Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sewing, Imagined and Actual, in Portland

The first day in Portland, Oregon, I was pining for my sewing machines and sewing room. Catching sight of this front window in the neighborhood of Sellwood cheered me immeasurably. I saw the seamstress, too, but I lacked the courage to photograph her, sewing paparazzi style. A lovely lady with upswept white hair. Quite the match for her pretty sewing space.

In the midst of all the dreaming came an actual sewing task, albeit not one I consider my strength: altering! My sister-in-law had purchased two dresses, both of which had been altered and neither of which turned out quite right. I had on hand two needles, three bobbins of thread (black, cream and olive green) and a pair of nail clippers. Not enough to take in the bodice and shorten the balloon hem of a white satin cocktail dress. Off we went to JoAnn's (most interesting, as we have no JoAnn's in this area). I bought a tiny $50 crafter's machine, knowing it might not actually sew, but thinking that it also might be able to handle the few small areas I needed to unpick and restitch. There was a little set of accessories included in the box, so I didn't purchase a seam ripper or pins. I did spring for a spool of Gutermann thread.

When I returned the (utterly useless, unsuitable even for sewing the thinnest of fabrics, utter garbage) Singer PixiePlus, the woman who helped me said, "I don't know why anyone would ever buy this machine." Well, gee, sorry to purchase a product JoAnn's sees fit to stock. I told her that the handwheel fell off after the first seam. She replied, "What's the handwheel?"

Well, anyway, I did the sewing by hand. I deeply missed my beautiful sewing machines at home (not to mention a usable seam ripper and pins), but it seemed that the fixes were somewhat successful. The dress stayed on the bride, and the hem fell at her knee as desired.

I don't travel much, but if I did, I'd be in the market for a tiny machine to pack in my suitcase. In fact, I'm tempted to consider a little Elna Lotus. If I get one, I might never go away overnight without it.

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