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This sewing class dropout just wants cake

Burt's Eye View

Burton Cole

I am a sewing class dropout.

I fought the sewing machine and the sewing machine won. Snapped thread, torqued pins and cloth snarled in balls of stitches lay in my wake. I eked out one kitchen boa and one cinch bag, both inflicted with some of the most meandering drunken seams ever known to domestic suturing.

In short, cross “tailor” off my list of possible second career choices.

When I was in junior high, schools automatically enrolled boys in shop class and girls in home economics. Boys built things and girls baked stuff.

Political correctness had not yet been invented. Science has since proved that “Y” chromosome doesn’t contain the plans for rebuilding manifolds and drive shafts.

I can’t remember the proper names of all the insidious devices filling the shop at the far end of the school building where they couldn’t hear you scream. There was the Poundy Thing That Blackens Fingernails, the Pointy Thing That Punches Holes in Your Hands, the Flat Bladed Thing That Filets Your Chest When You Go the Wrong Way, and the Whirring Toothy Thing That Slices Fingers Clean Off.

It was exciting.

Then there was Tom, who finagled his way into home ec. He was a farm kid who could teach the teacher all about machinery. So he took cooking and stitching classes instead.

We razzed Tom for being a wimpy, sissy traitor to guy stuff. Tom didn’t care. “For an hour each day, I’m the only guy surrounded by 30 gorgeous girls. And we all bake cakes.”

Tom was a genius.

Almost 50 years later, when someone at church posted a notice about a sewing class, I wasn’t about to wuss out again. I signed up.

I was installed in front of a sewing machine more complex and frustrating than the Whirring Toothy Thing That Slices Fingers Clean Off. The Toothy Thing had an on / off switch. The sewing machine had to be threaded.

Threading involves plunking a spool of thread on a post and running the line through a maze of ups, downs, ins and outs (just for fun, the last one or two weaves aren’t marked, so you have to guess) until you finally sneak up on a needle that supposedly has a hole in it to string the thread. It had to be a prank.

But you’re not done yet. The thread has to loop around another line that comes up from the netherworld where it’s curled in a metal cage — excuse me, bobbin.

After that, things get complicated. There are pressers, regulators, feeders, guides, levers, pedals, wheels, winders and even hidden compartments. And there’s a sharp stabby thing going “ka-chuckita, ka-chuckita” at a million miles per hour — for the seven seconds it takes me to tangle the fabric again.

Girls played a more dangerous game with mechanical whatzits and widgets in home ec than I ever did in shop.

My inclination was to chuck the sewing machine out the window, but classes were held in a basement. So I chucked myself out the door and went home to my wife who bakes.

If she needs something fixed, I’m calling Tom the farm kid. He’ll be able to mend my seams right after he rebuilds my engine.

— Stitch a few hems and ha has with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.

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