Search this blog

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Giving me the needle

One of life's most terrifying questions to me is: Can you sew?
The answer is No, and I won't even try now. Trousers needing hemming are outsourced to the dry cleaner's, or sometimes, shamefully, velcro is deployed.
My mum Giz is equally as bad. To both of us, the words "fancy dress party" were enough to bring on an aneurysm. She laboured all night once to produce a yellow rosette for Chops. He was too embarrassed to wear it. Another time, she chose to send me to a fancy dress party as a "flowergirl," which meant wearing a normal party frock and a headdress she had laboriously stitched with flowers. "What's a flowergirl?" I asked, mystified. Giz's piece de resistance was me as a Pilgrim mother. We were performing the Pilgrim Fathers something-or-other at the Polytechnic on closed circuit TV, and Giz was instructed to make me a suitable outfit. My apron was superb: a pillow case hanging from string round my waist.
Mind you, my sewing was no better. It was responsible for nearly all the humiliations I suffered at school, starting at age 9 with the ridiculous and cruel Mrs Thompson (catchphase: "hands on heads, arms folded, fingers on lips").
We all had to embroider a piece of binker, it was called (a holey piece of cloth), followed by a piece of, well, sacking. Even the boys. And one memorable day, she held up one piece and derided it saying even the boys could have done better. It was mine, of course. Moving to PGS, domestic science lessons were even worse for me than maths lessons. Two back-to-back classes on a Thursday afternoon with the acerbic Miss Coleman. Unfortunately, progressing to a sewing machine, the formidable Viking Husqvarna, didn't do me any favours. I found it very difficult to thread the damn thing and could never get any momentum once it was threaded. Miss Coleman decided once to tell the class that instead of a brain in my head, I had a turnip on my shoulders (I must have been the precursor of Graham Taylor).
I never finished anything I started. In the first year, we had to make aprons lined with bias binding in the colour of our house. Fortunately my friend Shonagh finished mine in the summer holidays. Then I had to make a kind of smock top out of flowery fabric. Never finished. Finally, in the third form, I chose to make a knee length navy skirt, thinking it would be farly easy. Miss Coleman summoned me during a break to put it on, and then made me model it in front of the fifth form girls, the ones who'd chosen to do O level domestic science and were therefore good at it, so they all sniggered. That skirt was never finished either.
It's a shame really because I would love to be able to make myself clothes that no-one else has got, that fit perfectly, using Vogue patterns. It's a mystery to Giz and me where her mother's sewing ability went. Grandma was superb - she made Giz's wedding dress, Elizabethan with a stand-up collar. She could dance too, and neither Giz nor I can. Still, looking on the bright side, I don't suppose Grandma could name 10 species of British bat, and Giz and I can both do that.

No comments: