The box lingered in the corner, untouched. Its factory tape still in tact. The large cardboard cube became invisible over time, as all things do when left alone. I passed it numerous times a day without giving it a thought. Yet at the same time, its very existence hung over my head.
I had wrestled with the idea for months. At first it prickled, then it pestered, then visions formed on how I could bring it to reality. Until one day I just did it. I walked into the sewing machine shop and bought myself a new serger.
I had survived seven years without the specialty sewing machine that breezes through knit fabrics, rendering t-shirts, sweatsuits, leggings, shorts, pajamas and even swimsuits in a flash. Its mastery over ribbed cuffs and necklines brought professional finishes to all these garments. For years I clothed myself and my children in custom outfits for mere pennies and large helping of personal satisfaction.
That trusty machine soldiered on for years, then lay dormant when those little children went off to college and moved on to real jobs. But I brought it back into service to finish the edges of the cloth napkins for my son Carl’s wedding reception. It was on the 240th napkin that it ground to a halt – about a dozen napkins short. The repair shop delivered the harsh news, it had met its demise. My years of sewing had completely worn out the parts inside. Fortunately, the final guest count did not exceed 240.
Rich offered to buy me a new machine on the spot, but I declined. After being idled for so many years, I was uncertain I would make use of it. And so I laid the idea to rest. Or did I?
Perhaps it was my annual Grammy Jammie sewing spree that unearthed the thought again. The possibility that older grandchildren might soon opt out of slipper jammies and prefer something lighter drifted into my thoughts. And even Grammy Jammies could benefit from the bound seams the serger produces. As I picked out knit dresses for my 5 and 6 year old granddaughters for Christmas, cousins who refuse to wear anything but dresses, the niggling truth lingered. I could make these. So easily, with a serger.
Visions of resurrecting my old sewing life danced before my eyes. Just think of all the cute outfits I could make for them! And then the other voice intervened. What about my writing? Would this usurp the hours I had formerly designated for writing? Is this a delay tactic, to put off getting back to writing my book? I tried to silence the mental arguments.
So the box loitered. I couldn’t open it before Christmas, as I knew it would unleash a mountain of tasks. Choose new patterns, figure out sizes, buy fabric, cut out garment pieces. Worse yet would be the learning curve. Sergers are notoriously finicky machines and I had a brand new model to master. I had no intention of spoiling my family holidays with a new obsession.
Weeks went by. Then, in the depth of our latest cold snap I took the plunge. Tearing the tape off the box, I extracted the thick manual, then shut it again. Just flipping through the pages of instructions in three languages sent my eyes rolling back in my head. But I went ahead and bought fabric anyway, and cut out a little girl dress. Then I watched the instructional DVD. Taking a deep breath I returned to the box, lifted out the squeaky styrofoam, lugged the heavy machine to my workspace, and stared it down. Perhaps this wasn’t such a great idea after all. I would wait until morning to do battle when I was fresh.
To my great joy, the serger came already threaded. That alleviated one huge hurdle right away. Until I jammed the fabric in the machine and had to rethread the gnarliest of the four threads. But my confidence soared when I was able to return the stitches to finely tuned regularity. I continued to practice throughout the morning, tweaking tension, adjusting the differential, eyeballing the seam allowance and honing my technique.
Eventually the moment of truth arrived. It was time to sew for real. Sergers are not at all forgiving when it comes to mistakes, so my heart thumped and my throat tightened as I fed the dress pieces under the presser foot and pushed down on the pedal. One seam led to another. I successfully married the ribbing with the neckline and attached sleeves and skirt. The familiar loud thumping of the machine (as opposed to the sweet hum of a regular sewing machine) brought it all back. My fingers remembered what to do, and my eyes guided the fabric. And in short order I had a completed dress.
Maybe it wasn’t such a hairbrained idea after all.