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KEEPING YOU IN STITCHES
Gah. I hate sewing.

It goes all the way back to when I was 13 or 14, taking home ec in junior high. Even though all my girlfriends were in the class with me, and it was only for a term (we alternated to woodshop, which was okay...I made the cutest mouse-shaped cheeseboard for my mom which she still has, and then cooking class, which I also hated, but mostly because the teacher was so awful. She stood over your freshly baked and just-removed-from-the-oven brownies and scratched her dandruffy head RIGHT OVER THEM. *shudder*)

My sewing skills are only what you'd call serviceable. They certainly aren't PRETTY and I wouldn't offer them to anyone who didn't need just a button sewn back on or a seam whipped shut again. In 7th grade sewing class we had to make an apron if I remember correctly, and I probably don't since I've blocked out most of the trauma. Mine was offwhite, with a brown and orange (hurray for the 70s!) trim. I don't think I even finished it, although it might still be stuffed in the bottom of a bag somewhere in the back of one of my mom's closets.

In 9th grade, I was invited to homecoming by a very skinny curly-haired boy named Larry. I have only known 3 men named Larry in my life. None of them have made a very good impression. I said yes partly because I didn't know what else to say and partly because my girlfriends were all going and what if this was my only chance? And I made my dress. With a LOT of help from my mom. In fact, if memory serves, she pretty much finished the thing because god knows if I had been the one really responsible for it, I'd probably still be sewing now. I had only myself to blame for the pattern and the fabric, however. And the hair. OMG the hair! Pre-Barky horror! I remember the dress, but I have zero memories of that homecoming dance. And it was the only one I ever went to, so it seems a waste.

But my mom did manage to teach me the fastest, easiest way to thread a needle (I can thread a needle faster than just about anyone I know), and how to put quick knots into the end of the thread and how to sew through the ending loops to keep the end tight to the cloth instead of unraveling. I know the right way to put the needle in and under and through so that it comes sliding out right over the top (instead of under...ow!) of my thumbnail, but my stitches are messy and uneven since 1) I'm left-handed and it appears I'm actually sewing backwards somehow, and 2) I never practice because well, I HATE sewing. Even though I did crewel embroidery for years as a teenager, I outgrew the patience it requires and gave it up long ago.

People who sew, who quilt, who can run a sewing machine without ending up wrapped in a massive snarl of thread, are nothing short of amazing to me. I know it's an acquired skill like any other, but to actually do it because you like it? and do it well? Wow.

My mother-in-law sewed the curtains for all our bedrooms, the computer room, our kitchen and the playroom. She regularly sews little loops on jackets and hand towels for us, and has hemmed pants for me on request. As I stated above, the most I manage is returning buttons to their proper homes and occasionally fixing a seam. So I was a little daunted to be handed a treasure by my tearful daughter this evening. The penguin which she had SEWN HERSELF during daycare when she was 5 years old was coming apart at the seams...ALL OF THEM, and was in danger of losing both of his corduroy wings. "Hrm," I said, thinking uh oh, this one calls for farmor...when I looked up again and saw her sad face. "Okay honey," I soothed, "I'll fix it. Go back to bed."



Karin made the entire penguin herself, from scratch. She cut him out, stuffed him, sewed him up, added his blue cap and wings, sewed on a pocket and button eyes and button buttons. She cut out and sewed on a closeable orange beak. He has red stitching all the way around his body, big loopy stitches that are nonetheless sewn with obvious care and love.

So I sewed him up, using a thread that matched his body so you can't see MY stitches, only hers. I had to thread 3 needles to finish him up, all the way around, re-attaching his wings and tightening up all the seams. And then I knotted the last knot and cut the end off and went and tucked him into bed with her and smiled as her hand tightened around his cloth torso and her whole body relaxed. It was totally worth the three times I accidentally stabbed myself with the needle.



Cracking Me Up: Christmas with Clint
 good
mood: good
music: Onlyforward—Like Candy


Comments

*sniff, sniff* Lovely. Just, wonderful.

