sleeve.
I need quite a bit of structure.
Terrible, isn't it? Trying to choose.
Trying not to offend Patrick.
Trying to think of something that he's going to look at
and not be, like, "Eurgh!"
Perhaps I ought to just leave that alone,
cos I'd probably have to do some little French seams on that.
I think I might do that...
I'm not sure Patrick will approve of this.
-approve of it?
I kind of approve of it.
It's got enough crunchiness to gather,
and enough body to hold the shape.
Not sure, not sure, not sure.
It's got a very obvious pattern...
..so I've got to match that up.
Let's go for it.
Can't be dithering all day.
It's a stripy fabric,
so I am going to use those stripes to their advantage,
by having them going horizontally on the sleeve.
Satisfied she's cut out two identical sleeves,
Chinelo moves onto fitting them into the armhole.
I'm pinning the tucks along the top of the head of the sleeve,
so I'm just trying to make sure they are perfectly symmetrical.
Only God knows how many sleeves I've made in my lifetime!
Some very unsuccessful ones.
So, I'm just going to adjust my gathers.
That way you can just feel round the sleeve
and make sure your gathers are relatively even.
I think because it's tailored
I'm going to do a little pleat at the top.
To achieve her straight sleeves,
Lynda needs to make sure any gathering disappears.
I've got a couple of gathers I don't want, there,
so I'm going to have to try and ease those out.
I'm not happy with those.
Because they're neither here nor there.
If you're going to have gathers,
they should be proper gathers, or no gathers.
I'm going to try to get those to no gathers.
It's really awkward, this is.
-How are you?
I'll tell you when I've finished.
-You've got to finish.
-I've got to finish.
I don't want to be alarming, but somebody is leaving tomorrow.
Sewers, you have 30 minutes left.
How do you all feel about that?
Nearly sewed my finger as well.
If I was doing it at home, I'd be tacking it and fussing about,
but in here it's just like, "Brrrm!"
It's the time that's the problem.
It's not doing the task, it's the time.
That's not too bad.
Tamara, how are you doing?
-What left have you got to do?
-I'm doing some cuffs
and I might have to reset in my little tuck as well,
cos it's not perfect.
Made cuffs lots of time.
But not in a time like this.
It's like, beat the clock!
Sewers you have ten minutes.
I genuinely can't be confident until Patrick's had his go.
I just need to hear what he has to say first,
and then I'll smile or cry.
I'm not happy with that, really.
Come on, darling.
It's not looking great.
No, not pleased.
They're not going to be happy.
Heather, I love you, but it's always you.
-I know, of course it's always me...
-And you walked away.
-Don't touch it!
-OK, good, that's it!
-I'm closing it.
-That's it. Good girl, Heather.
The first time in Sewing Bee history...
-Give me five!
-..I haven't had to shout at you.
Well done, everybody.
Please bring your mannequins up to the front
and jumble them around. Come on.
# I wish I was back in my baby's arms... #
Four dresses transformed with sleeves -
but which best demonstrate precision and symmetry?
Go and have a good old nosey.
It's a shame...
-It just seems to be pulling it out of...
-..shape a bit.
This one's really lovely and this one's pulling out of shape.
Cuffs are neatly done.
We've got quite an uneven one here, though.
-Buttonhole the wrong way.
Buttonholes need to run round the cuff and not up and down the side.
For me, the left sleeve looks a little longer.
Quarter of an inch.
However, both of these rows of pattern on both of the sleeves
are hanging absolutely vertically.
Both of these shoulder lines are very smooth.
-Yeah. No distortion at all to the front.
Just one little pleat in the shoulder, but very evenly done.
And some really nice top stitching around the cuffs.
And a very neat little opening.
-But it's tipping...
-The pitch of the sleeve is slightly forward.
-It's tipping forward, yes.
A very different choice of fabric, but I like it.
And the balance on the patterns -
-look at the pattern on the back.
This pink stripe running right down the centre of that sleeve
perfectly vertically, tucked into that pleat at the top.
I've got exactly the same on this side.
We've got a very smooth back armhole.
Very, very well executed
Patrick and May reorder the dresses
to decide whose sleeves are the best.
There's things that are bothering me.
We're going to have to pick that out.
-If we're nitpicking, this one curves a bit more forward.
-Move them around.
So, that's your order.
In fourth place, come forward - who created this?
Please could the creator of the dress in third place come forward?
