Sunday, April 6, 2008

Needles and Tongues

What is it about sewing together that makes women so chatty?

There's something about plying a needle, even when it's attached to a sewing machine, that seems to loosen tongues and inhibitions. Certainly my quilting friend and I wander through a wide range of topics during our weekly sewing days. And that's a good thing since it keeps me on task during some of the more tedious steps of my Carolina Crossroads quilt. (I love quilting, but you have to admit that pinning 100 Nine-Patches together can get just a teensy bit dull.)

I also take a garment sewing class at the local community college where I've noticed the same tendency to confidential chat. When the teacher is neither lecturing nor demonstrating, the tongues begin to wag. There's one lone male in our class, a tall African man -- judging from his accent, he's not African-American -- who sits by himself at the perimeter of the classroom. I wonder what he makes of it all.

One group of women is busily discussing underwear. One girl wonders why no one makes lingerie out of velvet. Being the practical, older woman of the class, I point out that velvet would be rather warm to wear. A younger student points out that successful lingerie is not actually worn for very long. Another group of students is rooting through a donated box of lace and trims. Periodically one of them will squeal in delight at the discovery of some particular piece of lace, "I'll make this into underwear!"

Of course no group of women can sew for long without the conversation becoming gynecological. Across the room another group is discussing a recent news report of a pregnant "man." From there the discussion wanders into hermaphroditism. And I suppose the only reason it didn't morph into the inevitable swapping of labor and childbirth stories is that most of the class are still young and childless.

Then the topic veers off towards car dealers, and the trials and travails of dealing with them. One woman likes haggling; the rest hate it. Another woman's husband used to work for Volvo and she describes their shady dealings which caused her husband, who is also a minister, to leave that job. Now the older class members are discussing their teen-aged offspring. A couple of ladies who attend the same church are discussing relatives who "came forward" at the last altar call.

Ah, a piece of silk noile is found in one of the donation boxes. The teacher says you can identify it by its distinctive odor. Several students who dislike the scent compare it to various disagreeable substances. (I nab the fabric to make a blouse. With my sinuses I can't detect any scent at all. Besides, I'll be washing it before I cut and sew.)

Many other topics pass our lips, and our busy machines hum a pleasant background music as we guide our fabrics under the needle.

All too soon the class session is over.

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