You Will Hate Me, Then You Will Love Me

Remember when Project Runway first came out? Remember when the designers had talent instead of borderline personality disorders? Austin Scarlett’s corn husk dress? I mean, did you just want to cry big, fat tears when that beautiful dress dried up over night? Or what about that Chrysler building inspired dress by Jay McCarroll? Or that ridiculously fierce pairing of Christian Siriano and Chris March? Korto’s seatbelt coat? Yup, those were the good old days.

Since moving to Lifetime, TV Tears for Women Who Like to Cry, PR has died a slow painful death. It’s no longer about talent, but about putting crazy personalities together, shaking them up and then filming what happens. Every once in a while there’s a dress thrown in but it’s nothing memorable.  To watch it now, you’d think they’d collected their designers from some sort of outpatient program where moderately crazy people have been taught to sew.

Imagine my surprise and giddy delight in finding a show called The Great British Sewing Bee on YouTube last week! The contestants are amateurs of great skill and each episode they are challenged to create complicated garments in short periods of time. I’ve already watched season 3 and have just started on season 2. I think the prize is a trophy. I adore this show!

The contestants are genuine and kind. The personality conflicts are non-existent (at least in season 3). The judges’ comments aren’t designed to make them look witty and clever (Michael Kors thinks he’s Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Round Table!) but are actually helpful. I’ve learned so much just by watching (note to self: Google “understitching”. Apparently it’s why my necklines never turn out quite right). I think the contestants compete one day a week and go home for the other 6 days so they don’t have all that time to sit, stew and hate each other.

There have been some tears – I would probably cry too if I put my sleeves on backward or sewed something wrong-side out. But the difference is that I’m at home. Where there’s ice cream and Netflix. Take that away from me and I might meltdown just a wee bit, too.

The contestants also seem to get some advanced knowledge of challenges as they have had time to select a pattern or to perfect techniques. It’s nice to see how they overcome the obstacles and triumph. They also help each other which is so much more refreshing than the crazy stuff that happens on US reality shows. I urge you to check out this show for yourself!