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An Easter Bonnet?

Jeanine called on Wednesday before Easter to remind me of the meeting on Thursday. “Don’t forget the contest. The hat contest. Easter bonnet.”

My creative side is limited. Quite limited, especially as regards crafts, sewing things, and such as that. I do write frequently, and am a rather serious amateur photographer. That’s about it as far as creativity is concerned, so when I had heard previously about the hat issue, I paid it little mind.

When I hung up the phone after talking to Jeanine, my vision was caught by a wide, filmy band of ribbon that was fluttered across the back of our living room couch. I had moved the ribbon there from another place with the thought of either disposing of it, or of taking it upstairs and tucking it away with gift-wrapping items that are in a cupboard in our game-room. I cannot say what possessed me at that moment to recall a wide-brimmed straw hat that resided on a high shelf in my bedroom closet–but something did, and with a certain gleam in my eye (I suspect, although I certainly couldn’t see such a gleam) I grabbed up a plastic climbing stool, placed in before my opened closet, reached high and grasped the said straw hat.

I created. A mad-hatter now, I wrapped the ribboned gleam of color about the crown of the headpiece, and with my off-white cord threaded through a wide-eyed needle, I attempted to adjoin the two pieces. The effort was less than stellar as the spaces between the straw formation of the hat were so large that the majority of my stitches snagged nothing but air. Pins. Safety pins. I pulled several of them from the plastic container I found in my seldom-used sewing kit, and voila! Success!

An hour or so before we left for the meeting, as I donned my hat for one last perfection check (by and large to assure that no safety pins were visible), I inquired of my hubby. “Want me to make you a hat, Jerry?”

He eyed me. “I don’t think so, Shirley.”

I think I glimpsed a smirk across his otherwise sweet face.

Out of the fifty persons or so who attended the meeting, when they called for the Easter Bonnet contestants to go forward, the elect group consisted of eight people, I believe. I joined that bevy of the brave and talented who walked to the front and straggled into a semi-circle of hatted people. Three prizes were awarded. First name called–not mine. Second name called–not mine. Third name called: Shirley! The emcee handed me an envelope on which was written: Most Creative. Inside was a ten-dollar bill.

So there you go. My first attempt as a milliner, and I won cash money. What say you? Should I proceed with this occupation? Have I, in the millinery field, at these late years become a sort of Grandma Moses?

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The Revealing of Sewing Expeditions

DSC_0035, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

I am quite positive that at my funeral, no one will step to the podium and began extolling my sewing skills. The preacher who conducts my service will never think to choose as his text the story in the 9th chapter of Acts, which tells of Dorcas, the seamstress, who lay dead. Verse 39 speaks of women who stood about weeping as they showed the coats and garments which Dorcas had sewed. This will never happen at my funeral, I guarantee it! Don’t come expecting it.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not being overly modest, but I must admit that really, I am famous for my needle and thread skills. Famous among my family and close friends, that is. Well, perhaps famous is the wrong word–more like infamous.

I can’t sew worth a flip, and since I have gathered my courage and am addressing the issue today, I might as well confess all. I have been known to use “scotch” tape to tuck up a flagging skirt hem. (Actually, it works rather well, and were I smart enough, I would change the name of the tape to something exotic and market the stuff as a cutting-edge sewing method.) Be careful, though, if you use my hemming method, for it is not quite permanent. The tape might lose its stickiness, allowing the hem to flap down, and now of course, there is tape on the edge of your skirt. Not a pretty site, then, as you walk down the aisle and onto the platform to address a group of women or to sing at Tuesday night Bible study.

Jeanne Joiner was a member of the first church we pastored, the one in Garden Grove, and she was an exceptional seamstress. For a very long period of time, as a contribution to the church, she had sewed the clothes of the pastor’s wife. For many years, she made every piece of clothing I owned, including suits, dresses and light-weight coats. She was fabulous, and spoiled me terribly. When it would be time for a big conference, she would approach me: “What are we going to make for you to wear?” She was incredible, and sometimes lent furs and things like that to dress me up. (Sometimes I would leave them in the hotel room, for they didn’t quite suit me! I would have felt pretentious in some, although others, I did wear.)

Once, as I was to leave for a conference, I took an unfinished garment with me, and told her I would hem it up. When we returned from the conference, and I wore the dress, she picked up the edge, looked at it, and said, “Please don’t tell anyone I made this dress.” Understand now, that I hadn’t used my “secret tape method,” but had utilized an ordinary needle and thread.

There is magic between a needle and thread and me. Without fail, I kid you not, when I begin a sewing expedition, the thread–no matter the weight or the color or the style of the garment–that thread begins to twist and move around until it is as curly as Jerry’s hair. I used to hem Jerry’s trousers, and those of my little boys, and although I would measure carefully, one leg would always turn out to be slightly shorter than the other. Same with the sleeves on my clothes, which always have to be shortened; without fail, the two are never exactly the same length.

As I prepared to dress this morning, I decided that the sleeves on this shirt were too long, but I wanted to wear the shirt, the weight is comfortable, the color is right, so I took out my sewing kit–which today consisted of one pair of blue-handled scissors–and whacked off the excess length. No hemming involved–not even scotch tape. Came out rather well, and thus far, there are no ravels dangling down my arms.