In which our daring protagonist wrestles with a new task: sewing!

Last week, I needed to sew something, and last week I discovered that I neglected to bring a sewing kit to Indonesia. Thus began a hunt for a needle and thread. After trying to figure out where I would buy a needle and thread in the US besides a fabric store (to no success), I gave in and asked for advice. I was directed to the supermarket/clothing/school supplies/other random household goods store located two blocks from my flat.

I went there and after wandering fruitlessly around asked for help. I was directed to a counter where you can purchase needles and thread along with hair accessories. Success.

Then began the real challenge: sewing.

I had to attach a piece of plain cloth to a length of batik. This would elongate the batik so that, when I wrapped it around my legs to use it as a skirt in dance class, enough would be left over that it could trail on the ground between my legs.

I laid the two pieces out on my floor and considered them. I tried to picture putting the skirt on. The stripes have to run from the right side of my body to the left and if I start wrapping from the right… I rearranged the pieces again and then began sewing.

Ten minutes in, I remembered why my mother always advised me not to use overly-long pieces of thread.

Fifteen minutes in, I stopped for a snack break, marveling over the fact that I’d never hand-sewn anything this big before.

Half an hour in, I started to regret turning down an earlier offer of a sewing machine.

An hour in, I began reminiscing about the days when I actively embroidered clothes. Does anyone remember those carp pants I had?

An hour and a half in, it started to be really hard to keep the two pieces of fabric nicely lined up. I’d established a good sitting position with one foot holding the fabric in place and one hand pulling it taut, but that didn’t mean the two pieces were aligned.

Two hours in, I suddenly realized that humanity had already invented something to keep fabric properly lined up: pins!

But I owned no pins.

Five minutes later, I realized that wasn’t true. I owned safety pins!

Five minutes after that, I had the rest of the fabric pinned, though the white piece was a bit off-kilter. It didn’t look too bad, though, and it would be hidden on the inside anyway.

Forty minutes later, I finally finished. I cut the thread and headed off to dance class, quite proud of my sewing.

There, I discovered that I’d actually sewn the fabric on in the wrong place, so that I had to flip the whole thing around, ending up with the inside part of the batik facing the outside. Luckily, you can’t actually tell the difference unless you look at the seams. The only time I’ll consider taking out all that sewing is when I have a sewing machine in front of me.


3 thoughts on “In which our daring protagonist wrestles with a new task: sewing!

  1. Oh, Zoë, I love your blog & insight. I know your Mom is coming soon, so perhaps you might ask for her help. And all mothers that sew (& I’m 77) give the same advise. There is a German saying that Mom always repeated to me. In German it rhymes, but it means, “Long thread, lazy girl.

    And a tip I learned is to thread the needle from the end of the thread that comes off the spool and it will lessen the twisting/tangling. And I love the batik fabric … inside out or right side out. That’s the beauty of batik.

    Happy New Year! Claire

  2. I have thoroughly enjoyed this post. I’ve been sewing recently too (stop living my life!), but not the scale that you have. 2 hours and 40 minutes of hand sewing. That is impressive, Zoë.

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