Arts and crafts are not my thing. I have a great talent in the kitchen. I can wield a knife to chop, dice, julienne or even slice fresh bread. I get asked to cut cakes at weddings to serve the guests. I can take apart a roasted chicken practically with my eyes shut. Put a scissors in my hand and I’m hopeless.
I have a degree in theater arts with a focus in stage management. Pretty much that means you need to learn how to do everything. I took classes on costume design. I learned how to make a pattern. I turned in a project for costume design for a play including fabric swatches and design sketches. I was supposed to spend a certain number of hours working in the costume shop.
College theaters are staffed by professors and upper level students. Most of the labor is provided by volunteers and to ensure an adequate number of volunteers most theater classes require signing up to put in hours. These shops get students with all range of talent and experience. They generally require that you prove dependability and competence before you are given anything too complicated to work on. They also supervise closely the new volunteers.
The problem was that I had avoided the costume shop for most of the time I was working on the degree. It may have been the first time I was required to put hours specifically in costumes but most of the staff knew me from working on other things. Maybe I didn’t get quite the attention I should have? I was given an easy task. It was sewing a simple seam on the sewing machine. The machines were already threaded and ready to go. The fabric was pinned. This is pretty basic stuff for the costume department.
20 minutes later, having jammed up three sewing machines in a row I was kicked out of the costume shop and told I could do my costuming hours down in the props department. Seriously. I did end up putting in a few hours with costuming helping with hand sewing here and there over the course of the next year, but not that quarter. I really was that bad.
I know a lot of people who sew. I enjoy spending time with people working on projects. I find myself invited to tag along when a “major sewing event” occurs. Events like ‘let’s make everyone a swimsuit for the season’. Sometimes there is a great new pattern that everyone wants, like (shudder) Zumba pants. SHAZAM! An excuse for a mad sewing extravaganza. I have literally had the scissors taken out of my hand and been asked to find something in the kitchen to do to keep myself busy!
The really tricky part is that when there is a sewing event and I’m on the list of people who need the garment (in this case ritual robes) I don’t fit the pattern. I’m too large, too tall, too long in the waist and arms, too broad in the shoulders to fit a standard women’s pattern. Things need to be adjusted. I need to get invited, even though everyone knows I’m really not much help.
This weekend I got to spend some time (not) sewing. It’s good to spend time with friends. It was great helping out in the kitchen. I got prodded and pinned and fussed over as the pattern was dramatically adjusted to fit. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my sewing friends. How lucky am I to have people in my life who are willing to work so hard just to be sure I’m included.
Thank you Rachael, Michelle, Vonnie, and Judy – the actually workhorses behind this extravaganza. Thanks also to the men in the group who also don’t sew but who don’t feel nearly as guilty about letting the women do it for them. (Sexism and male privilege at it’s best.) At least I wasn’t alone.