Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Silver Thread and Golden Needles"

This is the posting I thought I was writing about yesterday before it morphed into the joys of having my very own Mr. Fix-It.  Today, however, Mr. Fix-It has only a peripheral role to play.  In many ways, this is the companion piece on how different I am from my husband!

I get tired of my clothes fairly quickly and I have always loved going shopping and coming home with a few new things, especially for the changing seasons.  Because of this I have never developed a desire to purchase brand-name or designer clothes.  It's just too costly.  I cannot see spending $200 for a pair of slacks or $300 for a sweater.  With that same $500 I can buy 3 pair of slacks, 3 sweaters, 3 turtlenecks, a belt, and a pair of shoes at Kohl's or Penney's or Macy's (on clearance).  The most I have ever spent on a dress was $600 for the dress I wore to Ratchlet's wedding! (It was gorgeous and worth every penny!)  Even my own wedding dress was borrowed from my cousin.

If you are careful, you can find nice things that look good, but don't cost the national debt.  That is important to someone who would rather have lots of clothes rather than one or two "good" pieces that I then have to wear over and over and over for years!

It's a quirk!  What can I say? 

Now when the Big Guy and I were first married, we were like many young couples starting out....not a lot of money coming in.  He already knew how I felt about clothes.  (He married me anyway!  What a guy!!) 

Anyway, for my birthday the first year we were married, he had the brainstorm to buy me a sewing machine.  We were expecting and he thought I could make clothes for myself and for the baby without spending a lot!  He was so proud of this wonderful idea and he sat watching me open the gift with this look of anticipation on his face that let me realize just what a great present he thought this was!

And it was a great present and a wonderful idea....for someone who loved to sew.  But that, unfortunately, was not me.  Of course, I did not say anything bad.  I was grateful and happy and so pleased at this wonderful gift from my lovely and loving new husband.

What the Big Guy did not know of course, was that I HATED sewing.  Seriously hated it.  During high school all the girls were required (!) to take one year (a whole year!!) of Home Ec.  One semester of cooking and one semester of, you guessed it, sewing.  As a further requirement of the class, you had to make an entire outfit by yourself in order to pass the course. Oh Lordy!  

I decided to make a skirt and blouse.  I chose the simplest pattern I could find (gathered skirt, sleeveless shirt), picked out the fabric, the thread, the scissors, the straight pins, the tracing wheel, the stitch puller, the whole enchilada!  I proceeded to follow the directions to a tee, got my questions answered by the teacher, and struggled all through the project, hating every minute.  My seams were crooked, my stitches uneven, the zipper was a nightmare, and the collar lop-sided.  It wasn't grotesque when it was finally finished but it sure wasn't gorgeous either.  The good thing about sewing is that the messy part is on the inside where no one can see it!  But I knew.

I finished it, I think I got a C, and I passed.  I promptly put sewing out of my mind forever!  I thought.  Until Mikey's gift. 

Well, I was older, I figured I would be better at it and it couldn't be as bad as I remembered, right?  I mean, thousands of people sewed.  I was not an idiot, I could figure this out!  So I sewed!  I made a couple of summer weight maternity tops, and a couple of little baby things.  I wasn't loving it but it wasn't too bad as long as everything was going along well. 

I kept thinking it would get easier as I did it more often.  It didn't.  The machine didn't like me any better than I liked it!  The thread would break, the bobbin would get all snarled, I couldn't ever get the tension right, I would get these enormous knots in the seams.  Each time something like that happened, I would get frustrated and angry, I would yell at the machine (it was ok, Mikey was at work when I sewed!)  Sometimes I would even cry a little. 

Nevertheless I persevered!  I mean after all, he had spent all this money on something for me and I just couldn't let him down.  I made a few other simple things from time to time.  Nothing that would win any prizes but sort of usable. 

When Ratchlet was about 3, I think, I picked out a pattern for a cute little pants and vest outfit that would look really adorable on her.  I laid out the pattern, traced it with the little tracing wheel and carbon paper (do they even DO that anymore??), pinned the fabric, cut it all out, and set it aside all ready to sew.

I got involved in something else for a bit (can't even remember what).  It sat by the sewing machine for a while and every time I saw it I would think I've got to get back to that, but I didn't.  I began to feel really guilty about wasting the money for the pattern and material, so I decided I'd better finish it. 

I held the cut and pinned pants leg up to Ratchlet's waist, just to see if I needed to adjust the length.  Does anyone NOT know what I saw???

The bottom of the leg came to about her knee!  The vest pieces looked more like a bolero than a vest.  The whole thing was completely unsalvagable.  Time had gone by, Ratchlet had grown, but the outfit didn't.  It was useless.

That was it!  No more!  I gave up.  Surrendered.  I  put everything away.  Closed up the machine and stuck it in the back of the closet. Never to be touched by me again!

Even now, all these years later, I still HATE sewing.  Not even using "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" could ever make me into a seamstress.  No matter how much money I could "save" by making my own clothes, I will never touch that evil machine again.  And you know what?  That is more than OK with me! 


  1. My girls, both theatre nerds (or drama queens, pick one) love sewing after spending time in the costume shop at their respective colleges. Although knitting is their first love!

  2. I enjoy sewing but have never done enough of it to be really good at it. (I guess I don't enjoy it ENOUGH.) So I end up with big mistakes...fabric inside-out, etc. I have been happy to discover crocheting because I'm so much better at it...and because it's quiet enough I can do it in front of the TV. :-D

  3. Joanie, Costumers are worth their weight in gold in the theater! Mainly because of people like me who can't make a costume to save their life! My talents lie on the stage, not behind it!!

  4. Hemming my pants frustrates me, making an outfit would put me in the hospital.I shop a lot at Penny's because it is handy, and like you..my wedding dress was borrowed.I do admire people who can sew and makeing costumes sounds like hard work but a lot of fun.

  5. I still remember the skirt I made in Home Ec! By the time the semester was over, I couldn't stand to look at the thing and never wore it. I did sew a lot when my kids were little and I enjoyed it. Then they got more fussy, I started valuing my time more, and the sewing machine gathered dust.


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