Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nature or Nurture

I love touring the blogs of you ladies who can sew and I'm always amazed at the creativity and skill! I'm really not much with a sewing machine, or anything that involves electricity, for that matter. Call it "sewing-challenged" if you will, it's really not my fault. My mother gladly takes credit (or blame) for all of my domestic short-comings in the sewing room. By her own admission she is not a seamstress, and blames it on the fact that she's left handed. She swears that when others were trying to show her how to knit, or crochet, or sew, inevitably the person doing the teaching would give up in exasperation because her hands were "backwards." And sadly, the sewing disability was passed down to my sister and me.

So when I was 12, my mom decided to break the vicious cycle. (I suppose it was also an effort to compensate for her millinery deficit, or to ease her mother-guilt for not being able to impart any home-ec skills to her daughters.) She gave me a portable sewing machine, sewing scissors, a thimble, and about a million straight pins, and then signed me up for sewing lessons at a local department store. I was like a fish out of water and was, by far, the youngest in the class and probably the most illiterate in sewing lingo. I didn't know my bobbins from my zig-zags, and I thought that "finding a bias" was something good citizens were supposed to avoid. Mind you, I had no Betsy Ross or Martha Stewart at home to tutor me either. Each of the students had chosen a pattern and fabric and set out to make our own dress for the grand finale, a fashion show in which each of us would model our handiwork. That in itself was enough to scare the "zig zag"out of an awkward pre-adolescent. Each lesson was an intimidating struggle, although I did manage to learn to thread the machine, and sew a reasonably straight seam. But my dress was a hideous nightmare--the arms didn't quite match, there were bunches where bunches weren't supposed to be, and it looked like something Igor on Young Dr. Frankenstein might wear. So, unless I was willing to change my anatomy or remake the dress, there was no way I was going to model that. Turns out I never had to decide.

I gave up learning to sew when we came to the lesson on "darts". I wasn't even sure what they were, but it sounded dangerous, and I'm not even left-handed. And the final blow came when one of my fellow students mocked me for not even really needing darts yet. Her name was Bunny, and she was blessed with the need for ample darts. I never went back.

Things worked out okay. I can still thread the machine and sew a straight seam, and when one of my girls needs a prom dress altered or cheerleading skirt made, I have a long list of seamstress friends whose moms apparently were not left handed.

(Editor's note: My Mom happens to be a really great cook and has imparted that as her legacy.)


Bebe said...

Hi Cathy!
I'm Bebe from Georgia, too! Enjoyed your blog ~ you are very talented in your artwork! I've added you to my list of favorite sites, so I'll check by often!

Lori said...

OMG!!! toooooo funny, yes i am right there with you...can't sew other than a straight line...and yes, i took a sewing class too...i made a horrible BRIGHT YELLOW chenille dress, UGLY does not even BEGIN to describe it...thankfully there were no buxom bunnys in my class...she sounds like a real ...well...another "b" word that i am too nice to say...hey!!! i was talking about brat...

carole said...

Hi Cathy:
I can sew since about 7 years old; but I am green with envy every time I gaze upon one of your papier mache artful creations. I am personally glad you do not sew so your hands can stay busy with your whimsical characters!!!
You are "IT"

Suzanne said...

This was so funny Cathy! My Mom "tried" to teach me herself one summer and I remember making this ugly pair of line green terry cloth shorts! UGH! They were so uneven, they made me walk funny when I wore them.

Angela said...

I am really good at cooking too! And I am also left-handed. Maybe that is why the sewing machine is not my friend.