I made a thing! With a sewing machine! I broke a needle and it looks like a drunkard was feeding the fabric, but the result is still a legitimately useful THING.
It’s a greens bag. Do you have one? It’s just a cotton bag that you put your washed lettuces and greens in, then you take it outside and spin it – I mean, really windmill your arm. Result? Dry lettuce. Because nothing is worse than wet lettuce. Even just the words sound horrid. Added benefit: not having to store a salad spinner! I had one for so many years you could read through the thin fabric. The stitches kept failing and lettuce would leap out onto the patio while I was drying. Disaster. It was time to retire it. I could get a couple of dishtowels and hand-sew around three edges to make a new bag or … I could use THE SEWING MACHINE.
So why am I such a pitiful sewist in my (cough cough) 40s? Mom tried. She really wanted to teach me to sew. She wanted it to be a fun thing for us. When I was maybe 8 years old she bought me a green child’s Singer machine and a matching green gingham sewing basket all kitted out with notions and a package of Simplicity patterns for Barbie clothes. I still have some of the things from that sewing kit – the chalk, the little container of hand-sewing needles, the seam ripper.
Teaching me was a disaster, though. I was impatient. I wanted to play. I was frustrated with the bobbin. We abandoned the whole venture soon after. Sorry mom! Eighth-grade home economics wasn’t any better – I still couldn’t tame the sewing machine.
I went through most of my life thinking I was hopeless at most handcrafts, but then I took a knitting class on a whim and was surprised to find out that I was good at it. I wonder how much it has to do with the teacher accounting for my being left-handed? Unfortunately, by then I was living far from family and there was never time during visits to have mom finally give me that sewing lesson and see if maybe time had improved my aptitude (and attitude.) Ah, regret. So now I’m determined to learn how to sew, if anything just to be able to run a seam.
I was given an old Singer Stylist (it weighs a ton for something designated “portable”) by a friend who had recently given up on the notion of learning to sew – I’m not the only one! – and asked dad to bring me the vintage sewing chest he found years ago in a Goodwill store and refinished for mom. I love that thing. When you lift the lid you see rows of wooden dowels that snap into metal brackets that allow the spool to spin. The chest came to me loaded with all her thread, bobbins galore, her old pinking shears and … ta da! … spare needles for a sewing machine! So when I broke the needle (er… maybe because I forgot to lower the foot before I started sewing, duh) I had a spare waiting for me. And that felt really good.