Monday, October 15, 2012

On Pins and Needles

I was putting some screws into something the other day, I forget what,  using my favorite tool, my Dewalt cordless drill (18 volt),  and I struck several screws in my mouth to hold them--well, not really in my mouth but between my lips (don't try this at home without adult supervision, boys and girls)--and I suddenly had a mental image of a woman working on a dress holding pins in her mouth as she pinned material.

I haven't actually seen anyone do this for decades, but it got me to thinking about a time when people (women primarily) sewed for their friends and family or even to make a little money. Sitting in the waiting room of my dad's doctor last week, I overheard two women talk about making all their own clothes and using patterns, and they seemed to be saying they made their own patterns. I wanted to ask them if they held pins in their mouths but the nurse called them back about that time, and that would have been an odd question to spring on someone an anyhow.

If you think about it, holding (non-toxic) things in one's mouth is like having an extra hand--one without fingers, to be sure, but a mouth can hold a lot of different things. Mother cats carry their kittens in their mouths because, well, they don't have hands. Sometimes if I have several bags to carry and don't have a hand to get my door key out, I'll hold the handles of the plastic bag in my mouth (dear dentist, please don't read that last sentence).

I had an aunt who could look at a girl and make a dress that would fit her perfectly without measuring or trying on or using a pattern. I'm not sure what skills would be involved in doing this, but it almost seems miraculous to me.

The two ladies in the doctor's office allowed as how no one had the time or money to make their own clothes. I know that knitting has had a kind of renaissance. Older daughter Amy is a knitter and she made me a really cool scarf. I can hardly wait for cold weather to wear it again.

I wonder if there will be a similar renaissance in sewing as a reaction to all the digital and technological devices that fill our lives. I remember my mom making clothes, mending and even darning socks. I'd like to think that somewhere, even now, a grandmother is showing her granddaughter how to sew a dress. A
and I'd like to think that the grandmother is holding pins in her mouth.

1 comment:

  1. I am 40 years old, and I mend things by hand. Just last week I mended my daughter's brand new ZipQuest t-shirt that by some fluke came with a gap along the seam on one shoulder. I did a pretty nice job, too, if I do say so myself! I also knit reasonably well, having been taught by my Gran when I was little. However, I will run a mile if you ask me to use a sewing machine! Those things have a torture wish (one step up... or is it down?... from a death wish)! Can you say, "Unpicking, unpicking, unpicking"? Can you say, "Tangled, bunched-up bobbin thread"? Can you say, "AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!"?

    Mr. Verner, this is one of your former Creative Writing students from the 1989-90 school year. Facebook kindly told me that you and Dianne Lethcoe are now friends (Dianne already being one of my FB friends), so I followed the link to your profile page and then discovered your blog! It is so lovely to 'find' you again and know more about who you are through reading your blog. You were very kind and encouraging, and I enjoyed your class very much. I once wrote a short essay about everything in Salt Lake City being made out of salt, and your comment that it reminded you of a Dave Barry article was important enough to me that I've remembered it all this time. I still remember your "Baby Mama" story you read to us, and I've wondered over the years if you ever got it published. I also remember your poem about the strange connection you had with your brother while you were waking up and he was landing a plane. That was one of the coolest poems ever. Happy times in your class! :)

    Sadly, I never became an author, but I still like to write and do so every day in my personal journal. Thanks for giving me a class to look forward to each day in 11th grade!

    Julia Robertson (formerly Nightingale)