A lot of processes in there.
Please could the master who created the dress in second place
come and get her?
Really very professional-level execution.
Thanks very much, thank you.
And that means in first place it's Chinelo!
It's a really well-thought through, well-executed alteration.
-Very well done.
-Are you happy?
-I am very happy.
Especially after challenge one, when he was so mean...
-Thank you, Patrick(!)
-..about your tulip skirt.
She finds you very scary, you have to be nicer.
Well done, Chinelo! Well done.
Obviously tomorrow's still very, very important,
but I'll definitely be able to sleep better tonight
knowing that I have come first in this challenge.
I'm feeling a little bit deflated, but the only way is up.
I am nearly, nearly there, I need to just get my head down tomorrow,
because I want that ticket to finals, please.
I'm really disappointed to come last, and I think I'm in trouble.
-# Good morning
# We've talked the whole night through
-# Good morning... #
-Day two, and our sewers' last chance
to secure themselves a place in next week's final.
Lynda gave us a fantastic draped dress,
and then let herself down with the sleeves.
Sometimes she's at the top, sometimes she's at the bottom.
Heather's done well. She's technically competent,
she just needs to make sure she pushes herself enough.
And you loved Chinelo's sleeves - but you didn't like her drapery.
I wasn't a big fan of it, personally. May liked it.
I mean, I think Tamara is somewhere in the middle.
This last challenge is an incredibly complicated challenge,
and I think who goes home will entirely hinge on
who does well in this challenge we've got here before us.
As usual, the sewers will produce a made-to-measure garment
but instead of fitting it for a model,
they'll be making it to fit themselves.
For the final challenge,
the judges would love to see you
recreate a favourite item of clothing.
It can be something you've bought in a shop,
it could be something that you have made before,
they just want to see how you replicate it.
You've got six and a half hours.
Your time starts now.
The sewers have had a chance to practise this challenge at home.
They've brought in their own fabric but as it's "no-pattern week",
they only have their favourite garment to make a copy from.
Where's my pin dog?
And the garments they've brought in couldn't be more diverse.
This is the dress I'm making.
I call it my Mary Poppins dress
because these silhouettes remind me of Mary Poppins.
Lynda's wrap-style dress has long sleeves and a pleated skirt.
She's going to replicate it in a firm stretch fabric.
I'm a nursery nurse so I'm Mary Poppins
and my great-great aunt was a nanny.
And you can see from the fashion there,
she is very Mary Poppins-ish.
This is auntie Alwin in the roaring '20s.
She was actually a nanny as well
and I can see where I get my skinny legs from now.
It's one of my old favourite dresses.
My husband and I hosted a Valentine's event in our church,
and this is what I wore to the very first one that we did.
Chinelo's strapless party dress has a boned bodice
and is decorated with 42 strips of gathered organza.
She'll reproduce it with flat strips
which she plans to gradiate in a different colour.
-So, I'm going to be using a cotton lining...
..and I've got all these strips of organza to sew on to this.
-These are all sewn on in individual pieces?
-Individual pieces, yes.
-You're absolutely crazy.
But it looks amazing.
-So, what I'm copying is...
the first yoga outfit I treated myself to
when I officially became a yoga teacher.
Tamara's yoga outfit is made up 22 sections
and her copy will feature different types of contrasting stretch fabric.
I've sketched out the panels in my vest and my leggings
and I've alphabetised them.
It's like a jigsaw puzzle
Why didn't you just choose something easy?
-I don't play it safe, Claudia.
-No, I know. Crazy, but OK.
It's a silk satin dress.
Just a plain little shift dress.
It's a dress that I wore for an exhibition
when I was painting in Sweden
so it does have some nice memories for me.
Heather's simple shift dress has darts at the front and back.
She'll remake it in a cream satin.
It's been a tiny little bit tight and I will make sure
there's a little bit of room for manoeuvre in this one.
Why have you asked them to do this challenge?
I think it's demonstrating a really useful set of skills -
demonstrating how to take a pattern from something
but also lots of people have an item in the wardrobe
that they absolutely love, but it can be getting old,
and how wonderful to be able to recreate that garment?
But this is the semifinal. Isn't this just copying?
I mean, how difficult is it?
It's substantially difficult.
It's not just tracing the outline of a piece of fabric,
it's inserting the darts,
it's inserting whatever tucks and pleats are in there,
it's understanding how the geometry all works.
