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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Husqvarna Serger Contest Entry

I wasn’t born here in Tucson, but in my time, I’ve grown quite a spine, like a saguaro.

I was born in Savannah, Georgia, to Midwestern parents. In Savannah, the church ladies dressed their daughters in spendy smocked dresses. My mom learned to smock even more beautiful dresses than the pricey store-bought ones. When I got pregnant, she immediately wanted to know the sex of my child so she could start smocking. I had a daughter, Alice. Here she is at the beginning of August, wearing a beautiful dress smocked by her Grama.

My personal sewing history had, up until the last couple years, been a mess of tension problems, furious seam ripping, pipe dreams I could not play into existence, and laughable results. When I was in Junior High in the ‘80s, girls were required to take Home Economics while the boys took Shop. I grumbled all the way through burned pigs-in-a-blanket, scalded hot cocoa, crooked cloth napkins, forgetful table setting, and then… then came the foot pillow project.

My awkward, pubescent peers and I were allowed to select our own material to sew a large pillow in the shape of a foot. The other girls brought in their tidy yards of pink cotton prints. I don’t remember how my fabric choice came to be approved by my mother. She must have steered me toward some demure (bo-ring) cotton, and my stubborn railing wore her into exasperation (and amusement) as she must have foreseen how disastrous this project would be! After the other girls showed off their cheerful girly calicos, I unrolled a hairy slab of white faux fur with a pile at least three inches long. The Home Ec instructor pursed her lips.

Mny small hands could barely cut the fabric into a foot shape. I couldn’t fit the two layers of fabric under the presserfoot. I sewed much faster than the instructor asked. I promptly jammed the machine each time my teacher laboriously freed it from the roadkillish hunk of fur. My teacher asked me to stop. She even promised a passing grade for my effort to sweeten the deal. Any normal sixth grader would’ve enjoyed the time to write notes to her girlfriends, or draw caricatures of her peers. I wasn’t normal. Instead, I took the ‘pillow’ home to my mother, who hacked into it with the seam ripper each night, and gave me a deconstructive reading of how I had caused the latest pillow problem.

Somehow I finished with a vaguely foot-shaped pillow, of which I was immensely proud. Home Economics ended and I leapt ahead into the future. In graduate school, I machine-pieced a few quilts. After receiving my MFA, I sliced deeply into my left thumb with a rotary cutter, clean through bone, with the entire tip hanging by a thread. At the hospital it was reattached. I sewed the remaining ‘geese’ and readied my quilt for hand-quilting by my then 89-year-old Grama. I swore I’d never use a rotary cutter again.

And then my desire to make more quilts overpowered my fear of Olfa cutting blades.

I had my daughter.

I wanted to sew for her.

In my search for a natural, handmade doll for her birthday, I fell in love with Bamboletta Dolls. I managed to acquire one, then two, then three, then four.

I decided to sew for them. There are quite a few talented doll clothing-makers on Etsy, but I had my own ideas to add to the table.

My husband was laid off from his job in June. I decided to try my hand at selling my doll clothes and quilts, so I set up an Etsy shop called Dreaming Monet. I’ve spent hours perusing sewing blogs and fashion books for inspiration and explanation of various techniques. I sketched and described design ideas into a small notepad. I’ve spent dozens more hours learning how to execute these ideas – sometimes by the firing squad of my own eagerness to figure it out NOW, and sometimes executing in the sense of actually making my idea materialize—and selling it to someone who does not know me, for her child to dress a treasured doll.

But there is this.

My daughter.

Sewing clothes for my child, her dolls, and other peoples’ children and dolls is time-consuming. I spend hours carefully ironing hems under twice, often burning my fingertips with the iron’s steam. Many of the designs I imagine are simply impossible to create lacking a serger. To have more flexibility in my designs, more efficiency in sewing, more professional-looking hems and seams, the ability to complete many more projects in the same amount of time; to be able to provide income at a time when we are financially struggling, to soar farther and farther beyond the hilarious foot pillow and my sliced-off-and-reattached thumb, I ask you to please consider me in the Husqvarna Serger contest. Winning this contest would so very positively change my life, my husband’s life, my child’s life, and maybe even the lives of children and dollies around the world by allowing me to make my creations more available. Thank you for your kind consideration of my entry!

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