Friday, August 13, 2010


I'm taking a sewing class at the technical college, where I made Stella a dress. I am an extremely slow sewer, and I'm coming to terms that my lifelong dream of working in a garment sweatshop is just not going to happen. I'd take all day to sew on a sleeve, and at a wage of $3.50 an hour, time is money.

In other words, I'm paying good money to learn a skill that is associated with extreme low pay and miserable working conditions. Maybe I should pick up other pastimes in this vein, like poultry processing or working as a clerk in a liquor store. I was going to suggest that perhaps this could be part of a new trend where rich people take unpleasant jobs as hobbies but then I remember that Paris Hilton already did something like that in a reality show. Dang it, every time I come up with a good idea, that woman's already done it.

There's no food or drink allowed in the sewing classroom, which is too bad because I think better with carbs. Whenever I get to a hard spot, I think boy! I could really go for a cookie. Then I recite my sewing mantra, which is Never Look Back. The teacher will come around, inspect my project and say, "Look, here where you sewed shut the armhole, you should have --" and I simply quote Macbeth at her and say, "Things without all remedy / Should be without regard: what's done, is done." (That was Shakespeare's way of saying "I forgot my seam ripper.") As a result, the front of the dress looks great, and the back looks like it was sewn by deranged trolls. Deranged nearsighted trolls. With arthritic fingers.

My favorite classmate is a very genial woman who spends the whole class wandering around, admiring everybody's fabric, and has yet to sew a stitch. At the most recent class, she asked the teacher how to lower the foot of the sewing machine. For those of you not versed in sewing, this is akin to taking a class on how to play chess, and on the second to last day asking which piece is the pawn.

I've finished the dress I was sewing for Stella. It's nice, but incredibly expensive. In fact, by my figures it cost $842: $13 for materials, $500 for labor, $300 for compensation for mental anguish caused by having to put in a zipper, and $29 for a no-cookie surcharge. It's all worth it, though, because Stella loves wearing her dress and tells everyone that her mama made it for her. I hope she responds as well when I give her the project from my poultry processing class.

1 comment:

  1. Tamarine - Check out Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. She sets out to make a "living wage" as a cleaner and a waitress.