Because I am usually the last to get clued in on any internet-based trend, I’ve only been obsessed with Pinterest for just the last few months. I have got all sorts of boards going, where I am collecting recipes, planning garden projects, culling home décor ideas and getting motivated to craft my little heart out. I recently pinned this project:
It’s a sewing project…that involves ordering a pattern…and figuring out how to plug in and thread the sewing machine that my mother bought me about 14 years ago. How cute would Snakebite be in these tops this summer? Then it hit me. Oh, crap! Maybe I should also order the needlepoint canvas for this pillow:
Was I seriously considering sewing clothes for my daughter? After the trauma of enduring my mother’s homespun get-ups that I was forced into wearing, did I really think that this would be a good idea?
The year was 1976 and a store called Stretch and Sew opened its doors about a mile and a half from our house. My mother welcomed them with open arms and really went for it. She took classes and learned to cut patterns with gusto. For everything.
Hot Damn trivia: Did you know that as a kid I used to figure skate? From about ages 5-11 I took weekly lessons at Ice Land and practiced about 2 to 3 days a week. I felt like I had mad skills with “toe-jumps”, “lutz jumps”, “axels”, “figure 8s” and “shooting the duck”. But skill can only get you so far. I needed style. Every time I went to the rink I would end up in the pro-shop ogling the sherbet colored polyester dresses bedazzled with twinkling plastic crystals. Did I ever get one? Hells no! My mother just knew that she could use her sewing prowess to make me one that was, “just as good, if not better” than the overpriced pro-shop offerings. Noooo! Instead of a glittery dress, I got matte polyester skirts, one in solid black and one in solid red. Even though they were a bit on the long side, Mom also crafted some matching panties that looked like custom diaper covers.
The sewing bug had bitten my mother hard by 1979. That summer her design and seamstress confidence grew and she made me a couture swimsuit. This was the year that Christy Brinkley was on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue for the first time. I swooned for the bathing suit that was basically a waterproof version of an Ice Capades dress.
Mom made me her own version in non-lycra infused red polyester that harkened to my skating skirt. It did not have any beading, but it did have a v-cut. That worked out really well what with the non-stretch fabric and my blossoming buds. I wore a lot of t-shirts over my suit that year to allegedly “keep from getting sunburned”. We didn’t really have sun-block lotion yet.
But the real coup d’état came when I started 6th grade at our local public middle school where I stuck out like a huge, festering sore thumb already. To make matters worse, we had to dress out for P.E. class. After the first gym class, it was clear that I was way behind in not just physical ability and coordination, but also in dress-out attire coolness. I was not going to be comfortable in the tiny Dolphin shorts and OP t-shirts favored by the hot, popular 6th grade goddesses, but I could certainly rock the 2nd tier-cool Gap sweat pants, pushed up with maybe a Panama Jack t-shirt. But guess who could make me something more “stylish”. Gawd! Did she hate me and want to see me fail socially? That woman made me a tracksuit of maroon terry cloth…with bootleg pants…and a v-neck long sleeved top that featured elasticized cuffs, with some added flair. On the top, where perhaps an Izod logo would have rested, was an embroidered bouquet of wild flowers in high contrast white thread. While she was at it, she made a “track suit” for my 16 year-old brother. It was powder blue velour. Meow. Lucky for him, he could drive to the mall and buy whatever he wanted. I don’t think his get-up ever saw the outside of his car’s trunk. But me? What could I do? Wearing that maroon mess would have meant adolescent suicide.
As luck would have it, there was one out: orchestra. As long as you played in the school orchestra you were not required to take P.E. I eventually became the first string violinist in 7th grade, not because I was so talented and dedicated. It was because I knew that if I didn’t excel with that fiddle, I’d be failing at the chin-up bar while wearing Mom’s sweat-suit. Today, my violin lives with me still. However, the only song that I can remember how to play is the one that goes, “There’s a place in France where the ladies wear no pants, there’s a hole in the wall and the men can see it all.” Classy, as always.