Today I thought I would have a go at redesigning a wearable garment by getting out my hardly used sewing machine. Recently I joined a local sewing group. I met a nice bunch of ladies who sew many different things, garments, accessories, cross stitch, embroidery, quilts, we all have ‘sewing’ in common in one way or another and many have been inspired by the recent fabulous tv show, The Great British Sewing Bee. What a great programme that was! I watched all the last four episodes back to back and I was in awe of everyone’s skill and confidence. Recently I’ve bought a few summery garments in charity shops that don’t fit or suit me properly in their current style and have grand intentions on changing them all (!) so I can wear them or use them. So, with that in mind, my first sewing project was to amend a lovely blue and lime green dress. It was my size, fitted perfectly from the waist down, but was too wide at the shoulders. I decided to take out the side zip, chop it in half, add a waistband and ta-dah I now have a skirt. I just went for it, without too much hand-wringing! I realized the ‘skills’ used (I use the word ‘skills’ loosely as I can be a bit of a bodger) were those I learnt as a 12 year old at school. I could still remember the teacher patiently explaining how to cut, pin, tack and stitch. How important was that tacking – I used to think it was a huge waste of time! Little did I realize then that I was learning something that would come in handy x years later. I really disliked our textiles lessons and didn’t take them after that year at school.
Then, another coincidence came later today. I made macaroni and cheese for dinner (a bit of an easy dinner, but I am on ‘holiday’ this week!). I melted butter, added flour, gradually coaxed in milk, with black pepper and mustard, just a simple cheese sauce. I have made this many, many times. I realized I learnt how to make this the same year at school, when I was 12. Again, I gave up Home Economics the following year.
The ‘life’ skills I learnt that year (there were probably many more, and in previous and subsequent years of course) have obviously brought fruition. I wonder what ‘life skills’ today’s 12 year olds are learning. My own son has passed that age. He goes to a mixed sex school, and I was pleased they all had a chance to try textiles and cookery. Textiles was a bit of a disaster – I have a book bag that says ‘M’ on it, instead of MUM – he ran out of time making it, bless him, and it is something I treasure. With the cookery, most lessons went ok, apart from the chicken pasta bake which gave me severe food poisoning! Yes, really!
Most kids today seem to spend their days on electronic gadgets, unless they are particularly sporty. Are life skills for this era going to be ‘quick fingers on keypads’, ‘text talk’, ‘how to ignore the world around you’ ?? Just wondering what life skills my own son will look back in years to come and think ‘I learnt that when I was 12’…