Sewing as metaphor

I haven’t been here since my mother died. I haven’t known what to say.

At first I was in utter disbelief that people were out tending to their daily affairs, like nothing had happened. How could they not know? How could they not need to sit down and take a minute?

Now I am still occasionally surprised by how the world just keeps turning, but it’s no longer like being hit in the face with a pie every fourteen seconds.

Since then, I have been doing a lot of sewing, bent over the machine, feeding fabric through in nice, straight lines.

And ironing, ever ironing. Pressing the seams open and then to one side, after every run through the machine, then pressing the entire garment. It’s the pressing that makes the difference between looks like you stapled it together and I’d wear that,” you know.

I press and press and press, as though doing so will even my world out again, nice and flat and smooth, no loose threads.

I did not have a store-bought dress until I was in my early twenties. My mother would have me stand on the table, turning slowly while she made adjustments, resulting in my utter inability to not tweak every little thing in my world until it hangs just like I like it, like she liked it: it should skim, not squeeze.

Buttonholes had always eluded me, but the week before last, I sat down at the machine and decided it just had to be done. I cannot spend my life avoiding buttons and buttonholes.

I made one buttonhole and then I made ten more, just because I could.

The urge for perfection comes naturally to me; I have ripped out seam after seam after seam, repinned pieces over and over until the fit was just right, like by doing it again I can put it all back like it was, before the dementia.

The thing about fabric, though, is once you cut it wrong, it’s always wrong. No amount of alterations can fix it, it will never look right and it will bind you up somewhere.

I learned that from my mama, and I am ever so careful to make long, smooth strokes with my shears so as to not bunge it up.

Over and over I check the pattern to make sure it’s right, just in case she’s somewhere watching me, hoping that she is, hoping that she is delighted at my buttonhole making and pleased with my fine seams.

And I wander off to press it again, because we like it just so.



About S.

Reader, writer, talker, knitter, picture taker, tennis player, music lover, Southerner.
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