Monday, August 29, 2011
Pass It On
by Haylee Scott from DIRE THREADS by Janet Bolin
For the shorter children in my class like seven-year-old Cecilia, I had raised the sewing machines’ foot pedals. The tip of her tongue sticking out, Cecilia guided the fabric underneath the presser foot and began sewing, slowly and carefully.
I’d been the same age when I first started using a sewing machine, but unlike little Cecilia, whose mother had succumbed to breast cancer last year, and whose father was raising a passel of boys and their little sister by himself, I had a mother. Actually, I had three of them.
My birth mother, Opal, whose originality sometimes led her to create some rather peculiar garments, still kept me supplied with handmade sweaters, hats, scarves, mittens, and slippers. She taught me simple crocheting when I was three. Her friend, Naomi, one of my other mothrs, whose work was always perfect, had sewed most of my other clothes. Naomi’s seams were always perfect. By the time I was four, Edna, my third mother, had me hand-sewing beads and sequins on nearly everything the other two mothers made me.
When I wanted to make clothes, too, Naomi had patiently taught me to use her sewing machine. They presented me with my own sewing machine, a real, grown-up one, when I was twelve. I learned tailoring during high school, and turned the tables on my three mothers. For several years, they proudly went off to their jobs wearing the suits I’d made.
Now all four of us owned shops in Threadville. Mine was the fabric shop. Opal sold yarns, Edna stocked notions and bling, and Naomi had a quilt shop. And all of us, plus my best friend, Willow, with her machine embroidery boutique, taught classes and workshops. This summer, we were indoctrinating . . . I mean instructing . . . children in the hobbies we’d turned into businesses.
Cecilia raised the presser foot, pulled the bag she’d made out from under it, and snipped the threads. I showed her how to trim the seams, and she turned the bag right side out. It was perfect. She jumped up. “I want to make more!” She raced out of my classroom and into my shop, where I was featuring heavier fabrics for the cooler seasons.
The other children and I followed her.
Cecilia stroked emerald green fleece. “I want a hoodie out of this!” She whirled to a bolt of corduroy in the same jewel-like shade. “A skirt!”
Before I knew it, every child was running around, touching fabrics and crowing about what they might make from them.
Chaos? Maybe, but a really good kind of it.
Cecilia’s father came in and scooped her into his arms. “Thank you,” he murmured to me. “It’s good to have my happy little girl again.”
She squirmed in his arms. “Of course I was going home! But I’m coming back to sewing lessons tomorrow, okay?”
He winked at me, but his smile was crooked and his eyes glimmered with unshed tears. “Sure thing.” He turned quickly and carried her out of the store.
What hobbies and skills have you passed on to new generations?
You can learn more about Haylee and her mothers and how they helped Willow catch a murderer in DIRE THREADS, available in stores everywhere.
Talk to Janet Bolin on facebook and Twitter @JanetBolin.