Last week I bought some curtain material from Laura Ashley, thanks to a great sale discount. It’s been a long time since I did any sewing. My steadfast sewing machine since my days in California still works a dream thanks to a voltage converter.
Talk of sewing never fails to remind me of a certain teacher in middle school. I don’t know about you, but I did not like middle school one bit. Granted, this would have been the mid 70s when ‘Group Projects’ ruled the day. And Needlework.
Getting a group of twelve and thirteen year olds to cooperate while the teacher, a middle aged man in shiny trousers and long, black sideburns (it was the 70s, remember) trying to keep order was not pretty.
Needlework was in a class of its own (sorry…cliches, puns, going with it today…) Teacher, a matronly woman with short hair and a never a smile to cross her face, gave instructions on how to buy a pattern and material for our selected items. In my case, a pair of navy, flared trousers.
Teacher measured me and told me the size I needed. Except her measurements were way out. ‘But…they’re too big…’ I protested, albeit meekly, afraid of making her cross. Which I did anyway.
‘Nonsense’, she snapped.
My mother, who did a lot of sewing in those days, said the same thing when I showed her the measurements. Utter nonsense.
Better do as Teacher said, we agreed. The last thing I wanted was to be singled out in front of the whole class…
Alas, it was as I feared; as I pinned the pattern pieces to the material and cut them out, they looked huge. ‘I’ll look like an elephant,’ I moaned to my mother back home.
Teacher then told us to take the pieces home for the weekend and tack them together with temporary, hand stitching. But my mother had another plan. ‘Don’t mess about with tacking,’ she said, ‘here’s a short cut.’ Great, I thought, a head start, as she showed me how to stitch the items together on her sewing machine.
If I had wanted to prevent being singled out, I went the wrong way about it. Teacher, furious, made me sit through the whole class and into lunchbreak if necessary, unpicking by hand every single stitch. Then tack them together, by hand, as she had first instructed.
And yes, I ended up with what forever would became known in my family with great hilarity as those ‘Elephant Trousers.’ Needless to say, I never wore them. Strangely, it didn’t put me off sewing, thanks to my mother’s short cuts…
Lessons learned? Some of value (group projects and needlework aside…) but I couldn’t wait for the last day before the summer holidays, ‘School’s Out For Summer,’ blasting from the radio.
But of course, life long learning is a very different animal to sitting behind a desk bored and fed up and avoiding Teacher’s dirty looks. If only I had had more teachers like someone I’ve known since my early blogging days, life long educator, writer and wonderful friend, dear Norah Colvin.
Best described on her About page as an …’experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create..’, Norah also links to fantastic resources for school age children both in school and at home from her wonderful website, readilearn. She also writes flash fiction at Carrot Ranch and is a great friend to many throughout the blogosphere.
So I was thrilled when she recently invited me to share my thoughts as a guest for her ‘School Days, Reminiscences‘ series. Thank you so much, Norah! Teachers like you (and I take my hat off to you all) make the world a better place. I’m truly honoured to sit in your classroom today.
School’s out for some, the sewing can wait, but today I’m in Australia taking lessons from the best. I do hope you’ll join me!