When I was little, my mom made most of my clothes. She said it was because I was so tiny. I know she had to drive me to a special shoe store for my shoes because I wore a quadruple A shoe with a quin A heel. Tiny feet. So, clothes were hard to find that fit me. So, she sewed.
My mom had an old Singer sewing machine downstairs in our huge laundry room. She had jars and jars of antique buttons that I really wish I had today. She also had a bunch of the tomato pin cushions. She could throw together an outfit faster than anyone. Well, it would have been faster if I was a willing participant.
There was a phrase in my house that I just hated hearing from her. “Vickie….I need you to try this on.” Oh Dear God, you have no idea how many times I heard that while growing up. I did not want to try anything on. It was a long process in my book from McCall pattern to folding it and putting it in my closet. So, I hid.
“Vickie!!……Vickie!!……Vickie, get down here…………..NOW!…..Don’t make me come up there!!…..If you don’t come down here right now, I will make you go to church tomorrow.”
Ok, that worked. We went to Sunday school and then went next door to Isaly’s for breakfast. I loved Isaly’s because they cut their toast diagonally. I mean, how cool was that? Church was so boring. Plus, there was a song that we sang at the end of Sunday school:
Sunday school is over and we are going home. Good-bye, Good-bye…Be always kind and good. See, no time for church.
So, I got out of my hiding place in the clothes hamper in the bathroom and walked downstairs. Damnit, she had the chalk marker. This made me dizzy. I had to put my skirt on, and stand perfectly still while she crawled around with the chalk marker to marker for the hem line. Sometimes I had to turn around and the chalk marker stayed still. Regardless, I hated that chalk marker.
It wasn’t as much the chalk marker as it was the Salem cigarette puffing mother who tried to keep the cigarette in her mouth while she was smacking at my leg when she wanted me to turn. She couldn’t talk while that cancer stick was in her mouth, so hitting me just seemed so appropriate. I couldn’t read her mind. I didn’t know when she was done pinning the skirt.
Sometimes she would stab me with a pin. Sometimes her cigarette would brush against my leg. And when I would yelp, she would slap at my leg to stand still. I was screwed no matter what I did.
When I got a bit older, the child labor really cranked up a notch. She had me pinning the pattern to the fabric. Then I had to cut it out. I hated this. Because I was enept. I didn’t understand the patterns. The whole process was just so stressful. I hated sewing. I hated smoking. And I hated chalk.
When I got to be in junior high, we had to take sewing class. I just wanted to puke. So, I turned into a goof-off. I got my partner in crime, Ramaine, and we would sew mittens instead of the A-line skirt we were supposed to be working on. And then we would wear the mittens. My how we laughed. We had a fashion show with the outfits we made and I was scared to death to wear what I made because I just didn’t care.
I vowed I would never own a sewing machine. I would never force my future children to stand while I put pins in their outfits. I was never going to sew. Ever.
Fastforward many years and you would have found me sitting on the floor, measuring and pinning my daughter’s gown for a dance. Yeah, I know. I never did buy a sewing machine and sewed everything by hand. I designed and sewed all of their Halloween costumes. I hemmed by hand. I cross-stitched for a hobby.
In the end, I did learn to sew. I tried to limit the time I called my daughter to check the hem of a gown.
Even if she was too old to hide in the laundry hamper.
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