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Posted: September 25, 2012 9:54 p.m.

Hopes of a sewing family tradition

I own a sewing machine. My husband gave it to me as a Christmas gift just after we married so it must be more than 40 years old. It still works, but I have cracked the presser foot and the top of the machine is a bit dented. I have also broken off the back-up button. But it still works just fine.

I am not a great seamstress. I once made clothes for my children and myself. But as they grew older, they no longer wanted home-made clothes, and I had less time to sew.

It is time consuming. Sewing is spending one-third of your time at the sewing machine, one-third of your time ironing and the remainder moving between the two.

Some people find sewing relaxing. I find it stressful because I keep telling myself that if I do just one more thing to this seam or sew one more stitch, whatever I am making will be perfect. Usually, that one more thing is one step too far and I should have left well enough alone. I am never happy with what I make because I see its flaws.

So today most of my sewing is repairing ripped seams, replacing zippers or changing a hem.

But I do make big things such as bed skirts and curtains. I can't buy curtains that fit my windows.

Usually making curtains is a joint enterprise with my sister. I do the ironing, measuring and cutting and she sews. She is a far better seamstress than I am and has more patience. We have made pinch pleat and rod pocket curtains. We have made tab curtains and curtains with the tabs in front of the curtain material. We have made lined and unlined curtains. We have made curtains for me and for her and for all four our children. For the most part, our children would be curtainless if were not for the two of us.

I'm not saying we are perfect. We measure and discuss and draw diagrams and argue about measurements. It takes us at least an hour to get started. And we always have to revise our initial estimates. It's generally a two-day affair, and I have to spend the night, but we get it done.

One time I enlisted her help in making poodle skirts for two of my granddaughters. She wanted a pattern, but I said all we need is their waist measurements and the length. I like to wing it, but my sister is dubious of any freewheeling. We folded a sheet of newspaper twice and then drew an arc using string and a pencil as a compass. We marked the waist and the hem. We had our pattern. Of course it took us more than an hour to get that far.

I had bought what I hoped was the appropriate amount of pink felt to make the skirts. The plan was one seam in the back, no hem and a waist band fastened with Velcro. Simple.

The problem was when we cut out the felt, we only folded it once, instead of twice as we did for the pattern. Another trip to the store, more pink felt and (my sister insisted) a pattern and we were back on track.

Between the two of us (my sister and me) we have three daughters and five granddaughters. Not a one of them has ever shown any interest in sewing. Every time I visit or am visited by my daughter who does not live in Covington, I either carry home mending and return mended clothes or return mended clothes and receive more to do. (I'm talking about just sewing on a button. She can't do that.)

But one of my granddaughters wanted to make a pillow. She said a friend of hers had a sewing machine. We bought the pillow form and some black material with soccer balls on it. She never got the pillow made, and the material came home with me. I made the pillow.
But guess what? My granddaughter's birthday is this week. I bought her a small portable sewing machine that runs on batteries. I might have a granddaughter who wants to sew!

Her mother is not as hopeful as I am. But I am not looking for a gifted seamstress. I don't expect her to make curtains. I just want there to be somebody in the next generation who can repair ripped seams and broken zippers.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

 

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