Monday, December 5
My hero, me, and Holly Hobby
I’m what’s known in the stitching world as a “sewist.” This term was coined because saying you’re a sewer looks like…well, you can see what it looks like. Other than writing, sewing is my very favorite productive thing to do. I make quilts, I sew for the children’s hospital, I put together Christmas things I’m not sure anyone really wants but they take because I think they know a piece of my heart comes with it. I spend way too much money in fabric stores and my stash is…oh, it’s mountainous.
It hasn’t always been so. I hated (and was terrible at) home economics, hated my mom’s treadle sewing machine, and never, ever, EVER wanted to sew anything.
Ahem. At some point in early marriage-parenthood years, a friend gave me an ancient electric sewing machine that went forwards and backwards. Sometimes. And…I don’t know, there was something about it that drew me. I began sewing, teaching myself in fits and starts.
Segue to Christmas of 1975. My daughter Kari was nearly four, and she loved Holly Hobby. No, I mean really, she LOVED her. She had Holly Hobby wallpaper, dolls, and dishes. I wanted her to have a long Holly Hobby dress, too, but couldn’t find one within the Santa budget. I did find some fabric, though. Yellow, with Holly Hobbies all over it. It was so pretty and I bought it. Cut it out wrong and bought some more.
Of course, there was never enough time to go around in those days, so I ended up on Christmas Eve, sitting at the dining room table and making the dress while Duane assembled little-boy toys and watched television. Long after the toys were assembled, I was still sewing. The machine was giving me fits. I was exhausted. Tears dribbled on the fabric.
Duane, who watches television every waking moment—I’ve always said if I had a rival in our marriage, it was a remote control—turned it off at about ten and came to sit at the table with me. “Can I help?”
“No. Thank you.”
I sewed and drank coffee until midnight, re-sewing where the machine skipped stitches. I gathered. Ripped out.
“Here. Open this.” Duane thrust a package at me. It was a little sewing case, the tools inside including a sharp seam-ripper. I made good use of it. Cried some more. Sewed. He sat with me.
“Why don’t you open—” he started.
“No. Thank you.” He was trying to make me feel better. I knew that.
We drank more coffee, being careful not to spill any on the fabric. I sewed, ripped out, wept.
It was after 2:00 AM when he folded the dress in tissue paper, put it in a box, and wrapped it in Holly Hobby wrapping paper. We stacked the sewing mess into a corner—we’d need the table in the morning—and went to bed, sleeping like the dead for the three or four hours until the kids woke.
The dress fit Kari. It was beautiful. I still have it. I also still have the sewing machine that was under the tree the next morning, the one my husband wanted me to open the night before, although it’s a spare machine now.
I still have Duane, too, and I have never forgotten how he sat at that table with me until the wee hours, laughing and talking and handing me tissues. That was the real present.