I started sewing when I was four or so...
At least that’s my first memory of sewing. I can still see my squiggly stitches and remember how I tried to make the doll’s head look like a circle again after I turned it right side out. I did discover cutting notches later on, but that’s another story.
There were nine kids in our family, and I was number seven. By the time I came along, my mother’s days consisted mostly of getting ready to make something to eat, making something to eat, feeding us, attempting a nap, then waking up to make us something to eat again.
Sewing time was mingled in too, and I guess Mr. and Mrs. King and Queen came from one of those lucky days when we actually finished something we started together, but what I remember most was just being with her that day. I remember picking out the black velvet and finding the lace for the crowns. All made from scraps in the fabric pile.
I loved that Mr. and Mrs. King and Queen.
We had about four or five dogs… so one day Mrs. Queen got her hand chewed off. We had to hunt for some scraps of fabric to fix that up. It didn’t quite match, but that is life. Mrs. Queen kept her smile.
So what did I learn?
Never throw scraps away.
I'm not sure if that was a very good lesson.
Just one look at my studio will tell you why.
When I got to college, I wanted to save the world
I wanted to become a home economics extension agent, I’d go into rural America and teach people how to put art into sewing. I had learned sewing and art from my mom. I was ready, just needed that college degree and I would be all set.
Even though I had been sewing for years, I had to take sewing 102. At least they didn’t make me take the 101 course. Well, they should have actually, because evidently, I did everything wrong.
My professor was always very aware of my feelings because she would so politely ask if I minded showing everyone how I had done something wrong, again.
Of course, I didn’t mind.
When Mommy cut out a dress, she’d lay the paper pattern down on the fabric with salt and pepper shakers to keep it in place and cut away. It might not have been perfect, but it did the job.
My professor made us do everything perfectly, there was no room for innovation.Putting a zipper in my way put my grade point average in jeopardy.
I could lose my financial aid and then never get a job saving the world.
I didn't want to sew like her. I didn’t want to end up making jackets with polyester lace trim on the inside.
Perfect? yes. Ugly? yes.
So I decided not to save the Home Ec. Dynasty.
There is nothing wrong with teaching perfection, as long as it’s fun. I learned art and sewing without having to worry about living up to some grown-up standards. That’s why I loved it.
Get out that pile of scraps, grab a needle and thread, and teach your favorite little cutie some fun sewing.
When you spend time sewing with a little one, don’t worry about how the project’s going to look. She’ll love it no matter what because you made it with her.
And when she makes things on her own, set her free. Experimentation is way more important than perfection. Just be nearby for when things get frustrating, and she’s about to throw it across the room. :)
Everyone makes mistakes, it's what you do with those mistakes that make you an artist.
And don’t ever, ever, get rid of that scrap bag.