Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Things I wish I could do # 1

This is part one of a random series of posts that I suspect I will resort to when the blank bloggy screen mocks me with its un-filled-up-ness. I may also start a series on "Words that should exist but don't so I am inventing them. Stop laughing." I will see how I feel.

Anyway, number one on this list is: I wish I could sew. In an absolutely ideal world I would be able to make my own clothes, so that when I had the idle thought of "I could really do with a plain black skirt about so long, with pockets, and maybe some cool button-y detail", I could do something about it that did not involved traipsing round clothes shops (yuck) looking for stuff that will not make me look like Jabba the Hut's less attractive sister and having to go into changing rooms and try said stuff on before rejecting it on the basis of the said resemblance to siblings of Jabba the Hut. (Wow. That was a long sentence. Are you all still breathing okay?)

A friend/flatmate from university days had a friend who could do this sort of stuff and I was very jealous. She could say "I would really love a long, gathered grey skirt that has lots of fabric in it and reaches down almost to my black pointy goth-type shoes" (it was the Eighties after all) and lo and behold, her pal would come up with the goods.

Or my friend B. from school days who was really arty and could draw and sketch and paint AND make clothes. She made my wedding dress for me. Based on my very clear and comprehensible instructions along the lines of "Long, silk, cream/ivory, sleeves, no foofy stuff. Well maybe a bow. A small one. Maybe." B. took this in her stride, looked me up and down and produced a drawing of a design that up until then had only existed in my head. She then made the dress for me from scratch, without ever going near me with a tape measure (a dangerous endeavour at the best of times) and with minimial alteration. I loved it. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to do that whenever you felt like it?

Frankly I would be happy just to be able to take up hems neatly, sew on the odd button/name tape (OMG the name tapes on the boys' uniforms!) or make minor alterations. But I can't. I am hopeless with a needle. Well actually, I can thread a needle really well, really quickly. But then I don't have a clue what to do with it.

I was pretty good at school - most subjects I did well in. The academic stuff was fine, PE I managed by dint of being a reasonable swimmer and badminton player and remarkably good at conning my way out of everything else. Cookery, or "food and nutrition" as it was then known I got by in because I was an okay cook even if I tended not to follow the recipes properly. Sewing however - sorry, "fabric and fashion" - I bombed in. Just useless.

The first item of clothing we were supposed to make was a really basic skirt and I failed before I got anywhere near a needle by cutting out two fronts instead of a front and a back. Teacher sighed and cut out a back for me. I signed my F&F death warrant, however, when I went to the sewing machine to sew the seams in said skirt. And threaded the machine with elastic thread (I think the kind of thread you use when you do that sort of gathered elasticated stuff). My teacher could not believe I was so dense as to do this by accident and decided instead that I was obviously trying to be funny. I was thrown out of the class, to the relief of all.

I like to think that I was just a victim of the last vestiges of institutional sexism as only us girls had to do Fabric and Fashion and Food and Nutrition. The boys got to do Woodwork and Technical Drawing, which would have been much more fun. If I could screw up threading a sewing machine, imagine the havoc I could have wreaked with a circular saw!

All of which is a long way of explaining why it's not really my fault that I am sitting here wearing my nice almost-designer grey trousers, the hems of which are currently held up with sellotape.


  1. elastic thread? haha, you poor thing :(

    I actually bought a sewing machine months ago and I have yet to try using it. It came with an instructional DVD, but I continue to eye it with suspicion.

  2. I am exactly the same. In S1 and S2, I found all subjects fairly easy... apart from Home Ec. My brain just isn't wired for for that stuff. (Oh yes, and I am always so proud at how quickly I can thread a needle too!) I sewed up a rip in my jeans recently - took me AGES - but it fell apart after one wear. :\

  3. Ha ha! My mother's and my poor sewing skills are legendary.

    Cellotape? I usually staple my hems up. Or sometimes have also used a paper clip.

  4. Hi...the first thing I "sewed" was a pair of shorts in Fashion & Fabric at school. I found them in a box when I moved house last year...unfinished! That I only found them last year is bad enough given that I have moved house 5 times but the fact that I started them when I was 12 and I'm now 42 is very bad indeed and, no, they wouldn't fit!

  5. I am so pleased to hear that I am not the only sewing-challenged woman on the planet. And amused to see the ads Google are putting on my e-mail page where your comments are coming in - new sewing machine or cheap sewing patterns anyone?

  6. I can do nothing but cook. That's it. I am so challenged in every other way!

  7. Sellotape?? Nah, that's not durable enough. You want a couple of dots of superglue. Lasts much longer and doesn't make a crinkly noise when you walk!

    I've never even tried to sew, to be honest. The best I can do is sew buttons on with fishing line, because believe me, if I have to suffer the pain of sewing a button on once, it's damn well not EVER going to come off again so I have to repeat the job!

  8. Oh, I too would love to be able to sew - or do anything vaguely useful really. The only thing I could do at school was play the flute but a fat lot of good that is, eh?

    Like Lainey, I'm also an advocate of stapling one's hems. They subsequently sparkle in the drizzle until they rust. Oh yeah, check out my rusting hem bling. It'll catch on, just you wait and see.

  9. Hey, got to you through Its life jim. I use staples too. What kind of girls are we that our home ec classes failed so dramatically? My mum made all my clothes as a kid. Me? I take everything to the mending lovelies on Rose Street!

  10. Well, I blame the teacher for assuming the worst. I would not have known what to do either. That's why it's a CLASS!
    But I wish I could, too. I do knit! Not that well, but I do.