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Tuesday
Apr072015

The Career Dartboard

 

I sometimes wonder if from the outside it seems like I threw a dart at the career board while wearing a blindfold. The truth is that sewing has always been there. Silent and overlooked. But always there.

* * *

All of the clothes I remember having as a kid were homemade. There are three things that stand out. The floral dress with the red sash that Nanny made me. There was also a white button-down shirt with pink swans sewn on the sleeve cuffs courtesy of the fancy stitches on my mom's new sewing machine. It was supposed to be an Easter surprise but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and managed to see it early. And there was a sweater jacket with velvet panels. It wasn't even mine. My mom made it for my brother and I was insanely jealous.

* * *

Some teenagers haunted the arcade or the food court at the mall or musty basements with shag carpeting. My favourite was the fabric store. Nothing could hold my attention like those bolts of colour, texture and possibility. I never bought anything. I was just a stalker.

* * *

I'm not sure that home economics was ever in but when I was in school it was definitely out. Everyone took shop. I think I would have liked shop but you couldn't sew in shop. And shop wouldn't have given me permission to haunt the fabric store and present the opportunity to actually buy something.

* * *

I sewed a zippered pencil case in that class and I used it for all of high school. I didn't need to sew another zipper for about 15 years but I could still recall all of the steps thanks to that project.

* * *

My home ec teacher would talk about a sewing friend of hers that used to sew everything. She even sewed her own underwear. Since then, justified or not, serious sewing status has been reserved for people who sew their own underwear.

* * *

We didn't sew any clothes in that class so I tried to do it on my own. I made a red pencil skirt. I didn't believe in pressing back then. No wonder that skirt ended up with a waistband that resembled sausage casings. I hated that skirt. I never wore it. Not once.

* * *

When I was in college I had to pass by the sewing room. Rows upon rows of whirring machines. I'm not even sure what that class was. It was probably fashion design but it could have been sewing machine repair. Either way I always wished I was in that class instead.

* * *

I have a friend that used to spend hours and hours watching Jeanne Beker and the Fashion Television brigade picking out all of the things she would love to have. Her mother could take one look at those clothes and then recreate them. Her talent was both mysterious and magical. I was wonderstruck.

* * *

I sewed for myself for years. It was a hobby that I would take out from time to time. It wasn't really something that I talked about. It was just something that I would quietly do once in a while.

* * *

I read an article in a magazine about a vintage clothing collector. Listening to her describe fabrics, garments and the truly unique details she would find in these old pieces sounded more like music. Like a symphony of colour, shape and texture. Just talking about it now makes me want to go back and read the article again.

* * *

I read another article in a different magazine that listed the top ten jobs that were in high demand but not being fulfilled. I can't remember anything on the list before or after Clothing Alterer. It was the only thing on the list that I could do or had any interest in. The article claimed that it was something almost everyone needed but so few people could do for themselves anymore. I was a mom with three small kids. It wasn't even a remote possibility but I always remembered it.

* * *

An opportunity to sew for a living presented itself one day and in a brave move not often seen in my personal history, I took it. I haven't looked back.

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