Learning to sew
My mom can do wonders with all things textile. Seriously. (I’m bragging, but it’s not just bragging, it’s true). She made my wedding dress. And my wedding shawl. She sews, she knits, she weaves, she felts. Heck, she’s made money bags out of shredded money and hats out of dog hair, she’s even spun silk made by silkworms that she raised from eggs (they’re dumb little worms, by the way). She has a master’s certificate in spinning (the kind where you make yarn, not where you pedal a bike to nowhere). She’s a well-known teacher and author. Basically, if it has to do with textiles, she’s all over it.
Somehow, though, I missed out on that gene. I never even learned to sew. Until this week. Now that’s a little misleading, I can sew a button on by hand, and I understand the theory behind stitching things with a needle and thread, and I can knit, but I’d never worked a sewing machine. But recently, I was feeling like this was something I really ought to learn. I should know at least the basics of sewing and clothing repair. Enough to fix seams, to hem pants, to maybe sew a simple costume for Zoe. So while my mom was here for a very short visit this week, we went out and got me my first sewing machine. And I’ve taken a few lessons from mom, who by the way, is an awesome teacher (I was feeling like I hadn’t bragged on her enough this paragraph). So far I have hemmed three pair of pants, sewn three buttons on, and darned a shirt. I have to admit that I scoffed at the idea of sewing a button on with a machine. I mean, it’s not hard to sew one on by hand. But wow! It’s so much faster with a machine. And kind of fun, when you get past the terrifying, will-I-shatter-the-button? phase.
It got me thinking about why I hadn’t learned earlier. Why didn’t I take advantage of her while I lived at home, where she has a great sewing machine, tons of fabric and all the tools to do all sorts of fun things. Well, mom did try introducing me to it once in middle school, I think I sewed one piece of cloth, and that was it. Mom says that it’s a matter of teaching when a person wants it. It’s pretty similar to the “just in time” teaching philosophy that we talk about in the library sometimes. No matter how much they’re going to need to know how to search an online database, no one is going to actually bother learning it until they know they’ll need it. It’s one of the reasons I have such a hard time teaching in classes where the professor hasn’t yet given the students an assignment that will use the library’s resources.
But knowing now how much easier it is with a machine to hem my pants and sew on buttons – I really wish I would have been interested earlier. And I have spoken with students who say they wished they’d learned to find things in the library before they were panicking about a paper. Hindsight and all that, I guess.
Any skills or knowledge you wish you’d learned from your parents? Or any skill that you hope to someday pass on to someone else?