Part of spiritual and creative growth is allowing yourself to be open to all possibilities. I did just that yesterday and came to a shocking realization. I began to wonder when my affinity for scraps began to rear its ugly head. I thought just within the last few years as I began making small art quilts. . . but no. . I started my love affair with collecting and using fabric scraps as a very young child - not a middle aged adult as I thought! By the time I was 5 years old I already understood the their value. And, I just couldn’t stand the thought of seeing them treated as useless objects, carelessly tossed into the trash when I knew at least I could do something fabulous with them. I didn’t know it then, but I was on my way to becoming addicted to textile recycling.
In the beginning, whenever and whatever I could get my hands on was used to make doll clothes. . . sewing by hand. The thought of using a machine never entered my mind. You see, I was not allowed to go anywhere near a sewing machine. Too dangerous, but a needle and thread was ok. Go figure.
On a family trip out of town, I was left alone with a much older cousin who had always made her own clothing. I think just seeing her machine made my eyes twirl. Here was my big chance and my mom wasn’t around to stop me. So I asked my cousin to show me how the machine worked and with no prompting at all she patiently and lovingly showed me how to use it, then let me do it myself. I was actually able to run the machine, pushing fabric under the needle. I loved it. I was hooked.
From that day forward I let it be known that I wanted a sewing machine of my own and wasn’t about to stop till I got one. No, I wasn’t a brat or spoiled, but I knew this was a destiny I had to fulfil. And besides, it did take a few years. This was not a case of ask and ye shall receive. My mom was no push over, but round about 2nd grade or so, my lucky day arrived.
I was so excited to get my new machine. I had waited so long to get it. . . but also curious to see how it worked. So, I proceeded to spread newspaper all over the basement floor. I’m no fool. I couldn’t leave any trace of what I was about to do. I got a few screwdrivers and wrenches from my dad’s workbench and sat down with curiosity and great confidence. I then started ever so carefully to take my shiny new machine apart, one screw at a time, carefully placing each in line on the newspaper. Just when I had finished and the machine was sitting in rows of metal pieces, I began inspecting them, then the metal carcass. I was greatly engrossed in my inspection running my fingers across the metal, tracing the thread path when I was startled by my mom entering the basement. Yipes. . . I heard the loudest shriek I think I ever heard come out of her. My poor mom. Of course she had absolutely no faith in my ability to put it all back together. I was just an elementary school kid after all. . . and a young one at that! When she finally retreated, horrified I might add, I thought I should make quick work of putting my new treasure back together. After all, dad would be home soon.
I used that machine for many years to make my own clothes just as my cousin had done and of course, I never threw out a scrap. By the time I was in high school my mom was really over the scrap thing and repeatedly threatened to put them out on garbage day. That’s when I began making quilts.
You might wonder after all these years what ever happened to my wonderful old machine. Well, I still have it. Other than the tape marks on it (what was I thinking!), it still looks pretty good. That machine is over 50 years old and still works! Thanks mom and dad for the wonderful gift you gave me. . . but I never took it apart again.