Sewing History, Part I: My First Traumatic Experience…

I can remember being just tall enough to be eye-to-eye with the needle, so I would have been three or four years old — and my sister six or seven. For some utterly bizarre reason, she was trying to sew a Zip-loc bag shut. (Yeah, I don’t know why either!) Obviously, she had no idea what she was doing.

Somehow I happened upon this scene and was immediately drawn to the action — or lack of action. She was awkwardly perched on the very edge of her chair. She had one leg completely extended so that she could just barely reach the pedal by flexing her foot and straining her toes. The needle was moving up and down. But since the presser foot was up, the Zip-loc bag wasn’t going anywhere. I decided that she needed my help…

Instinctively, I knew that the bag needed to be traveling under the needle, so I put out my hand to steer it for her. Suddenly we were sewing a straight line, and I felt like a hero! Then she upped the pressure on the foot pedal. The increase in speed caught both of us off guard, and my finger joined the Zip-loc bag on its trip under the needle. My sister had just sewed right over MY FINGER!! She freaked out and ran away; I just stood there alone, paralyzed with shock.

As if I hadn’t been traumatized enough, a few moments later the light bulb in the floor lamp next to the sewing machine exploded with a huge crackling and zapping noise, covering me and everything around me with glass shards and plunging the room into darkness. And I happened  to be one of those kids who was pathologically scared of the dark…

So the fact that I am here in New York, making a career out of my love of sewing is something of a miracle, and certainly no thanks to my sister!

A picture of me and my two sisters from roughly the same time this story happened. The sister on the left, playing a cardboard violin she made, is the one this story is about. Im on the right, holding Glenda, one of my Cabbage Patch Kids.

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