The Great British Sewing Bee season 2 episode 5

The Great British Sewing Bee season 2 episode 5

The Great British Sewing Bee season 2 episode 5 – In an exciting new episode, our group of six dedicated home sewers find themselves thrust into unfamiliar territory, as the ever-charismatic Claudia Winkleman introduces challenges that promise to stretch their skills to the limit. The judges, ever eager to elevate the competition, set forth three unique challenges that involve working with some of the trickiest and most demanding fabrics in the world of sewing.



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The first surprise in store for them is a pattern specifically designed for a nylon anorak. Nylon, with its slippery nature, isn’t just a challenge to sew but also poses a significant risk during the finishing stages. Any misstep with iron could spell catastrophe, potentially ruining hours of meticulous work.



But the challenges don’t end there. For the very first time in the show’s history, our talented sewers venture into unfamiliar territory as they’re given the task of working with material outside the usual textile realm: leather. Tasked with taking a common high street top and imbuing it with a touch of luxury, they must incorporate leather, renowned for its rigidity and distinct feel.


Adding to the novelty of this episode, there’s an exciting twist that promises to make things even more interesting. Instead of working solo, the sewers team up, becoming each other’s ‘fit buddies’. This dynamic duo approach sees them crafting trousers tailored to their own measurements, but with an added layer of complexity: they have to be crafted in the soft and luxurious, yet notoriously challenging, delicate velvet fabric. This twist not only tests their tailoring skills but also their ability to collaborate and communicate effectively.


The Great British Sewing Bee season 2 episode 5 – Navigating Tricky Fabrics with Panache


The sixth episode of season 2 of The Great British Sewing Bee brought a new level of difficulty and drama for our intrepid home sewers. Hosted with wit and wisdom by the inimitable Claudia Winkleman, this episode challenged the sewers with three tasks involving some of the trickiest fabrics imaginable. From the surprise nylon anorak pattern to the leather upcycling challenge, the sewers were truly tested to their limits. But with high stakes comes high entertainment, and this action-packed episode did not disappoint!


Facing the Surprise Nylon Anorak Pattern

The episode started off with a pattern reveal sure to strike fear into the hearts of any home sewer: the nylon anorak. Sewing with such a slippery, delicate synthetic fabric poses major difficulties. Nylon is extremely prone to mistakes like puckering, rippling, and gathering. And the anorak’s front zipper and hand warmer pockets compound the complexity. Perhaps most daunting is the fact that nylon can’t be ironed without melting – so pressing those tricky seams into submission is out of the question!

Our sewers handled this first challenge with tenacity and grit. Recognizing the risks of working with such an unforgiving material, most played it safe by choosing solid colors over bold prints. Plain black and navy nylon may lack pizazz, but they hide sins well. Others opted for clever workarounds, interlining their nylon with cotton to add body and structure. The sewers called upon every trick in their arsenal, from tissue paper layouts to hand-basting to wash away wonder tape for the zipper. Despite the obstacles, their perseverance paid off in the end with some stunning anoraks strutting down the runway.


Upcycling High Street Tops with Luxurious Leather

The second challenge brought something new and exotic into the sewing room – leather! The sewers were tasked with upcycling a ready-to-wear high-street shirt by adding a leather design element. For many, this was their first foray into garment leatherwork. Sewing with leather poses difficulties including intricate cutting, special needles, proper adhesion, and achieving clean finishes. Leather’s unforgiving nature means mistakes are glaringly obvious.

Our crafters got creative with their leather additions, from sharp collars to bold yokes to sleek pockets. Through trial and error, they discovered tricks like using paper-backed adhesive for clean application. Edge painting and topstitching gave their designs polished, professional finishes. While some sewers struggled with slipped stitches and puckered edges, others excelled and found they enjoyed the process. Working with such a sumptuous material brought out their artistic sides. The final runway looks proved leather can add a modern edge and luxury to any garment.


Buddying Up to Sew Velvet Trousers

The final challenge was the most nerve-wracking yet – sewing a pair of trousers out of the notoriously tricky fabric, velvet. Smooth and fluid yet incredibly delicate, velvet is irresistibly touchable yet a nightmare to work with. The nap can crush and mark at the slightest provocation, it shifts and distorts off-grain, and stitches disappear into the plush pile.

To conquer this fabric foe, the sewers paired off into “fit buddies” to help each other through the process. Having an extra pair of hands for fitting, pinning, and maneuvering the velvet made a world of difference. They also discovered some velvet-specific tricks: lightweight paper for patterns, fine silk pins, nap layouts, and steam pressing.

The buddying system proved ingenious, as the sewers supported each other through velvet troubles and celebrated successes. From narrowed legs to gaping waists, they worked collaboratively to problem-solve. In the end, their teamwork paid off with trousers that draped and flowed as beautifully as the noble fabric itself. Though far from perfect, the final garments were testaments to tenacity.


Key Takeaways from Sewing Tricky Fabrics

While this episode certainly tested the sewers’ skills and composure, it also demonstrated that any fabric, however tricky, can be tamed with patience, planning, and the right techniques. Some key takeaways:

  • Interfacing and interlining can strengthen flimsy fabrics and prevent distortions. Fusible products make the process easy.
  • The Layout is crucial – tissue paper and nap layouts prevent shifting. Cutting one layer at a time ensures precision.
  • Go slowly, take your time, and hand-baste when needed. Rushing leads to frustrating mistakes.
  • Use the right tools – fine pins, silk thread, and micro tex needles. Investing in specialty tools pays off.
  • Enlist help for fitting and seaming. A second pair of hands makes a world of difference for balky fabrics.
  • Don’t fear failure! Even mistakes made by sewing difficult fabrics become valuable learning experiences.

