CONFESSIONS OF A SEWING BASKET CASE

Dear Sweet Blair,

You are a gift to our lives and cake for our souls. I will forever think of you with a pair of pink “granny panties” stuck to your back! I was thinking this week that after 40 (some odd) years, I am just now learning to stand in my own shoes (a miracle, that). And I am sure that if I went to the mirror right now, I will have a pair of granny panties (or worse) on my own back.

(I once crossed the entire dining room of a very chic New York restaurant with a stream of toilet paper at least 8 foot long attached to my heel. My bridal train.)

Thank you for coming to Atlanta, for bravely threading your needle, for standing there in your own shoes and then for writing about it. We love you dearly…

Confessions of a Sewing Basket Case

–Blair Hobbs

After attempting to sew at the “Feeding Desire” workshop in Atlanta, I more than ever respect those who are nimble with needle and thread.

To several confident attendees, I explained how I once cross-stitched a stuffed doll to an art project canvas, and although I was proud of the initial outcome, I was mortified when I discovered that in my stitching process, I had stupidly sewn the backside of the canvas to my skirt. I stood up and the entire contents of my lap were attached: canvas, stuffed doll, and cute not-bought-on-sale linen skirt. I had to unzip, violently shimmy, and toss the whole tangled affair into the trash. Over the years, my sewing has demonstrated zero improvement. If Natalie had awarded whipstitch badges at the end of the workshop, I would have left the presentation as one empty-handed little Girl Scout.

It is tough to admit, but I envied everyone’s skillfully appliquéd journal covers, T-shirts, and rose-blooming scarves. Everyone around me mastered desired designs. I so love Natalie’s vision of the rose scarf, but my rose puckered; the leaves cinched. I was too humiliated to ask Natalie or Jessica for their kind and patient help, for which they were happily present.

But that outcome must be okay; I know (and have been told) that I am nervously wound tight (especially before lunch). I also know I am a flat-out mess and walk with an extra layer of entropy in my orbit. I have always been that way. I have never cleaned the toilet without splashing Clorox onto my dark T-shirt or new hot-pink bathmat. My husband has to “check” me before we leave the house to make sure my skirt isn’t smeared with cat hair or that my blouse isn’t inside-out or buttoned crookedly.

A long time ago, I pulled a black sweater from my family’s dryer to wear to my first by-invitation-only art opening. After a while of nibbling cubed cheese, gazing at bovine landscapes, and sipping several of glasses of gallery wine, my date mustered the courage to fake smile and tell me that I was sporting a pair of pink satin granny panties on my “cashmere” and polyester back. Following that date (a one-shot deal), I purchased a year’s worth of Cling-Free sheets for the familial laundry room and vowed to stop buying cheap cardigans.

Although I am scattered, and lousy at sewing, I did learn and feel many wonderful things from the “Feeding Desire” group. I respect those who pay attention, work steadily, and find happiness in taking purposeful time. There was peace–valuable peace–in that collective endeavor, and even I enjoyed the paced settling, savored the intelligent hush.

At lunchtime, we gathered around Angie’s table and its beautifully delicious spread. She is a wizard with food, and she made everyone feel welcome and satisfied and glad. Judith’s Love-is-Love vegetables—jewels of the earth—were amazing.

I left the Atlanta workshop cherishing an entire day spent with new friends, all that I learned from them, and Whitespace Susan’s laughter (even though she often laughed at how long it took me to thread a needle).

I am grateful for getting to know Natalie Chanin, and as a “Feeding Desire” participant, I was shown renewed respect for the art and craft of sewing. Natalie is an inspired force, and her talent, strength, kindness, and intelligence, has–and will for days to come–continue to sweetly (and neatly!) feed me.

–Blair Hobbs

*Note that the picture of sewing hands is of Diane Hall, our master seamstress, who has the neatest stitches you can imagine.

 

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