Children's Fashion Workshop



I'm Erin.  Gardening addict, incurable maker, insatiable reader, closet author, chronicler of childhood, wanderer, wonderer.  I'm glad you've come to sit a while with me.

Instagram @ewatsonhowe


Offhand comments:

9.y.o.-"I have three ant bites.  Can I use this stuff I found in the first aid kit on them?  It's called ant-acid." 

9.y.o.-"It would be awesome if we had a 3-d printer because then we could print anything. a tiny little model of Angkor Wat!"

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My oldest son and daughter were born three weeks and two weeks early, respectively. Before their due dates, I mean. The only problem with babies being born a little early is that you come to expect that subsequent babies will follow suit, and when they don't, you're set up for some serious misery.

This is the situation in which I found myself, just a few days before my third child's due date. Large. Tired. Miserable. More pregnant than I'd ever been, still hauling two little children around with me, and starting to feel, just to add the final polish to the situation, like the baby was going to slide on out of there any minute.

I needed to sew, some kind of awful. Now, I don't say "I love sewing", because I'm not sure it's true. Sometimes it's all I want to do, to cut good fabric with sharp scissors, watch a little something take shape, figure out the unimportant-in-the-scheme-of-things issues that arise with any project, and, eventually, finish something. Sometimes I don't want to look at anything that has to do with sewing, can't stomach the idea of having to figure out all that minutiae, just don't want to deal with all those threads and pins, and go for weeks without sewing a stitch. When I decide that the little universe of sewing is where I need to go for a while, though, nothing else will quite fill that void, so I go on sewing.

On second thought, this may be a sign of a deeper problem.

At any rate, my second-hand sewing machines had both died a messy death several weeks before, as I tried (so frugally!) to fashion an Easter dress out of fabric I had on hand, so that my toddler-daughter could have something pretty for spring that we hadn't had to buy. Because, see, on top of all this, we were broke. I had tossed the wadded-up dress in a corner and cried. Pregnant + thwarted + hormonal = crying fit.

Now I've painted the situation for you. Miserable, waddly, thinking I was overdue but with no reason to complain because I really wasn't, needing a little hobby-therapy, and with broken machines.

Finally I hauled my unwieldy self up off the couch and said to Father Bird, "I'm going down to the Bernina store. Just to look."

The ladies at the Bernina store welcomed me and I told them the situation, that I had no money, but just needed to look at a new machine. They were completely understanding, brought me over and let me push buttons and sew little fabric scraps together, showed me all the whistles on the new machines and cooed over them right along with me. There was a reason those women worked at that store. They loved those machines.

Finally, I knew I'd better get back home and stop dreaming. With my head full of gorgeous stitches and precision threading and push-button everything, I floated back out to the car. But...where had I put my keys? I'd had them in my hand when I'd gone in. When I'd sat down to look at sewing machines I must have put them down on the table next to the machines.

I went back in and looked all around the tables and under them for my keys. Nothing. The helpful ladies were concerned, I told them I'd just had my keys, asked if they'd seen them, they said no, did you leave them in the car? Back outside, I looked in all the windows and couldn't see the keys. Now I was really starting to panic. They were the only set of keys we had, and if Father Bird had to come pick me up from somewhere else because I'd lost the keys/locked the keys in the car/done something else stupid, I didn't think I could bear the humiliation.

I went back in the store, and by now all the ladies were hunting for my keys. Under racks of fabric, all around the sewing machines, under the front desk, everywhere I'd been. One of them walked with me as I looked, feeling so completely foolish I could hardly stand it.

Suddenly I realized I hadn't even bothered to check whether I had pockets. I'd taken to wearing the one pair of maternity jeans that still fit, and they didn't have pockets, and my brain was programmed to the lack of them. Only after these kind women had searched their little store over and over did it register with me that there might be, allll the way around that huge belly, down there where I hadn't seen in months, a pocket. And it might contain my keys.

Dread and embarrassment ate me whole. Because as soon as I thought it could be possible, I knew it must be true. I felt around there, and sure enough, there was a pocket. With a jingle in it. I hung my head. I tapped the hunched-over store lady on the back and said, "Here they are."

"Where did you find them?" she asked happily. "In my pocket," I had to tell her.

"Don't tell anybody," she said immediately. Then, popping her head up above the racks of fabric, she shouted to the other women, "We found them!!"

"Where were they? Where were they?" the other ladies asked. "Right over here!" said my lady innocently.

I thanked her profusely. If I could still have hugged anyone without it being horribly awkward, I would have hugged that woman who saved what was left of my face. I took the keys, went home, and convinced my husband that these kindest of all ladies needed me to buy a sewing machine from them. "Well," he said slowly, there is the tax return..."

It was done before he finished the sentence. I spent the next day cuddling my new baby, and the day after that birthing my new son. The machine still works beautifully. I wish I could say as much for my brain.

~Mother Bird~

Reader Comments (4)

I love this story! I bought a Bernina while pregnant with my second child. Once I found out I was having a girl, I just had to have a sewing machine to make her little dresses. I remember going to the store with her in her little carrier to sit down with the sweet ladies and learn what all those buttons and feet did. Then they taught me to make smocked bishop dresses and I haven't looked back. :-)

July 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

I love bishop dresses. They're so classic-little-girl. (And pretty straightforward to sew, too!) Thanks for stopping by, Samantha!

July 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermotherbird

I bought my Bernina this summer while hugely pregnant. I love it.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

Oooh! A new Bernina! I just can't even see how you wouldn't love it. And a new baby to sew for. Icing.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermotherbird

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