While tricky fabrics require more care and patience, the payoff is garments with beautiful drapes, fluidity, and luxury. Unsung heroes like leather, velvet, and nylon create showstopping looks impossible with wovens alone. Stepping outside our cotton comfort zone expands our skills exponentially. Though challenging, sewing with finesse and purpose can tame even the most unruly of fabrics.



The Great British Sewing Bee has cemented itself as one of the most beloved sewing competitions on television. This episode, in particular, showcased everything that makes the show so special – the camaraderie of the contestants, the wisdom of the judges, and most of all, the pure passion for the craft.

Watching home sewers grapple with unfamiliar materials reminded us that sewing requires grit. Frustration and mistakes are inevitable, but perseverance prevails. When focused on the process rather than the product, creativity flows. Even the most temperamental fabrics can be charmed with the right techniques.

Claudia Winkleman shined as a host who provided moral support laced with playful humor. The judges struck the perfect balance between constructive criticism and encouragement. Their guidance pushed the sewers to stretch their skills and problem-solve on their own.

Above all, this episode celebrated sewing itself – the handiwork, attention to detail, and feelings of accomplishment it brings. The Great British Sewing Bee inspires us all to experiment fearlessly, get creative with our materials, and find joy in making.


Frequently Asked Questions


What are some of the most difficult fabrics to sew with?

Some of the trickiest fabric types include:

  • Sheers like chiffon and georgette – are prone to puckering and distorting
  • Stretchy knits like jerseys – tend to curl, stretch out of shape
  • Pile fabrics like velvet and corduroy – extremely delicate, crushable pile
  • Leather & vinyl – requires specialty tools and techniques
  • Silky fabrics like charmeuse – slippery, delicate, and challenging to cut
  • Densely woven wool – frays and shifts off-grain easily
  • Synthetics like nylon – are very slippery with no give, unforgiving of mistakes
What sewing machine needles work best for difficult fabrics?

Having the proper machine needle makes a world of difference when sewing tricky fabrics. Some top options include:

  • Jersey/ballpoint needles for knits – rounded tip slips between knit fibers
  • Leather needles – sharp cutting point and larger eyes avoid ripping leather
  • Microtex/sharp needles – thin sharp points pierce delicates without damage
  • Stretch needles – deep groove and scarf prevents skipped stitches in knits
  • Denim needles – ultra-sharp to pierce heavy denim and canvas
  • Synthetic/Metafil needles – thin point and reduced friction for synthetics
How can I ensure a good pattern layout with fussy fabrics?

Proper pattern layout helps prevent stretching, distortion, and off-grain cutting errors:

  • Cut one layer at a time instead of folding the fabric
  • Use tissue paper between each layer as a buffer
  • Align pattern pieces precisely along grainlines
  • Lay out pattern pieces in the direction of a nap or greatest stretch
  • Use weights, pins, or spray adhesive to secure layers
  • Mark pieces clearly before removing pattern
  • Cut delicately with sharp shears on a large surface
What sewing techniques work best for tricky fabrics?

Special techniques can help conquer difficult fabrics:

– Baste seams by hand before sewing to prevent slipping
– Use silk or applique pins that won’t mark delicate fabrics
– Press seams flat as you sew to control stretching and distortion
– Grade/trim/notch seams to reduce bulk in heavy fabrics
– Understitch seam allowances to keep facings and hems from rolling
– Use wash away wonder tape and glues sparingly to control synthetics
– Add interfacing or underlining for stabilization and body

What tricks help when fitting trousers in slippery or delicate fabrics?

Fitting trousers in challenging fabrics can be helped by:

– Interfacing waistbands and pockets for stability
– Basting vital seams like inner leg and crotch seams first
– Having a partner pin and check the fit as you try them on
– Using clothespins instead of pins to avoid holes in delicate fabrics
– Placing tissue paper between fabric layers to prevent friction and ripping
– Sewing a test muslin first to perfect the fit before cutting good fabric

What is The Great British Sewing Bee?

The Great British Sewing Bee is a competitive sewing show airing on Amateur home sewers compete in challenges testing their garment construction skills and creativity. Claudia Winkleman hosts, while judges Patrick Grant and May Martin provide guidance. It has run for over 7 seasons and has gained a devoted international following.

How is The Great British Sewing Bee different from Project Runway?

While Project Runway focuses on fashion design and creativity, Sewing Bee celebrates the craft of sewing itself. Challenges involve fundamental techniques like patternmaking, fitting, construction methods, and fabric modification. Contestants are everyday home sewers rather than aspiring designers. The tone emphasizes learning and growth over drama.

Who are the judges on The Great British Sewing Bee?

The main judges are Patrick Grant and May Martin. Patrick Grant is a fashion designer and director of Saville Row tailoring house Norton & Sons. May Martin is a leading sewing and embroidery expert, author, and teacher. They provide in-depth technical knowledge combined with an encouraging teaching style.


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