It’s been a while since I pulled out my sewing machine. It’s been even longer since I started a new sewing project (years?). Yet, sewing has been on my mind a lot lately. So has the pile of fabric and sewing supplies I have stashed away in odd corners of the house. It’s one of my many hobbies.
Stitch Sewing is in my blood. My mother was a seamstress while I was growing up. Really, she was a clothing designer. She had her own line of active wear in Hawaii. Much of what I wore, she made. My Halloween costumes kicked ass. Our home was filled with scraps of fabric and swatch samples from fabric companies. Those bits made awesome Barbie clothes. I learned to sew by making miniature swim suits, skirts, pillows, and blankets. I learned at an early age to only cut fabric with the sewing scissors – or else.
I believe I was about 8 when I learned to wield a needle. Within a few years I was using a sewing machine and I started working on a quilt project that my mom had stashed in a closet. By age 16 I was brave enough to make my own prom dress. As a tried and true procrastinator, it wasn’t a surprise that I was hastily hemming it when my date arrived to pick me up. Over the course of my lifetime I have made curtains, pillow covers, and my most ambitious project was a fitted couch cover.
Yet no project took as long as the infamous quilt. My Mom started it before I was born (1976) and I finished it in 2010. I worked on it on and off at so many different times of my life, all with the determination to give it to my Mom as either a birthday or mother’s day present. I even dragged it to NY with me where I didn’t own a sewing machine.
Sewing is messy. Thread gets everywhere. Sewing machines are heavy and like to stay in one place, not get hauled in and out of closets. You also need a big area for ironing and cutting fabric. My grandmother had an entire room for it. At one point my Mom did too. It was essential, people used to make everything. I have never had a good place in my world for sewing, yet I still love it and will go through all of that bother to make something.
At some point I bought a quilting book to try and get a little help – not helpful. It wasn’t until I met Tom’s family friend Carol Wintrick that I realized just how different quilting was from basic sewing. She agreed to look at my quilt and gave me some good advice. The fabric was wrong (all different types and much of it stretchy) the seams were a mess and a big section of it wasn’t even aligned in squares (that part was from when I was 12). The big kicker was that I would need a backing fabric that matched (most of) the material used to make the front. That would be an antique Mexican table cloth – shit. It was discouraging and it got stuffed in the back of the closet once again.
Flash forward to me, pregnant and the owner of a working sewing machine, sitting at my Mother’s kitchen table. I was staring down at it running my hands across the table cloth and then it hit me. “Mom, is this an antique Mexican table cloth, as in the kind you used to make shorts and then use the scraps for the quilt? Great, can I have it?” Now I was in business. Seam ripper in hand I tore apart all of the bad sections and spread it across the floor. I pinned it together how it should go and then turned to the All-Mighty-Internet. With it’s help I was able to get to the stage where I could attach the backing fabric. Now for the part that is actually called “quilting.” Stall.
Then I was put on bed rest. Nothing was cozier than being covered in warm memories, watching bad TV and slowly pulling the threads in and out, finally making it look like something. Then Melody came. It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I was able to finish it, bind the edges (more internet videos), and FINALLY give it to my Mom. It was an awesome gift, but not nearly as awesome as the gift she gave me – the power to sew.
Our home renovation plans include space for me and my hobbies. Melody and I are already planning the things we are going to make. I can’t wait to have a place to sew and to teach Melody to sew so that I can pass on this powerful gift to her.