Monday, April 23, 2012

The history of my sometimes dormant sewing gene.

Making bookmarks for my sister's baby
shower last month (they were adorbs).
Here's a bonus confession for you: I was a total dweeb until I turned 16 or so. All of my friends that knew me before this age, and who stuck it out anyway - they are saints. I mean, I wasn't just a dweeb, I was a kind-of-crazy-weirdo, dweeb. So, yeah... either they were kind-of-crazy-weirdo dweebs, too - or just really really incredibly patient.

Part of my craziness as a 13 year old included thinking that I knew EVERYTHING. Right? What 13 year old thinks that? (smirk)

I went from private school to public school when I hit my high school years, and oh my gosh - I was so weird! (Have I made this clear, yet?) At my little private school, we never so much as changed classes or had lockers - so when I had to sit down with an advisor and plan out my next four years, it was kind of a shock. I get to pick things? And do what I want, sort of? Well good - because I already know my entire future and what's best for me, so let's do this!


I was convinced that typical art classes were "lame", and that over the next four years, I was going to piece together random artsy electives to fill up my art requirement. And even though I've just spent two minutes convincing you that I was a little bit weird and silly, I'm now going to tell you that - this was one of the smartest high school decisions I ever made. (Like, fathoms above that guy I dated my junior year.)

Among the artsy electives I took, were: 
  • Housing & Interior Design (For about a year, I was going to be an Interior Designer. Silly.)
  • Ceramics (I don't even know why I picked this. I think I'd heard good things about the teacher.)
  • Advanced Ceramics (This was the best, chatty Senior year class ever, but I swear I liked the work, too.)
  • Clothing & Textiles (They were notorious for making pretty quilts and I wanted one!)
  • Advanced Clothing & Textiles (The point of this whole post.)
I wish I'd made room for Photography in there somewhere, but, whatevers.

The idea here is that, I made this grand "Can you believe that I know everything and I'm only 13?!" decision at the start of 9th grade, and ended up actually finding something I enjoy. Lead by an extremely anal and much less fashionable Martha Stewart type, I learned a lot about sewing. I learned the parts & operations of ancient vs modern sewing machines, how to use a serger (I want oooone), the silly names of notions and tools (seriously, a tailors ham?), how to execute all of the complicated instructions on a pattern, and made a lot of cool stuff.

I searched high & low for a picture of my elusive quilt,
and this was the best I could do. Sigh. (Shameless Pepsi plug.)

I made.... one of those super-cool quilts I was just dying for (above), a sun dress, a tank top, a bunch of garters (yeah, seriously...our class made garters for prom & sold them), altered old un-used clothes, and made my own prom dress! The last one was probably my proudest project - I LOVED IT when people said, "where did you get your prom dress?" and where everyone else would say "David's Bridal!", I got to say..."I made it!" and then people's jaws dropped. Truth be told, it was an extremely simple design - but that was okay back then (omg, did I just say back then about my prom?!). The way prom dresses have gone in the last decade - well, they'd put my handmade dress to shame. But at the time, it was totes fab.


My Grandma gifted me and my sister a sewing machine one Christmas (after my sister followed in my footsteps and took the same classes - she was totally jealous of my quilt). We didn't have the excuse of school projects to get my mom to buy us fabric, so we used to make nonsense projects out of scraps. Eventually, we (read: my sister, my mom, our friend Lynne, and I) started an informal "quilt club". We'd put Dixie Chicks on the radio and take turns doing the different jobs. 

Over the years, I've made 5 or 6 quilts, and the ones we've kept (the others were gifts) are totally my favorite blankets ever. (I kind of want a new one now.)

I was too cool for sewing for a number of years (ew), until my future MIL wanted to nurture my sewing gene, and bought me my own machine. And, actually, when my husband's Grandmother passed away, it was ME who inherited her really cool, old-fashioned built-into-a-table-thingy machine. It was an honor, for real. And I liked that it was my name that popped into their heads when they thought, "sewing"!

I seem to have phases where I want to make everything I see - my house gets all new curtains and all the family babies get homemade fabric blocks that I fill with little bells. And then there are times that my poor machines don't get touched for months. Usually this is because I can't escape my kids long enough to spend time in my (overflowing) craft room. I recently got sick of that excuse, and started littering my dining room with all of my sewing nonsense so I don't need to plan getaways to the basement.

After a sewing drought, I always find myself amazed at all I remember. I have flashbacks to 16 year old me, sitting in that classroom with the huge tables and my purse-lipped teacher combing my project for loose threads and puckers.

I also tend to forget how much I enjoy sewing, as well as how therapeutic I find it. Well, aside from the fights I have with my bobbin, because, what the heck...why do you ALWAYS have to tangle yourself up? There's just nothing like seeing a project emerge and feeling like, whoa, I just did that. Or the "wow, you made this?!" reactions you get from others. It's uncool to me how actually doing something yourself is such a shock & surprise these days - but, I'm going to get on a "I wish things were simpler" kick, and that's a whole other chain of posts I'm not going to get into at the moment. Especially because I'm kind of hypocrite-y in that a) I like shopping for clothes and b) I like how easy things can be compared to the past, and am also angry with that being the habit of my lifestyle. (Seriously, shutting up now.)

I don't know why I haven't done something more with sewing yet. It's always been a part of my life, and despite people telling me, "you should make something of this", I never have. I blame it on perfectionism and self-doubt. Neither of which are cool.

I want to be more hand-made about life. I want to do something I love. I want to try to accomplish something bigger (because for real, getting dressed on Wednesdays for my son's gym class tops the list at this point in my life).

Watch me, friends.

1 comment:

  1. 1) Taylor ham is a meat product popular in New Jersey. Random.

    2) I am SO jealous of your old fashioned built into the table machine!!!

    3) The only thing I've ever sewn is a skirt and tote back for 4H when I was 9 and my mom and I fought the WHOLE time. She HATED sewing! NOT sure why she thought it would be a good idea for me to take SEWING for 4H...needless to say it was my last year. BUT I'm tapping into my creative side recently and I would LOVE to learn once my kiddos are a little more self sufficient.

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