Monday, March 16, 2009

My sewing story

For creative writing last semester we were to write one piece that was to encapsulate us and our history in some way - the guidelines were vague but there. After a lot of brainstorming and false starts this little story is what I came out with. It's sort of about how I first learned to sew but really it's, at heart, about female bonding, the stress we put on ourselves to be domestic, and evil sewing machines. Posting because (a) I haven't gotten around to photographing my latest SWAP stuff and want to post SOMETHING and (b) I figured y'all could relate. :) One caveat - this isn't a terribly polished piece, it's definitely a rough draft. But I still enjoyed it. I got to read it outloud and at the "saucy" line in the first paragraph EVERY female in the room was laughing while the guys were looking at each other and asking what was so funny. It was fantastic. :)

And mom, if you're reading this - please know that after I read this, you were the hero and soul mate of every woman in that class.

Domestic Bonding

Mom tried to teach me to sew, she really did. When I was nine she felt it was time for some female bonding and pulled out her old plastic machine, the sort that costs less than a blind date and performs just as well. But her mom sewed, her grandmother sewed, and her great grandmother sewed so some sense of history (or, more likely, domestic guilt heightened by nine years of microwaved dinners and store bought birthday cakes) led her to clear out a corner in the junk room for that machine.

I swear it hissed when she moved it.

With care mom showed me how to cut out the pattern, lay it out on the fabric, then swear when it all slid off the table in a heap. Next came the seams and the first match with the machine. The needle broke. New needle, restart the seam – and the needle broke again, this time sending a sharp shard pinging off against mom's glasses.

It was official, the sewing machine was out for blood.

Yet another new needle, and many colorful words later I'd learned quite a bit about sewing – the first being that mom was best left to do it on her own. I didn't want to be a casualty in the war between her sense of maternal guilt and that machine. Many dark evenings later mom emerged, triumphant, with my new nightgown. It was – creative. Lovingly made. Happily handmade with care. And oh so very, very twee. I tried it on and hid my relief that, in addition to being stiff and dead ugly, it was also two sizes too small. And unlike a grinch's heart, this was not about to grow. Mom taught me yet another new word and the nightgown and machine were both bundled away out of sight.

Years and a home economics class later I disturbed the machine again with visions of a dress for the high school play dancing in my mind. After all, it couldn't be too difficult, right? I'd underestimated the machine's resentment at being pulled from it's dark reseting place. In the end the epic battle between woman and machine was done and I emerged, mostly triumphant, with a medieval dress that almost looked wearable. If you squinted. It was a proud moment. The machine conceded defeat grudgingly though it never got used to being used and four years later it committed suicide. With that, a new machine came into my life, my grandmother's beautiful vintage Viking with solid metal gears and a whole box of beautiful feet. A partnership was born and together we've spent many lovely summer afternoons.

Mom, in her turn, has happily gone on with life without a homicidal sewing machine lurking in the closet and has started up a successful scrap-booking career that supports her new life of work and friends, and dinners out. And we've bonded, instead, over pedicures, trips, and a mutual dislike for domestic ought-to-bes.


Becky said...

Heehee!! That's just great. :D

Faye Lewis said...

What an interesting and funny story!

Sharon said...

Great story! Couldn't help but to laugh out at the "saucy" line in the first paragraph.