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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sewing up the raveled hem

I had a fairly frazzled weekend. I was busy, I was out, I talked to people. I felt scattered, worried, and just wish my husband's tour of duty working away was over. I have too much to do and too much on my mind right now.

And if you are alive and particularly if you have been alive a bit, not all news is good news, some people you care about are going through tough times. One of the best and most alive men I know, one of my oldest friends and the husband of one of my best friends, has started a long struggle with a tough degenerative illness. Their faith isn't the same as mine, and I don't know where you stand on such things, but I have to tell you, when the chips are down it makes a difference.

So because of a lot of things, not anything I can control or fix, the weekend wore me down.

It wasn't until 8:00 tonight, Sunday night, that I made it down to my sewing room.

At first I just sat there and looked at my stuff.

Then I got out the boxes and boxes of 60's, 70's and 80's patterns my neighbour had rescued for me from a church sale and I looked through them. I am taking a bunch to the local sewing guild Tuesday night but keeping all the ones that have meaning for me.

There are patterns in those boxes that I absolutely remember making, or I remember my sister making. It is as if all my very own patterns from decades ago in my life have come back to me. Looking through them I lost the years too, and it was as if I were in my dad's house in the basement sewing something new to wear to school, waiting for my mother to call me for dinner - my life just that complicated.

The amazing thing is  with all the things that have come with an adult life, the challenges and adjustments that come with serious territory, my sewing life and how I feel about it is exactly the same - that part of me is completely intact. Me, in the original, is there -with none of the parts broken off or worn off or given up on or taken away.

I am still there, as is, as always.

One of my sisters used to do some home care for a lady named Doreen. I went with her once on one of the visits. Doreen was in her 90s then and had lost a considerable number of her marbles, but when she heard I sewed she took me into her bedroom where her machine was set up and she was working on a blouse. The blouse was turning out very well, and this woman who I think had the elements disabled on her stove for that burning pot thing I think we are all going to do one day, had even taught herself how to use a serger, which she said wasn't all that hard to thread once you got the hang of it.

True, she wasn't remembering every body by the right name, even people she might have gone into labour for, but I sure understood why Doreen kept that little table in the corner of her bedroom set up to go.

That's the spot where she knew she still was.

So tonight after I looked through those patterns and felt myself settle down inside, I picked up the navy wool skirt I had started to make to go with some of these white blouses and I finished it, and took a lot of time pressing it too.

It turned out absolutely beautifully and while I sewed I felt like all my own scattered parts flew in from the corners of that room and sort of reassembled inside of me. So by the time I was done I was saying to myself that yes I knew what to do, it would be OK, these things can happen to anyone, we would all get through it.

And then I turned off the light and came upstairs.


KC said...

Thank you for that.

gMarie said...

It's amazing how that happens, isn't it? Thank you for sharing a very meaningful story. g

KID, MD said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Jodie said...

Thank you for sharing. I've been away from sewing as work and family and worries have taken over. But I do stop in a look at things every so often. I had a frazzled week but a better weekend. Your beautiful post was a good start to my cold Alberta Monday morning.
Take care of yourself!

BetsyV said...

Lovely post, Barbara. I feel the same way about my sewing area - it's an anchor for me, too. Everyone should have such a place - I sincerely hope your friend does, too.

Sarahbelle said...


I understand Doreen. I hope that someday when I am in her situation, my sewing machine and serger still understand me.

Thanks for sharing.

a little sewing said...

whew, I am glad you had your sewing room time and a navy skirt to show for it. funny coincidence is that I sewed a simple black skirt over the weekend and mine turned out very well, too. Mine is also intended to be a nice basic bottom that will work with the white shirts I hope to sew.

I hope I have some marbles left til the end and I hope they are sewing-friendly marbles.

I sewed something for my husband this weekend that reminded me so much of his mother. In her final years, she had lost marbles, too, but we were able to discuss sewing projects right to the end. She thought she was talking to DH's first wife (smile) and forgot that was old news and I was the new wife. She was a little surprised that the topic was sewing, as she did not recall wife#1 as a seamstress. But she sure did remember the Zorro cape she'd sewn for my husband when he was a boy.

thanks Barbara.

Irene said...

That was beautiful. I want to be 90+, sitting at my sewing machine, stitching away. Seems to me, that people who have a craft that that keeps them going are a much happier lot.

Heather said...

Perfect! I feel much the same way and you've put it beautifully!

NuJoi said...

Thank you. This was so well-written. I'm glad you're feeling better. Cooking and baking do the same for me. I'll get there with sewing one day.