Wednesday, August 1, 2012
What Not to Do
Beginners always start with the complicated. They decide to learn to bake and decide their first project should be a buche de Noel, or a croquembouche, instead of some nice, simple brownies. When they start to sew, they want to make wedding dresses, prom dresses and jeans, instead of pillowcases and aprons. It was always thus. When I was in high school sewing, they made us make ditty bags for PE or some such nonsense, and I couldn’t be bothered. For one thing, everyone I knew did not haul their PE Clothes home in some dumb bag – we crammed them into our backpacks bags on pain of death (you will wash these weekly or get an F in PE.) and always forgot to tell our mothers to wash them until late Sunday night, hauling back damp clothes (if we remembered them at all) on Monday. (I can still hear my mother yelling that “you knew you had to wash these two days ago, why wait until the last minute?”) Anyone who knows how to sew knows that making simple stuff is hard enough. When I get tired of making shirts or blouses ( so many details! So much finishing! Buttonholes!) I make a tee shirt. Tee shirts are easy but I’d never tell a beginner to start there. There is just too much to explain and grasp before we even get to tee shirts. No. Instead, I’d say in a cheerful voice, “How about a nice PILLOW?” The new sewist is full of scorn at this suggestion. They want to make a skirt! They see a burgundy velvet pencil skirt with black piping. An invisible zipper. Lining. Or they need a party dress for this Saturday. Nothing good can come of this idea, but there you go. I freely confess to making party dresses and hemming wedding dresses not only at the last minute, but doing the finishing touches while Mr. Hunting Creek turned the key in the ignition, I am not the best person to ask to teach a beginner how to sew and/or cook. It’s clear that I live for danger. I am the Flying Wallenda of domestic arts. I could teach you what NOT to do. That would be a good place to start. We’ll start with what not to do: Do not make a wedding cake for a friend in the summer in Virginia. It’s HOT. It is against the laws of Physics to set your air conditioning to absolute zero so that the frosting doesn’t melt. Do not get roped into volunteering to host the cheerleader Christmas Dinner. (It started to snow. It was originally going o be a Progressive dinner, with entrée at one house, dessert at another, but the coach decided that was too dangerous, with it starting to snow and all, so she said could I have all of the teams at my house? And all of the courses? Oh sure, I said, weakly, not envisioning the utter overwhelming Extreme Perkiness of 60 plus cheerleaders in one place. Now you know – Do Not Try This at Home. Don’t volunteer to make your daughter’s duck costume for the third grade school play. Because what will happen is, the teacher will see it and then ask you to make ALL of the ducks, because the other mothers are Lazy Slackers…I mean, Busy Career Women who do not know how to sew, in self defense probably, now that I remember all of those duck costumes) Don’t make a recipe you’ve never made before for people you don’t know. It might be a huge success, it might be a disaster. I’m betting on disaster. I of course do this all of the time, but remember, I Live For Danger. I’m the James Bond of Domestic Arts. And finally, don’t give the secret recipe for your baked bean casserole to anyone, unless they swear to never reveal that it consists of Mrs. Bush’s beans and a pound of Bacon. Just sayin.