Now that dress...

LOL! I know. I couldn't live with the horror alone anymore...I had to share.

aaw, too cute, both daughter & penguin and teenage Liz in horridly patterned dress.

I am a klutz with the sowing too, and I have trauma and memory blocks from crafts class. (crafts is the only subject I've ever received the equivalent of an F in, I think I managed to boost it to a C one year though...)

Hee! You know what? I still kinda like that fabric. It grows on you. hahahaha!

Aw! Just that one picture of her is worth every stitch and finger prick. I hated sewing class too. I made a pair of 70's style psychedelic bellbottom pants.

Great story. I love how you tease us with dress and then end with mother-love-sew-job on the penguin.

(Anonymous)

Oh..the dress! You looked beautiful in it- and I was especially proud that you wanted something that was different from everyone else!
But, wait a minute....I remember sewing another prom dress for you in your senior year. But, I am proud of you for biting the bullet to actually sew when the chips are down and the reason is the best in the world. Moments to remember! Love, Lizardmom

That dress was for PROM. This one was for HOMECOMING. I only went to one prom, too, but I remember that one, and the dress was SO PRETTY! :)

Nighty night Karin!

My sewing skills suck too! I had to WEAR my 8th grade home-ec project- a creepy curduroy skirt to school in order to pass home ec- that thing was UGLY!

Mega-Toys Corporation would like to make an offer for the design of the penguin. They will then send said penguin design to China, where NEXT Christmas it shall flow from the factories as the water of the flood flowed around Noah's world. That penguin is so going to sell.

Too cute.

And I like the camouflage dress. If you are ever attacked by a psychedelic light-show just stand still, and it will never be able to find you ;)

The penguin is so great!

I was delighted reading your story, snarfed at the picture of the prom dress, not to mention the triple Larry reference and oohed and awed at the beautiful sleeping child snuggled around the penguin... but I will never forget the cooking teacher with the dandruff and I may never forgive you for planting that image in my brain.

She still haunts me! :P

As a fellow left-hander I can say that I never enjoyed sewing either! thank god there are people (ie mother-in-laws) that do!

but yeah..those needle pokes were worth it :)

(Anonymous)
apron

I sewed an apron in 7th grade home-ec class too! And I saw it just last weekend in a box in my mom's closet. :-) The apron actually turned out pretty good, but the shirt I made for myself ended up way too small and I gave it to the 4-year-old next door. I hope her mother never let her wear it.
I don't like sewing either but my mother-in-law does -- she's made me some fantastic Halloween costumes over the years.
I took wood-shop the following year and made two things -- a really cute owl which my Dad never appreciated, and a plaque with my name engraved which I still have and is currently hanging in my office at work.
-Kathey

Re: apron

We WERE separated at birth! Although I bet you wouldn't have chosen that fabric for your homecoming dress. :P

Home-ec verses shop class.

Mine was a pink and white ginim (or is it ginhim) with embroidered flowers on the pocket. Us girls couldn't take woodwork/shop class back then, though we always thought shop class was way more cooler.
Your prom dress is fab!

wonderdul job done by Karin.

Re: Home-ec verses shop class.

Another apron!? They really wanted us to be homemakers back then, didn't they?? (it's gingham, by the way, which isn't at all intuitive).

I love it! The whole thing! For so many reasons! :) Last picture is a million-dollar shot!

Last picture speaks a million words of a mother's love and a child's contentment.

I learned to sew when I was quite young...took it for four years in 4-H...and hated every minute of it. Well, that's not entirely true...likee the actual machine-stitching part...just hate the rest of it. But how can one NOT sew to please a wee one? So when my niece said for her birthday this year she wanted me to teach her to sew, I mustered up every ounce of patience and did it. Just like you and the penguin...and what a happy Mama it must make you to know you fixed him all up good. ;)

Thank you so much for sharing those pictures. I love the fact that Karin designed her penguin herself. I'm still sleeping with my bear after 30 years, and I preserve the blue and red stitch jobs I did on him when I was pre-double-digits...

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