Crafting vicariously through my daughter

The start of one - and return to another - sewing obsession.

Last weekend, in an effort to round-out the Wee Lass’s Xmas situation (she’s getting her very first bike and a Molly McIntire doll, plus a few major goodies from her Uncle Tony, who’s flying in from AZ on Saturday), Hubby and I popped by our local BJ’s to try to find a few smaller, less-pricey items.

(It’s deeply un-chic to shop there, but man, can you nab some serious bargains at the Beej, as we like to call it. I routinely score New York Times bestsellers at rock-bottom prices.)

But back to the toys. Immediately, my eyes seized on the kiddie sewing machines.

“We have to get one,” I squealed, lunging for the shelf. “I’ve been wanting one for so long.”

“Don’t be crazy,” Hubby replied. “If you want a sewing machine for yourself, why not get a real one?”

“Naaaaaaah,” I said. “I’ve been down that road before. I’m a failed fashion designer, remember? Well, maybe I will. But right now, let’s start with this. I’ll tell her it’s for both of us.”

Like that’s gonna work. Can you imagine? Me wresting the munchkin-sized Singer out of my little lady’s tiny mitts? D-r-a-m-a.

Still, I have to admit I’m excited to get my own mitts on that darling toy. It feels very circle-of-life, because I originally moved to New York for the crazy-grueling Fashion Design curriculum at F.I.T., but switched my major early on because my sewing and draping skills weren’t up to snuff.

As a Vogue-besotted high schooler, I learned to sew well enough to get into FIT, but not well enough to really excel in the program – especially in comparison with classmates who’d honed their chops at vocational fashion high schools, stitching up frocks on industrial machines that clocked-in at about 100 stitches per nano-second. (I’m not making excuses, but there’s a big difference between personal and commercial sewing machines.)

So I ended up in Communications, interned at a magazine in my last semester et voila – a 20-something year career in fashion publishing.

But for years – decades – after that, despite the fact that my jobs in magazine-ville were increasingly crack-a-lackin, I couldn’t shake the notion that I’d given up too easily on the design thing, and that if I’d just kept hammering away, I’d be…what, exactly?

A not-Japanese version of Rei Kawakubo? A not-British version of Vivienne Westwood?

So at one point, I had not one but three sewing machines in a storage unit in the East Village, a few blocks away from my groovy St. Marks pad. Just knowing they were there, covered in dust and wedged in-between my off-season purses, made me feel that, some day, I’d revisit my childhood fantasy. And make it work this time.

I realize how much emotional baggage and backstory that is to spring on an innocent little girl, who just reallllly loves doing crafts with Mommy. So I think I’ll just keep it to myself. After all, artsy craftsy endeavors should be fun, not fraught with angst, right?

But lordy, how much would I love to learn to sew really, really well? A lot.

A. Lot.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *