Monday, February 15, 2016


In a former life, I sewed a lot. I grew up, of course, in the late sixties and seventies, and loads of people made their own clothes, or adapted clothes, or remade things, etc. I took Home Ec. I sewed dresses for myself and also I learned to make food items from other food items, like Balloon Buns from a butter and cinnamon-sugar dipped marshmallow rolled into a crescent roll dough triangle and baked till the marshmallow melted, leaving behind an ineffable caramelized redolence of sugar. That, my friends, was a culinary art unto itself.

However, sewing: I learned how to lay out a pattern and how to rip out a seam that I sewed badly because--as with everything else--I was and am impatient and hasty and a hurrier. I learned sewing situations that were ideal for my skill level--making the same pattern for the third time, for instance--and sewing situations that were always going to be a disaster--high fashion-pretender patterns that ended up just being weird. Also, over the years, I find that filling a bobbin with thread is, like, quantum physics, and thus my sewing machine sits idle.

However: I can hem a clothing item. And I can sew on a button. I can mend a torn pocket.

Last night I sewed loose buttons on one two three coats while we watched an especially speedy and plot-stirring episode of The Good Wife. Tonight, whilst the historian did tedious and swear-inducing work at his desk, I hemmed a skirt that was just a little bit too long. I cut off the too long part in a three-inch wide swath. Then I folded the cut edge into a narrow hem and stitched away while watching Master of None. Very satisfying.

Over the past few weeks, I did some of my most delicate work yet by hand, mending the pockets of a pair of jeans that my youngest son would be taking with him when he moved to Massachusetts. The fabric of the pockets was quite thin, so thin that I surmised the makers of this garment had chosen a cheap and unsuitable fabric for the pockets of a young man's jeans, what with car keys and coins and whatnot. Even so, I fitted the torn edges together while we chatted away about this or that. At least I think we chatted while I sewed. I like that image, me fixing the pockets for my son, because I had learnt to sew in olden times, and him talking to me while I sewed my very sturdy stitches. The pocket, if flattened into a single layer, would look like a crazed scar. But it was mended, and it's possible--I like to think so--that he may even have worn the jeans when he got in his new car and drove away, across America.



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