Issue 23

Men Can Sew!


                I threw away my favorite t-shirt from high school today.  Rebecca has made several attempts to get rid of this particular shirt, but seeing how I’m the one who puts the garbage out, I’ve been able to rescue it each time.  Therefore, it was with a great deal of trauma and ceremony that I finally admitted that the shirt had seen better days.  It didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t even read or remember what the decal had once been because of all of the holes, but when the two sleeves and neck became a single opening, I knew all was lost.

                Women simply don’t understand the connection we men have to our clothes.  It’s not that we don’t like shopping; it’s just that you can’t buy Journey shirts or muscle pants anymore.  Honestly, I don’t care much for some fashion designer telling me that my favorite velour jacket all of sudden doesn’t look good.  Unfortunately the only clothing stores that cater to my fashion sense sell all yellow tagged items for 75% off on Wednesday mornings.  And, as each year passes, the pool of available clothes from my cruising years dwindles as thoughtless girlfriends and wives throw away perfectly good garments with years of wear still left in them.

                I for one refuse to let myself become a slave to fashion.  That’s why I’m learning to sew.  The possibilities are endless.  As long as I can buy the fabric, I can make anything I want.  As a consequence, my friends call me Too-Difficult-To-Look-At-Man.  Some of the color combinations I come up with are outright illegal in some parts of the country.  Once while in Vegas, home of the world’s ugliest carpet, I tripped and fell in a casino.  The people who were with me swear I just disappeared as my pants blended into the carpet.

                The lady who cuts the fabric at my local store is a real professional.  I can tell she’s been doing it for a while because she never makes the mistake of talking about the fabric she is currently cutting. I would wonder what someone is going to do with six yards of poorly drawn bears with angel wings sitting on clouds playing harps, but she lets it all go past.  I respect her a great deal.  She lets me buy whatever fabric I want without any hassle.  After all, what business is it of hers if I want to sew a pair of pants out of upholstery?

                I love the challenge of trying to understand the clothes patterns from companies with names like Simplicity.  My two best honed skills so far are ripping out seams (third time’s a charm for zippers) and rethreading the needle.  I get particularly excited whenever I have large leftovers after I cut out a pattern.  This means that I can make a smaller version of the shirt or pants I am making for my son so that we can match.  The thought of wearing matching clothes has always sickened Rebecca, even when we were on our honeymoon, but Skylar doesn’t seem to mind.

                Recently I sewed a baby blanket for a friend.  Being a man, I wasn’t invited to the baby shower, but my blanket sure was welcome.  “Did Nick really make this?” the mother-to-be asked Rebecca.  The other women in the room slowly started to back away.  What did it mean that a man could sew?

                For her part, Rebecca has embraced my new hobby with surprising encouragement.  She has forbidden me to buy any camouflage fabric, but everything else is game.  At first I sensed a sinister purpose behind her support, like she would do me the favor of clearing out my closet to make room for all the new clothes I’m going to make for myself.  Oddly enough, she has not taken this course, which is frustrating because I’m starting to find myself itching to get rid of a few former favorites to free up hangers for my handcrafted reproductions of old classics.

                Overall, sewing has given me a renewed sense of freedom. No longer are my choices limited to what other people are willing to buy.  I am in control of my wardrobe in a way I never imagined possible.  And when I go out in public, I can see the envy in the face of other men as they wonder why my day-glo parachute pants aren’t faded or full of holes.


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