• Thu, Sep 27 2012

Big Girl Badge: I (Sort Of) Learned How To Sew

Being a poor twenty-something makes my relationship with my clothing… sad. I tend to buy my clothes at Salvation Army and soul-murdering places like Forever 21 and H&M. Obviously, the result is that the things I own are pretty low-quality, falling apart after very few wears. But there’s another surprising result of spending meagre amounts of money on clothes, and that’s that I have no respect for my garments. When, say, a button falls off a sweater, I throw it away – the sweater, not the button. The whole thing becomes trash to me. I tell myself, “What’s the point in trying to fix it? I only spent $15 on it.”

It’s idiotic, I know. I might as well buy a hundred-dollar sweater that will last me years, instead of having to buy new twenty-dollar sweaters every two months. I know math. But I’m not grown up enough to remember math when I see scary price tags in elegant stores. (My big girl accomplishment does not turn out to be buying a nice sweater, but I realize retroactively that would have simplified things).

Back in my salad days, any time I lost a button, ripped a sleeve, or needed pants hemmed, my mother always fixed it. She still has a huge sewing basket, and whenever I go home, I’m reminded that A) my mom is awesome, B) hemming pants is a thing, and C) a lost button shouldn’t mandate the death of a beloved, cheap garment. But until now, I’ve done nothing about it.

So for Big Girl Badge Week, I learned how to sew, despite that quote from The English Patient where Kristin Scott Thomas says “A woman should never learn to sew, and if she can she shouldn’t admit to it.” We don’t all have Ralph Fiennes sewing our dresses naked in a bathtub.

I had a sweater that was missing a button, and instead of donating it to the nice people at Goodwill, I donated it to myself. I already had a little sewing kit (I may be unskilled, but I’m always prepared). So I googled “How to Sew a Button” and got to work.

I just need to say something. It is REALLY HARD to thread a needle. Firstly, I didn’t have the right color thread. “Having the right thread” is one of the hardest parts of threading a needle. But I settled for purple thread on a turquoise sweater, knowing I’d probably end up looking like The Rainbow Fish. Secondly, no matter how close I held the needle and thread to my squinting eye, that string refused to fit inside the impossibly tiny eye of the needle. I felt like the proverbial camel. (Or the rich man? I don’t remember.) Nevertheless, I eventually managed to do it and began the actual sewing.

It turned out to be pretty straight-forward. Only, I was confused by the article on eHow.com: I was fairly certain thimbles were crucial to sewing, but the instructions didn’t mention using a thimble once. I stuck it on my thumb anyway.

Properly thimbled, I followed the directions, which I’d probably sum up as “Put the thread through the cloth and the button-holes, you idiot,” and successfully completed my mission. Did it make me feel like a big girl? Yes. Do I secretly wish I had my mom or naked Ralph Fiennes to do it for me?

Yes.

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