Sewing History, Part III: The First Time I Ever Got Busted…

Me, looking very intense – and matchy-matchy, at age seven. It could be a mug-shot, right?

As with any criminal, addict, or person engaging in some kind of unscrupulous behavior, I got sloppier and sloppier about covering my tracks. (My tracks, of course, being that I was seven years old and using my mom’s sewing machine to make Barbie clothes without her knowing.) The more “high-risk” sewing I participated in, and the more excited I got that my little Barbie clothes were turning out to actually look like real Barbie clothes, the lazier I got about keeping the whole thing a secret. At some point, every addict wants to get caught; the possibility of being found out, of tempting fate and authority, only adds to the rush…

So I took my little Barbie clothes and my Barbies out of the sewing room — which was out of the way at the end of the downstairs hall where my mom never went — and started playing with them… In my bedroom, in the family room, on the staircase; all places where my mom, were she to pay me more than a passing glance as she went about her day, would find me out and get me in big trouble!

Or so I thought.

Eventually she did pass by me and did a double take, “Where did your Barbie get those clothes?!” At this point my mom probably was thinking that I was a criminal, that I must have stolen them from somewhere because she knew she didn’t buy them and how else would I have acquired them? — but I was too excited to worry about what she might really be thinking. The moment I’d been anxiously anticipating had finally arrived!

“I made them myself.”

“No you didn’t. You didn’t make those.”

“Yes I did. Don’t you recognize my old pink corduroy pants?”

Flummoxed, she took a closer look and the expression on her face went from confusion and shock to amusement and even pride as she recognized my old pants, repurposed and scaled down to fit a Barbie.

“And see this one, Mom, this is your old shirt!” I said as I pointed to my favorite outfit on my favorite Barbie, which had this very Yves Saint Laurent Safari Collection thing going on. It consisted of a pair of khaki colored trousers, an off-white t-shirt, and this little shawl that I had made from a scrap of open weave grass-cloth that came from I don’t know where, but it sure added a nice textural accent to the ensemble.

“But you don’t know how to sew…” she started to say.

“I taught myself!” I replied, before she could even finish, “I couldn’t wait until you thought I was old enough for you to teach me, so I went and figured it out all by myself.” I was brimming with pride, and by the time she had processed what I had just said, she was too.

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