SEW far, so good. That’s how the first couple of weeks of BBC Two’s latest let’s get crafty series seems to be shaping up.
Now let me put my sewing box on the table right from the off. I’m not one for all these wooden spoons at five paces cookery series.
I’m the least competitive soul on the block so why people can’t just enjoy making things without having to be crowned the best blow-torch wielding brulee maker on the planet is beyond me. But I digress.
I’ve avoided all the masterly cheffing and beat me in a bake-off sorts of shows only to find myself neatly stitched up by the trailer for yet another of the make do and mend TV offerings.
Don’t get me wrong. I was up there with the rest of the girls in my class who dreaded weekly sewing lessons. Well why would you at age 11 want to make a peg bag or an apron?
Clearly I went to a school loaded with young feminists!
Maybe it was more because we all lived in fear of the stentorian tones of our teacher who could spot a crooked stitch from the end of the playground.
I was deemed as button-fingered as the rest until I single-handedly whipped off the covering from a 30 feet catwalk and nonchalantly folded it in a trice. And neatly.
It was a memorable moment. My teacher gaped, my friends giggled.
“How on earth did YOU do that?” she boomed.
A newly acquired Saturday job in a fabric shop, taught by the lovely Tina, meant I had measuring, cutting and folding any amount of material absolutely taped.
After that my teacher took a different tack with me. My sewing became “neat and painstaking” rather than “slow and plodding” as she’d previously barked at me.
It has, though, left my passion for sewing holding on by a thread.
Like most of my generation, I can dart off into minor alterations, curtain making, even replacing a zip. But having my off-duty hours threaded with sewing projects? I’m afraid not.
So why I tuned into the Great British Sewing Bee, I’ll never know.
Possibly it was that trailer which offered a glimpse of so many apparently nice, straightforward people trying to do their best which suggested that this programme would have soothing viewing stitched up.
And so it proved.
Claudia Winkleman, she of the permanently puckered fringe, fussed around like a mother hen.
I worried that judges May Martin, “the best sewing teacher in the world,” and Patrick Grant, the laconic, impeccably suited and booted Savile Row tailor, might try to unpick that famous furrowing.
But smiling Claudia smoothed her way round judges and contestants and here was the key.
HGV mechanic Mark wasn’t your obvious candidate for fine threadwork.
But this fan of “steam-punk” events (TV’s such a learning curve!) proved a revelation.
Taught to sew by his mum rather than an ex-PE teacher with a bit of a parade ground manner, Mark found her lessons came in handy when he needed a costume for his steam-punking.
Libraries supplied the authentic Victorian detail and Mark’s skill with a needle did the rest.
I was rooting for him from the start along with Ann, an elegant grandmother in her 80s, a self-confessed yoga-nut who you could imagine sewing while standing on her head.
What that woman managed to create with the aid of a tape measure and plenty of pins was amazing. Remember when clothes fitted properly?
And I think that’s where I’ve been pleated into the fabric of this particular passion for creativity.
I can’t be the only one who remembers the days when if you wanted a new dress you didn’t head for the high street. You got out the sewing box, or pleaded with someone in the family who was niftier with a needle than you were.
Now sewing is being seen as the best new thing. Nothing changes really does it?