Home Ec 101: What Not To Do

8 Aug

This morning I came to the conclusion that I need to learn how to sew.

There are some women who always keep a sewing kit handy, and more importantly, actually know what to do with it. These women have no trouble sewing on a button, turning up a hem, darning a sock, or turning a collar.

I am not one of those women. I don’t even know what “turning a collar” means.

I was educated at a girls-only Catholic school, the kind that believes that girls have to be clones of Martha Stewart in order to find a husband. And so I learned how to knit when I was ten years old, although the term “learned” is a bit of a stretch. Teaching someone like me how to knit is a bit like teaching a giraffe how to fly.

My first project – the one I got at the tender age of ten – was to knit a scarf. While all of the other little girls happily clicked their needles together to create long, tidy scarves, I struggled mightily to get the needles to cooperate, and the wool pulled and strained as I tried to loop it over the needles. Every time I completed a row I had to take a breather.

The other kids completed their scarves and started attaching the tasseled fringes onto the ends. I was still working away with my needles, trying desperately to come up with something that would go around my neck at least once. In the end, one day after school I simply finished the row I was on, and deemed the scarf to be complete. Since I had a scrap of knitted material that would barely wrap around a pencil, let alone a human neck, I resorted to artificial scarf-lengthening means. I soaked my scarf in water to make it wet and hopefully stretchy, and then I took it out to the back yard and secured one end to the ground with a croquet hoop. I pulled on the other end with all my might, and when it was stretched as far as it would go, I went to work with the hammer and a second croquet hoop. Then I went inside, blissfully under the impression that if my scarf were left to dry in that stretched-out state, my problem would be solved.

Pretty resourceful for a ten-year-old.

By the time I checked on my scarf a couple of hours later, it had indeed dried. It looked impressively long. I removed the croquet hoops and stared in disbelief as, like a strange alien creature undergoing a metamorphosis, the scarf writhed and contracted back to its original size. So much for my resourcefulness.

I would rather have set my face on fire than actually started knitting again, so I decided that the length in the scarf would just have to come from the tassels. I can honestly say that when I handed the scarf in for marking, the surreally long tassels completely took focus away from the quality – or lack thereof – of the knitting.

We will not discuss the next craft project: a knitted Humpty Dumpty. Mine was definitely a Dumpty.

Nor will we discuss the apron I made in seventh grade, that the home ec teacher awarded me a grade of 12% for.

We will just skip right ahead to this morning’s fiasco…

At Christmas, one of my gifts from my husband was a lovely light gray suit consisting of pants and a jacket. Although it fitted, it was just too snug to be comfortable. I mean, I don’t want to be sitting on the subway wondering if my pants are about to split open at the seam. So I hung the suit in my closet and resolved to wear it when I had lost a few pounds.

Thanks to the more-or-less liquid diet that I have been forced to follow of late, that day came today. I took the suit out and put it on to find it comfortably loose while still being stylishly fitted.

Just one problem – the pants were too long. I couldn’t wear them like that, because I would have dirtied the bottoms of the pant legs, and I probably would have tripped and fallen on my face in the process.

I couldn’t take them up, because – well, I just don’t do sewing. But that resourceful ten-year-old in me has never gone away, so I came up with a solution that any resourceful ten-year-old would think of.

I decided to staple the bottoms of my pants.

With my five-year-old quizzically looking on, I carefully measured out the length that looked right, and then went to work with the stapler.

At first, I couldn’t get the stapler to work properly, and I figured that I would probably have more success if I wasn’t actually wearing the pants while I stapled them. I took them off, laid them flat on the ground, and tried again. Ten minutes later, I put the pants back on, and went to the full-length mirror in the hall to survey my handiwork.

The fact that one leg was now an inch shorter than the other was the least of my problems. One of the staples wasn’t holding properly, so one side of the pant leg was drooping down sadly. On the other leg, the staple had bunched up the fabric in an intriguing manner. And my assumption that the staples wouldn’t show against the gray fabric turned out to be hopelessly misguided.

With resignation, I gave up on the gray suit. I took it off in a huff, and then stomped off to put on my blue pinstriped suit instead, a suit that was ready-to-wear and staple-free.

Now, with the benefit of several hours of hindsight, I can think of the utter ridiculousness of trying to staple pants and I can laugh about it.

But I really should learn how to sew. And giraffes should learn how to fly.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4312354135. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.)

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One Response to “Home Ec 101: What Not To Do”

  1. Fran August 8, 2011 at 7:58 PM #

    I was laughing so hard at your blog that I had a small coughing fit! Which was only small due to the Klippies and coke concoction (I wish) that I am infusing as I write! I hate sewing but knitting is worse. My tension was so tight, the needles would squeak through the wool! This of course, coming from a gran who crocheted beautifully (I’m sure I could catch a decent sized snoek with those terrifying hooks), another gran who belonged to a knitting circle and kept my feet warm and cosy with bright pink woolie bed socks (which kept me, my sister and her friend in hysterics one time I was residing at Grotties – and then got told off by the patient in the next bed because we were laughing too much), my aunt who did amazing cross-stitch and of course my mom who embroidered beautifully and kept all my clothing from falling apart and in impeccable shape, right length etc. As an adult I found that a tiny safety pin (had to pause for a second to remember what that was called!) would adequately survive many washing cycles as a substitute for my top pajama button. Problem is I don’t have any more safety pins and another button fell off the same top a few weeks ago. They both were giving me the evil eye from the laundry room until I put them out of sight. Not sure where I stashed them. Oh well, at least I can’t sew them on then! And even a bikini top survived for years with the safety pin solution after a rather embarrassing exit of the plastic clip as I came up for air at Club Mikanos! Typically, my then boyfriend didn’t move from his chair and laughed his head off. Grr. Sew yes, or rather not to sew, is my preference. But I can tell you this… When I do take it upon myself to borrow needle and thread, even the most vicious treatment will not get that button to depart EVER again!

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