“I used to sew”

As a full-time seamstress I hear these words all the time. And normally what follows is “and I could do this alteration myself BUT I am so busy I will let you do it.” Following that comes a description of some potholder or table runner they have made in the last 30 years or how they sewed sundresses for their daughter as a baby who is now the bride.

What this translates to me is “I am doing you a big favor by letting you work on my mother-of-the-bride/groom dress because I am much too important to make time.” What she really means is: “I don’t have a clue how to alter this dress from David’s Bridal or how to hem 200 inches of polyester chiffon and I need help.”

I try to think what it would be like for me to go into my hairdresser and spend time telling her with her 30 years of experience that I COULD color and cut my hair at home but as they say in England, it would l0ok like a dog’s dinner. She would not like to hear me say that as it devalues her service and knowledge and skill. But why should women have to pretend to be competent seamstresses while having their gown fitted and hemmed pinned up?

Every so often after listening to all this grand explanation about their sewing skills since junior high school, I turn the dress inside out and show them where I am say taking the invisible zipper out and moving it left or right to accommodate their girth or pre-wedding weight loss and they have the chutzpah/balls to tell me “Oh yes, I would have done the same thing.”

Some days you just want to say….well honey, let’s hang that dress back on the hanger and you can take it home and do it and save yourself some money.

Next time you have to have something altered and the poor seamstress in on her knees pinning your hems  please don’t rabbit on about your skills at the sewing machine or how much your love to quilt little squares together. Just smile and think about how good you are going to look at the event and write a check  with a tip in it for the sweat she is putting into your outfit.


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