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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | Dec 4, 2015

Anyone who has spent time in front of a sewing machine probably has a stash of sweetened coping foods or mind-numbing beverages hidden nearby.

Don’t lie to me now – I’ve sewed, therefore, I know. Speaking from experience, I would be two sizes smaller if I didn’t have to mend blue jeans and insulated coveralls, or have the great misfortune of knowing the purpose of a seam ripper.

It’s a love-hate relationship we have with those things.

It’s likely that sewing could read as the cause of my demise in my obituary someday. I’ll have gone into a stress-induced diabetic coma while sitting at the sewing machine, with a pair of insulated coveralls wadded up underneath the broken needle, my arms still in the “shove it under there” position and only patches of hair left on my head.

The image would be iconic and show up in ag museums all over the country, as possibly the last known woman to face a pair of insulated coveralls bare-handed – a David and Goliath project. But sometimes the coveralls win.

Amazingly, I’ve just discovered that my approach to sewing has been all wrong. I recently came across a snippet from a Singer sewing manual from 1949.

What a relief to find out there are things I can do to help myself make that time more enjoyable.

It began by saying, “Prepare yourself mentally for sewing. Think about what you are going to do. Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are difficult when indifferences predominate.”

I wonder if that person ever just finished mending a pile of blue jeans for three guys who work outside every day with livestock, and had someone traipse into the house with a pair of insulated coveralls with a zipper that no longer works. How am I not supposed to scream and start swinging from the light fixtures at that moment?

If I thought about what I was going to do I would break out like an Alcatraz inmate.

The next part said, “Never try to sew with a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing.”

Oh how I wish that those things being done would free my mind of all that weighs on it. My mind would be more free if the markets would allow me to torch these ragged jeans and replace them with new. More buying power trumps clean dishes and tidy beds.

This was followed with, “When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress. Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals. Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on. If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home, and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing.”

After reading that I was almost expecting to see Wally, the Beave, Lumpy and Eddy Haskell come into our house looking for after-school cookies and milk. If my husband ever came in while I was sewing and found me at my best, his heart would stop faster than Bruce Jenner’s fan mail.

With that in mind, the coping snacks and beverages are a much safer alternative than trying to be at my best with an immaculate house when I sit down to sew. That hardly happens even when I’m not sewing.

Thank God I know the right way to approach sewing now, but a farm woman can’t take any chances.

She better have that coping ace up her sleeve – even if that sleeve is mended.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net and at www.karenschwaller.com.

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