A Little Bit Western


A Stitch in Time

Aug 4, 2016

My German- speaking grandmother had a saying that loosely translates to “it won’t sew on its own.” What she meant was, you can have all the tools to do a job, but at the end of the day, unless you are motivated to do the work, it won’t complete itself. I am a bit of a procrastinator in certain situations, including actual sewing, so this saying applies to many aspects of my life.

Growing up, my mom always seemed to be sewing something. Naturally, as a kid, I started dabbling in stitchery myself. I appreciated a craft that yielded instant gratification. After just an hour of sewing, I had something to show for it! I would sew little dolls and then sew little dresses for said dolls. I participated in sewing in 4-H and liked sewing in Home Ec class in high school. I even moved my clunker of a sewing machine up to university, where somehow I didn’t have time to spend writing my thesis, yet I had time to sew a lovely set of custom-made blinds for my apartment. Priorities, I guess. In my twenties, I continued to crank out a few sewing projects, usually some Christmas potholders (on Christmas Eve) or a denim baby blanket (the night before we were visiting the new parents), proving that sewing was the ultimate craft for procrastinators.

After getting married, I learned that my husband had his own set of sewing skills. Apparently a pillow he sewed back in high school (which he still has, by the way) garnered him a 99%, making him a self-appointed stitch master who thought he was well positioned to critique my needlework. I made a couple of nice shades for our house and a seat cushion (with the ties sewed on the wrong side) that he bravely appraised, giving my work a “mark” in the low 60’s. I may have flung the seat cushion at his head but it didn’t quite make the impact I was hoping it would.

Still, I kept sewing, with mending being my preferred task. Mending was just the right blend of nerdy yet frugal stitching that really appealed to me. Given that my husband’s pants were already infused with diesel and splashed with battery acid, I didn’t think a carefully placed patch would set his style back too much.

Then, just like that, I stopped sewing. My old, well-travelled clunker had died, and I replaced it with an almost-brand-new machine that was incompatible with me. I tried using different needles and bobbins and I adjusted this tension knob and that one and I even translated the Spanish operator’s manual, to no avail. My mending pile grew to be an overwhelming stack. Sewing was no longer fun.

I decided that I needed to inspire myself, and maybe sewing Christmas stockings for our kids would motivate me. Having moved my grumpy sewing machine on, my mom brought me her dependable PFAFF of my childhood, and even supplied me with some Christmas fabric to enable stocking construction. Still nothing. Years literally went by, one Christmas after another, and my sewing drought continued.

All of a sudden, in an unexpected turn of events, the other night I started sewing again. We were heading out the door and I had no clean pants and no time to wash any. A bit stuck, I recalled that I had a perfectly good pair of pants downstairs in my mountain of mending. These pants, which I fashionably bought with patches, needed a tiny patch… on one of the patches. I set my sewing machine up, plugged her in, patched the tear and was out the door in five minutes flat. The next morning, seeing my faithful sewing machine still set up, I started patching pants for my Other Half, who had recently informed me he only had two pairs of pants. How a grown man suddenly has just two pairs of pants left remains a mystery to me, but I digress. He now has many more, thanks to my stich witchery revival.

My sewing machine will never “sew on its own,” but it is seeing more use than it has in a while. Perhaps the trend will continue and those Christmas stockings will finally, after all these years, sew themselves.

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