Friday, November 6, 2009

Gross Domestic Product

I have to level with you. I never took home ec. Not a semester, not a class. I went to this rather academic school where, it was determined, skills like nutrition and sewing would only get in the way of one's running the world. Motto: Ladies pour tea. Women change the world. (Note: I'm not running the world.)

And yet, I would have had so much more fun for the opportunity to learn these fabulous creative arts / life skills in a classroom. Don't get me wrong. I had my hands full with chemistry and calculus (which I absolutely sucked at) and French and English etc. Lord knows, I needed the time I would have spent enjoying learning how to cook on figuring out meiosis.

But let's consider the facts: Sewing teaches spatial reasoning and three-dimensional thinking, algebra and geometry, patience, proportion - and a freakin' skill you can do something with! Nutrition / cooking is absolutely essential. As a society, we are coming to realize this while a third generation moves toward adulthood with little understanding of how to make an omelet or boil an ear of corn.

Of course, girls and boys both need these skills. Just as it's helpful to know how to build things (the skillsets are very entwined, those who know both subjects - unlike me - will tell you). My husband has the mind of an engineer. He doesn't read the manual (though he can). He feels it takes the fun out of the process. He's not afraid to make something - to make mistakes. In his world, that's self-sufficiency. Given my background, it's unheard of. I know I've said this before: my people are outsourcers. We don't fix it. We call someone who is trained to fix it. We don't make, we buy.

Having said this, I've discovered in my adulthood - in the years I've been with Scott - that I am a creative person in a very pragmatic sense. I build food (esp. baked goods), sentences, songs, outfits. And now - I am starting to build clothes.

I get this. I love the feel of raw material in my hands. I love the alchemy of production. I love starting with nothing and ending with something and letting it be ok if it's not perfect, because there's always a next time. I am so glad, at this stage, to recognize that skill is five parts planning, one part patience and a little bit of luck.

So I will show you my new project (just gotta stage some photos and this week has been insane) warts and all. But first, I'll tell you about my awesome trip to FabricLand. Coming up next post.


  1. I took a sewing class and it went about as well as my woodshop class. Not well.

  2. I try to find a solution first, but if it can´t be glued or sticky taped, then it is outsourced... sewing machine is on my list of wants for "one day" - I would love to give my daughter (and maybe sons?) some skills through letting her make things too.

  3. When I imagine the sewing and home economics classes, (which I took but disrupted mercilessly) I imagine the soft option for finishing education. Whereas the "Top Maths" and Sciencey options appeared to be on the trajectory to higher ed. Come the apocalypse and I think the people who can feed and clothe us are going to be able to stay on the boat, whereas the mathematicians might be left to measure angles using the sun and a coconut palm and a 12 inch ruler, alone.

    I love that you do both K. xx

  4. i can't wait to see your new project! i'll post about the pencil skirt and dress i'm currently working on in my sewing class if you post about yours :) deal?

    and i LOVE LOVE LOVE fabric stores. this is something i realized recently. it's like being in a massive creative candystore. i really do need to control myself when it comes to browsing through a whole aisle of liberty print cottons!

  5. I love trudging along with you on this journey. I can't wait to see photos of your projects.

  6. Excited for you! BTW: Mr. C is an oursources; I'm a DIY grrl. It;s all about balance, right?

  7. For me it’s about knowing when to call it quits. I suck at doing things with my hands, so all that money I spent on a sewing machine, tools, and an entire bolt of muslin fabric was money being flushed down the drain. But I always was horrible at 3d thinking and geometry.

    Im excited to see your foray into sewing! Esp. the fabric!!!

  8. Hmmm I like the idea of being creative in a pragmatic sense--you may have pegged me there too!

  9. Every girl took at least one year of home ec and every boy took shop. How dated is that idea.

    Still I almost failed cooking and got a D+ in sewing, the only two non outstanding scores of my high school career. And it wasn't because I couldn't cook or sew, just even then I was terrible at following the rules.

  10. Wendy: And yet you construct jewels. I guess you only like to work with the really good materials!

    RML: Don't you find you're always thinking that if you knew how to do something your kids would be so much better off? That's a common theme for me!

    H: You get comment of the week! Thank you for such an articulate, amusing and complimentary response!

    Sophie: I haven't even really got into the groove of fabric shopping. Still too intimidated, but I"m working on it!

    E: Why thank you. And now you've seen!

    Miss C: I imagine one lives off the grid, when both partners are DIYers.

    ~h: I find that hard to believe (not that I'm calling you a liar!) Maybe if you give it another go in a few years you will have more success. You certainly have the creativity!

    Christina: It has its perks :-)

    Mardel: I can't believe that! You, I would imagine, would have got straight As. How nice to know you can get a bad grade and still go on to perform a skill so well!

  11. I made a misshapen jersey dress in 9th grade and once sewed a button back on a pair of Balenciaga pants, but you're making me want to pull out the sewing machine again!

  12. J: Do it! Pull it out. It's fun!!