Sewing basics: A Parable of Life.

Props to the lovely Lee_ahh over at Only Partially Insane for inspiring me to relate my own tale of sewing machines. and Life.

About a year ago, I was feeling a particularly intense urge to start sewing larger projects, things that would necessitate purchase of an actual sewing machine. I had wanted one for a coon’s age, but had never made the investment. So I did a little online research and quickly concluded I couldn’t afford much. Yes there are amazing machines out there, but most of them are way out of my league in both price and function. I was looking for something along the lines of my 7th grade Home Ec machine. This would be the model with 2 buttons, 2 functions, and dingus-proof threading. I am a handy gal, but I know my limitations. And since it had been a good 20 years since I turned out that last hot dog pillow and pair of bermuda shorts, I was going to need some help. My mom agreed to walk me through everything when she came on her next visit. Check and Check.

I began looking for a very basic sewing machine at a very basic price. Since I don’t do an awful lot of sewing, and had been acquiring fabric strictly at thrift shoppes, I hadn’t realized that many sewing shoppes have shuttered since I worked in one circa 1991. If I were a sociologist I might be interested in researching the reasons for this decline. The prevalence of women in the workforce and their corresponding lack of time for hobbies, the advent of technology and rise of global outsourcing. But as I am not, I will simply say Home sewing seems to be a dying craft. The expense & time involved in making your own things – clothes, housewares – is too great to make it practical for most women. Sad, but true.

With my closest sewing shoppe now out-of-business, I turned to none other than my beloved Target. And I was not disappointed. I picked up a sturdy looking simple Singer machine, along with notions, for about $100. YAY!! I brought everything home and set it aside for that weekend’s visit with my beloved parents. My mom – in addition to being an amazingly beautiful intellectual powerhouse and nursing exec, is also a SEWING EXPERT. She no longer has the time to undertake projects, but back in the day she made clothes for me & my sister, costumes, clothes for herself. She even used to make all her own clothes in high school. I KNOW I AM BRAGGING, but she is my mom and she rocks.

So that weekend rolled round, and I pulled out the sewing machine. And of course, as this is MY LIFE, it was inevitable that something would be slightly.. off. Or in this case, way more than slightly. I knew as soon as I opened the box that something was wrong. First of all, the cord was stuck on top of everything, not packaged properly at all. Upon further examination, I noticed there were several sections along the cord that were completely melted through, and the foot pedal was noticeably damaged. What the HELL?? I took the machine out of the box. The case below the needle that holds the bobbin (I don’t know the technical term for this) had cloth STICKING OUT OF IT along with knotted jacked-up threads. The machine itself was filthy, like someone had smeared it haphazardly with axle grease or their lunch. It had without a doubt been used – and not just used, but USED. DAMN! The old scrooge-a-roonie. Some a**hole had decided to buy a new Singer, plop their old nasty broken one back into the box and return it for a big fun freebie. And of course no one at Target had thought twice about looking in the box. Why would they? People are honest. Right?

Of course we took it back. That goes w/out saying. But it mandated no less than 2 trips to Target b/c that is how my life goes. When they finally took the stinking thing back – the SECOND TIME – they actually asked me whether I wanted to go get another one off the shelf. I politely declined. Yes, I know it was a complete fluke, my getting this broken machine instead of a new one, but WHY THE HELL RISK IT AGAIN? My mom had already left, taking with her her arsenal of sewing knowledge, so even if I did get another one, I wouldn’t know how to use it. YES, I KNOW I could read the manual, but I didn’t want to. I wanted my MOMMY. I wanted her to spend the time with me, bonding, and hanging out – laughing while showing me HOW TO THREAD THE DAMN THING. And since on my own I didn’t know anything about anything, I decided it was simpler to just say NO. Of course, I still want a sewing machine. One of those idiot-proof models, b/c that is the kind of person I am.

The parable of this simple sewing story is, in essence, the story of my life itself. I am a person who tries to be honest, to stay focused and determined, to enrich my life and the lives of others. To value the simple. And yet, I seem to – in some odd cosmic twist of fate – inevitably receive the shaft at nearly every turn. In this Case of the Sewing Machine, I was thwarted in my attempts to sew by the clever deception of others. And as in everything, I somehow managed to stay positive, to keep my sense of humor, even in the face of such adversity. I am not a paranoid person, but as the years pass and these weird and weirder things happen, sometimes I wonder whether the great cosmos has a bone to pick with me. Or perhaps it’s more like the case of me & my bird. I am just a favorite toy and have to be played with an awful, awful lot.

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4 thoughts on “Sewing basics: A Parable of Life.

  1. Well, I’m proud to say that I somehow managed to get into a sewing class starting TONIGHT at the Circle Thrift on Frankford. (Or possibly some room above it…not sure.) I purchased my current [1950’s Sears Kenmore] machine at a thrift store, so there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be a successful evening, but I at least know it works a little bit because when I plug it in and hit the pedal…something happens that looks like sewing.

    I loved your story by the way. I encourage you to take back up sewing. And it frustrates me that people these days don’t sew themselves. Or take care of their kids. Or cook their own food. Or just take time to stop and smell the roses.

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  2. Boy Curly – I know my life can be a suckfest sometimes – but a SERIAL KILLER?? I will try not to HOLD IT AGAINST YOU//////

    Hayden – if you ever get the urge, you just feel free to mail that bad boy on up here. PS: do not forget to send manual.

    Lovely Lee_ahhhhh – I am so pleased you are taking the class – I can now live vicariously through you and your machine. What are we making??

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