I ‘sew’ don’t have the patience

I realized, as I browsed through a yardage store the other day, I had received a fine, but odd gift from my mother.
I suspect a good chunk of you under 40 don’t truly know what a yardage store is. It is sometimes called a fabric store, but that doesn’t shed much light on it either, if you didn’t grow up with a mother who sewed. Those stores were a major part of my childhood, and to this day I love wandering through the shimmering bolts of cloth in every color and texture.
My mother was a gifted seamstress. Days on end would include the chatter of her sewing machine late into the night. There was always one room cluttered with pincushions, tailor’s chalk, a tracing wheel, drawers of thread and needles and buttons, sharp-toothed shears, pattern packets and zippers, thimbles and edging tape. These surrounded a cutting board spread with oddly shaped tissue bits pinned firmly to fabric that is already the finished garment in the seamstress’s mind’s-eye.
It’s hard to find a fabric store these days, at least here in the suburbs. I think they have been largely displaced by the discount stores that I know and, I admit it, love. And we can also blame how crazy busy life has become for most women since we decided we could “do it all.”
But that’s not why I don’t actually sew. The bald truth about me can be found where my mother’s gorgeous Husqvarna sewing machine sits in my bedroom awaiting the occasional ripped jeans or rare burst of craft inspiration. Women with the gift still sew and they do it for the joy of it, time and affordability be darned. I inherited my mother’s sewing machine and fascination with the craft and tools, but not a shred of the patience and fine-motor skills needed to make it happen.
Heather Barbieri in “The Lacemakers of Glemara” insists, “You hesitate, thinking of past mistakes, when you threw the pieces across the room in a fit of anger because nothing was coming together the way it should … And yet you must … pick up the thread. Don’t be afraid. You’ll find your way.”
I beg to differ. The third time I had to rip out that zipper, I knew I would never find my way and didn’t even want to try. This is reinforced every time I try to simply sew a straight seam or do a bit of tidy darning and it goes predictably awry.
But I can still enjoy wandering among rows of fabric, breathing in the smell of freshly cut cloth. Better yet, when I shop, I can spot a shoddily sewn garment at a glance. These are worthy gifts.
Thanks, Mom. 


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