Sunday, August 31, 2008

Channeling My Inner Seamstress

My head is still spinning from last week. Besides having our first week of school (go on over to Kindling the Fire to read all about that), my mom decided at the last minute to come to town. So all of the time that was not spent on school/soccer/Cub Scouts/martial arts and on what little housework I did was filled up with playing with my mom and Allison.

The good news is that I got to bed early most nights and got up early to exercise every day, something I never would have done if it weren't for this exercise challenge! So far, I haven't missed a day, although points-wise I am way behind the overachievers (Debbie, Prudy, and Malia are putting me to shame.) Still, for me it is a victory that on a week when I otherwise might have felt justified in sleeping in I still managed to exercise and stick to my routine.

One of the things that we did with my mom was a sewing project. Now, my mom is an excellent and accomplished seamstress and Allison can sew although she does so in spurts. I on the other hand. have a brief but ugly history with sewing.

I remember making some drawstring pants for myself before my study abroad in Jerusalem. Somehow I managed to put the drawstring in the back of one pair, and sew another pair inside out. Not destined for sewing greatness, but there were other possibilities for me, I was sure.

The next time I even considered a sewing project was several years later, while I was pregnant with Henry, when Alli and I decided to make my mom a quilt for Christmas. I will confess that Alli did the majority of the machine work because I am scared of that thing, but we spent many many hours slaving over the quilt. It turned out to be enormous--much bigger than her double bed required. It also turned out that the pattern we chose, which we thought would be easier and more forgiving than most for us beginning quilters, required acute precision (not my strong point.) In the end, the quilt was beautiful and we were burned out--in fact, we decided that if Mom didn't cry on Christmas morning that it would not have been worth it. Luckily, she did cry. (In my family, we all try to get my mom the Best Gift of Christmas, which means the one that makes her cry.)

Since THE QUILT, I have done very little, largely because I have lived far away from Mom and Alli for most of that time and I am completely dependent on them for any sewing that I might do. My goal is generally to "participate" in the project while letting them do anything that might require skill, accuracy, or attention to detail. And yet in the past year I have really been wanting to learn to sew independently. Maybe it's because the new me is thriftier, maybe because I realized that I'm really lacking in the self-reliance area, maybe it's because I have a daughter now and I am shocked by the immodest clothing that is ubiquitous for young girls and teens. But it is on my list of things to do before I'm 40.

Well, this project still relied heavily on my long-time crutches, but I did more of the actual sewing than I had in the past. And I came to understand the importance of the precision, etc. I can't spill the beans on what we made because it might involve Christmas gifts for some nieces and nephews-- and we're not quite finished yet. But I was filled with an undeniable thrill as I stitched away on the sewing machine. (As invigorated as Bob is about sailing in the following clip, I called out: "I'm sewing! I'm actually sewing! I'm a sew-er!")



So my Christmas gifts are mostly done (for those nieces and nephews--I wish my whole list was done), and even though I am a classic almost-finisher, my Mom and Alli will make sure I do this time. (Plus the new and improved Michal of 2008 would never abandon a half-finished sewing project and spend twice as much money on different gifts rather than finish what I'd started. I'm far too prudent for that! I hope.) (I am going crazy with the parentheses tonight, aren't I?)

This project won't count for my 40 list since my crutches still did more of the work than I did, but it is instilling some confidence in me that I can be a seamstress one day. Before the millennium.

Do you ever start a project and not quite finish it? Are there talents that run in your family but that seemed to have skipped over you completely? Help me feel better about myself and tell me about yours.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

ok i will just be completely honest. i would like to say i could sew or that i was a great cook or crafty but alas i am not very good at any of those things. somethings i take to like a duck to water but the type girl stuff still aludes me. although with ally's help i am getting better at making cakes. ally inspires me to try so many things i never thought i could do. so i think we have the same crutches! thank goodness for them. does that make you feel a little better?

Prudy said...

