SURVIVING BY A THREAD
March 28, 2008
image: Measuring Tape with needle and thread (cc) blmurch
My mom is visiting for a couple of weeks, and one of my favorite things about her visits is the stories she shares. She's a fantastic story teller, whether she's sharing stories from work, or from her childhood.
On the way back from the airport after picking her up, I asked her a bit about the Korean War, having just gotten into a discussion with some folks over at the Kimchi Mamas blog about the cultural impact the war had on the Korean people. It turns out that many Koreans who went through the Korean War have been hesitant to talk about it, and in the case of my Korean grandparents, they were no exception. They did, however, share some stories with their children, and my mom shared the story with me.
At the time of the war, a military draft was established, placing guns in the hands of farmers who had no clue how to use them. The North Korean army, on the other hand, had all been trained reasonably well, so the battle between the North and the South was basically a massacre. My grandfather, who was married with two children at the time, fled. Seems reasonable to me.
My grandfather was a tailor, and made his living making and mending clothing. My grandmother did the same, and for all the time that I've known my grandparents, they've done reasonably well for themselves in their profession. Also, it had always been amusing to go to Korea as a teenager and try on the clothes they had made for me. Amusing, because at the time, I was into name brands and fashion, and the thought of wearing homemade clothing was undesirable.
During the war, my clever grandfather managed to survive and support his family by fleeing from city to city and offering his tailoring services to the soldiers in those cities. He'd offer to mend uniforms in trade for food, water, or cash, and did this throughout the war. Very resourceful indeed.
I was inspired by this story, and it brought to mind one of my favorite quotes:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I've posted this quote on my site before, but it's worth repeating. It's probably one of my life's mottos. Anyhow, in honor of my now deceased grandfather, I've decided to take up sewing.
I've sewn before -- I made Tyvek wallets in the past, but sewing some Tyvek together is nothing at all like sewing clothing. Clothes require a bit more precision, and in order to work myself up to making full-sized clothing, I figured I'd try some doll clothing. Specifically, a shirt for my daughter's beloved stuffed pig.
I didn't feel like running to the fabric store, so I rifled through my closet and found a shirt I don't wear anymore.
Here's the shirt. It's comfortable, but I was willing to sacrifice it for my daughter's pig.
Here's a basic t-shirt pattern that I found. I modified it by cutting it down the front so it's more like a button-up shirt.
Here's an action shot. Yup.
Look. It's a shirt.
It fits. Excellent. My daughter will wake up in the morning to find her pig dressed in new threads.
And there you have it. My next step towards becoming a more functional human being (in terms of utility) is learning to sew. I'm not sure I'm ready to make a shirt for myself, but I do have three daughters who probably aren't terribly picky about what they wear...