Evidence that not all female teachers were good little girls when they were young

Along with nature-loving followers who stay loyal despite my occasional posts about dead rats, using cat skins to clothe babies, and hating green fields, I now seem to have a few whose blog names are things like 'I adore making pretty cushions decorated with flowers' or 'Stencilling patterns onto textiles is my idea of ecstasy'.

I thought it was time to 'fess up, just in case any of these lovely people were expecting me, at some point, to post any pictures of my latest ventures into fashion design or velvet curtains.  I so hate to disappoint.

This little story may illustrate the extent of my skills in using a needle and thread of any sort.

When I was fourteen, we had to learn how to sew at school.  I use the terms 'learn' and 'sew' very loosely here, as you will discover.

Rather than starting off slowly with a handkerchief or a teatowel, as I was advised, I decided, being a pig-headed adolescent, I would make myself a pair of trousers.  As this was the early 1980s and flares were still kind of 'in', I cajoled the teacher into letting me have a suitable pattern, which she handed over reluctantly, and off I went.  Even the sewing machine made a little 'eek' noise as I approached it.  The signs weren't good.

I was a stubborn little tyke, and every time the teacher asked me if I needed any help, I refused.  I probably used words like, 'Bog off, you bum-faced old dragon'.  Who could blame her for going off to help Maisie Smith with the freckles and pigtails, who was making a pleated tartan skirt?

A few weeks later, my trousers were finished.  The only thing is, instead of looking like this ....

... they looked more like these ....

I'd sewn the legs on the wrong way up.

The caption under the jodphur picture is very apt, asking 'Would you?' The answer is, 'Well, no, not unless someone paid me in gold bullion', and so I never wore my handmade trousers.

The teacher requested that I be transferred from sewing to cookery.  Yes, an extreme reaction, but that might have been to do with the fact that I was a little sod who disrupted her lessons big-time, and not just because I was to sewing what Kate Moss is to the cream bun industry.

I was better at cooking than I was at sewing.  But that wasn't hard.


  1. Yes, yes....I recognize you.....you could be me.
    In my first sewing class I managedto sew my finger. As I jumpedc up and down moaning, the teacher rushed over, looke at my finger and the machine AND said disgustedly, "Oh rats, Lois, you broke the needle.

  2. If only I had a dime for every seam I've ripped out because I sewed it wrong. I received a sewing machine from my parents when I turned 16. Every time I get it out, I have to read the directions to see how thread the bobbin. I can sew a straight line - if I don't get distracted before I get to the end. But that's about it.

  3. My mother and sister were great fans of sewing their own clothing. I was not. I would begin with great enthusiasm, and reliably, when I got to darts, or zippers, or hems, I put the project aside to wait for divine inspiration to spur me to finish the thing. I never . . . never . . . finished any sewing project.
    Not once.

  4. Ah, yes. Remember compulsory sewing well! I decided on a shift, a simple dress with a two piece pattern. But then, of course, I decided to make it in plaid corduroy, and THEN mistook the dotted lines smack down the middle of the front and back for places to cut instead of fold. (My teacher was more charitable, I guess, as she gave me a passing grade for managing (mostly) to match up the plaids.)

  5. We were separated at birth. My first project was a dreadful prairie-type skirt. We were supposed to wear it to school and then model it to be graded. I modeled mine by placing the brown paper bag that contained the various pieces of my skirt onto the teacher's desk. I got a D-.

  6. I used to sew, but then I made more money and learned how to shop. I'm much better dressed now.

    I did enjoy this post...took me backto my own experience learning to sew in junior high...we each made a gym bag and a pleated skirt.

  7. Hmm, I rather like the second pair.

    I still have a lethal looking brass letter-opener, made in metalwork class. And, it still makes me smile to think that Cookery and Needlework were taught under the heading of 'Domestic Sciences'.

  8. I'm relieved to say that my school took the view that if you could read then you could teach yourself to sew or cook. I've failed miserably at the sewing and the cooking, but I'm quite good at reading.

  9. Next time someone annoys me can I pay you to knit them a cardy?

  10. I remember making a triangular copper ashtray during metalwork. I proudly took it home, and it spent it's life on a window sill collecting paper clips, bits of string and all the other stuff that nobody knows what to do with. This was the high point of my metalwork career.......

  11. We "learnt" to sew ..... some of us . Noticeably a girl called Brigid who could even then whip up a crinoline tray cloth in an afternoon ( the mid-Sixties passed her by , poor love) and won a Special Prize in July .
    But when my mother asked whether we were going to learn to cook as well ( she'd never actually tasted our school dinners , let alone been a boarder!) Reverend Mother said loftily (in a French accent , to squash parental enquiry even more firmly) , "Our gels will never actually do their own cooking ".
    Nearly fifty years on and I'm still waiting for the promised Mrs. Bridges .....

  12. Anonymous31/3/11 12:51

    Oh yes, in P5 we had "sewing, knitting & cooking" - the knitting was OK (but boring) but I liked the embroidery (it was essential for everyone to have a fancy-stitched home-made customised lap-bag for all their embroidery needs) except I managed to embroider mine onto the knee of my school tunic which didn't go down too well. And I was terrified of gas cookers (being a country mouse who had never experienced anything gas-powered) so couldn't even manage the "scrambled egg breakfast on a tray for an invalid" which included eggs, toast, a doily and a posy of flowers. Oh how this worries me now, more than 40 years on. NOT.

  13. Believe it or not, sewing can actually be lots of fun! But nowadays, the needles have such teeny tiny nearly invisible holes, there's no way any normal person could thread them without a microscope and no, that has absolutely nothing to do with my old feeble eyes. Nothing at all. Whose idea was it to make those holes so small??

  14. I apologise for worrying you if I am one of your craftier blog readers. I don't only want to read blogs about projects, or life, or children, or gardening, or reading or writing.. I want to read silly stories written in funny prose too!

  15. Ha. lol.

    Keep them - they might come into fashion one day.

    Or, as one of those crafty types, (yes I can sew and embroider) bring them to me and I'll make them into a pair of oven gloves or cut them up for patchwork.


  16. Awwww, you know what .... we were separated at birth! I too got removed from my sewing classes, except that I got put in Woodwork! Totally Excellent!


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