There are several methods to ensure an accurate copy
and each sewer is taking a different approach.
Tamara is making a pattern from a cheap micro fibre cloth.
So, I want something that's going to stretch a little
and be a little bit more like fabric so I'm going to place this on top of
my pieces and then I'm going to feel for the seam
and draw round those shapes.
I've measured the waist and then the hem of the skirt
so I've basically got to transfer the measurements onto the paper.
I've got this bit of fabric, which is a bit of old curtaining stuff
and I thought the best way to do it
is to make those darts in a piece of fabric first
and then lay that back down and then draw around my model
so when I open it up,
I've got the true shape.
A piece of what would've originally been the pattern
so you can see how different the shape is...
of the bust darts once it's let out.
I've used the original to draw that on the fabric.
For the skirt, because it's got pleats in it,
what I do is measure those and I've allowed that for the fabrics.
That's my pattern.
As you can see, it's not conventional.
It's my way.
Once they're satisfied with their patterns,
cutting out the new fabric can begin.
I'll cut out the skirt using the pattern I've just made
and I'll put my markings on it
where the organza strips are going to go onto it.
-A many-pieced outfit. Is that this one here?
How have you dealt with things like
the differential stretch in the fabric?
I'm making sure that when I place the pieces on the fabric,
they're going to be stretching in the right way.
-You've got quite a complex shape here, haven't you?
Just think about how you want the pieces to go together -
-the right way up in the right order.
-Yes, I do.
-Right, crack on.
-Yes, you've got quite a lot of work to do.
-I'm looking forward to seeing it.
Well, everybody else is doing incredibly complicated stuff.
Obviously, now, I'm worrying that this is going to be too simple
but this is it.
I don't have enough fabric.
I just cut it and I thought
there's not enough hanging over the table.
I feel sick.
My daughters are going to kill me.
Would it help if you were able to get some more fabric from the haberdashery?
It would really, really help. I'm going to cry.
-Let's not waste any more time.
Go and have a look in the haberdashery.
-Find yourself some fabric.
-Thank you so much.
I'm looking for stretch fabric.
I'm just so happy to have anything.
I could cry now with relief.
I think Lynda's all right. Initial panic over.
The only thing that slightly concerns me,
she's got quite a mobile fabric.
Yes, the original garment was in stretch.
However, this stretch is slightly different.
It's a softer fabric so..
Heather's is the simplest garment in the room.
The execution and the finish needs to be perfect
and the fit needs to be perfect as well.
Chinelo has given herself an awful lot to do.
She's got a lot to cut out,
she's had a lot of pattern pieces to do
she's got an awful lot of sewing to put this garment together.
They're really chalk and cheese, those two.
Tamara's is quite a complicated pattern.
There are a lot of pieces that actually look quite similar.
She's got to be very careful about how she marks them
so she knows which one is which and it's all in stretch.
I think she's given herself a lot to do.
I'm now piecing together my vest top.
My pattern pieces will fit better if I attach the side pieces first
and then I'll attach them to the middle piece.
I'm just making doubly sure that all the lines run into each other.
Three hours remain to finish constructing their favourite garment.
I've got to sew the strips of organza on and once I've done that,
I can start constructing my dress.
I have made the same shape of dress in two hours at home.
I'm giving myself an hour to sew those strips on.
TAMARA: I have my overlocker for the interior seams
and it's just a matter of making sure
everything is in line with each other.
Now, I'm going to do my pleats
and we know what Patrick's like with a tape measure
so I'm using my tape measure to measure them carefully
before I put them under the machine.
I'm actually scared now of this.
The whole fabric thing has put me right off.
Really unsettled me altogether.
I'm endeavouring to put in an invisible zip.
I'm going for absolute accuracy and perfect fit.
If it isn't, I'm going to be ripped to shreds
because my dress is so simple.
While Heather reaches the final stages of her dress,
Chinelo plans more.
Looks like this is frill corner.
This is definitely frill corner at the moment.
What I'd done was I'd sewn on the first row,
and I went to put the second row on there.
But I didn't quite like the way the overlay was,
so I'm adding another row to the centre.
-Have you got the time?
-Em... I reckon I do.
It's cos we need to see your construction of your dress.
Yeah. Don't worry.
May's worried about time.
Yeah, it's a lot of sewing to do but I'll do it.
I'm just doing the back seam here...
and the last bit just beyond the zip is always a difficult bit.
