LL Bean vs. JL Rave

I opened up your sewing box yesterday knowing you would drift out of the top.  I was tired and, frankly, slightly hung over.  We had company the night before which was lovely, but I never should have opened the bottle of red wine.  Nonetheless, I had purchased LL Bean pajamas for My John and they needed some alterations.  I would have sent them back for a smaller size but they were sold out.  I knew you would be there for me in one way or another.


I felt your presence immediately and tears ran down my face.  I felt anger bubble up.  I saw red..the red of the red wine that I shouldn’t have had last night, the red of the LL Bean pajamas, the red of the matching thread that I both threaded through the sewing machine and the bobbin, the red of the blood at the tip of my finger after I gouged myself  with the damn needle.  I had some other dynamics going on that was causing additional festering, plus I felt like crap.  I dislike being angry, feeling hateful, feeling bitter, feeling like crap.  It goes against my usual nature and it leaves me feeling ugly.  As I reached for the Kleenex, I thought of you and my current ugliness.  I miss you.  I’m angry for many things, but as I feel you surround me and my sewing machine, I’m angry you aren’t here.  That you aren’t 68, healthy, and just Y O U.  I sit down in my family room chair and begin to rip out the waist line of the pajama bottoms. Tears continue to blur the teadious job.

A thought came to me as I found my own rhythm and as the anger slowly replaced with determination.  You telling me of your own sewing with your own mother.  Although I doubt you were ever as inept of a seamstress as I feel, you felt the same with your own mother.  You would come into the sewing room where the quilt was held in place with a large wooden rack, upset with your own mother for some reason.  Gigi would be sitting there doing her quilt and you would huff in and sit down.  You would pick up your own needle and thread and stab the fabric like nothing less than a voodoo doll.  As the minutes passed by, your own frustration would fade away into the same space as my own today, making neat and even stitches into a quilt that would be passed down through our family.   We are a generation of women.


You and I both know that I suck at alterations.  I’m always looking for a short cut.  I need to take the elastic in by about two inches.  I let out the seams about 3 inches on each side.  Truth be told, if you think my alterations suck, you should see the stitching that LL Bean charges approximately $70 for.  I rejoin the elastic pieces and begin to repin the extra fabric to the shortened elastic.  Needless to say, it was terrible.  I know you thought it was because I felt you over my shoulder, clucking slightly.  I was impressed.  You knew I wasn’t feeling myself, so you went light.  I re-ripped out my work and continued to disassemble at least half the waist line and tabled it for the next day.  This was not a good sign.  I tend to take “mending” jobs and put them in the round file (as in I’ll Get aRound to it).  John reads my mood and brings me hot tea and rubs my neck.

I’m a different person now than I was. I put it on my to-do list for the next day and was intent on making it happen.  I closed up your sewing box for the evening, placed my head on My John’s lap and cried myself to sleep.

Today was a new day.  I woke up feeling more like myself.  I got Aaron up and to school with a lunch packed.  I walked the dogs for a long time.  The fresh air did me good.  I got home, showered, worked on my employment opportunities, ran some errands, picked up your youngest grandson from school.


I sat back down to the sewing machine and reopened your sewing box.  I felt you, but in a different sense–Maybe because I was not so down trodden.  I pressed the opened waistline of the pajama bottoms and re-pinned the elastic.  I completed the waistline.  It is not “mama quality” but it is done.  I used matching thread, I lengthened the stitching in case I needed to undo it again.  It fits John and it is not uncomfortable (he’s  a bit on the spectrum and cuts the buttons off of his back pockets and the tags off the pants and his shirts…but I think you already knew that.  You knew so much more than i gave you credit for.).  I then moved on to hemming the bottoms of his pajama bottoms and the cuffs of his pajama top.  I swear mama, by the time I was done I could have sewn him his own pair of pajamas and they would have come out about the same, but I’m sure you knew that, too.  I did a quality job on the sleeves and hem.  Its clean and neat.


Here’s where I faltered.  I moved on to Aaron’s now crotchless sweatpants.  They have been sitting at the end of my bed in my “I’ll get aRound to it pile” for two months.  As long as I had your sewing box out, and the needle and thread and the sewing machine, I pulled out his sweatpants.  I hand stitched it until the almost matching blue thread ran out, then I put it under the sewing machine with the matching red thread from the flannel LL Bean pajamas and I went over my work and then went the other direction because the hole crossed both seams.  When I was done, I snipped the extra threads like you taught me–do the finish work (like I did on the LL Bean pajamas) and flipped the pants right-side out and low and behold, we have fully crotch-sealed sweatpants.


Mama, I’m sorry I didn’t change the thread color; but, here’s the deal.  If anyone is looking that close at my son’s crotch in his sweatpants, I hope they get a total turn off in seeing glimpses of the flannel red thread that just might hit some sort of sunlight and it sends the girls running to the hills knowing that his mother really is less than a perfect seamstress.

Loved you last, Mama.  <3, Mija.

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