Great British Sewing Bee S5 ep1 – a wiggle or a wobble?

Did you watch it? I was delighted to see the Great British Sewing Bee is back on Tv! I loved the first series for giving an insight into the time and trouble it can take to sew a nicely finished Garment.

I love to see the different approaches used by the contestants, because there are so many ways of doing one thing. For example Mercedes used a hole punch on her pattern to allow her to mark darts, Sheila used carbon paper and a tracing wheel ( this never works for me!) and I think I saw tailor tacks/thread tracing being used by Juliet.

The first week was Cotton week, and the challenge was to create a wiggle dress to be modelled on a mannequin. Cotton is relatively easy to work with but the pattern was challenging enough to give us a good idea of the levels of contestants’ skills. After every challenge, I pick my favourites and see if the Judges agree with me!

Wiggle dress from episode 1


They were given 3 hrs and 45 minutes, which seemed fair enough when the dress was unlined and being made without any figure adjustments.

Pattern matching is always an issue – two people had some upside-down fabric designs, and I did wonder how the large pattern Riccardo was using would work out. Ricardo had issues with the zip and didn’t finish in time – He mentioned that he mostly sews menswear (and showed off a fab jacket he had made from a sofa!).

Almost perfect with pattern matching at the waist.

Janet who had never made this type of dress before, had chosen a smaller diamond pattern and also had a few issues with matching things up, and this was noticed by the Judges:

Esme and Patrick casting a critical eye over a zipper seam

Sheila mentioned she hadn’t read through instructions and was figuring it out as she went along – my kind of approach! She seems very experienced and one to watch – her dress was made with a small floral pattern and looked very well made.

Jen also made a very nicely finished dress. She mentioned that she also does woodwork, stain glass, silversmithing, sewing..and even built a wall!

Juliet was my favourite so far – she seemed very calm and confident and even had time to help Leah with the sleeve folds. Both judges loved Juliet’s dress.. good pattern floral, good weight, lovely finish, “very very nicely finished dress” was what Patrick said.
Ben’s dress used a fab red grid fabric and his garment also impressed the judges.

Leah had difficulty with the stretch fabric..slight puckering and a hole at the zip base. It was described as “More of a wobble than a wiggle” ! (Patrick)

I had ranked the top 4 as Juliet, Ben, Sheila, Jen. The judges picked the same four except with Jen in third place and Sheila in fourth.


The Transformation round came next and meant remaking denim, they had 90 mins and could use 3 items.
Lots of very different looks here with gathers in denim, a layered skirt, halter dress, one shouldered top etc. I loved the raglan top that Ricardo made but the Judges didn’t agree as they had asked for original features of the denim garments to be included.

Sheila used trousers legs for sleeves and they looked fab. Surprisingly Juliet went from top to bottom in this challenge. Not the worst garment but it didn’t work well on the mannequin. Mercedes dress was my least favourite in this round.

Not sure about this one!

This time Sheila was 3rd, Alex 2nd with his layered skirt and Jen first with halter dress.



Then it was onto the Jumpsuit round –
This is the made to measure challenge and
contestants all used different patterns that they had practiced with at home.

Because the contestants haven’t worked with their models before, a very tailored jumpsuit would be harder to fit under pressure. They were given 5hrs.

I was surprised that no one left extra fabric at the top of the trousers or the end of the bodice to allow for adjusting the rise. The extra fabric can always be trimmed after fitting…….As a builder once told me – ” It’s better to be looking at it than looking for it”.!!
When a wedgie situation arose, Alexi thought about letting the shoulders down… maybe scooping a little out of the crotch would have helped too. The lack of waist seam didn’t help here.

Sheila’s jumpsuit was “a little hungry in the bum” according to Patrick! For her jumpsuit, Mercedes could have added in a waistband to give some extra length, although time wasn’t on their side. I did feel bad for Tom.. wanting to impress with his lovely design meant he overstretched himself and hadn’t enough time to finish well.


The absolute standout was Juliet – she was cool as a breeze…even adding a belt when she realised there was enough time! Her jumpsuit was unreal! Gorgeous mix of patterns, great fit and design. ” absolutely sensational”.

Apologies for the blur…images taken from my tv!

Janet’s nautical jumpsuit was also fab..really nicely thought out, great fit and style.

So were there any lessons learned…? Here’s my takeaways:
Always follow the brief.
Plan the pattern matching carefully!
Time management is key.
And finally add in some extra fabric/fitting ease when cutting out a garment!

Phew! I can’t wait for next week 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Great British Sewing Bee S5 ep1 – a wiggle or a wobble?

  1. I haven’t watched the last couple of series but I thought I would check it out again. I’m always surprised, and equally appalled, at the description ‘ the ten best dressmakers…..’ . Hmmm . We’ll see.

    • Good point about the description! I definitely think they deliberately pick varying degrees of ability to make for more drama – it’s inexperience that makes people pick the wrong fabric / technique etc and some of the finishing on zips etc was appalling😆! I think I watched the first two seasons and missed it after that, so I’m hoping this will stay interesting to the end !

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