So, how many more little bits have you got to put together now?
I have one there, one there, one there, one there.
So you're over-locking as you go?
Yep, so it's nice and neat
and then depending on how much time I've got left,
-I would like to topstitch with a zigzag.
-I'm not enjoying this at all.
This fabric is nothing like the fabric I wanted to use,
it's far more stretchy.
It's the semifinal.
They're going to be looking for perfection and this isn't it.
How much do you want to make the final?
Oh, I would love to make the final, it would be so exciting.
Sad to leave at this stage, I think, for all of you.
Yeah, it would. Exactly.
-I'm going to have a word and say...
-All of us can stay.
Do you know what I mean?
Let's bring back Dave. Let's phone Jenni.
-Let's get Julie in.
-Let's get them all back.
-Nobody should leave.
One hour left.
I'm just seeing how the arms fit.
They could do with taking a little bit away.
I'm just looking at that bit there.
I just still want that in, just a fraction.
And I want that in there, just there, see?
I want to check that it fits before I put the facings on.
OK. That's quite hoo-hoo.
I don't think it'll be too low.
You're going to put it on, are you?
But I'm bigger than you, Claudia.
What statement are you making with this dress?
It's not like that on me, honestly.
I'm nearly finished with my skirt.
I've just got three of the lines to go
but I really just want to do my bodice now.
I haven't got much time to finish. Time is always a concern.
Sewers, you have 45 minutes.
You look intently focused on what you're doing.
-How are you getting along?
I had to change my plan a little bit,
where I was going to put the organza on the bodice, topped bodice,
I'm going to do that so it's only just going to be on the skirt now.
Just a plain top but you've got it all round...?
I've got it on the skirt, yeah.
-OK, so not a massive change.
-No, not a massive change but
just making sure I have a finished garment.
-I have overlocked the seam of my leggings
and now I'm going to finish it off by stitching over the top.
It is very quiet in there, isn't it?
I mean it's been very quiet all day.
I think, finally, they've realised
that this is the serious end of the competition
and they've got half an hour left to see themselves into the final.
I'm not happy with the crossover,
so I'm undoing it and redoing it.
It's really difficult with the fabric to keep everything straight.
It's not sitting right in the front.
Where you see the most, it's sort of puckered there.
Sewers, you have ten minutes left.
What did I do with my needle?
This isn't rolling my hem.
-The seam still isn't perfect, I must go over that bit again.
It's just a total nightmare today.
Oh, I can't believe I've just done that.
That was perfect and I've just slipped.
I don't want to panic everyone but we've got to get dressed.
I hope I've sorted it.
Tamara, get yoga'd up. Let's do downward dog.
It's still not right.
OK, that's it. Time is up.
You are in your favourite clothes.
Please come and stand by your stations.
In just six and a half hours,
the semifinalists have made a brand-new copy
of an old garment.
-I don't think I have done enough to impress the judges, no.
I think it's too simple.
It's a mess. It's not a semifinal garment.
My daughters will be gutted.
There is nothing I can do, just hope really.
Really, really hope I've done enough to stay in for the final
but you just don't know.
'So what will May and Patrick make of their reproductions,
'before deciding which three will be entering the final?'
Chinelo, please come forward with both your original and the new.
I think it's nicely balanced.
The darts all look like they're sitting in the right place.
A little uneven in some of the sewing
but I think the way that you've graded it through the skirt
is really elegant and I think works extremely well.
I think the way in which you have attached layers is very good
because you had to do it very evenly and it's worked very well.
Comparing it with the original,
I think I prefer this one.
-Oh, thank you.
-It's really lovely.
Yeah, I think what you've done is update it
and actually make it a little more refined
and a much more stunning piece of clothing. Very well done.
I have to say for me,
I find the fit a tiny bit disappointing
because it's quite tight round your hips
and, across the back, we've got quite a bit of wrinkling.
I know you took some in, and perhaps too much on the hips,
so it's not sliding down your body.
It just looks too long in the back bodice for me.
Overall, I think there's a lovely shape to it.
Needs a fraction off on the shoulder.
Yeah, we've got a bit where it's not sitting there.
But if we look at what you started with,
it's very, very clear that you've done an extremely accurate job
of translating that into a new pattern.
You had a nightmare of a day, didn't you?
I did, I did indeed.
Can you just drop your hands for me?
-Do I have to?
-Yes, you do.
The waistline is going for a bit of a walk.
