Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Suzie Q. Homemaker ain't got nothin' on me!

If you know me, or if you've read more than one entry of my blog, you probably know that Suzie Q. Homemaker I am not. In fact, I am not crazy about the title homemaker (you can read about that here), but not for any PC reason. It's because I feel like I am crappy at making a home and if that is my title, I am afraid I might be failing miserably. Cooking and cleaning just aren't my thing.

However, I must have been bitten by the Suzie Homemaker bug this week, because last night I bit the bullet and cooked an actual meal from scratch *I can hear your oohs and ahhs from here* much to my children's chagrin. There was broccoli involved. My kids think there should never be broccoli involved in dinner, and they weep and wail and gnash their teeth accordingly when there is. Even this could not put me off my Suzie Q. Homemaker kick this week. This morning after the older two went out the door on their merry way to the bus stop, I browned up a pot roast -- using an apron and everything -- and threw it in the crock pot to cook. Nothing makes me feel more like Suzie Q. Homemaker than cooking while wearing an apron, except maybe sewing.

When it comes to sewing, I am a total throw back. Suzie Q. Homemaker's sewing skills ain't got nothin' on me. My mother is still confused by this turn of events. I am the girl who swore off HomeEc class, because by golly I was going to be a successful business woman, and I didn't need to learn "stupid, old-fashioned stuff" like cooking and sewing to do that. Seeing as how my mother barely made it through HomeEc herself, I don't think she batted an eye over my protest. Fast forward more years than I care to count, and here I am a bonafide sewing addict.

For every special occasion my children partake in, a special outfit must be made. First day of first grade? Let mommy make you a skirt with an attached apron out of Dick and Jane and coordinating polka dot fabric. Birthday girl turning three? Let me make a jumper with an appliqued giraffe holding three balloons for our zoo party theme. Earned a co-lead role in the first grade play? Let mommy make you and your co-lead matching shark costumes. Yes, I may be up until 2 a.m. the night before putting in buttonholes and finishing up hems, and I may look like a glassy-eyed loon taking their pictures at the event, but by golly my kids look good in their custom outfits! Dear readers, I have one thing to say for myself, "Hi, my name is Lori, and I'm a sewing addict."

One mom I know says she thinks that stay-at-home moms who sew for their kids do so for one main reason, recognition. I'm inclined to agree. When strangers come up to you at Disney World and ask you where on earth you got the precious Minnie Mouse t-shirt dress with the embroidered Minnie Mouse head on it, you can smile demurely and say, "Oh, you mean my daughters' dresses? Well, actually I made those." To which said stranger will ooh and ahh and tell you how talented you are. Or her husband will ask your husband in the men's room, no less, "Where did you get your daughter's dress? My wife would love one of those for our daughter." And your husband will smile and proudly say, "My wife makes them," and then he'll tell you that next time you should make up a bunch to bring to Disney to sell and thus pay for the trip. To which you will reply, "Uh, no thanks. I'm pretty sure you go to Disney jail if I you do that."

It's sad, but true, that when you put your heart and soul, as well as every moment of your day, into raising your kids, and you don't get a yearly review or end up with a glowing article about your mothering skills in the paper, all you want is a little recognition. For me, that recognition comes from sewing. (And now from writing again thanks to you, my dear readers, who comment on my blog!) Of course compliments on what nice manners your children have are even nicer than those on your sewing skills, but really, how often does that happen?

So yes, I do love the recognition I get from sewing, but I'm pretty sure that it runs deeper than that. There is something soothing about taking a piece of fabric, a pattern and an idea, and making it into something my daughters can wear. (I would make things for my 8-year-old son, but he isn't that interested in the things I make anymore. Can't say I blame him. I don't make graphic tees and cargo shorts.) Sewing is a creative process that has tangible, wearable results.

My love of sewing also comes from the relationships it has brought me. I love to sew in a group, and I love to talk sewing. I love to look at fabric and discuss patterns and bounce ideas off a friend. I love to get e-mails from Amy saying, "How cute is this!?!" and "We need to make that!" It's creativity with a little help from your friends, which might be the very best kind.

The height of this creativity amongst friends comes at my semi-annual (sometimes quarterlyish) sewing weekend. I, and several of my sewing friends, head out of town to a beautiful retreat that one of the friend's father-in-law owns. And we sew. For two and a half days and we LOVE it! Okay, so we've sort of incorporated a movie/wine drinking portion into Friday night, which means I don't sew once the wine flows, because my personal motto is "Just Say No to Drinking and Sewing." I have a hard enough time making my seams straight without the influence of alcohol.

But after Friday night, it is down to business for all of us. There are Easter outfits, a ball gown (Now that was an interesting weekend. Missy's husband will never give her that much lead time on a black-tie event again!), back-to-school, and Christmas items being made. The projects are as varied as the women making them. If I'm lucky I can embroider some items for a friend, while she puts some buttonholes in one of my garments. I hate buttonholes. Or, I can get their advice on what to do with a yard of funky fabric I picked up for a song. I can borrow patterns, suggest ideas on what they are making, and laugh and stay up far too late in the night trying to get one more ruffle on one more pant leg.

It is good times indeed, and I will relish these weekends while they last. I am sure our days of sewing for our children are numbered. One day far too soon they will look at us and say "I don't want to wear that," and we will have to face the fact that they are too old to wear what we make them. But for now, we sew on. And maybe after the children's garments are done, we'll take up home dec sewing. Or maybe start a movie/wine drinking club. I won't worry about that now. I don't have time. I need to get my fabric and patterns ready for the weekend. Can't wait to see you Friday, girls!


  1. Heaven help me, I can't sew a button onto a pillowcase. Not that a pillowcase would need one, but you get the idea. Big freaking kudos to you for being so creative and talented. I don't hate you one single bit for making the rest of us look like pillowcases with buttons. :)

  2. One thing I picked up on that was only mentioned, at most, a couple of times was the feeling involved. Not as in pathos, but the need for tactile stimuli involved.

    I'm starting to wonder if this is common in writers as it is with other passions. The feel of the cloth, the ideas becoming tangible.

    How does one make a thought tangible? What would emotions feel like on the skin?

    For me, that's one of the enjoyable parts of writing, be it gobbledygook, or haiku; the feeling you get when your fingers hit the keys. The drag of the lead or ink across the page as you move your hand.

    It's all about feeling.