When I joined Tang Soo Do, I was issued a uniform, and because I am obese (as the squeaky voice on the Wii Fit likes to announce to the world every time I use it) and Tang Soo Do uniforms aren’t sized for chicks shaped like fireplugs, I needed to significantly hem that uniform.
Being a white belt of unsurpassing optimism, I promptly bought a sewing machine.
Now, here’s the thing. I’ve sewn before – enough when I was in my teens to decently hem a pair of pants or fix a cuff or patch a knee or any of the other things someone at 5’2″ tall and klutzy would likely need to do. I know how to use the iron to press the seams, turn a corner by keeping the needle in the fabric, and sew in a straight line.
Or, at least, I did.
The hemming of my white belt uniform could definitely have gone smoother, but I figured hey, I’m a beginner, and I’ll re-learn how to sew while I learn all this awesome martial arts stuff.
As a green belt, I’ve gained just a touch of wisdom. Or rather, I have gained the ability to recognize that I need the ability to recognize a mistake when I’ve made it. The mistake I made tonight was listening to my inner white belt. She said that I’d improve on my sewing by sewing with every uniform upgrade. She said that by the time I’m a black belt, hemming my own uniforms would be a practiced skill.
See, it turns out that hemming uniforms once every year and a half doesn’t make you a seamstress any more than doing a side kick every three months makes you a martial artist.
I started hemming two green-trimmed uniforms at 9:00 tonight, and I just finished 10 minutes ago. 4 hours to hem two pair of pants (badly) and sew on a total of six patches. I didn’t even bother hemming the sleeves after botching the pants and pulling out more seams than I swore I sewed in. My sewing machine is full of demons. Every 15 minutes or so the thread would break or the sewing on the underneath with the bobbin string would just go haywire and I’d end up pulling out stitches. It took me 10 minutes to figure out how to put the bobbin back into the machine after it emptied and I had to refill it — I was holding it backwards. You’d think the phrase was “cursed like a seamstress” not “cursed like a sailor” the way I went about the task.
God bless all those who really can sew, and more importantly, enjoy it. I do not think I will become one of those people in the next two years, or twenty. If I’m going to get eye strain staring at tiny strings, I’d rather do so tying a knot to hold a hook onto my fishing line. There’s more bobber to me than bobbin.
Tonight was a subtle reminder that as a green belt I must learn to recognize those things I cannot do, without sacrificing the unbridled optimism of a white belt to try those things I might be able to do, but have never tried before.