Let's talk about the pleats.
I measured them.
Yeah, I was going to say,
the pleats look terrific, very even and very well spaced.
So, I think it's clear you've put a lot of effort into those
and you've managed those very well.
-And you've matched your pattern on your seams.
they're tilting forward
so I think this is an issue with the balance of front and back.
Well, I think this outfit of yours works incredibly well.
A multi-panelled garment.
Yeah, not just multipanels
but multipanels in multiple different fabrics
with entirely different properties of stretch and weight.
This is a complicated pattern.
I mean this should be sitting right on the hip and it is.
This seam on the legging is designed to sit just underneath the kneecap
and it does that.
You know, your shoulder seam is bang on the centre of your shoulder.
And I do like some of the techniques you have used.
You have used this three-step zigzag, this top-stitching.
Your leggings are a really good fit.
Girls, a huge well done. That was incredibly hard.
It's time for you to have a break.
When you come back in the room, the judges will reveal
who WON'T be coming back for the final.
I'm not ready to leave.
I'm not ready to call my husband and say I'm coming home.
I just don't want to go yet.
'I had no idea I'd get as far as this,'
but to have that chance of going to the final
is just the best thing ever.
I really, really hope that I have done enough to get through -
I really, really do.
I really, really want to be in the final.
I think it's horrible to leave in week one.
I think it's probably worse to leave in the semifinal
because you've got so close. What's going on in your head?
They've all varied from challenge to challenge.
So we have to consider all sorts of things.
-You weren't mad for Heather's fit.
-I wasn't at all.
I didn't think the back of Heather's dress fitted at all well.
I felt it was the simplest garment - it should have been the most perfect.
Let's talk about Lynda's.
We all noticed immediately that Lynda made a big
mistake in the construction of this dress.
Lynda can be terribly inconsistent.
Cos she won the first challenge - you two went nuts for that.
Yes, that was very good. The first two challenges,
Tamara didn't do very well, and yet she's made a brilliant yoga outfit.
Well, I will leave you two, cos you haven't made a decision either way.
-We just need to have a final chat.
First of all, enormous well done. Let's do the good bit first.
This week, garment of the week is...
Tremendous pattern-cutting skills,
and excellent execution on a really tricky fabric.
Huge well done. Garment of the week in the semifinal.
Now, here's the hideous bit. Somebody has to go.
So, the person leaving the Sewing Bee is...
-I thought it was me.
-Oh, I'm sorry.
-Thank you so much.
Thank you. Oh, it's worth going!
'I do feel more confident now.'
My son-in-law actually said to me,
when I said I was coming on the programme,
"Are you any good, then, at sewing?" I said, "I don't know, to be honest,
"we're about to find out."
It's been a pleasure.
And I've loved it - it's been an experience of a lifetime.
Even when times got tough I stuck it out - I'm proud of myself for that.
'I'm really, really sad that Lynda's gone.'
She's been absolutely the life and soul of our little group.
'She has had us all in stitches all the time.'
Yeah, of course we're going to miss her.
'I got garment of the week - really, really chuffed.'
I seriously worked my socks off to get that perfect.
'I managed to pull it out the bag last minute.'
If can do it now, I can do it next week.
'Winning is definitely in reach now, so I really, really, really need'
to go home and practise - practise my little heart out,
'just come back fighting for that Great British Sewing Bee title,
cos I want to win!
At the final Sewing Bee...
I've given myself a lot of work to do, but it's the final -
what else to do?
..there can only be one winner, and the judges demand couture.
What we're testing this week is the finishing skills
that take a well-assembled garment
and turn it into a beautiful piece of sewing.
But will the pressure prove too much for some?
I just want this to be over now, to be honest.
And who will hold their nerve
to be crowned Britain's best amateur sewer?
I'm going hell for leather.
I can't not finish this one.
If you'd like to take up your own sewing projects
inspired by the series, go to:
Claudia Winkleman welcomes the four remaining sewers back to the sewing room. They face three challenges - none of which permit a pattern for guidance. First, they must demonstrate their ability to drape on the stand by making a dress out of a piece of fabric straight onto the mannequin - a practice made popular in the 1930s. Next, they alter a dress by adding a pair of perfectly symmetrical sleeves. Finally, they bring in their favourite garment from home, make a new copy and fit it to themselves. Some play it safe to reproduce simple dresses while others take ambitious risks. Who will be rewarded with a place in the final?