Monday, March 17, 2014

My Mother and the Reason I Can't Use a Sewing Machine

When I was a child, my mother liked to sew. She sewed clothes for us, then dolls and and other crafty rustic things that she sold. She made us all manner of stuffed animals, and quilts, and curtains and pillows. She could sew anything.

We were small then, and, naturally, Mum wanted to prevent us from using the sewing machine to accidentally kill ourselves. That was a real possibility, because The Brother had a thing for pressing buttons and turning knobs on the stereo. The Brother almost deafened himself permanently with the stereo, and Mum was certain her sewing machine was next on his radar, especially after the stereo was removed from the home due to mechanical failure that may or may not have resulted from a toddler cranking up the volume to the maximum level, then turning on the radio.

Mum's sewing was dangerous, mostly because there were always escaped straight pins, and I have a clear memory of giving The Brother a ride on my back and putting a hand down on the ground only to have a straight pin enter my palm, bend, and curve under the skin in a half-circle. I also have a clear memory of pulling out the pin.

Mum didn't want us messing with the sewing machine. She wanted us to leave it be. When we asked why, she would tell us a story. A story about what could go wrong when sewing machines attack.

The story takes place when my mother was in high school. Mum had long blonde hair she could sit on, and wore platforms so often everyone thought she was four to five inches taller than she really was. And she was in home economics class. Back then, according to Mum, you were actually taught how to sew actual things. And by that, she means you had to sew things AND finish them AND then you had to turn them in so the teacher could grade them. It wasn't like my home economics class, in which all we did was fill out worksheets and bake things.

Mum was staying after school to work on a project. So was her friend, Debbie Wampler. Debbie, according to Mum, was a blast. Mum loved her. Debbie was sewing something. Debbie was not as familiar with sewing as my mum. Either that, or she was just really distracted, because the next thing my mum knew was that Debbie had used the sewing machine to effectively stitch over and THROUGH HER HAND.

"How did you get the thread OUT?" I would ask, each time my mother told the story.

The answer involves my mother and a seam ripper. Also maybe scissors.

Debbie was fine. Debbie finished her project and moved on with her life. She went to college, married someone, maybe had kids, maybe lives in a house or maybe an apartment. Probably she is well-adjusted and never has a panic attack when she hears a sewing machine. Debbie is okay.

I am not.

This is because the sewing machine is terrifying. The sewing machine contains maybe a bad fairy, maybe pure evil, probably even Satan. The sewing machine is waiting for you to touch it, so that it can kill you. The sewing machine knows you're afraid of it, and it wants you to feel that way. It wants you to know it knows you're afraid.

I don't know if it's the noise or the way it moves the fabric forward on its own or the way it LOOKS at you, knowing you suck and know nothing about what you're doing. Whatever it is, the sewing machine is the wrongest thing about crafting, and it keeps me from having skirts and dresses that fit me by lurking there, waiting for me to approach it, just so that it can scare me away.

I have purchased so much fabric. I have used next to none of it. This is all because the sewing machine is a thing of terror. I have tried many times. All of those attempts end in fear, panic, tears. But I am trying again. I am making a drawstring bag. First I am making the bag by hand. Then, I am making a second bag, using the sewing machine, because I will know the pattern and the construction of the bag well enough not to be confused. I will know I can make the bag one way, and, perhaps, I will believe I can make it another way.

If I don't come back, it was the sewing machine.

You will find me in the living room, curled up on the ground with one arm raised up above my head, drained bloodless, wrapped around and inside the mechanics of the sewing machine. There will be straight pins. There will be thread and maybe it will have wound itself into a makeshift rope, used to draw me closer to the mechanical monster.

The sewing machine will sit quietly, motionlessly. It will look much as it did before, though its hideous maw and needle teeth will be stained with my blood. You will think that it was an accident. But it was not. The sewing machine saw its opening and took it. Remember me, and tell your children of it. Tell your children of Debbie Wampler. Tell your children my name. Tell your children that the sewing machine is hungry, and fabric does not sate its lust for blood and flesh.

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