It was a sad day when my husband had to padlock the door to our business. We had to close. We'd gone into debt and were broke. Feeling devastated, I didn't know what else to do, except pray.
So here I was with this sewing machine. I'd always made jokes about sewing, saying I'd never made made anything that wasn't sewn in "straight lines." I'd only made simple curtains from rectangular pieces of material, adding a hem on each end. That was it. I was done. It was nothing complicated--like what I was about to attempt.
It was because of a thought that popped into my head, and the thought would not go away. Sew coats for Christmas. The girls needed coats. But me? Sew coats? I could hardly imagine it. A coat would require a lining, pockets, cuffs, collar, and a zipper. I had never done any of those before.
The inspiration gnawed at me, and I knew I had to try. I found a pattern at a garage sale, cut out quilt squares from our daughter's old dresses, and found denim tucked away in a closet. I would make quilt squares for the front of the jackets, and found soft material for the lining.
Having threaded the machine, I pressed on the foot pedal, but the machine only moved begrudgingly. Finally, it got going. I was sewing! I had to chuckle, because all the pieces I'd sewn so far were all "straight lines." I felt hopeful.
As hours turned into days, my frustration grew. The seam ripper had become my worst/best friend. I messed up the lining on one jacket and had to start over. The zippers took multiple attempts, which included busting two machine needles. The thread kept breaking in two, and I had to constantly re-thread the machine. I was at wit's end.
Despite the frustration, I kept going. It was a proud moment when I put the finishing touches on those jackets. I had to admit they looked home-made, but they were special to me, the quilting made from our daughters' dresses, plus they were sewn with a lot of love (and sweat).
There was another reason I felt a strong desire to make the coats. This became evident months later, once my husband and I found employment. I took the sewing machine in for maintenance. I hadn't used it since sewing the coats. I explained to the repairman that I'd had trouble with the machine , but had managed to sew thick layers of material to make the coats.
As the repairman inspected the machine, he had the most bewildered look on his face. He held up a metal part. "See this, Ma'am?"
He pointed to the piece. "Ma'am, this is broken," he said, shaking his head. "There is no way this machine should have worked."
I shrugged my shoulders. I could help but feel amazed. Thank you, God.
As years went by, our daughters outgrew the coats, and we gave them to charity. It was our hope that whoever received them would be blessed as we'd been blessed.
When I think of that time long ago, I have to smile. It was the worst, best Christmas ever.