Stitch by stitch

My girlfriend Paula has a keen eye for unique objects at a good price. She haunts estate sales nearly every weekend. I sometimes accompany her and where she will exit an old Portland home with a bagful of interesting, if not valuable objects, I’ll most likely emerge empty-handed. But a couple of weeks ago, I happened across a pristine, 1955 Singer Featherweight sewing machine. The gal running the sale encouraged me to make an offer. I offered half the asking price and walked away with a treasure.

Before my mother had children she was an accomplished seamstress. She made beautiful tailored suits, fully lined dresses and slacks and even experimented with millinery. Once children entered the picture she focused on clothes for “her girls” and their dolls. Our suburban ranch home reverberated with the sound of my father’s baseball games on the TV and her sewing machine humming away in the basement. When she was deep into a project, you could barely get her attention (and don’t expect a meal on the table).

So, it is no surprise that we three girls learned to sew and I am sure this exacting craft has informed my creative work to this day. My motto of “draw, erase, draw again” is derived from the school of “stitch, check for puckers, tear out and stitch again”. Sewing demands patience and perseverance, care and attention (and a bit of a leap of faith to cut into that expensive fabric—measure twice, cut once!). I wish for my mom that she had had the chance to pursue her craft in a more substantial way; had cultivated relationships with like-minded creatives who might have encouraged and challenged her. Sad to say (and to my shame) her girls reached an age where we did not appreciate nor would we wear the clothes she so loved to make.

But her little sewing machine was where it all started for me, that creative thread that pulls me along still. Thank you, Mama

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