Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Barefoot Contessa Seamstress

A strong audio memory for me is the soft, gentle purr of a sewing machine. My mother sat at her sewing machine for many hours a day. If she was not constructing a fully lined suit with bound buttonholes for an executive secretary in our town or the principal of the nearby school, she was making a simple dress for one of her two beloved daughters. I was the recipient of so much of her handiwork. I remember standing in the chair behind her as the needle bobbed up and down with the motor purring along. That sound is still so sweet and I remember many of those special dresses that Mother made for me.

I soon wanted to learn the craft and make my first dress. It was the color of maize with shades of brown pencil-like drawings of sailboats. Sleeveless, little chic number that made me so proud.....I was only 10 years old.

"Pride cometh before the fall" or so the saying goes. Well, it goes all right! It was summer and in Texas that means heat, sleeveless dresses, and Vacation Bible School. Yes, my dress was the perfect choice for a hot, Texas day and Vacation Bible School, after all it was sleeveless.

I was so proud! I had made my own dress and nothing else would do that day. I know that I was envied by all of my friends. Who else could say that they were wearing a beautiful, maize, sailboat-bearing dress made with their own two hands and a gentle, purring sewing machine? How many other mothers would have trusted their 10 year old daughter in the driver's seat of a powerful, needle bobbing machine? I loved color, fabric, thread, buttons, gadgets, and yes, the soft, gentle purr! Did I say I was proud?

You ask....... what about the fall? Oh, its coming! At our VBS, the opening ceremony consisted of a pledge to the American flag, the Christian flag and to the Bible. Every day two boys were asked to carry the flags....and one girl was asked to carry the Bible down the center aisle to the front of the sanctuary for all to see. What an honor to be selected! That day... was MY day! All eyes on me! I was the center of attention! I had on my new dress. Hold your head high....solemn face...the aisle is a runway! Oh, no, more pride! The moment was here. First step! Hold the Bible in front of you , not down by your side. Second step! Take deep breath! Then the fall......

No, I didn't fall down the side seam split. Not just a little but about 5 inches close to my waist....a gaping hole! I couldn't stop...I had to keep walking.....all the way down the foot in front of the other. Now all eyes were on me and my sideseam was open. I couldn't put my arm down to cover it...I was holding the BIBLE for goodness sakes! Tears welled up in my eyes. I was sure that everyone knew that the tears were from spiritual emotion. They couldn't see that my underwear was showing through the opening. I stood paralyzed through the Pledge to the American flag, then a song....Pledge to the Christian flag, then a song....Pledge to the Bible, then a song. How much longer was this going to last? My knees were weak. I couldn't say the pledges, I couldn't sing. I just stood there with tears beginning to run down my cheeks. (My heart is beginning to pound just thinking about it.) There was no one coming to save me, so I must be one knew. (small sniffle) I was so glad when the flags were put in their stands and I could put the Bible on the altar table. It was time to find my place with my age group. Walk up the aisle....all the way up the aisle near the back of the church. It was at that moment that I became aware that everyone knew. (Chuckles!) I had to sidestep (more chuckles!) the entire length of the pew (and more Chuckles!) with my torn sideseam at the eye level (even more chuckles) of all my seated friends. I had no one to blame but myself....afterall, I was the proud seamstress.

That didn't stop me though. I still love to sew! I take pride in my work, but no longer am I proud. There is a difference! How can someone that is barefoot be proud? That's right....I sew barefooted. No shoes for least not under the sewing machine, not until lately. I am no longer that 10 year old and I feel strains and stresses on my body sometimes when I sew, but I have found a solution. Flipflops....the ones with a little rise in the heel. Yes, the ones that let your feet breathe, wiggle, and show off that pedicure are comfortable. Is pride sneaking its way back in? I'm still barefoot (with a flipflop underfoot)........The Barefoot Contessa Seamstress.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!


Amber said...

I have those same memories as a little girl...well except I never sowed a dress at the age of 10 or for that matter ever!!! I love my memories of standing behind you sewing, hearing the sweet purr of the sewing machine, and watching 'I Love Lucy'! Thank you for the wonderful memories! Love your daughter!

tpillstrom said...

I too have memories of a purring machine but mine were more of the little model. I remember my mom poking me and jerking me in place as she would put together a new dress almost weekly. Great memory! I sew with one shoe on one shoe off. The pedal foot has no shoe but always a sock!