As I Sewed, I Ripped
My mother, who should write a book on motivating adolescents, once made me an offer any red-blooded teenage girl would find impossible to resist. She said, "Take home economics and learn to sew. I will buy you all the fabric and patterns for as many outfits as you can make."Skip to next paragraph
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My greedy mind calculated furiously, visions of a color-coordinated wardrobe overflowing my closet. Hey! I could wear a different outfit every single day! "Without limit?" I asked.
And Mom, knowing me only too well, said, "Absolutely! Just as long as you finish each garment before going on to the next."
I should point out that Mom taught home economics in another town and that she sewed most of my sister's and my clothing. And it sure didn't look difficult.
Much pondering at the fabric store later, I'd chosen cloth in my favorite color - a dark, rich purple - with a nubby weave. The pattern picture showed a slim, straight shift with long slender arms and a square neck. The promise "Easy! Make it Tonight!" screaming across the top led me to say, "Maybe I should pick out the stuff for several outfits right away and save us the trouble of coming back in a couple of days."
"Finish this one, and then we'll have the fun of returning," Mom said craftily.
In home-ec class ... well, to understate a bit, things did not go well.
Pinning the pattern pieces on the fabric turned out to be quite tricky, since the material would not lie flat no matter what I did. I spent several class periods just attempting to quell it into a submissive state. And when I finally got to the actual pinning, I ripped the delicate tissue of the pattern pieces and jabbed myself repeatedly.
"This can't be right," I told Mrs. HomeEc Teacher. "They must have given me too many pattern pieces. They don't all fit on the material."
"You just have to keep arranging them," she said. "They'll fit." She scowled at the fabric. "The blood spots will come out if you soak them, I hope."
THERE followed a week or three of pinning, calling the teacher over, watching her frown and shake her head, and unpinning. Then beginning the frustrating cycle again.
Around the fourth week, Mom developed an annoying habit of asking about my project. "Are you ready to go down and get the stuff for the next one?"
The next one! I tried not to shudder at the thought. The dress was already assuming mythic proportions in my life. When I closed my eyes, I saw nubby purple on the inside of my eyelids. At night I dreamed of impossible quests I should never have begun.
In home-ec class, where I seemed to be permanently stuck in some kind of a pinning and repinning and re-repinning twilight zone, the other girls began triumphantly displaying their completed creations. I was happy for them. Kind of.
My teacher must have had a weak moment or abandoned all reason the day I called her over, for about the 9,000th time, to approve my lumpy pinning job. She muttered something about me getting through the entire year without even touching the sewing machine, rolled her eyes, and sighed.
"OK, cut 'er out," she said in a voice underwhelmed with enthusiasm.