Piecing It Together

I used to sew a lot. My grandmother was a great seamstress, so I suppose I come by it naturally. In my twenties, I really got into quilting. Some of them turned out pretty fabulous, too, including a King-Size Wedding-Ring quilt I made for a college roomie.

Eventually I had to quit. I quilted more than I wrote, so I finally gave it up. Following a dream requires sacrifices and that was one of mine.

When we moved, I even gave away my sewing machine, along with bags and boxes and piles of fabric. It really kind of broke my heart to see it go. But it was one of those table sewing machines and I absolutely knew there would be no place for it in the new house. Plus I wasn’t sewing. I let it go with a pang, and a promise that if I did want to start sewing again, I’d get a snazzy portable machine.

I really hadn’t given sewing much thought lately, largely because my attention has been on novel-writing, as it should be. But I used the old family Christmas-tree skirt this year, the one my mom forced me to take when we cleaned out her house. That’s the skirt in the top picture. It used to be a white felt skirt, that my mom had everyone in the family sign. Then she embroidered the names in red yarn. We did that when I was about six or seven. Over the years, the white got dingy and stained from various pets and accidents. My mom asked me to cut it up, saving the embroidered names and make a new skirt that matched her living room. Which was *not* red and white.

So I pieced a skirt of mauve silk and burgundy velvet and appliqued the names with a bit of lace edging. I totally don’t remember doing this, just that I did. So this Christmas I used it, as I hadn’t thought I would. It took a bit of cleaning up and so I noticed what a good job I did on it. The seams are strong. It lays nicely, holding up well these twenty years later. I used beads from one of my grandmother’s necklaces as buttons, with satin loops to hook them. Most of the people who signed it are dead now, so I’m glad we saved it.

It’s funny to me to think that I probably could not do as good of a job on it today.

But I’m taking this class, with Alexandra Sokoloff, in an effort to learn her screenwriting tricks to better structure my novel. I needed to make a storyboard and, rather than run to the office supply store, I pulled out my grandmother’s cutting and measuring board.

It’s one of the few pieces of sewing equipment I kept, not only for sentiment, but because it’s a really useful tool that is nearly impossible to find these days.
And now I’m laying out The Body Gift events on it. I’ve only just completed Act I and already I see things I couldn’t before. Blue is the heroine’s POV (point of view, for the uninitiated) and yellow is the hero’s.

Yeah – I’m thinking I’m going to lose his POV altogether. A shocking move that may be exactly what the book needs. Then I’ll applique and embroider in what’s missing.

My grandmother loved to read, too.

7 Replies to “Piecing It Together”

  1. I'm with Marcella on that. Can't wait to hear what other "gems" you learn from Alexandra's class!

    (Yes, I do have sewing envy, since the best I can manage is to sew a button on a shirt…while also stitching it to my pants. ~le sigh~)

  2. I so can't sew and I admire those who do. *sigh*

    Like Marcella and KAK, I can't wait to see what else you'll share with us!

  3. KAK suggested this radical change, Marcella, so you'll have to beat her up for me if it's a disaster, okay?

    Alexandra rocks, KAK & Danica – I love her approach.

    I meant to say, too, that I think if I ever get to be a full-time writer, I'll start sewing again.

  4. I know how to sew, but I hate it with a bitter passion. Maybe because I'm the sort of airhead who sews things together upside down and then I have to rip it out and start over.

    Anyway – I envy that awesome cutting & measuring board.

    You are courageous in the changes you are making to The Body Gift – it is already wonderful. It is going to be brilliant.

  5. I used to sew a lot, too. Quilts, slipcovers, curtains…almost anything except clothes, which bored me silly. I too gave it up when I started devoting more time to my writing.

    But I do still have a cutting & measuring board down in the basement somewhere — I just hadn't thought of using it in such a clever way. Thanks for the idea!

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