Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thoughts of Elaine and Buttons

Elaine, my creative accomplished friend. Ears burning? I have been thinking about you with an intense focus as I sit here at the counter that divides the kitchen from the main room of our condo, mending a shirt which has miraculously lost all eight of its buttons at the same time.

I am not complaining. At least I found all the buttons. One hour later, the shirt has all if its white, four holed buttons firmly reattached, at least for the time being. I guess it would have been worse to witness the buttons undo themselves one at a time, over time.

Next to me sits the completed shirt and an open basket with my scant sewing tools: a red tomato of a pin cushion with its green calix and attached red bud that I seem to remember is for sharpening needles, a yellow handled scissors which is probably too large for the job, a zip top bag full of miscellaneous buttons that somehow seem to collect me when I am not looking, and a wooden darning egg.

There is another zip top bag with assorted spools of various colored threads (mostly useless and matching some long forgotten piece of clothing) each end of which is wound and slotted where it belongs. There is a small box of various sized safety pins one of which is HUGE and a souvenir of one of my Lyric Opera costume temporary mends.

There are other assorted items like a tape measure, thimble, crochet needle, wooden box filled with extra needles, pencil, cardboard of straight pins, and a "thing-a-majig" that is used to take out seams and other erroneously left over bits of thread.

As I was sewing on the multitude of buttons I was trying to remember how I learned how these basic techniques of sewing, who taught me the skills? It may have been my mother but I do not remember any tender moments with me sitting by her side as she taught me. In elementary school, seventh or eighth grade I believe, I did take a class which in those days was called Home Economics and probably made an apron or some simple item. 

Gregory's mother, Helen, taught me how to thread a needle by licking it, pinching it between my fingers, and pushing the eye of the needle into the pinch as the thread like magic seemed to know what to do without my help. She also taught me to roll the end of the thread around a spit moistened finger as a way of tying an end knot in the thread.

Gregory taught me how to sew a coat button around a wooden match stick and then to wind the thread around the button a number of times, so there would be enough give in the button to get through the woolen thickness of the coat. 

So Elaine, my dear friend, to you who can run a sewing machine (and several other machines the names of which I am sure I do not know) I say, "Amazing." To you who can buy the right amount of material to make a blouse or a skirt or a jacket and have the blouse, skirt, or jacket actually look like a blouse, skirt, or jacket ... I salute you. 

To someone who can create unique looking items, be they clothes, quilts, or whatever; that have unique buttons in unexpected places and exciting unexpected lines and folds, I say "Hurrah!" To you who attends workshops and seminars to learn more and to share the creativity of other masters, I say, "KUDOS!"

With fond memories of your wonderful, huge sewing studio (organized, waiting to be organized, or just messy) with your private space to contemplate the nature and activity of creativity (I so yearn for a "Room of My Own") I say, "Here's to you!"

As for me, I have to go put some antiseptic on the many holes I have poked in my fingers. Maybe next time I will attempt to hem a cuff!

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