Thursday, December 15, 2005

So far out, I'm IN

When I was...oh, nine-ish...I got this Sew Perfect toy sewing machine for Christmas. It had a real needle and actually worked, in the sense that you could stitch two pieces of cloth together and they would stay affixed for a limited amount of time before unraveling. The set came with a couple snap-in thread cartridges and a handful of simple patterns; the only one I ever mastered was the Draw-String Bag: basically an open-ended fabric rectangle with a two-inch seam that you could run a ribbon or a piece of yarn through. A more-capable-seamstress friend of my grandmother's kindly gave me a big box of her fabric scraps, and I stitched up a whole bevy of those stupid Draw-String Bags. I should probably mention that they were all maybe six inches square, so we're not talking handy beach tote or even lunch sack here. But they matched my skill set--of sewing four relatively straight seams.

I also tried my hand at some doll clothes...but all of these garments were ponchos, a square with a hole in the middle. Occasionally a belt, if I was really feeling creative. When, two years ago, I made my own kitchen curtains out of cut-up IKEA tablecloths, on Michelle's machine, everybody asked me "Can you SEW?" Well, girls, I can make A SQUARE. With a rod pocket, too--in essence, the classic Draw-String Bag writ large.

This is a long-winded way for me to get to my admission that I'm addicted to Project Runway again. First, I appreciate the fact that it's a reality show that tests its participants on a measurable skill--it's not just mazes and puzzles in the jungle, or random promotions of salad dressing/toothpaste/Donald Trump spring water. These people make stuff. And of course it helps that the designers are dramatic and dorky and occasionally batshit crazy...but really I'm mesmerized more by the skill itself than any participant histrionics.

I mean, these competitors can think and sketch and cut and pin fabric, and all of a sudden whip up fully three-dimensional garments, literally out of whole cloth/thin air, and then here comes an outfit down the runway on this or that freakishly stomping model. This ability is so foreign to my way of thinking that I'm entirely awestruck each time...astonished as if they'd brought out a dog riding a bicycle or playing the trumpet. My imagination simply does not work that way, and so every single ensemble strikes me as MIRACULOUS. How do they do that?!? So weird, and so cool.

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