Trina Machacek: If you sew are you a sewer?
Many days have passed under the bridge of life since I sewed something more than a repair on a torn seam or pegged a pair of pants. Yes, pegged a pair of pants. Way before skinny jeans. That’ll date anyone.
This wild hair of an idea to write about sewing came after a recent jaunt through a store that carried sewing machines. Oh how they have changed since my Kenmore came to live with me after finding it under the Christmas tree some 40 years ago.
First I’d like to tell you why I got that machine. I learned to sew by hand from my mother and from my Girl Scout leader, Mrs. Tuttle. Both women were excellent sewers, sew-ers, uh they could sew.
When I got into high school I learned to sew on a machine in Home Ec. and actually learned to make things with a pattern. You know, if you sew, that sack of tissue paper that, if all the planets were aligned correctly, would develop into such weird boxy blouses that no matter how much effort I put into them would always look like they were thrown together by a left-handed seamstress who was taught by a right-handed seamstress. Yes those patterns.
But! Yes a hand-stitched “but.” But I learned enough of the ins and outs and techniques of sewing to get me through to be able to stitch together many rips and holes in 501 Levis that crossed many a barbed wire fence! And that is why I got a new sewing machine for Christmas many years ago.
I still have the Singer treadle sewing machine that we were using when I first got married. I remember it was set up in a shed and I would be awarded with a new rip to fix when my other half would come in from irrigating a field that was only able to be gotten to by climbing over the fence. There really is an art to crossing a barbed wire fence carrying a shovel and an orange plastic dam attached to an eight foot stick. Sometimes the fence wins.
That’s where I and my treadling Singer came in. I am oh so glad that irrigating was only done in the summer. Going out to sew in mid winter — well it just didn’t happen. Thus a new machine came to live with us. So I could fix stuff all year long!
Recently I was in a fabric store, you know just touching all the fabrics like us girls will sometimes do. I noticed the line of machines so I floated over on my brain laced fabric high to see what was what. My good gracious how many stitches are there now? Like 564?
I barely got past forward, backward and zig zag. I remember learning about blind stitches to hem pants and I thought I was in nirvana. Now you can ask a machine to do the Hoochie Koochie and it will ask you at what speed!
I got home and checked my machine. My face is red as there are like eight stitches I have never even tried. I’m not going to either. Don’t poke the bear I say. Pretty sure they would just get me into trouble. Kinda like the turbo on my car. Use your imagination. Wink. Wink.
I am truly in awe of anyone who has a machine that can do 127 stitches and that person knows how, when and were to use each one. I still remember the giddy feeling of learning how to make zig zag stitches wider. My whole sewing world changed. I no longer had to find a scrap of material to back a hole. I could make really wide stitches and grab both sides of the rip.
My biggest claim to fame in the sewing world is making Levi blankets out of all those old Levis that I sewed and sewed and sewed until there was more polyester thread along the inseams than there were original seams. Not to toot my own horn but I have made more Levi blankets than you can shake a barbed wire fence crossing shovel at. Not fancy ones. Not quilted ones. I found if I backed and quilted Levi blankets I ended up with a blanket that weighed more than a baby hippo!
No I just make ones that are sewed together so they can be thrown in the back of a car or truck and be spread on the ground for a picnic and not have to worry if they got dirty — or Heaven forbid get torn.
Of course with big ole zig zag stitches that would be an easy fix.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her new book They Call Me Weener is available on Amazon. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get a signed copy.