I'm a lousy seamstress, but oh how I try. Believe it or not, I spent the weekend sewing Obi Wan for West's Halloween costume. I am almost done with Sailor's Belle costume, but whatever you do, please don't look at the zipper. Or the darts I decided to add at the last minute. I don't think I'll ever master sewing, which makes me a perfect candidate for Halloween costumes.

Christine said...

I hate the whole underlying idea that good mormon women sew. It is right up there with, good mormon women don't work outside the home, they ignore thier kids while they teach piano lessons inside the home. Good mormon women can with a pressure cooker. What is wrong with costco? Saving money? How about get a job, doing what you like and are good at, rather than canning with a pressure cooker? Good mormon women have a compost pile. Gross. I hate the idea of a compost pile! I say purchase fertilizer!!! Ands what about those nice alterations ladies- they need a job too!

Nana said...

I am still laughing at the Bob spot. You started it in the perfect place. I think that is me and home repair/fix-up. I am amazed and thrilled with every little project, and spend much more time standing back to admire than working. (and, yes it looks great in the pictures, but don't let an 'expert' get too close.)

Erika said...

I think your mom may have already blown the surprise to me...but I won't tell anyone :-)
Looks like fun. I"m almost done with Scotty's birthday present, a quiet book, the exact same pattern as the one my great-grandma made for me.

Tamlynn said...

Oh my dear, starting projects and not quite finishing them is my speciality. Take for instance, the baby quilt I started for my dd when she was a baby. Before I knew it she was in a big girl bed. Now my goal it to get it done for her baptism. Dang. I only have 4 months left.

I wish I could say that is my oldest unfinished project.

Tamlynn said...

And I don't think Christine would like me very much irl. rofl.

Anonymous said...

I'm a flitter. I used to be a really good and creative cook. I have had my moments at crafts but I don't particularly like it. I have oil painted and someday want to get back to it. I also sewed for my kids and myself for a long time. I don't care if I don't do it again. Crochet is fine but I never did learn to make anything knitting. And finally I do love to embroider but not crazy about big cross stitch pieces.

So as you can see, I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. But I like what a sister missionary told me once. She said I'm not a jack of all trades...I'm a Renaissance woman. Much better.

Oh by the way, that quilt I started when I was pregnant with Myrissa....I gave it to the DI hopinng someone else would finish and used it when Myrissa had her third baby. Sigh.

MyrnaMom

Michal said...

christine,
i don't think that learning to sew will make me a "better mormon woman", but it will help make me more self reliant if i at least know how to do it. i think that's the goal, really, is being able to do for yourself, even if once you learn how to pressure can you choose to buy your cans at costco instead.
i don't like it when we put pressure on ourselves to fit a certain mold or else be considered failures. i don't think that i'm going to be kept out of the celestial kingdom because i stink at sewing and paying attention to detail is not my strong point-- we just have to keep pressing forward, improving and moving towards christ. as for me, since i know i am weak in the self-reliance department, it's an area i'm trying to improve.
and by the way, i have a compost pile, too!:) i hope we can still be friends.

Michal said...

erika,
don't worry. i'm not doing the same thing for the babies. my pattern doesn't go that small. so it's okay if you know:) i've got something else in mind for mr. scotty.

Michal said...

and thanks to those of you who helped me feel better about the unfinished projects and my co-dependent ways in certain areas. :)

D-D mom (no, that's NOT my bra size) said...

My sister is a self-proclaimed "kitchen-nut," and I lack in all areas related to cooking... oh, except for baking goodies that have chocolate in them. I love to do home improvement/organizing projects, but the disorder that occurs in the process (like the pile of stuff I moved into the office while organizing the basement) sometimes ends up on a months-long to do list that I'm way too good at ignoring. I have a sewing machine that I only use occasionally, but I think the proof of my skills there lie in the fact that everytime my husband needs a minor repair he says, "I'd better take this to my mom." Ha ha. Oh well.

D-D mom (no, that's NOT my bra size) said...

and yes, I really did write this in the middle of the night. I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. I think I'm having first day of kindergarten anxiety. :)

Grammy said...

