Tales from the Machine: the blunder years

Next week, I will have a fresh garment to post but for now, here’s a tale of sewing gone wrong! We all have hits and misses, and this one is a real doozy. For this stitch-tingling tale, we’re taking a trip all the way back to last century, to ye olde 1998.

Home-ec introduced me to sewing in 8th grade. We made napkins and I loved it, so my Mom bought me a small plastic machine called The Mighty Mender so I could continue sewing at home.

With the MM, I made a stuffed penguin, pj pants, a tank top, and 2 stuffed rats. Only the rats survived the years to come; they now reside in my sewing closet.

The star-crossed pj pants, a Burda pattern, sported both right and wrong sides on each leg. I wore them anyway.

But this foreboding tale focuses on the tank top. I don’t remember if I bought a pattern but I must have. I do remember the source of the fabric…one of my father’s fender covers. He’s a mechanic, so he always keeps a supply of red fender covers. They’re long and rectangular, usually draped over the side of a car while the hood is open to protect it.

I thought they would make a lovely garment. Me oh my.

Let’s get real: my tank was a poorly made, hot mess. I rushed the whole way through making it. I certainly didn’t use bias tape on the neckline or armyscyes and I knew nothing of finishing techniques for the raw edges. But I was young, and this was in the dial-up internet days, so finding information wasn’t like it is now. I was so proud of my creation.

It’s not the fabric or lack of technique which makes this tale horrific, I wish that was the end of it.

Picture a typical middle school gymnasium: worn, scuffed floor and retractable wooden bleachers, the top row of which is about 10 feet above the floor.

Some popular girls, who I’d known since elementary school, were sitting on the top row of the bleachers, chatting and laughing.

I was proudly wearing my fender cover top, feeling invincible as I walked into the gym, pausing to bend down and tie my shoe in front of the girls on the bleachers.

Their laughter bubbled louder, exploding into riotous peals. They leaned on each other’s shoulders, they were laughing so hard.

I looked up as one squealed, “Let it hang out! Let it aaaaaaall hang out!” I glance back down…

My poor tank, with it’s ample ill-fitting neckline, was gaping, exposing my entire chest, which was unprotected by a bra or undershirt.

I was utterly mortified! I may have run out of there, I may have stayed and faced my shame but I don’t remember anything afterward.

I never told anyone about the incident, I was far too embarrassed. I just quietly stopped sewing and put the Mighty Mender away, returning to my other hobbies. (TBH I still have the Mender in my basement)

The girls were a kick off the cliff, so to speak, but I remember those fledgling projects as frustrating. I didn’t have the patience that I do in my thirties. I was too fixated with the outcome to focus on the process, chasing the success of a finished project, which naturally led to failure.

Most of my mistakes sewing today happen when I’m rushing, not focusing or I’m tired. There are times when I’m driven to push myself to get through this step or the next, even if I know I shouldn’t.

As I gain experience, and persevere through mistakes, I can control that impulse better, remembering to stop or think things through before I need the seam ripper.

Through sewing, I’ve learned how to slow down and be more thoughtful while I work, which I can apply to other aspects of life.

(i.e. I’m publishing this on a Friday instead of my usual Thursday because I was editing last night and realized I was too tired to do it well.)

I’m very grateful to have found my way back to the hobby I’ve always loved and for all the things it’s teaching me.

Thanks for reading ❤

4 thoughts on “Tales from the Machine: the blunder years

Add yours

  1. Oh honey – we have all been there! As a kid in the early 80s I was obsessed with velour, but my mother refused to buy me a velour shirt because she thought it was trashy (no comment). So I bought some royal blue velour and a McCall’s pattern at Joann. I was so proud of myself for picking out the pattern and fabric. I had no idea was I was doing. The fabric frayed so badly there was blue fuzz all over my room. It was a simple pull-on top with a keyhole back, a facing and cap sleeves. It was way too big because I didn’t understand pattern sizing, and the armscye hung so low you could see my bra. I wore it roller skating and still couldn’t get a date for “couple’s stake.” Sheesh!

    Liked by 1 person

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