LEARNING TO SEW

2 04 2011

When one of my daughters was about 10, she showed some interest in learning to sew.  There was a store in the mall offering free classes for young girls.  So we joined up.  Then my husband and I decided to buy her a small, simple sewing machine.  My daughter had decided she was going to make a dress for her younger sister.  The sister had agreed to be pleasant while the sewing was going on and also to try the dress on later.

Next I bought a book telling all about sewing.  I never could learn to sew.  I tried, but it was a total disaster.  So here I was going to help my daughter to learn how to sew.  Ha!  Like I knew what I was talking about.

Nevertheless, we went to the classes, purchased a pattern, and set up the sewing machine. First thing, the pattern was a total mess as far as I was concerned.  I never could read those things.  But my daughter was better at that than I was.  She cut out the pattern.  Then we laid the material on the table and cut the material, matching part A to part B and so on.

Now came the big test.  Actually sewing the parts together.  The first seam was finished and it was wonderful.  We were both so proud and so was the younger sister.  Then the pattern said – grade the seam.  I looked at everything in the new book about sewing and never could find a ‘grade the seam’ anywhere.  So I called my mother who was a very good seamstress.  I asked the obvious question – what do they mean by grade the seam.  She just laughed and said that means to cut the extra material away.

Well, I should have known that!  Wonder why they didn’t just say, ‘cut the extra material away.’  But then that would have been too simple.  Always have to have a new language with every new skill you know.

When the seams were all sewn and graded, then the ultimate test was putting the dress together.  My daughter did all this just great as far as I was concerned.  It wasn’t perfect, of course, but then what do you expect from a 10 year old learning how to sew.   I thought it was marvelous and said so a million times.

The younger sister put it on and stood still for my older daughter to pin the hem.   The dress looked a little funny in spots.   The zipper – oh, that was another big feat – that zipper.  First, we had to go to the store and find a zipper.  Then we had to make sure it was the right size.  Then we had to pin it into the dress and sew it just perfect.  So now, the zipper zipped and that was the most important thing that day.

Of course, I forgot to mention the facing, too.  That facing is a real milestone.  Once you have figured out all the special language attached to the zipper and the facing, you should have a special star in the sky.

My younger daughter stood there in her brand new dress, proud as punch.   The older daughter was exuberant over actually making a dress.  And I was overwhelmed by the feat itself.  How wonderful.

It really didn’t matter that the zipper puckered just a little here and there.  The sleeves were a little crooked, too.  But that could be overlooked.  And that facing was showing in spots.  But, heck, who cared.  The dress was made and it was wonderful and we had a really good time doing that project that summer.  I just don’t think I will plan on doing that next year.

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