I used to sew. Back when the girls were younger (okay, too little to care about haute couture) I made their play clothes. I have four sewing machines. Most of them work well enough.
When we needed a new pad for the dog’s travel crate we went shopping at a few famous-name stores. With my most sincere apologies to Robert Service, We shopped and shopped for thirteen days and it didn’t do no good. They didn’t fit, or they cost too much, so we guessed I have to sew.
There was a remnant of three-inch foam padding in the garage—left over from the cushions I made for the patio swing last summer. And a yard or so of fabric I’d been saving for something. (What was it?) Onto the dining room table went the second-best (welterweight) sewing machine. Out came the never-sharp scissors, which will actually cut fabric if you hold them at just the right angle. Pattern? Who needs a pattern? It’s a rectangular piece of foam three inches thick! You spread out the fabric, put the pillow in the center, pull up this side, pull up that side, stitch it here, cut it there. Repeat as necessary.
This is not a common sewing machine and I can’t remember exactly how to thread it so I can’t unthread it to wind the bobbin. The dog chewed my second spool of thread so now the thread comes off that spool in two-inch segments, which means I have only one spool of thread of the appropriate weight but not, in this case, the appropriate color. Whether it’s because I’m using a lighter weight thread on my bobbin now or if it’s because my tension isn’t set right (ya’ think???), I have essentially basted together a sort of “pillow case” for the dog’s pillow. This could be a good thing if I have to take it apart for any reason—perhaps something like, “It’s so noisy! The water and stain resistance is nice but it’s NOISY!”
My mother sewed nearly everything I, and my five sisters, wore—using that same machine you’d find buried under dust and detritus in my back room. She’d see something she liked in the Sears catalog and set to sewing. I mentioned once to Dad about her ability to work without patterns and he grinned.
We girls, he explained, were stair-stepped in age and size. Mother would first make a dress for the eldest. If it fit, she’d use that “pattern” for the next daughter. If it didn’t fit, she’d give that one to the second girl and, after making the appropriate adjustments, sew a better fitting one for the eldest. She usually got it closer to right by the second one though sometimes she had to whittle or add even more. In those cases, she was compelled to make another just like the “third-times-a-charm dress” because the two middle girls were twins. In very rare cases a dress wouldn’t work for the twins either so it would be modified to fit me. But we two youngest were only kids—still in primary school—so we didn’t need new dresses. She would never have looked at the children’s dresses in the catalog and set out to make a dress for either of us. So, he explained, the two older girls had more new dresses than did we four younger girls and we two youngest wore the hand-me-downs and make-overs.
“And,” he chuckled. “You girls and your mother had the prettiest bloomers in town because sometimes a dress she started for Bessie just didn’t work out for anyone.”
The case for the dog’s pillow is now a bit smaller. I think it’ll be just right for the picnic bench.