The Ghost of a Ladybug
I have a secret confession to make. Its a Bad one, so brace yourself.
I own a sewing machine.
Yeah yeah, it doesn’t sound so awful, does it? At least until I let you in on my other secret confession: I can’t sew. Oh sure, I can make simple things, like pillows and blankets. Things that are square, with straight lines. I’ve even successfully hemmed pants.
I am fascinated with the idea of making my own clothing. I have been ever since I was a little girl. Not knowing what I was doing, I attempted to construct outfits for my teddy bears and barbie dolls, using scraps of fabric and elmer’s glue. The resulting misshapen, stiff garment-alikes were never used for long before they were discarded.
Disaster struck the day I inherited my mother-in-law’s unused sewing machine, along with a box of thread in every color, buttons, even a repair kit. But the machine never worked right, either due to mechanical flaw or my own failing in setting it up properly. I blamed my inability to make anything on the way it would bunch up the fabric and ruin my projects before they even got started.
Then I bought a new sewing machine, and actually took the time to learn to use it. I no longer had an excuse. Nope, I just can’t sew.
I still like to pretend I can sew. I’m smart, I can figure it out, right? I look at fabric and I see so much delicious potential. Its why I have four piles of fabric, with matching thread, buttons, and other “notions*” sitting in my craft pile. I look at them and can still picture in my head the skirts and shirts they might one day be. I can picture some of the steps required to construct them. Not all, but some.
It might help if I could follow a pattern. I tried once. I got an entire pair of pants traced and halfway cut out. I even got so far as sewing together the pocket. Now, seven years later, I still own a pile of pieces of pre-pant, and one very nice pocket.
Despite knowing full well that I cannot sew, I still somehow seem to think that I can. I think it is a form of madness, brought on by the smell of fresh fabrics, the tactile excitement of running my fingers over soft cottons. “I can totally do this,” is the lie I tell myself, followed quickly with “…and I’m totally gonna this time.” As though it is only loss of steam that stalls my sewing, instead of the truth, that I just don’t know what I’m doing and I give up when it is obvious that I have ruined something beyond my ability to repair. I don’t even know how to use a seam ripper properly!
My delusions of grandeur lead me to believe that I can make not only simple items, but complicated, involved projects like a halloween costume. So one year, I was determined to make myself a ladybug costume. Complete with a second set of jointed arms that moved along with my real arms. It would look SO COOL! My mental image made it look pretty awesome, at least. The fact that I had no idea how to make one was no concern, I’d figure it out as I went along, like I always do. I made a few sketches that were extremely rough, but already showing that I had no idea what I was doing. I ignored that fact, and proceeded to Goodwill to buy some supplies, and then to the fabric store for more.
I got as far as doing some passable shirt Mad Science, grafting the shoulders and arms from one shirt onto another. Some foam tubes provided the stiffness for the arms, and a pair of blown-up Nitrile gloves stuffed into a pair of gloves would be passable for a second set of hands. Lacking anything better, I used some thread to attach it to my arm at the appropriate points.
At this point, it was looking pretty good. I decided to make a mock-up of my idea for the vest and beetle shell. And then.. it gets a little fuzzy in memory. The Madness had overtaken me, which is never a good sign. I can’t recall exactly what happened, but I do remember the aftermath, of realizing that I had no idea how to make a vest. It took about three years for me to give up on this idea, though I never revisited it. I did eventually manage to let it go enough that I could throw away the evidence of my failure.
Maybe I’ll sign up for a sewing class.
* Notions are one of those things I absolutely LOATHE about sewing, and one reason why I won’t follow a pattern. I just unreasonably hate the term. It sounds so stupid. Notions are the crazy schemes in my head, not an actual real thing that I need to buy! I actually don’t know what it means, but I dislike it anyways.