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Monday, June 13, 2011

But I Don't Speak Machine! (June 13, 2011)

Five weeks ago today I did something that I hoped would spark a big new adventure. I got a sewing machine out of my closet and opened it for the first time in eight years. I rearranged the contents of my art studio/baby room (no easy feat) to make a specific place for the machine to be, with the notion that if it were set up, available for use, beckoning to me, I would use it.

The only problem is that I don’t know how.

So the machine sat in my studio, ready, waiting, and did I peek at the instruction manual? No. I learn much better by watching someone. But today, five weeks after hatching my idea, my plan is rolling. Well, inching along may be a more accurate description. But movement forward, nonetheless!

Today I attended a free sewing class through the community college system’s Continuing Education program (funded partially by tax dollars. Yay!). It only meets three times for four hours each, so I won’t be designing dresses alongside Betsey Johnson right away. But here’s why all this is blog-worthy: today is symbolic. I’ve wanted to learn to sew on this machine for the last nine years, since I found it in an alley. But I’ve been Mama for more than seven of those years, and scraping together time or energy to do something that is not directly related to kids, career or home has been a major challenge. It’s meaningful that I woke up nearly an hour early, drove the machine to class, lugged it upstairs, and chose to ignore the long to do list I always have, in order to prioritize learning something exciting, something that is just for me, to feed my creative soul.

I arrived ten minutes early to find a long line stretching from the classroom door. The teacher announced that she could take thirty-five of us, and I was so happy that I was number thirty in line. There are thirty-one women and four men. Go, dudes! I like the diversity that community college classes tend to have. There is a big mix of ethnicities in class, and some students are ESL students. Some students are twenty-year-old fashionistas. Others are retirement age. We are bonded by our common desire to learn to sew. For some, it could be a career path. For others it may be something they’ve wanted to do for ages just for fun. The teacher is a peppy woman who has been teaching for thirty years and really brings enthusiasm to the room. Today was our intro day, so it’s not like I walked out with a collection of new clothes to wear. We watched a video about parts of the sewing machine, and even though I’m intimidated by all the buttons, gadgets and levers, I do understand the parts a little bit now, which is exciting. (I liken this experience to learning to drive. Once you know how, you’re not even aware of all the things you do simultaneously, but at the beginning, it’s a lot even to remember which is the brake and which is the accelerator!)

At home I tried to load my bobbin into the bottom of the machine, to practice a little. No luck. Could not figure it out and the instruction manual has very fuzzy photos that do not clarify! But I will not be scared off. Now that the thread ball is rolling, I’m ready to learn to speak machine. I’ve hand-sewn since I was a kid but it’s time to learn how the machine can help me turn the hundreds of ideas in my head into colorful reality. So stay tuned for the next chapter!

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