Sew and Sew

July 12, 2020

Like so many life skills I lack, I never really understood why anyone enjoyed sewing. I made one brief and catastrophic venture into the world of Butterick and McCall’s patterns in a class in high school. I made a pair of hideous plaid pants that I’d never choose to wear (and, it turns out, never could wear anyway, as I had sewed them backwards and inside out.) I could spot a homemade dress or blouse a mile away (or assumed I could), and frankly they never looked worth the effort I know went into them. We do not dwell in the Little House on the Prairie people!! There are oodles of wonderful garments available for sale everywhere, fully assembled!!

I have several crafty friends, most of whom learned to sew at their mother’s or grandmother’s knee. Their daughters’ American Girl dolls therefore sport entire handmade wardrobes, just as some of my childhood playmates had owned original Barbie clothes. For me, clumsily putting endless tiny snaps on tiny outfits would be a punishment suitable to Dante’s Eighth Circle of Hell. I contented myself with store bought everything, and felt not a twinge of guilt.

So I was surprised when Rose began showing keen interest in this pastime. Our neighbor Sally Will gifted her with a Singer machine of a certain age, which was ideal for her getting started. Over time, her busy life circumstances relegated sewing to a back burner. But during the past few years, Rose has once again become Suzy Homemaker, at least in this area. She sews for fun, and challenges herself to make complicated stuff, just for the heck of it. Why, she made herself a gorgeous tote bag, from scratch! It took her quite a while, and many many ripped out stitches, as she is a perfectionist. But the finished product is a wow, and Rose is justifiably proud of her handiwork. To my daughter, this is not torture, but instead a delightful activity, and I have to ask myself—was she switched at birth? You’d have to go back quite a few branches on the Family Tree to find a dedicated seamstress –at least on my side.

However, Steve can sew, specializing in buttons and hems, and I take full advantage of his skills. He can often be found sitting on the sofa, working on a costume for our theatre (though he hires out for anything complicated). His sewing kit is a refitted tackle box, and is kept near his cheery orange toolbox. I am no more comfortable with the needles and pincushions in the one, than with the Allen wrenches and screwdrivers in the other. Indeed, the only creative implements I enjoy using are ballpoint pens and whisks.

Someday, when I am on my way out, and my loving family gathers around my bedside, they will talk about practical lessons learned from good old Mom. It will be a brief conversation, and it will NOT involve teaching them to sew.

Sew sorry, kids!



    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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