When I was a child – I have no idea how old, but old enough for my mother to believe that I could hold a pair of scissors without trying to stab my brother or sister with them – my mother decided to teach me to sew. She had been sewing her own clothes since she was a child herself, so she felt that this was a natural skill to pass on. Boy was she mistaken…
Mom had taught sewing to eager, young Girl Scouts for years, so she knew exactly how to begin teaching me. First, she taught me about choosing a pattern. Done. Next, she taught me about choosing an appropriate fabric for my clothing project. Okay, I hated fabric stores (how boring!), but I picked out some material I didn’t hate. Next, she taught me to pin my patterns onto the fabric itself. Alright, here is where we hit our first snag.
Unbeknownst to either of us at the time, I am mildly OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). It was more of a problem then that it is now, but I still struggle sometimes. I was determined to do this job right, so I pinned the entire pattern every ¼ inch. That sucker wasn’t getting away from me! Mother made me take out at least every other pin, much against my wishes. How was I going to make sure that pattern didn’t move?
Anyway, now it was time to cut, using adult (really big for little hands) scissors. Snip. This took considerable concentration since my project was now only pinned every half inch or so. Snip. It also took a long time. Snip. I mean a really long time. Snip. Mom couldn’t take it; she walked out. Snip. It was either leave the room or throttle me in frustration. Snip. I do believe I only cut ¼ inch at a time. Snip. Poor Mom.
I don’t remember ever finishing that project; I don’t even remember what it was supposed to be. I do remember the sewing machine, however. It was a big, black Singer. It had a knee pedal instead of a foot pedal. This was supposed to be a good thing since I was too short to reach a pedal. What Mom didn’t realize, however, was that I was too small to have the leg strength to activate the knee pedal! I had to brace my left knee on the inside of the left side of the cabinet and attempt to do the splits. This pushed my right knee into the pedal on the right side of the cabinet. But not very hard and not for very long. I sewed in short, weak spurts. It didn’t help that this machine needed a spin of the large wheel on the right side of the machine in order to wake up the needle and get it moving. The fact that the wheel was much larger than my hand was another slight challenge. Looking back on it, learning to “drive” that Singer was remarkably similar to learning to drive my first stick shift car. And just as successful. I flooded the car in the middle of an intersection the first time I drove it onto the road. I had to switch places with Mom so she could get us moving again. Yep, remarkably similar experience.