Some of my favorite things in life have been things at which I’m not very good. I loved gymnastics growing up even though I was a head taller than the rest of the team and about as graceful as a toddler. It was so much fun to see what I could make my body do and a thrill to fly through the air and manage to land safely. I loved the challenge, the feeling of power, the complexity of it, the competition against myself to always improve, the camaraderie of suffering through 4 hour workouts with my best friends. I also love riding a bike even though I almost fell off a cliff once when Scott and I were dating and I thought  it would be no problem to ride down a single track at break-neck speed with no experience or skill. I ended up clinging to a sappling for dear life and we decided it would be best if I walked my bike the rest of the way. Fail. I haven’t ridden much in my adult life. Still, every time I see someone dreamily peddling down a tree-lined street on TV, I remember that I am a bicycle lover at heart and make secret plans to get back to it. I also love to sew.

My Mom taught me to sew when I was seventeen. We couldn’t figure out what to do with the 57 or so gymnastics meet t-shirts I had collected over my career and decided to make a patchwork quilt the summer before I left for college. We cut our t-shirt squares and used denim for the rest. I can’t remember if I actually did much of the sewing. I was a teenager. Listening with one ear I’m sure. But it sparked a knowledge in me that I could make things. That blanket was lost somehow in the shuffle of moving between the dorms, our apartment, and back home for summers. Anyone seen it? If I wasn’t so lazy, here would be where I’d insert my wanted poster. But naah.

The next time I really sewed much was when I needed to furnish a whole house with curtains on a shoestring budget and couldn’t find anything I liked. My kids were babies and I somehow got them all done, blackout lining and all. They were curtains only a mother could love. Definitely beginner stuff. But I loved them and loved having made just what I was looking for.

I’ve picked sewing back up in the last few years. I’ve made myself a dress I’ve never worn, multiple Halloween costumes, and have altered so-so fitting clothes until they flatter (more and less of a challenge through the years if you know what I mean).

I tried to alter the fit of the dress for my longest-torso-in-history body and screwed up the darts, but it proudly hangs in my closet. That was the first pattern I ever used. You know, that tent-sized wrinkly brown tissue paper covered with a covert array of symbols, lines, and dashes. I somehow figured it out. It’s actually not that hard. If I can do it…

gumball machine
Gumball machine

Delaney innocently asked to be a gumball machine for Halloween three years ago. Have you ever tried to sew a plastic beach ball to a t-shirt? Neither had I. But that’s where optimism came in handy. When that was finished I was so proud I wanted to submit it to some kind of a museum. Shew!

But the thing I still howl with laughter about two years later is the next year’s costume endeavor. Delaney was set to do a presentation on Little House on the Prairie at school, and I decided to make her a costume that could then double as a Halloween costume. Always thinking! Those dresses are pretty fitted in the bodice, so I decided to take an old bed sheet and mock up a quick muslin to check the fit before cutting the actual fabric (which I’d had in my curtain reject stash for at least 8 years. Yessss!). I’d just do the bodice and one sleeve real quick to make sure I wasn’t way off base with the sizing. We were about 5 minutes from needing to head out the door (which we do on average 7 times a day, sigh), and I just needed to get the sleeve on one side and throw it over Delaney’s head. Then I’d be set to start cutting the next morning. I’m sure my deadline was around 2 days away. I’m a procrastinator. So I was in a hurry. Now, what you are about to see is not what I meant to make. It looks much more like a medieval straight jacket than a one-sleeved dress bodice. Feast your eyes…

muslin

I just now let out a hearty chuckle having seen this photo for the bazillionth time. It never gets old! I sewed on what I meant to be the sleeve and was running down the hall to find Delaney’s body for a fitting. As I’m going down, I’m turning my new creation right side in. What the heck!? This seems wrong somehow. Oh. My. Gosh! I made a beeline back to the project room. This must be photographed for future hilarity. Two minutes of seam ripping later, no big deal. But man! Who sews the sleeve to the neck hole?! Me, that’s who.

Miraculously, the thing fit and off I went. She has now worn this dress three times. After her school presentation, she came home and wore it the rest of the day. That girl! My heart.

The girls sew too. We started out with craft projects and they were naturals. They now each have nicer sewing machines than mine and can sew from patterns. This ability I am quite sure was inherited from their father.

But what I really started this post to show you was the very latest batch of costumes. Bailey and my sister’s daughter, Sarah, have been cast in a children’s musical theater production of Alice in Wonderland at JamPro Music Factory. They are a very unlikely Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. They are having so much fun! Bailey designed the costumes and we made them to match. So fun!

Bailey and Sarah tweedle

Ta daaaaaaaah! Aren’t they the cutest? My heart might burst.

What do you love to do?

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