After several weeks of painful pattern preamble, most of which I completely tuned out, it was finally time to touch the sewing machine. I was 14, and my teacher was my best friend’s mom. This incredibly patient woman took it upon herself to teach my friend and me how to sew – like somehow if she imparted this skill to us her life would be complete. The mere fact that my friend and I were both the youngest of large families with no other siblings showing interest fueled her fervor. Unfortunately, we were not all that interested which was mostly due to the pattern she picked out – clown outfits for Halloween. Oh yeah, we’re taking a huge body suit with ruffles made from seriously unfortunate fabric. Did I mention that we were teenagers?
I’m sure you can imagine how these introductory lessons went but that all changed the day she let us work her sewing machine. Satisfaction is the only way I can describe the feeling I had when my hands fed that fabric through the machine for the first time. Of course, I was horrible at it, but I knew then that I wanted to master this skill. My mom brought home a used sewing machine shortly after that, officially launching my sewing passion! At first, I just wanted to sew quickly and for the sake of accomplishment. However, once I started sewing items for our home, I realized how important measuring and accuracy were to the final result. I am a self-taught sewist, and by no means an expert. Most everything I have learned is from making mistakes or taking apart ready-to-wear garments. Since those first lessons, I have sewed just about everything, including hundreds of costumes for theater companies. As my skill level has increased so has my creative conscious. I desire now to fill my closet with a mindful collection of pieces that I have sewn and that most importantly fit me. Feeling confident about my body and accepting who I am has done a lot for my sewing. Making garments with excellent fit for me remains my biggest sewing goal.
I’ve never made another clown costume, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about those early lessons and how they shaped my current life. The thing I remember most about my sewing teacher was how she would steal a chance to sew. She was an incredibly busy lady – mother of 5, a full-time nurse, and active in her community – yet she still had time to sew. It was usually just a few minutes between laundry loads and car pools, but she always made the time. My current season of life looks a lot like hers- brief moments where I can escape into my workroom for some precious sewing time before someone needs my attention. My first sewing teacher passed away almost four years ago. It was a somber day when I learned of her death, and I celebrated her the only way I knew how – I stole away some time to sew a Halloween costume for one of my kids.