Kathleen Norton

Hot Pants flashback

Posted on: November 17, 2010

Watch your fingers!

It’s not clear whether it was the yelp or the spurt of blood from my finger that got the sewing instructor’s attention.

But the look that followed was familiar.

“Oh,’’ it said. “You’re one of those. You sure you want to come back next week?’’

And after the recent episode, where I’d let the sewing machine needle clumsily pierce the tip of the finger, I realized where I’d seen that look before.

It was 40 years ago in the Saturday sewing class at our local public high school.

I had just sewn shut the armholes of the groovy, hot pink and bright orange outfit I was making to rebel against my navy blue Catholic school uniform, a frock designed to made a girl look like a gender-free sack of potatoes.

My sister – a co-pilot in these weekly torture sessions –snickered from behind her sewing machine.

“Oh, you’re one of those,’’ the sewing teacher’s eyes said. “Are you sure you want to come back next week?

We wanted to be home, comfy in our jammies, slurping down bowls full of Lucky Charms and fighting over the lone TV set in the house. We were miserable as we hunched over the sewing machines, but I was determined to show my rebellion through fashion.

Which explains why my project was something that looked like it could have been designed by Timothy Leary after he had eaten “special” brownies.

It had short-shorts and a tunic top – the kind of thing that you see go-go dancers wearing in in old James Bond movies.  It glowed in the dark and it was as different as it could be from my daily, drab outfit.

My sister knew that at some point, our mother would ask what we had made at sewing class so she worked on something far less psychedelic.

I was not good at thinking ahead. I ripped open those arm holes and started again, never giving a thought as to how I would sneak that outfit in and out of the house.

My very first attempt was my undoing. I put it on the next day, slipped out the back door, shouting “Goin’ to church.’’

What mother would question that?

Stupidly, that’s just where I went. By the time I got home, news about my outfit had beaten me. News traveled by something we called a “rotary phone.’’ It hung on the wall. We took turns using it.

When I walked in, Mom was waiting. “Hello Miss Hot Pants,’’ was all she said had to say. Translation: The Timothy Leary outfit was going into the rag pile.

I never touched another needle until recently, when I decided to overcome my fear of sewing, and fight off a mid-life crisis with a fun new hobby – like nearly taking off my finger during the first sewing lesson.

I guess it’s a kind of a revenge of the Sewing Gods.

And, of course, payback from my mother.


13 Responses to "Hot Pants flashback"

Like the saying goes….”You’ve come a long way, Baby!”

Remember when it was ‘groovy’ to say that?

Wow, I wrote a whole paragraph and now it’s gone. At any rate, I loved your post and I know many people who have had bad sewing experiences in assorted classes and went on to enjoy the craft. You don’t have to make a whole outfit, you can make small gifts for people or explore the zillions of home dec projects. Most of all, enjoy yourself. You can can also learn lots by searching YOUTUBE videos.

I remember taking the bus to Singer in Newark for sewing lessons and I made a mini dress in olive green (of all colors) with a ruffle going right down the front. Thought I was sooo cool but then again it was 1970!

Ruffle withstanding, you are the only person I know who looks good in that color

My Grandmother would say, “You’re not a good cook until you’ve burnt yourself.” I guess you’re not a seamstress until you’ve sewn your finger.
Welcome to the seamstress world!
P.S. Is writing safe?

You don’t ‘bleed’ when writing, but you do curse a lot.

I used to design and sew an outfit in a night…once I made one and got sent home from school because the skirt slit was too high…(but it had matching hot pants underneath!) It was that outfit that helped me to pass my driver’s test…I’m sure of it!

“Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…”

My mom was a fabulous seamstress. I hated sewing. So, she was delighted when I took a sewing class with the Girl Scouts.
The result of that class was a blue and green plaid shirtwaist dress. I ended up loathing it. My mother loved it.
Never again.

Too funny! Hope all is well in your part of the world.

All I remember from the sewing classes was Bunny H. making a bikini. Oh, and I remember that I leaned never sew anything with “set in sleeves” again. Now if I want to sew something, I don’t bother with a pattern – I just “eyeball it. My poor kids have had some REALLY funky halloween costumes.

The bikini…how could I have forgotten.

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