My mother is at that pesky age where she keeps reminding me that she is not going to live forever, and so every time I visit, she sends me home with this or that. “I’m almost (insert current age here), I don’t need all this stuff!” she tells me. Threaten to confiscate her Singer sewing machine, however, and suddenly the woman is going to live to be a hundred.
Despite my mother’s best efforts to teach me, I wasn’t much of a seamstress. A few years ago, as a result of wanting to dress up for an historical reenactment, I decided to make my own costume — which was really amazing considering up until that point I had never done much sewing other than what my mother insisted I learn as a child, and the footless bald eagle that I made in 8th grade home-economics class. Unfortunately, my 10 year old plastic Kenmore machine just wasn’t getting the job done. I borrowed my mother’s 1958 Singer “Slant-O-Matic” model #401-A. I didn’t appreciate that ugly thing as a child, but as an adult I realized its worth. I didn’t want to give it back, but I knew that wasn’t an option. I managed to find the exact same model for sale on Craigslist, and as soon as I saw it, I just knew it belonged with me.
What transpired from there was the most unlikely cascade of projects: historical costumes, modern apparel, handbags, accessories, ambitious repairs on vintage clothing, and the occasional stuffed animal. The desire to sew was awakened with absolute fury. My mother will claim that she is not responsible — but this is coming from a woman who made her own wedding dress, much to the dismay of her own mother (“you’re gonna be hemming that thing as you’re going down the aisle!”) Sometimes I think she looks at me and wonders where the heck this deluge came from. I’m still a little incredulous about it myself. It must be a recessive thing. It took over 40 years, but I think I have finally inherited my mother’s sewing gene.