Sew what?

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By Carolyn Risner

I am ashamed. Eight girls, eight young girls who are three, four, even five times younger than I am have shown me just how incompetent I am in an area where women are, by tradition, supposed to excel.

Of course it's sewing and when it comes to the fine art of stitchery, I am all thumbs. The gals of the Suwannee River Fair have accomplished more in their short lives than I have in four decades.

My grandmothers were seamstresses, but of course, back in the day they had to be out of sheer necessity.

I grew up with feedsack dresses trimmed in rickrack.

My own mother was adept with needle and thread.

She didn't sew a lot, but she could. How can I forget the muslin crop tops that we wore in the 70s over our turtlenecks. Or the jumpsuits? Gad! They were awful, but we thought we were tres chic.

I never had an inclination to sew. Never saw the need to take a home ec course.

And then there was a revelation after I had my first child, and planned on a bigger family.

I could make their clothes and save wads of money.

So I bought a Brother electric sewing machine, an assortment of patterns, some cheap fabric and I took off.

I crashed.

After a long day at the kitchen table with all my accoutrements spread around me, I had managed to sew a dress that only had four pieces.

But when I held it up, there was no neck to slide over Barbie's head.

Yes, I made the mistake of trying to sew doll clothes, only later learning that I should have never started with teeny, tiny Barbie clothes.

I quickly learned how to use a seam ripper that evening and abandoned that project, opting to try a jumper for Allison. Again, four piece: front, back and two straps.

Again, disaster.

The sewing machine was delegated to the closet shelf and years later when, as a Scout mother I was told badges needed to be sewn on before the Christmas parade, I discovered fabric glue.

It became a constant bail-out friend and after a while, I knew I didn't need to know how to sew.

When someone needed something hemmed, I hired it out-or else used staples in strategically hidden spots.

When badges needed to be sewn, I used more fabric glue.

When something needed taken in, I gained weight to avoid it.

If something needed letting out, I went on a diet.

Soon I learned there were many ways to get around not knowing how to sew.

I admire those who can whip up a little old frock in a few hours.

I envy the talents of quilters who make meticulous stitches.

But as for me and my house, we'll just depend on the kindness and skills of others.

Oh, ladies, I have some alterations for you . . .