Ok, so I had a mom and a big sister who could sew anything (in my eyes anyway) and I was all thumbs. I think I didn't have the patience to sew or to learn to sew. If I made a mistake and had to pick it out I was done. I am a bit more patient these days but my projects are still basically straight seams. This means I can sew a quilt but I haven't tried any clothing items yet - makes me nervous just to think about it. YIKES! I wish I had my sister near me to use as my crutch :)

mindyluwho said...

Just come look in my sewing closet Michal and see all my unfinished projects and you will feel much better about yourself!

McD said...

I can never finish a video game, I get bored of my jobs quickly, I want to move as soon as we get really comfortable in our new community. . . worst of all when I am walking away from playing with my kids they are always yelling, "more more more!"
I think we all romance about the idea of how good we can be at something and then the excitement wears off, or the tenacity of the labor creeps in; either way it both sexes.

McD said...

p.s.

you should see the list of unfinished blogs I have, almost more than my posts.

Jen H. said...

I hate to sew, although I learned how. I prefer to be an expert bargain-shopper and modest-clothing-finder. I refuse to buy a sewing machine, because I don't want to get sucked into any sewing projects. (Although, I admit, I have borrowed my sister's machine once or twice in the past ten years.)

I, too, quote that Bob line whenever I am proud of myself. This summer I grew my first real plant--a huge tomato plant. I am a gardener! I'm gardening!

MoziEsmé said...

I've got a sewing machine I've never touched - only my mother-in-law has used it. Sad. I can sew - I know I can - but why put myself through such pain and agony?

marybeth said...

I grew up with a mother who could sew, garden, quilt, can, and anything else you could imagine and she did them all very well. I did not inherit her talent or love of all these things, but I did learn how to do some of them and learned the benefits of having these skills. Growing up our family was greatly blessed by my mother's skill and knowledge of these skills. I applaud you for wanting to be a better seamtress and I totally agree with you that just learning how to do these things will indeed make us more self-reliant even if we don't use the skills later on at least we know how. Your awesome!

Marybeth

scrap chair potato said...

I can't sew either. My sweet husband bought me a sewing machine 7 years ago. I have made curtains (they were pretty bad) and a tutu for a friend's little girl. It has not worked for a few years and I only want it fixed so I can sew on my scrapbook pages! :)
I wish that I could write as well as others in my family. I can't even use grammar and punctuation correctly. Maybe if I write on my blog long enough I might get a little better...probably not. :(
I have lots of projects I haven't finished. I don't feel like listing them all right now. Maybe I'll come back and finish this comment later......;)

Angela said...

I grew up with two professional seamstress's , I can't sew a thing- I now wish I knew how! You are one talented chick!

Michal said...

oh, angela, maybe you misunderstood. i am not talented. at least not when it come to sewing. i am a bumbling idiot who is capable of messing up a simple seam. but thankfully i have a sister and mom to bail me out!:)

Ashley said...

your sewing tale sounds a lot like mine, only i think you are even more accomplished than me. i spent several months the last year trying to make pillow cases for throw pillows on my new couch-- i finally stuck the fabric in a bag to give away. i bought some pillows on sale at target.

Allison said...

I love projects (gardening, home improvement, sewing, crafty, baking...). I usually have several going at once, with no real deadline to complete them (except the food projects, I tend to get those done :). Moms need to be flexible with their projects, so we can still be involved in our kids lives.
There is something so satisfying, and even motivating about creating something beautiful, useful, or fun with my own hands (even if it does not always turn out the way I imagined it would). Plus, when I do finish a project, I get a sense of pride in accomplishment that does not come when I finish some of the "need to be done over and over again" household tasks. I think that sometimes stay-at-home moms need that too.

I guess I have so much to say, I should write my own blog about it...

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I kowtow to anyone who completes a quilt. I have 5, count them, 5, quilts that I've started... and that is it. I also have a dress, an apron, and some doll clothes that I've started and never finished. I'm a sad case.

Michal said...

ice cream,
if it had been my solo project, i would never have completed that quilt. not only do i lack the skills, but i would have given up when i realized how over my head i was.