Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mara learns to sew...

I've been getting lots of emails lately wondering what happens to Mara and whether I'm writing a sequel, and while I can't give anything away just yet, I've got something I hope will tide you over for a bit...

a deleted scene!

If you've read the book, then you'll know who everyone is. If you haven't, this won't spoil anything since I decided that Mara was overwhelmed enough and didn't need to learn how to sew, too. All you need to know is that Marjorie is her boss, the plastic surgeon she works for at the cosmetic surgery clinic.


After lunch while amusing myself with a package of Twizzlers, Marjorie re-emerged with a crisis. Her maid’s triplets were appearing in the Kmart Talent Competition and Marjorie had promised she would take care of their costumes in an attempt to stop her maid from leaving her for a more lucrative job in Rosedale.
Realizing this was my chance to show Marjorie I was worthy of promotion, I shot my hand in the air and waved it around dramatically. “I’ll do it!”

“Great,” Marjorie said, handing me the info. “The budget is $1,000. Just call Dina’s Dressmaking in Little Italy and give her the measurements.”

I nearly choked on my Twizzler. One thousand dollars? Surely I could learn to sew, then pocket the money instead. I mean, how hard could sewing really be?


If I had any sewing smarts, I would’ve taken the $1,000, and gone straight to the Dina’s Dressmaking Shoppe on the College and got the cute little lady – Dina – to make the dresses, just like Marjorie told me to do. Wiped my hands and patted myself on the back for taking care of business. But instead, as I was picking out fabric at Queen Street Fabrics with all good intentions to then take the fabric to Dina, I saw a sign for Mrs. Freudal’s Frugal Sewing Classes and I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Not only could I check off #8 on my OM List: Design and sew my own clothes (or rather, clothes for other people, which was far more charitable anyway) – but I could make a quick $1,000 (minus the fabric costs) and impress Marjorie. I took down Mrs. Freudal’s phone number to sign up for lessons, bought enough fabric – three color variations on the same patterned cotton with a touch of spandex – for three pint-sized dresses and left the store.


Miss Freudel told me to bring my sewing machine to her home in the Annex on Saturday morning. I didn’t have a sewing machine but I was sure I didn’t need one. After all, women in the olden days didn’t have machines and they sewed all their clothes. They didn’t have H&M to rely on for cheap essentials. They had to sew everything and make it last for years, not just a season. Surely if they could do it, so could I.

Miss Freudel had other ideas.

Miss Freudel lived in an old Victorian house that looked like it hadn’t seen paint since well before Debbie Travis got her own line of colors. A grey-haired woman answered the door and stared blankly at me.

“Miss Freudel?”

“I’m her daughter, Lucille,” the woman said. If this woman was a daughter, who was teaching the class? Lucille pointed toward the dim staircase straight ahead, which was lit by a single bulb with a dangling chain to turn it off and on. I expected the entranceway to be exquisitely decorated with gorgeous fabric used wherever possible, but it was just as disheveled as the exterior. She didn’t follow me down, but shut the door behind me. The whir of sewing machines made my descent feel like I was entering a mine. At the base of the stairs the room opened up into a full-on sweat shop. There were more than 20 tables set up with a sewing machine on each and a woman behind each machine. Lucille was right – she really was the daughter. And her mother was a cross between Miss Hannigan in Annie and Harriet Oleson in Little House. She stood dauntingly at the back of the room with a yard stick. She looked up at me. “Where’s your machine?” She barked from across the room.

“I don’t have one,” I answered meekly, knowing there was no way she could hear me over the machines. “I’d like to sew by hand,” I said louder. I clutched my bag of interfacing and multicolored cotton for support.

“Out.” She thrust the yard stick at me and then followed her point, edging closer to me. “You must buy machine or I can’t teach you to sew.”

“Couldn’t I borrow one of these?”

“You can use one of my machines for today only. Then you buy machine.”
I smiled. I wouldn’t need to buy a machine – I’d just sew all three dresses today, and be done. One thousand dollars minus twenty-five for the class and fifty for the fabric. Easy peasy.

I sat down at a boring brown machine at the back of the room and then got out my fabric. “So, I need to make these Lycra costumes, and I’d like to use interfacing,” I told Mrs. Freudal. There was no reason why I shouldn’t at least recover my eBay costs in this venture.

“First you’re going to sew these scraps of fabric together,” she told me and handed me a pile of green cotton. “One of each type of stitch on your machine.”

“But I don’t know the stitches. And I really need to make three dresses. Quickly.”

“You cannot make an apple pie until you learn which apples are best for baking. Start with a straight stitch. Set your dial to 10. Go.”

I didn’t even know how to thread the machine. I was doomed.

Stay tuned for more deleted scenes to come!

1 comment:

Laural Dawn said...

I loved this ... and I can relate! I tried sewing a costume for my son for his first Halloween. I've gotten better, but wow!