(Just like) Starting over …

One day about 12 years ago, I packed up my newish Singer sewing machine (I upgraded from the one I bought at 20) and put it away. After 30+ years of sewing, I was suddenly just finished. Not interested. Done.

Or so I thought. I recently started feeling a creeping compulsion to unpack my machine, buy fabric and start over.

Two baby granddaughters have something to do with that.

My own daughter, Liz, who was Verna Jewel Tackett’s first great granddaughter, kept Mama at the machine longer than she intended.

Mama and Mother were both fabulous seamstresses. Mother’s still great, though she largely chooses not to sew these days. She has rheumatoid arthritis, too, which makes it tough.

Once upon a time I was pretty fab myself. I adored sewing and had wonderful role models, so it came naturally, even though my grandmother told me I sewed backward when doing hand-stitching.

Today Ben called while I was finishing up an apron, one of two I’m making Liz for her birthday. He asked if it was like riding a bike. I’d been thinking that very thing all day. 

Yes, it is, fortunately. Don’t need training wheels, though I’m much wobblier than I used to be.

The first thing I ever made was a tiny burgundy-and-cream long-sleeved top for my Barbie. Mother gave me a small scrap of fabric and I puzzled it together. That was second or third grade, and the “blouse” was hand-stitched and crude.

Santa brought me a children’s Singer sometime after that,  but by the fifth grade I’d progressed to using Mother’s green grown-up Singer to make toy frogs. I remember a particular one that was olive-green corduroy on one side, green print on the other. I stuffed them with dried split peas.

By the summer before the seventh grade, Mother let me pick two different mod prints to make two pairs of bell-bottoms for myself. Pretty basic, elastic-waist, straight-seamed sewing, but I was in heaven.

And there was no turning back.

Girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school until my ninth-grade year (by 10th grade, we could wear – gasp – jeans!), so the need for dresses was high. So were hemlines, by the way.

Dresses were fast and easy to make. So was the brown-and-white gingham bikini (with wide brown rick-rack) that I made at about 15, but it wasn’t really wearable. It wanted to gape most unfortunately in places that shouldn’t be gaped at.

At least aprons don’t gape (or if they do, it doesn’t matter) – and today went pretty well. Apron 1 is done. The top-stitching’s not as pretty as I’d like, but that should come back with practice. 

A big difference between sewing now and then is that good enough the first time works for me. Didn’t rip out a single top-stitch because it wasn’t perfect. At 12, 15, or 30, I would have.

Life’s too short for ripping out stitches. Better to have fun doing something I learned and loved all those years ago.

Pocket full of birthday love for Liz.

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