Friday, December 16

"Why I Don't Sew" ... or "I will Never be Martha"

Colors of the Season: A Glass Quilt

I "sewed" this Glass Quilt with my computer, a closeup photo of a glass dish and some tweaking in Photoshop.

The only thing I didn't have to do was use a needle and thread or sewing machine!

My four sisters, my two sisters-in-law and my mom are handy with a sewing machine. I am not. I do not sew by hand or machine. I break out in hives if I feel pressured to replace a button or contribute to a friendship quilt. If I have to hem something, I use staples or duct tape. I've made numerous curtains for my dorm rooms and various apartments by just folding fabric lengths over at the top to make a "tube" then threading them onto curtain rods. No hemming required. Voila! Instant Curtains! Table cloths are super easy. The fabric store clerks are always nice enough to cut the cloth to the right length -- all I have to do is put it on our table. Simple! If I'm missing a button on my shirt cuff, a safety pin will substitute nicely, thank you very much! Before all my sisters got really busy sewing for their own kids, they used to occasionally sew something for me to wear if I gave them the fabric and pattern. Of course, I loved that!

I do know how to sew. In fact, I'm still proud of the complete wardrobe I made for my Jill doll when I was about 8 or so ... yeah, I can sew. What ruined me for sewing was a "bad experience" in junior highschool -- in my Home Economics class where we had to learn to sew their way. Our assignment was to sew something we could wear. We were graded on our choice of style and fabric and it's appropriateness to our body shapes; the quality of our sewing, the final product and oh, yeah (how embarassing) -- on how well we "modeled" the clothing to the class and teacher. This was back when Home Ec also included chapters on how to sit, walk and stand like a "lady." Hmph!

Oooh boy! I bombed out on that assignment big time. This was in the 60's, when very short skirts, flowy poets shirts and vests were starting to be trendy. I chose a tube skirt (a rectangle with one seam, the waistband was just folded over, stitched then elastic inserted into the tube) and vest (the vest was about an inch shorter than the skirt.) I chose a brown tweed fabric -- I think it was from the upholstery department (I was into hand weaving, earthy-mama stuff then) and big wooden buttons for the front of the vest. My first frustration was that while handsewing the skirt hem, I sewed the skirt to the jeans I was wearing at the time. Okay, that's fixable. Next came the so-called waistband. It was easy (right down my alley) ... but when I tried the skirt on, I cried to see how bunchy the waistband was, making me even more self-conscious than I already was, about my body shape. Oh well, nothing to do about that - I had to carry on. The vest button holes were the hardest part of this project but with perservereance and help from my mother, I got 'em done. Only thing was, I discovered the chunky buttons did not want to go through the button holes.

I had saved my babysitting money to buy a batiste poet's blouse to wear with my "burlap" outfit thinking that would soften the effect. The blouse had cuffs up to my elbows, huge billowy sleeves and hundreds of tiny buttons. I still fondly remember it. It was almost see-through, so I had to buy it myself-- I didn't want to expend the enormous effort it would have taken to talk my dad into buying it for me. Of course, the blouse was expensive, so it probably took more effort to earn the money babysitting than it would have taken to convince my dad.

Anyway, the day we had to model our sewing projects was, in my memory, the most embarassing day of my young life -- to that point. I already had a complex about being a big girl (although in retrospoect, I wasn't big I was just tall, and thought I was "big) but the skirt and vest were about the least flattering thing I could have chosen to wear -- ever! Mom was encouraging, as she always was with us kids ... so off I went to my 7th grade Home Ec class wearing something much more suitable to a sofa than to a self-conscious adolescent. I don't remember the grade my teacher gave me -- probably a C, maybe worse. The C would have been because she felt sorry for me, not because there was even an inch of merit in this outfit (by her standards.)

I don't remember ever wearing that skirt and vest again. But I did make another skirt and vest to show off my hard-earned poet's blouse. I made them of dark blue crushed velvet.