My Mama Taught Me to Sew
I first used a sewing machine when I was in 7th grade. Or was it 8th grade? Okay, I'm not sure if it was 7th or 8th grade but I made a gray sweatshirt for middle school Home Economics class and, truth be told, it was not that good. I remember fighting with the elastic ribbing around the cuffs and waistband while questioning my decision to go ahead with the sweatshirt project at all. My elastic band bunched up under the presser foot and my sweatshirt was not the custom fit I'd been promised. It fit. But not like I hoped.
Fast-forward about five years. I was a senior in high school and proudly told my guidance counselor that I was dropping calculus to take a sewing class instead. He tossed some papers onto his desk and exhaled dramatically and then proceeded to lecture me about getting into colleges and necessary scholarships and while I mostly tuned-out I do remember him asking, "And when are you ever going to use sewing again in your life?". Oh, yes, high school.
Fast-forward again but just a few months later. I was finishing my final project for my sewing class (a calf-length sundress, mind you, purple and white flower print, very full skirt, tank top, empire waist, complete with matching lavender buttons at the neckline) and my mother insisted I stitch the hemline by hand. By hand? By hand. As you can imagine, the thought of stitching a blind stitch by hand to finish the very full skirt was nothing short of tortuous. I thought she had lost her mind.
Now, my recollection is that I stayed up for hours stitching that hemline for school the next morning. My mother's recollection, however, is that I stitched only a few stitches and then she stayed up for hours finishing the hemline for me. Admittedly, I'm certain she is right and my memory is the rosy-colored one. But, regardless, we got an A! Yes "we". And the teacher made special comment about that hand stitched hem. (Thanks, Mama.) The sewing class taught me how to read a pattern, how to use fancy materials like interfacing, and how to take measurements, but my mama taught me to sew.
Fast-forward another two years. I was hooked on dressmaking. Simple, empire waist, tank top, short and long dresses. There was a frog print I adored. A series of stripes and florals and plaids. But our first love is hard to forget, right? That lilac print dress with the matching lavender buttons? Still my favorite of the batch. I sold a number of dresses at a local boutique while I was making my way through college. This was before Etsy. Before I knew the term "DIY". Before I ever read a blog. Because, eh hem, this was before I had an email account. Gasp! This was just what I was doing to make some extra money between classes. Instinct--we always circle back to it, I swear.
And so. This morning as I put the finishing touches on my blue & orange reconstructed dress, I couldn't help but stitch the hemline by hand (dear Mama). And I didn't huff or puff. I didn't frown or twist or even curse. Instead I stitched a blind stitch and noticed how it didn't pucker or gather or jam the fabric but how it allowed for so much more accuracy than machine sewing. I noticed how quickly it went in comparison to applique or embroidery. And I even went so far as to stitch the sleeves by hand too. Just because, I suppose.
And, that said, it seems the sewing class was more useful than the calculus class after all, huh, Mr. Guidance Counselor? You know, just for the record.