An Economy Lesson from my Mother

I stacked up 3 buttons and then repeated the action 7 more times. The little buttons were embellishments for gingerbread men, a new design for journal covers. I threaded up the machine, successfully sewed on two buttons, then cracked the third and broke a needle. I took the thread out of the machine and found my thimble.

As I found a meditative pace in the repetitive work, I remembered the November when mother and I made 25 Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. There were three size options and a range of skin and hair color. Over Thanksgiving break, I was assembling doll clothes while mom was organizing the big meal. She stopped in to see my progress.

She was not entirely delighted. She had caught me zig zagging every seam in the small garments. “Norma, this is just doll clothes! “. This statement came from the same woman who had ripped out wavy seams while I cried just a few years earlier. My pursuit of excellence was deeply rooted in her parenting. Today, she was teaching me something new, an economy of time. Today I call that day’s lesson, “appropriate effort.”

I could have glued the buttons on the journal covers, but that does not conform to my standards for my studio artifacts. I expect the owner to slide her hand over that cover, to enjoy the soft wool couched around the cotton figure, perhaps to flick the button a bit with a finger nail. The buttons are sewn on securely, with doubled heavy duty thread, so that I only made two stitches for each button. I honor the economy lesson from so long ago.

What did you learn long ago that helps you today?


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