Which One Of These Things Doesn’t Belong? From Art Quilts to Handmade Underwear, I’ll Try Just About Anything 50 Times

by jennifer

Today I became a craft superhero in the eyes of my oldest child.

How did I do it? I made underwear.

I know what you’re thinking. Why oh why would someone who barely has time to breath invest gobs of time in sewing underwear? Did I turn 100 overnight? No, no. I’ve just become enlightened to the simple joy of being able to make a necessity like underwear all by myself. The drawers pictured above represent some serious self-empowerment, folks.

Here’s the back story. I made a promise to a cool lady named Nina about two years ago and then I went back to my busy life and never followed through. I interviewed her for my weekly art and craft column and told her I would come back and sew for charity with her group, the Care Givers, in exchange for the free lessons the group offers anyone willing to sew for kids in need. Two years passed and I never went back to sew.

Then Nina died. I found out minutes before giving a presentation about aprons to the local sewing guild and momentarily forgot why I was there holding a wad of aprons.

Jarring and unexpected, Nina’s death quickly led me back to the sewing store where the charity group continues to meet weekly to sew. I was filled with regret as I interviewed the ladies for a tribute column. I never made good on my promise to Nina and that really bothered me. So now I’ve been popping into the sewing sessions regularly and I’m starting my crash course in serious garment sewing with underwear.

Why?! Well, the joke is that you’re not an official member of this sewing group unless you sew 50 pairs of underwear. It’s unclear whether or not Nina ever sewed that many unmentionables because the ladies tell me that she was pretty good at delegating the underwear sewing duties. But, being the extremist that I am, I’m chipping away at this silly goal in her memory. I didn’t get back to the sewing shop where Nina worked in time to benefit from her sewing knowledge, but I’ve found a wonderful teacher in Linda, the woman who has unofficially taken over leadership of the group. And because of Linda, I got to impress my daughter today on her 6th birthday.

A week ago, Linda showed me how to make underwear and I took some home to sew as homework. The striped number above is my first completed charity pair. I showed my daughters and they were surprisingly impressed. The next thing I know, we’re at the fabric store picking out jersey prints and elastic to make underwear for them.

Today, in the midst of a swirl of other flashier store-bought gifts, Abby graciously received three pairs of handmade underwear. When she opened this gift which was wrapped in fabric for her quilting stash. She giggled and said, “Nice job, mom. I love them!” before dashing off to try a pair on.

And I’m telling you there is no greater payment for this crafty mama. That is enough for me.

I know this seems like the biggest bomb of a birthday gift possible, but it wasn’t because my daughter seems to understand that those silly underwear represent more than you can get in the mass produced three-packs I’ve been buying all along. At least I like to think that she realizes this.

Before I dropped off my first handmade pair of underwear to the charity group this morning, I clipped it up on the wall by my mini-quilts and couldn’t help but crack up. I don’t have time for this underwear challenge, but I’m making time. And today the underwear stole the show.

If only Nina could see me now.

One pair down. Forty-nine pairs to go. :  )

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