Friday, November 12, 2010

Sew, I Sew...Sew What?

Okay...sorry, about the title. I couldn't help myself. 

I would not consider myself to be particularly crafty.  My grandma is an excellent seamstress, my mom can sling a hot glue gun like nobody's business, but the crafting gene seems to have skipped a generation.  When my girlfriends were whipping up friendship bracelets left and right, I couldn't make it through one.  When we made gym shorts in home economics during sixth grade, mine looked hideous with wonky stitching and threads hanging out all over the place.  My sister-in-law tried to teach me how to crochet when I was pregnant with the little miss (I had a goal to crochet a pair of booties for the bean) I wound up with half a scarf and no booties. I'm gung-ho to craft and then I peter out.  Hello, my name is Nikki, and I don't finish what I've started.

In walks the blogging world into my life, and I start seeing these amazing projects all these ladies are doing and I start to think, "Maybe crafting isn't so bad...maybe I can do this."  I started saving all of their detailed tutorials and found myself with "DIY" and "Sewing" folders crammed full of their bright ideas.  This new found peer pressure has been just the push I've needed.  I've been feeling sentimental lately about my grandma and her sewing machine.  Growing up she made me beautiful dresses, the most amazing costumes for Halloween and school plays, lovely dresses for vocal performances and even made the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding.  I remember it being so much fun to go pick out patterns and fabric with my mom and then hand them over to my grandma so she could work her magic.  She would hand back the finished product and I remember being so amazed that it looked exactly like the picture.  No wonky seams, no threads hanging out all over.  I would tell her over and over through the years, "Someday I want you to teach me how to do that!"  She would smile and tell me, "Any just say when."

"When" was a couple of weeks ago.  I started thinking how terrible it would be if I never made the time to learn from my grandma.  I called her up and asked if she would come stay with me and teach me all she, being the awesome grandma she is, she said "YES!"

Grandma came with her old sewing machine (she's since graduated to a swanky Janome), lots of thread, bobbins, needles and PATIENCE.  She's had her old sewing machine a matter of fact, it's about as old as me and still works perfectly.  She babied that machine, took it to the shop for regular 'tune-ups' and has kept it in mint condition all these years.

We immediately set to work and started with the basics of  threading the machine, filling bobbins, straight stitching, and how to read a pattern.  I never knew a person could screw up filling a bobbin...I proved that, in fact, one can.  We worked hard, laughed a lot, reminisced and by the end of the weekend, I found a new love for sewing and an appreciation for my grandma's passion and talent.

Before she left for home, she passed along a few reminders (like make sure the bobbin is actually FILLING and not just winding thread in a tangled mess), some encouragement, and even a reminder to call if I'm having trouble. Then she passed her old machine on to me, and everything that came with it.  The same machine she made all of my costumes on.  The same machine that skillfully handled the material as she gently fed it through.  The same machine that she sat before while I would sit and watch her sew and chat with her about subjects like junior high angst.  The same machine that I will now use to make wonderful things for my children (or at least try). 

I love that I have something of hers.  I've since sewn (sewed?) a few things and have plans to start on some of those projects building up in my file.  I know it sounds cheesy, but I do think of her when I use the machine.  When it starts to make that "whirring" noise and I feed the material through, I hear her voice saying, "Don't rush it...nice and slow...keep a straight line," and, I think of the weekend we spent sewing together. I  think the crafting gene isn't so recessive anymore.


Heather said...

How fun. :) My grandma used to sew a lot of things before her arthritis took over her hands. She always wanted for me to learn how, but I always had other things going on that seemed more important and more interesting than sewing. Then 5-6 years ago, a friend, who had started her own business with sewing, offered to teach me how. I'm glad I learned, because I've done a lot with it since then. My grandma would be glad to know I finally learned. :) But a word of caution--those crafty projects are addicting! It's like eating a bag of potato chips--one is not enough. Soon your whole house will be filled with bags of chips! I mean, filled with projects in progress and projects in waiting. :)

Nikki said...

Heather, you're so right...not only are projects taking my time, but they're taking over my thoughts! Totally like a bag of chips!

anna said...


This brought tears to my eyes! Such a precious moment to share with your grandmother. And what a wonderful writer you are.

Nicole Young said...

Ok, so now that you know how to read a pattern (the one sewing thing I can't ***make that REFUSE*** to do) You can teach ME! I can sew...just make it up as I go along and that doesn't always work out...sooooo we should have a sewing day!!! I will provide the make some cookies and we will sit like two little old ladies and sew!!! Mkay???

Nikki said...

Anna--thank you for your sweet words!

Nicole--I haven't used a pattern yet...g-ma just gave me a quick tutorial...I'm still winging it, but by all means come over with the coffee and I'll whip up the treats!