I don’t know about butch guys, but
butch women are a mass of incongruities. I used to know a butch who
drove cement trucks for a living and was a minister in her free time.
You don’t just drive a cement truck, you’re out there with the
boys using your rake and shovel. You don’t just preach from a
pulpit, you have the delicate task of counseling the human spirit. I
don’t know if she sewed, but if she did, her sewing kit might have
been a lot like mine.
One of the first things my wife told me
was that she doesn’t sew. She’s a good cook, she organizes our
home, she’ll iron on occasion, but she never sews. That is what dry
cleaners are for, is her philosophy. I, on the other hand, have
always had a sewing kit. When I moved out west a friend gave me a
going away gift that came in a small wicker case something like a
lunch box. To this day, I use that thing as my sewing basket.
I don’t mean to give the impression
that I make overalls from scratch or sewed my sweetheart’s wedding
outfit. Mostly, I repair. I carry so many objects in my pockets, and
manufacturers make such flimsy pockets, that I mostly patch up holes
in my pant pockets. I have no patience or interest in anything beyond
the basic rudiments of needle and thread.
Someone like me should probably master
the sewing machine. I do own one, the simplest model I could find.
Unfortunately, I was required to take a sewing class and make a skirt
in junior high and was so traumatized I have never been able overcome
my fear of the contraption. I use it only once a year, to make catnip
mice at the winter holidays. That project always transforms me into a
grouch, what with thread breaking and bobbins running out and never
remembering the order in which one threads a machine. This year
should go a bit better, though, as my sweetheart suggested that we
purchase pre-wound bobbins. “You think there IS such a thing?” I
asked. We raced right out to JoAnn Fabrics and got me a bunch.
Meanwhile, the primary purpose of my
little sewing kit is to entangle threads of differing colors from
various spools into rainbow jumbles. The pin cushion gets into it
too, snagging errant dangles and wrapping them around the heads of
pins until the whole collision of stuff is unusable.
My sewing technique is not subtle. My
stitching tends to look like an elongated version of the scar on
Harry Potter’s forehead. The basting stitch is my specialty. That’s
the long loping suture whose purpose is to hold the fabric in place
until a more attractive finish can be applied. Except that basting,
in my case, is the finished product.
Thimbles are my enemies; I just cannot
maneuver with one on, and needles poke through them with ease, so my
fingers at times become the pincushions.
Sewing stores make me nauseous, so I
use whatever threads and materials I find at garage sales, which
leaves me with a basket full of ribbons and binding tape (good for
catnip mouse tails), old-fashioned snaps, hooks and eyes, zippers and
strips of elastic I have never known how to use; so many buttons I
keep them in glass canisters and my wife decorates the house with
them, having discovered they’re heavy enough to make great
bookends; metal hem holder-uppers or whatever the technical term is
(I don’t know to use them); safety pins (thank you, whoever
invented safety pins); some kind of marker which could probably be
very useful; a needle threader that I’ll probably have to start
using now that cataract surgery has eliminated my very useful myopia;
and dozens of tiny spools of thread, the kind you take along in your
travel bag except for the trip when you tear something and really
need one of the colors.
I did buy a bright shiny new-looking
hem ripper, which I believe is one of the greatest inventions of all
time. It’s unfortunate, but if I’m going to rip out a hem, I’m
likely to do it with the heel of a sneaker while jumping from rock to
rock across a creek.
I remember learning as a kid that
needles were expensive and I was taught never to lose such a precious
item. One didn’t waste thread for the same reason. Possibly, that’s
why the most useful tool in my sewing kit, the one I have in spades,
the one I turn to for 99% of my repair needs, is not needle or
thread, but is the equivalent of the handy dyke’s duct tape:
sticky-backed industrial strength Velcro.
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 12 books. Her latest, Beggar
of Love, was called “Lee
Lynch's richest and most candid portrayals of lesbian life” by
Katherine V. Forrest. You can reach Lynch at
Copyright 2011 Lee Lynch