Small Talk: Sewing endeavors anything but seamless

I am way too proud of myself.

I actually completed a pillowcase. I managed to sew three straight seams … well, straight enough, and made a not-unattractive, quite useable pillowcase. I know. Big whoop — but for me, this was like planting a flag atop a very large mountain.

I need to admit that the simple pillowcase probably took me an hour and a half. Most seamsters could whip in up in minutes, but most of them aren’t working with my mother’s sewing machine. It is a beautiful, Swedish Husqvarna that was a slick, top-of-the-line creature 60 years ago. I can’t bear to part with it. But that glamorous queen of a machine is now an infuriating, temperamental diva. Trying to get the seam width, length and thread tension right very nearly knocks me to my knees every time.

The really sad thing is I still don’t know precisely what I did that made it finally work. I swear I lined up the same settings a dozen times with no result, only to have it suddenly sew like a champ. This machine knows I am a rookie wannabe and we have a throw down every time I get brave enough to use it. 

The vicious habit of this prima donna machine is it will go all wonky again when I go back in a month, to sew that same stitch, having not touched any part of it. Granted, I am not sewing the beautiful creations that my mother did, but I should get some respect simply because I am willing to tackle the occasional pillowcase.

Apparently, this machine doesn’t think so. I even had an old, pro sewing machine expert give it a tune-up when I could not get it to work. He practically drooled when he saw it, sang its praises, and told me it was in perfect shape, then swiftly sewed a perfect test seam. He even offered to buy it. I think it heard him and is now punishing me for not taking the offer.

I will foolishly try again when I split a seam or want to create another terribly complex pillowcase. I approach it with caution, though. Maybe I need to learn to whisper sweet words in Swedish.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer, whose children would have worn pillowcases, had it been up to her sewing skills. Contact her at jean@coastnewsgroup.com.

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