As I read television show reviews from an American online magazine, I realize my decision to go with the basic cable package cut me out of the loop. Mostly I don't mind, because real life is a better payoff in the long run. But there is one show I wish I could have watched this season - Project Runway.
Project Runway is a reality show where contestants must design and sew at least one outfit each episode. It may not sound that impressive, but the first time I saw those contestants stitching together real clothing out of mere pieces of cloth, I was fascinated.
The act of sewing has been one long yet intermittent lesson in my life. A do-it-yourself lesson, at that.My great-grandmother could sew clothes of both human and doll varieties. When visiting her house, I sometimes amused myself by constructing Barbie outfits with her scraps of fabric. (I say "constructing" because I didn't get needles and thread, meaning I employed a system of wrapping and tying to keep the ends fastened.) I still remember my favourite Barbie dress made with my own hands - a white, off-the shoulder gown with a red rose sash.
As a teenager, I was endowed with a sewing kit for repairing my own girl-sized clothing. I still did not know how to sew through, so I always made a show of dragging my kit out and sitting on the floor in full view of more experienced seamstresses (my mother and grandmother) while struggling to re-attach straps and buttons. Occasionally my attempts evoked pity and some help, but I mostly figured it out on my own.
Now, I can still be found with a needle and thread, pathetically jabbing at torn fabric or dislocated buttons. This time my efforts are for my husband, who did not have the advantage of playing with fabric or untangling thread as a youth.
I do realize sewing is a traditional female pastime - one often associated with 1950's lemming-wives confined to a barefoot existence of laundry and dishes. Even now I'm not sure whether to be relieved nobody tied me into an apron and enlisted me in home economics classes, or proud that somehow I'm able to salvage a pair of pants with a ripped crotch.
And this is why I liked Project Runway, when I still had that channel. It made sewing look cool, fashionable, and forward-thinking.
The level of talent Project Runway contestants require as they snip, fold and create wearable masterpieces is awe inspiring. Did they learn by taking classes and reading books? Or did they learn by trial and error, sitting in the middle of the floor with their sewing kits?
Either way, I will never be assembling pieces for New York fashion week. I suppose I will have to be content with my husband thinking I'm a genius when he finds a fresh button on an old pair of pants.