The Suitcase Lady


December 7, 2010, 9:56 pm

Sewing machines and I are not compatible. For Christmas many years ago, my husband surprised me with a portable sewing machine. He reasoned that anyone who loves color, design and fabric as much as I would be a natural at sewing.

My spirits sank when I looked at my owner’s manual. All fifty pages of it was a literal translation from the Japanese. Seventeen steps were required to thread the needle and bobbin. Multiple pages were devoted to troubleshooting problems of “tension”. I had a hunch the manual wasn’t referring to the type of tension I was feeling.

Accurate measuring has never been one of my talents, and I quickly discovered that sewing clothes is a mathematical exercise.

After many botched projects, I took refuge in the fact that sack dresses were in fashion. I could take two identical rectangles of fabric, sew two straight seams and put a drawstring on the top and a hem on the bottom and call it a dress.

My young daughter and I sported matching sack dresses for many of her birthdays.

By the time my son was ten, sack dresses had gone out of style, and I had reached  a peak of frustration with my machine. I vividly recall sitting down to repair a torn seam in his jeans and having the thread dissolve into a tangled ball of knots and loops. My mechanically inclined son fixed the mess and volunteered to sew the seam. I let him. The time had come for me to donate my machine to a friend who loved to sew.

Since then, I have inherited two more sewing machines. You might have seen them sitting at the end of our driveway with signs saying “Free to a Good Home”.

A sewing basket filled with colorful spools of thread and a pincushion bristling with needles sits on my closet shelf. I enjoy doing hand sewing for simple alterations, repairs and button reattachments. And I excel at emergency surgeries on Raggedy Anns and teddy bears in crisis. I have never lost a patient.

All I ask of the sewing goddess is never to bless me with a sewing machine again in my lifetime.

And to all of you who have mastered these treacherous machines, I am in awe.

2 Comments for this entry

  • evie

    Mary–Well, I’m in stitches now! And you are not alone, dear. I received a grade of D+ on a blouse I made in high school home-ec class. Pellum in the collar; does that ring a bell? Buttonholes, for god’s sake. My mother took one look at it and said,
    “We’ll use it as a dust rag.” ha! eve

  • Mary

    I made one of those blouses,too! It had a similar fate.