Croft Mill

The Great British Sewing Bee Series 9 - Episode 3 Recap

In this week’s episode of the Great British Sewing Bee the ten remaining sewers paid homage to the rich and vibrant fashion traditions of West Africa. The judges were joined by a distinguished guest judge, renowned Nigerian fashion designer, Banke Kuku.

Banke Kuku, an esteemed figure in the Nigerian fashion scene, brings her expertise and discerning eye to the judging panel. Her invaluable insights and advice guided the sewers through the colourful and intriguing world of West African fashion.

Beware of spoilers ahead as we delve into this captivating exploration of West African fashion, where creativity knows no bounds and the skills of the contestants is pushed to its limits.

Pattern Challenge

The Pattern Challenge tasked the sewers with creating the iconic Ghanaian batakari or fugu tunic. This unique and intricate sewing challenge begins with the meticulous task of sewing together strips of hand-woven deboya fabric.

The deboya fabric, carefully woven by hand, showcases the mastery of Ghanaian weavers and the remarkable textures and patterns that define the batakari. By stitching together these strips, the contestants could sure appreciate the labour-intensive process and the beauty that emerges from its intricate construction.

As the challenge progressed, the sewers had to navigate the complexities of aligning the strips, ensuring precision in every seam. Each stitch is a testament to their dedication and attention to detail, as they strive to replicate the stunning aesthetics of the Ghanaian batakari. Queue a few wonky (and proper high – *ahem Matthew) pockets!

You can create similar designs yourself at home by using strips of heavier cotton canvas fabrics and cotton linings for the neck and pockets.


Transformation Challenge

The Transformation Challenge gave the sewists just 90 minutes on the clock to set their sights on the exquisite beauty of hand-dyed adire fabric (a.k.a tie-dye fabric), to fashion breathtaking dresses using the art of draping. Every fold and pleat is a deliberate decision, as they seek to highlight the unique patterns and colour variations that make adire so visually captivating. We loved Laurens pleats and folds in her dress and can totally see this parading down a Mediterranean sea front!

Originating from the rich Nigerian textile tradition, adire fabric represents a true celebration of craftsmanship and creativity. Its vibrant hues and intricate patterns tell stories of cultural heritage and artistic expression.

As the minutes ticked away, the fabrics began to take shape, evolving into stunning dresses that paid tribute to the Nigerian aesthetic.


Made To Measure

The Made-to-Measure round saw the sewers create their own versions of the iconic and majestic boubou. These dramatic and flowing wide-sleeved robes, worn by men and women across West Africa, represents a true embodiment of West African fashion, symbolising elegance, cultural heritage, and sartorial splendour.

As the boubous took shape, the contestants paid homage to the rich diversity of West African fashion by incorporating their own personality and experiences with the fabrics and trimmings they used. Lizzie was inspired by her own trip to Africa, Asmaa brought in some of her own culture to create a dazzling design and we had a chuckle at Laurens fan-tastic fabric choice.

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Garment of the Week went to Lizzie’s gorgeous bamboo silk boubou. It was beautifully sewn and practically flawless.

We had to say farewell to Maria and we loved her fabric choice for the last challenge. She’s definitely a fellow lover of purple!

Next Week – Reduce, Re-use and Recycle week!

Sewing Bee Image Credit: BBC/Love Productions/­­­James Stack
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