Monday, December 5, 2011


Like many children of the ’70s who enjoyed the richly varied curriculum of a public middle school, come 7th grade my elective choices were two: Home Economics or Shop. I don't think anyone dared to cross the gender divide, myself included, so I never got the chance to make a cheese board in the shape of a mouse. Instead I got to make English muffin pizzas under the tutelage of a woman whose black beehive 'do topped the black polyester vest-and-pants ensembles she made herself. She also taught me how to sew on an actual sewing machine. I made a wraparound skirt with a red floral print, and a navy blue polo shirt with a white collar that I thought was pretty freaking stylish.

Despite that promising beginning—they were both dimly recognizable as clothing—I never touched a sewing machine again. But I can reasonably manage the basics of hand-stitching—you know, sewing a button that's destined to fall off; mending a small hole in a seam that will reopen soon after. So it's possible—possible—that I might one day sew the patches I invariably pick up at thrift stores and estate sales onto my clothes or my kids' clothes. If my kids would let me. Both of them have an aversion to denim (too hot!) or "dungarees" as I still like to call them, so it's more likely I could sew the patches onto the old blanket-lined denim jacket that I've held on to since childhood and have previously celebrated in print here. I rarely wear it on account of it not being terribly flattering (some things just don't hang the same as they did back when I was 13) but maybe a few more patches would do the trick. (Here is my exact jacket; apparently it is "rare.") This jacket belonged to my brother before me, and he covered it with his own patches (I distinctly remember one in the shape of a leaf that said "Leaf me alone"). The jacket was came to him via the five brothers of the Taylor family who lived across the street. Each wearer embellished the jacket to his own taste, and ripped off the patches before handing it down.

When I got the jacket, I sewed a Rolling Stones tongue on the back and covered the rest of it with my button collection. Which makes me wonder what the hell happened to my button collection?

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