By Jessica Williams
No way. At 15 years old, my friends had better things to do.
Such as driving behind the wheel with their freshly printed driver’s license permit. Now that was a good time.
Their idea of fun certainly wasn’t staring into the abyss of a sewing machine, listening to the helicopter noise it blurted out as my grandmother pushed down on her foot pedal, underneath her toes.
No ma’am. That was torture for my teenage friends. They’d rather watch paint dry.
But me, for some unknown reason, I found it fascinating. Mesmerized by the electronic needle dancing into the fabric pieces as it scooted underneath the powerful machine. Turning scraps of old fabric into beautiful works of art and clothing. Blouses. Pants. Blankets. Anything could be created. If I could dream it, that machine could make it.
Hours of coffee sipping, a little gossiping, and hundreds of pins and needles filled Ms. Helen’s tiny sewing room. Ms. Helen was my grandmother. She lived on one of the saltiest, reddest dirt roads in the deep, southern swamps of Alabama. She was also my next door neighbor, when I was a young girl.
Today, she still lives there. In her 50 year old, red-brick two-story house that overlooks a white cotton field, where the humid ripe-orange sun sets every evening.
At 83 years old, she continues to sew, in that same, tiny sewing room.
Sewing is a dying art, for the most part, especially in my generation. I grew up in the late 1980s and 1990s. One of those “old millennials,” I guess they say. Whatever that is. I’ve only met one or two other women (my age) who enjoy it. The craft is certainly not a popular hobby nowadays. Nor was it popular back in high-school. Suppose I’m not all that good at being popular.
Proof of my unpopularity status is when I walked into my first sewing shop. Bopping in with my blonde hair and baby on my hip, I sure didn’t blend in well with the group of baby boomers gathered around for a pattern-block sewing class. I sat down, anyway. While the baby napped in his car seat next to me, I went to work on my brand new Janome 3160. I wasn’t quite sure where I lost my identity. Certainly it was somewhere between Lucille Ball and Katherine Heigl (who prefers Bernina machines).
Even though I felt more awkward than after a sneeze while waddling through my third trimester, I had to just… stick it out. (Seamstress joke. Yes, I know. I didn’t win the popularity contest.)
But I’m glad I kept sewing, as it led to meeting new people, and best of all, helping people feel good about themselves.
Sometimes, a button falls off. At times, a zipper breaks. And it seems on the busiest day of the year, a seam rips on your favorite pants or skirt. That’s where a seamstress (or tailor) comes to the rescue.
There are people who enjoy shopping at the mall, but my favorite places to peruse are the local sewing and quilting shops.
Below is a list of locations here in Hernando County:
Nana’s Quilt Shop
18851 Cortez Blvd.
Brooksville, FL 34601
Anna Jean Design
4110 Lawson Drive
Spring Hill, FL 34608
The Enrichment Center (Brooksville) also offers sewing classes. Contact: (352) 544-6022.
Joanne’s Fabric Store
4387 Commercial Way
Springhill, FL 34606
To all of you who enjoy the art, Happy Sewing!
To anyone interested in learning the art of sewing, small town shops like these are certainly known for offering beginner classes. Imagine, designing your own clothes. Any style. Any material. Doesn’t that sound fascinating?
Beginner projects are fun too.
Designing baby blankets, burp cloths, and baby bath towels for expecting mothers. Ever wonder where some of the newborn beanies at the hospital come from? Many of them are handmade by someone who sat down for awhile at a sewing machine.
And if I had to bet, they were probably sipping good, warm coffee.