Sunday, July 10, 2011

Life's Lessons Locations - 1st in a multi-part series

Memories are linked to the senses. A favorite memory of mine is linked to a sound - a sound I can't really describe. You have to hear it to understand it.

My hard-working mother

My mom sewed everything when I was growing up. She was amazing. The sound of her scissors cutting out fabric on the kitchen table is a sound that is right up there with the smell of bread baking. The sound warms me.

This is the machine I learned to sew on like 45 years

ago when I started 4-H.

Recently I came across her sewing machine. I thought she had bought her a smaller, newer one when she started losing her eye sight and was surprised when I opened the case and saw the familiar yellow and green coloring. So surprised in fact that my eyes started leaking just a bit as I remembered many things I learned while sitting in front of this machine.

Sewing became an interest, a hobby, a talent that I shared with my mother. Sewing became that common denominator that meant I got Mom's time and attention and, if I was really lucky, her praise. It started on Saturday afternoons as a reward for getting the house all clean.  We'd go 'bumming' usually to fabric stores and come home with multiple projects to create. When I was trying to figure out just exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up {obviously that was pointless to waste time trying to decide that since I've made a vow to never grow up} and what exactly college could do to further those aspirations, I finally landed on home economics. I took several classes in sewing and cooking in preparation to one day teach. A marriage and a consequential pregnancy put an end to that long term goal rather quickly. Once I got married, though, I continued sewing and pretty well sewed all my kids clothes and their stuffed animals and all the curtains for all the windows and tents and crafts and whatever else I could figure out how to create.

The enjoyment went out of sewing for awhile when Mom died. That was a time when I found myself 'housecleaning' my life, so to speak as I re-evaluated every little thing I did as it applied to my relationship with her. After careful scrutiny, I then had to decide if it was something I wanted to keep in my life or something I could let die with her. Sewing stuck around - with a bit of forcefulness - but it stuck around nonetheless and I'm slowly finding the joy and excitement coming back to it as I try and create projects for my grandchildren.

Anywho, here are the top 10 lessons I've learned at the hands of my sewing machine:

  1. Choose your pattern and the fabric and notions wisely because your mother will make you wear the finished product. Everyone will see you and you want to feel good about what you have created.

  2. Unpicking is a necessary part of the process. You will make mistakes and you need to be ready and willing to figure out where you went wrong and fix the problem.

  3. The grain line is printed on pattern pieces for a reason. If you don't pin your grain line straight, your project will be pulled in all different skiddiwampus directions instead of hanging attractively.

  4. Sufficient pinning down of the pattern pieces to the fabric is essential to an accurate cutting job. An accurate cutting job is essential to pride in your finished project.

  5. There is a guide sheet supplied for every project. Following the guide sheet and performing all the steps in the proper order is the only way to achieve satisfaction when your project is finished. You cannot skip a bunch of smaller steps thinking you can do them all at the end. Your project will not look right and your mother will use your experience in her English classes as how not to do a job.

  6. There are seam allowances provided for in the construction process. As long as you stay within that allotted amount of space, you will not wonder why your project doesn't fit together correctly.

  7. Every machine is different - somehow, someway. Allow yourself to be taught these differences by someone whose been there and used that particular machine before you.

  8. Back stitching is not a negative action. Going backwards can be reinforcing and stabilizing.

  9. If you use a serger, don't panic because it goes back a stitch for every two stitches it goes forward. You're ultimately moving in the right direction and you will reach the end if you stick to it.

  10. Hand stitching is a blessing. Sometimes a portion of a project or the entire project is delicate enough it requires a lighter touch.

So, thanks, Mom, for being willing to take the time {and patience} to teach me to sew. It's a hobby that's kept me from coming unraveled more than once!

Stay tuned for more in this series {on a random basis, of course}!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Janis and mother. Thanks for the memories. (p.s., I wish the whole world could read your blog, Janis.) Love you.