Sunday, January 27, 2019

Before Christmas, I discovered that my sewing machine was broken, just as I was gearing up to make a batch of lavender sachets for gifts. My plan had been to cut the material from a stack of old-fashioned cotton-lawn handkerchiefs and dresser scarves that a friend had given me years ago, and to fill them with lavender I'd harvested from my garden. I was annoyed about the sewing machine, but in a way I was relieved too. I've never loved using a sewing machine, though it's clearly an efficient tool . . . but it also requires clearing space to set it up, sitting with my head pressed against a noisy box, paying attention to safety, staring fixedly at a lurching seam. "Well, so what if it's broken?" I thought. "I can hand-sew those sachets." And thus began my crash-course in hand sewing. The sachets took a long time, partly because I decided to add decorative stitching around the edge of each one, but I got them done in time for Christmas, and they were pretty, and I found I could work on them during long car trips, or at odd quiet moments in the day, or during conversations, or while watching a nature show. There was no machinery involved, beyond an iron to press seams. I could pick them up and put them down without fuss, and I enjoyed having a sewing basket.

So after Christmas was over, I wondered what I could sew next. My hand-sewing skills had improved exponentially. I had developed a neat, fairly regular stitch style, and it seemed a shame not to keep improving. I had some unbleached muslin, so I hemmed a new dish towel. But what I really needed was an apron: I always cook in an apron, and they wear out regularly. I went through my box of scraps and discovered that I did not have enough whole cloth for an apron, but if I stitched some of the pieces together . . .

Anyway, that is what I have been doing for the past few weeks--designing and executing an apron out of various scraps. I am now in the late stages of the project: the apron itself is finished, and I am presently stitching the ties and the neck loop. I understand that making an apron is not like tailoring a shirt or anything, but I did design it myself, and I've done every stitch by hand. It feels like a giant accomplishment, though I'm sure this long description makes a very dull blog entry. I appreciate your patience with it, and as a reward, I'll let you read about Charles Fourier's utopia:
Charles Fourier (1772-1837), a businessman from Lyons, . . . had a passion for numbers and categories. He predicted the ideal world he was creating would last 80,000 years, 8,000 of them an era of Perfect Harmony, during which the North Pole would be milder than the shores of the Mediterranean, the sea, no longer salt, would turn into lemonade, and the world would contain 37 million poets equal to Homer, 37 million mathematicians equal to Newton, and 37 million dramatists equal to Moliere, though he modestly added, "These are approximate estimates." Every woman would have four lovers or husbands simultaneously. [from Paul Johnson's The Birth of the Modern]
Maybe I'm just getting old, but dealing with "four lovers or husbands simultaneously" sounds like too much work.

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