My mother used to have two huge boxes of clothing patterns under her bed. Literally thousands of them. She would go to the upper-end department stores and browse around until she found something she liked. She would then sketch it out, take the drawing home and pull out those boxes. This is the collar. This is the front panel. This is the sleeve. When she was done you would never know she made it at home.
I inherited the in-the-cabinet Singer sewing machine upon which she created those carbon copies. I did not in any stretch of imagination inherit the talent. I can sew square stuff. Curtains. Quilts. Maybe a scrub top.
But I loved the IDEA of that sewing machine. I loved that every time I sat down and began the complicated series of manuevers required to simply thread it, I could see from the corner of my eye a little ghost. A little blond haired ghost of myself at four or five, standing impatiently as my designer Barbie doll clothes came to life under the whirling needle.
The sound of its engine, like the purr of a cat, was soothing. The faint smell of dust burning in the friction of the needle, the bright spotlight that lit up the stage of creation, my mother's hands, sure and brave, fingertips guiding fabric right up to the very edge of the needle. It was like watching a ballet.
That old Singer sewing machine, which must be closing in on fifty years old by now, is still going. Or it would be if the foot pedal hadn't fried itself. It had been repaired twice before and there is no coming back again. I'm hoping I can find a replacement. I'm hoping I can keep the old machine going. I won't be able to make Barbie doll clothes for any grandkids I may have some day (way, way WAY in the future, Danny, I know you are reading this!!).
But I could make some quilts. Or some curtains for their rooms.