Tag Archive | sewing

Hello, it’s me

Hello – feels like forever since I’ve been here, but this week just contained a lot of living and little sleep, which made it seem like it lasted forever. It also reminded me of a few life lessons worth reviewing.

One, you may feel young in your head, but, dammit, age does matter. Lack of sleep is harder to overcome at 56. Bodies begin to go southward earlier than we’d like to think, and exercise can only defy gravity so much for so long.

Muscles and joints you didn’t know you had can hurt with little provocation – or when you do the things you could always do but suddenly you can’t without hurting. (Just because you can still pick up a baby with each arm and carry one on each hip doesn’t mean you should. Ouch.)

But then there’s that alternative that my cousin has come way too close to in the past week and a half. She’s still not out of the woods. My son-in-law’s aunt met that alternative this past week.

So we mustn’t complain, right? Or not too seriously.

Seriously, as Jude likes to say.

Two, life throws you curveballs, but you’ve just got to give them your best swings. If you can’t postpone (or ignore) what you’ve “got” to do or “must” do to do what you need to or should do, especially to help others, then you need some more batting practice.

(That’s a baseball metaphor for getting priorities straight, in case I struck out. As I said, I feel like I’ve been off the field for a while.)

On a more personal note: Three, I can still procrastinate with the best of them and can be my own worst enemy. But things still usually turn out all right if I just get started. (Deep breaths, deep breaths.)

Four, I can still sew rather well but am maniacal when it comes to buying fabric. Put. That. Bolt. Down. 

Five, NEVER throw away/give away sewing notions, patterns, pinking shears. But after you have, don’t obsess over how much those buttons, spools of thread, packages of bias tape and vintage patterns would be worth. They’re gone. Get over it. 

Six, music makes everything better. Turn that stereo on!

(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.

Keep on growing

Two things this busy weekend got me thinking about hobbies vs. commitments and follow-through vs. flightiness. The first was the fun and funky soap-making class my friend Julia and I attended. We’ll come back to that.

The second was explaining to Jude, who spent about 24 hours with us this weekend, what “hobby” means.

He’d picked up the dog-training clicker and training treats, so the girls started frantically doing every trick in their repertoires. Pretty funny.

I showed Jude how to use the clicker properly and taught him the hand signals Tess and Zuzu know. He got the hang of it quickly, so I told him I’d get him a clicker to use with his own dog, Fancy, and that could be his hobby.

“What’s a hobby?” he asked.

With just a brief explanation, he seemed to get the drift. Granted, 5 might be kind of young for a serious hobby, but you never know what will stick.

I look at dalliances with new hobbies/interests, even the ones that don’t stick as ways to keep on growing. Some people have taken me as flighty for the (many, many) ones that don’t stick, but I see it as nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And some of them have stuck and stuck hard, moving into the realm of commitment. This blog started as a hobby. It already feels like a commitment, but how long it lasts remains to be seen.

The earliest “hobby” I can think of is loving and keeping up with rock ’n’ roll music, dating back to “American Bandstand” on our first TV. Then came a love for reading, which I’d have to call a hobby, I guess. Both of those have lasted a lifetime.

If the money I’ve spent on both had been put in an investment account, I wouldn’t be nearly as happy.

The first true hobbies that became commitments started in elementary school, cooking and sewing. I made my first cake from scratch at 9, after begging Mother and convincing her that I wouldn’t waste the ingredients.

The cake turned out perfectly, and Mother was very proud. That sparked an interest in cooking that lasted until the early days of my first marriage, or about the time I turned 21.

Sadly for me, my first husband was a meat-and-potatoes, plain-food kind of guy who not only refused to taste anything with multiple ingredients but also referred to such things as “crap” or much, much worse. That put my love for cooking on the back burner for years, other than baking.

I cooked, don’t get me wrong, and way more than I wanted to, but the joy was gone.

After my divorce, though, it came rushing right back.

Sewing started with handmade Barbie clothes at about 8 and progressed to simple pants for myself by the sixth grade. I sewed like a fiend through Liz’s childhood and kept at it occasionally until one day in my early 40s when I just lost interest.

Liz’s pleated-velvet coat dress was one of the more elaborate things I ever made.

(That reminds me of an article I read years ago in which a man mentioned that his mother just “lost her will to cook when Elvis died.”)

Lately I’ve been wanting to get the sewing machine out of the attic, though. Two granddaughters will do that to you.

Exercise became a fact of life as soon as I healed from having Liz, who will be 32 next month. Lifting weights has been a fixture since my arms jiggled right around my 30th birthday. Twenty-six years later the weights have gotten much lighter, but they’ll never go away.

Is exercise a hobby or a commitment or a way of life? Does it matter? Is this navel-gazing? Probably. But exercise in all its various incarnations has helped keep my navel in its proper place all these years, so whatever it is, I’m glad it stuck.

Making mosaics is a hobby that I first dabbled with in high school. Almost 40 years later I started again. This spring, I have a commitment to mosaic my front porch. 

Now that it’s on record, I’ll have to follow through. I’ve found that’s a good way to make myself accountable, because it’s rather embarrassing to announce something and not do it. I won’t tell you about all the things I’ve started and not finished.

Like the violin I bought the last month I taught at Central. Oops. Seemed like a good idea, and I’ll come back to it at some point. Probably. Or not. It could be like our super-cool digital movie camera we bought a few years back. Great idea but largely unused.

Now, back to the soap. Ashley Ralston, of Folded Flower soaps, taught us the melt-and-pour technique at a workshop offered through The Green Corner Store. The timing was perfect – Julia and I had been talking about making soap for a while, combining our interest in aromatherapy with a desire to create.

We have a little knowledge and a whole bunch of soap molds on the way. And now we’re on record.

Stay tuned.