Failure of The Family Tree

One of my strongest childhood memories is falling asleep at night to the soft hum of my mother's sewing machine. My mother is a seamstress, my grandmother was a seamstress and I'm fairly certain every dead female leaf that once grew on that branch of my family tree was also a seamstress.

I once thought my mother sewing all my clothes was the. worst. thing. to. ever. happen. to. me. All the cool kids had mothers who took them shopping for the latest fashions while my mother routinely dragged us into one fabric store after another, looking at an endless ocean of fabric bolts.

To my mother's (and grandmother's) dismay, I didn't seem to inherit the sewing gene. As much as my mother encouraged both my sister and myself, I just never thought sewing (and crafting in general) to be very interesting. Or perhaps I am just not smart enough to become a sewing guru. I'm hapless at figuring out patterns, I tend to waste fabric and my fingers seem to be a magnet for straight pins to jab.

I spend more time cussing and crying when trying to sew than actually getting any thread into the fabric.

I bring shame to my family name with my inability to sew in a straight line.

After losing control of the sewing machine and sewing the shirt I was trying to make onto my index finger, I put down the seam ripper and vowed to never again darken the door of another sewing room for as long as I lived.

My mother shed a few tears for not having a daughter to share her passion with while I shed quite a few trying to remove blue paisley fabric from finger.

My mother continues to create beautiful couture in the small confines of her sewing room while I continue to twitch whenever I see a sewing machine.

I never really gave much thought to my mutation on the family tree until my daughter suddenly got this weird glint in her eye when she saw my mother working at the sewing machine. It was just my luck that my daughter inherited the gene I never did. My kid? She's a born crafter. And the need for speed, er, sewing runs thick in her blood.

Now I'm all "Crap! Why didn't I just listen to my mother and let her teach me how to sew??" This is one of those moments where hindsight is a total pain in my arse.

So with my daughter showing an active interest (read that as PESTERING me to death for sewing lessons) I'm suddenly wishing I had actually paid attention in those home-ec classes in school instead of using them as a free period to read X-Men comic books.

I'm just a girl, standing in front of a sewing machine, asking it to love me.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

The easiest thing would be for me to admit that perhaps my mother was right all those years ago when she insisted that perhaps one day I would actually appreciate the skill and that learning how to sew wouldn't kill me (because sewing your fingers shut is painful but apparently not life threatening) and just ask for her help, but that would be like admitting defeat. Or that I was wrong. Either way, neither is going to happen. Mostly because I am a stubborn mule with rocks for brains.

I'd rather eat crow than admit I could use a little help with my daughter's new passion. And while my mother happily helps my daughter as much as she can, as often as she can, Fric needs more supervision than her grandmother can provide. Unless she moved in with us.

Bwhahahaha. Don't get any ideas Mom. (I love you, though.)

So I need to learn some basic sewing skills if only to keep up with my daughter and not look like a total dumbass.

Which is where my friend Deborah stepped in. Turns out, like my mother, she's a bit of a wizard with a sewing machine. However, unlike my mother, she has never threatened to jab me full of straight pins when I made wise cracks about her keeping me in stitches. Also, Deborah wrote a book. Which she happily sent to me when I told her my sob story about being the seamstresses daughter who doesn't know how to sew and how all the other seamstresses kids mocked me on the playground.

Turns out Deborah's book is almost as good as sitting beside my mother and paying attention instead of picking my cuticles and dreaming about Johnny Depp. My daughter and I are reading it together and I've even dusted off the sewing machine my mother gave me when I was younger. My mom may have been onto something with using sewing as a mother-daughter activity.

35 years old and I'm finally ready to start listening to my mother. Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?

Stitch by stitch, I'm on my way to finally showing my mom what I'm made of. Which, at this point is just a bunch of crooked seams and uneven hemlines, but darn it, I'm back on the branch of the family tree.

Stitch By Stitch

*Thanks so much Deborah for the book, it is FANTASTIC. And I swear, I am actually reading it and not just using it as a coaster for my coffee table. I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of her book if you want to learn about sewing. With her book she'll have you sewing clothes, curtains and cushions in no time. Plus think of all the money you'll save. My pocket book finally understands why my mother always insisted on hand making our wardrobe.*