Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sew Amazed!

I used to sew most of my own clothes. I started sewing in high school in Home Ec classes (do they even have them anymore?). Mom sewed simple dresses for my sister and me until we were old enough to sew ourselves. In 1989, the quilting bug hit and I tapered off fashion sewing and branched out into quilting. For many years, my former sewing machines, and later my present machine, mostly sat unused except for straight stitching for piecing quilts, an occasional embroidery for my uncle's handkerchiefs, and zig-zag for applique. Nothing difficult and nothing really creative - usually just simple straight stitching.

Now my quilting friend Sally has returned to sewing clothes again, and apparently having a wonderful time doing it. Her infectious enthusiasm, my ongoing disappointment with store-bought clothes quality, the lack of clothing choices in Maine, the frustration with ordering clothes on-line and their not fitting when I receive them (and the continual difficulty of successfully fitting my body) led me to think about getting back into sewing clothes myself. Yeah, it would be kind of fun to get back in the swing of things! Once I decided to do so, I knew I had to renew a working relationship with my sewing machine.

My machine is a New Home/Janome Memory Craft 8000. I can't remember the year I bought it (it was well before we moved to Maine) but I do remember it was expensive and close to top of the line at the time.

I've been taking the manual to work every day and studying it at lunch. I am flabbergasted! I had forgotten (or never known) that my machine can do so many things, so many stitches using so many feet. (For you non-seamstresses, the pressure foot holds the fabric down and different ones serve different functions.) My machine came with an assortment of feet, and through the years I bought more, yet I have hardly used most of them! I know nothing about most of them! I can't believe I have to learn all the wonderful things my machine can do - things I've never utilized for whatever reason. I have had the power all along to make anything in my imagination with this machine sitting here right in front of me. It's as if I had used an iPhone just to make telephone calls!

I think at some point in our lives we're all like my sewing machine. We can do so much more than we think, certainly more than we attempt. Our various talents and gifts (yes, everyone has them!) are lying dormant, just waiting to be called upon. Our accumulated wisdom is waiting to be put to use. Our life stories are waiting to be told to teach another generation. Our creativity is asleep. Opportunities for personal growth are wasted. We are either sitting in the corner unplugged, or are used minimally with neither artistry or challenge to enrich our lives and the lives of others.

I think that when I start up my machine and use all its features, I'll be reawakening something within myself also. Whether it's learning to fly on a plane, transcribing a very grueling dictation, passing my certification test, or mastering a difficult piece of music, I always appreciate another opportunity to smile and say to myself, "Wow! I actually did that!" Or, using Matt's favorite quote from the movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town: "I'm not such a loser after all!"


Cuidado said...

I still use a basic Singer portable but only do repairs etc. i used to make all my clothes in school as well.

Carol Tiffin James said...

I'm really excited about starting again because of a pattern company called Unique Patterns. I believe it was first owned by a Canadian and recently bought by an American. They have you take about 30 precise measurements everywhere in your body, then make custom-fit patterns. They have a scanning machine in Boston which does this in seconds, but alas, I will have to get out the tape measure.