|My maternal grandparents|
and itty bitty me.
|Mom wasn't given to|
when she sewed.
|This may be the exact pattern|
mom used as the yellow dress
looks just like the one I recall.
Suffice it to say that it wasn't my mom who taught me to sew. Neither was it grammy or one of my mom's three sisters. My first venture into the craft came about in high school. In those days, ninth grade students were automatically cycled into sewing for one semester and cooking for another. By the time I was that age, I'd learned to cook, set a proper table, use a napkin, and I even knew what a salt cellar was and where to set them on the table. Mom loved entertaining. Thus, I learned at her feet.
|Ninth grade Home Ec--mandatory sewing|
|Yep, we used those old black Singer|
|You sew in two parallel rows so that if|
one thread breaks, the other will still
gather the fabric. Unless, of course,
you break both threads.
Of course you've guessed what happened the next day. The teacher called me up to her desk and questioned if I'd decided to make the skirt for someone else when I had been told it must be for me. When I answered "no" she asked me how I expected to fit into it. She held the skirt up for me to figure it out for myself. How embarrassed I was to note that there was no way on earth that skirt would fit anything except one of my legs. I went back to my machine and began loosening the gathers. But I got too rambunctious and broke the thread. Both of them. That was the day I learned not to be so vicious when undoing a sewing project, especially if it involved threads the width of an eyelash.
|A half-sewn waistband, ready to be|
turned to the inside and hand-
That evening I sat at the machine, hand stitching the inside of the waistband to the skirt. Then on to putting in the hem. Piece of cake. I knew what that should look like too. I was so happy when I walked into class the next day and presented my finished project to be graded. Now please note that I had never liked gathered skirts. And it would never have been my choice. Why, you ask? Every high school girl I've ever known always wished to appear thinner than she was and toward that end, nobody wore gathered skirts. None of us wanted all that poofiness around our middle.
|On the outside, my|
skirt looked perfect.
I was a bit surprised when the teacher called me up to her desk. I still figured she was going to compliment me on my offering. I stood beside her chair as she brought my skirt out of hiding. "Sandra," she began, "I'm going to have to give you a D on this skirt and I really don't want to because I see how you've tried so hard to follow directions.
I guess I must have look puzzled because she continued, "Do you see this sewing on the inside of the waistband? And do you see the stitching around the hem?" I shook my head yes. "Will you tell my why you did such sloppy work when you've been so careful with all the rest?"
I was stunned that she didn't know what professional sewing should look like. So I explained. "But my grandma has made clothes for me all these years and for my sisters and all my cousins and that's how she always does the waistband and the hem. I wanted my skirt to look just like grandma made it."
Looking back, I realize how kind that teacher was. She looked at me with such soft eyes and talked real low so nobody else could hear. "Well, Sandra, that might be how your grandma sews but for this class, the school has rules I have to follow in teaching, so would you please take all your stitching out and make it neat and tidy so I can give you a better grade? Afterwards, you can put it back like your grandma's if you want to.
I did as she suggested and ended up with a B in the class but only because I think she took pity on me. The fact that I adored my grandma and wished to be just like her and copy everything she did must have touched some secret place in my teacher's heart. I've often wished I remembered her name so I could have thanked her for her utmost kindness toward me that day.
And by the way, I never did take the neat sewing out and put it back like grandma's. Teenager that I was, I was smart enough to figure out that maybe, just this one time, grammy was wrong.