I haven’t sewn an article of clothing in 20 years, but I was recently inspired to make my daughter Shannon a robe for her birthday.I carefully chose the pattern and the shell-pink fabric, thinking of the fun I’d have creating omething beautiful for my beautiful daughter. I imagined presenting it to her – laying the warm, soft robe in her arms and eeing the look of delight on her face.
I decided to whip up the luscious pink robe on a Sunday evening. I’d given myself a head start by cutting out the fabric and studying the instructions the day before. Things hummed right along for the first half-hour until I realized
I’d sewn the belt loops to the inside, instead of the outside, of the robe.Rats! I took a little breather before continuing on with attaching the collar to the neck.I hate to admit this, but I just didn’t get it. I couldn’t match up those notchie things. There was too much collar and not enough neck.
I studied the instructions again.
After sewing and ripping out the seams three times, (yes, really) and breaking two needles, I realized the stitches were set too long for the tension.Or was the tension too tight for the stitches?Whatever. I was ready to stab myself with the seam ripper and be done with it, but I had spent $13.99 per yard for the fabric. Besides, I was looking forward to the look of delight on Shannon’s face.
I was determined. I fiddled with the thread tension and stitch length.I even took the machine apart and cleaned it after I ate two brownies, left a nasty message on the pattern maker’s Web site, threw the pin cushion across the room and called my sweetie, Michael, to vent. Even though my upper back and shoulders were spasming with tension, I couldn’t go to bed until I figured this out.
By midnight, I had fixed the machine’s issues, but gave up on attaching the collar, telling myself I would call my daughter Katie the following morning.She’s very crafty and would know what to do.
Monday evening I showed up on her doorstep with the half-made birthday present.Katie studied it for quite awhile; then it dawned on both of us at the same time how to proceed.While she attached the collar to the robe, I asked her why the light cover kept popping open on her machine. She reluctantly explained that one dark and stormy night she had been so frustrated with the slip cover she was sewing that she had punched the machine and broken the door.Ouch.Welcome to the sewing sisterhood. After commiserating together, we settled in to bond over an episode of “The Bachelor.”
The next evening I had a massage, then went home to complete my project.I piled classical music into my CD player and became one with my sewing machine. I was calm, stress-free, in the moment. I had Katie as my back-up girl. I had an understanding boyfriend.I had brownies. I had my sewing mojo back, and in due time, I had a finished robe hanging on a padded hanger. I couldn’t stop admiring my creation.
On the big day, as the delighted birthday girl wrapped herself in the warm pink robe, all was even better than I’d envisioned. It felt so good to make something for someone I love so much. When she commented about how much time and effort must have gone into it, I threw her sister Katie a little wink and said, “It was easy!”Then I shared the real story.
Karen Schneider is a freelance writer who lives in Bath. You may e-mail her at iwrite@suscom-maine.net.

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