Working as a seamstress puts a whole new meaning on the word, “stress.” I have well earned the title, Seam+stress.
A charming fellow from Australia comes up to me with a sad puppy-dog look of pleading in his eyes. As soon as he opened his mouth, my stress was gone. I told him as long as he kept talking, I was happy. Love those accents. Then he holds in his hands his best friend. Not really. But it may well have been for the gentle love he showed to his favorite Boxing Kangaroo hat from Australia, all worn and tattered.
“Can you resurrect my hat,” he pleaded with sweet smile.
How could I say no? I suggested that he really did need a new hat, but he said he got it while in Australia visiting his brother and when he had the hat on, his children all knew dad was on vacation. He had to have it last a bit longer, just a little while.
I told him I couldn’t make any promises, but I would see what I could do.
That hat gave me nightmares just thinking about it. I can’t work miracles, can I?
It was once a vibrant yellow and green with a kangaroo embroidered on the front of the hat and rim, or bill. The plastic insert to the bill was almost fully exposed because the fabric had become so threadbare that it pealed back revealing the plastic.
After the man left, leaving me with his friend, I mean his hat, I stared at it for a while. I put it down. Then I picked it up again. How was I to go about it? I could just plunge right in and rip that bill right off. No. I could make a pattern and make a new covering for the bill, but the boxing kangaroo would lose his arse.
I picked at it breaking a couple stitches just to get a feel of how it was constructed. A few more stitches and I stopped. I put it down again.
The next day, I broke the stitches holding the sweatband in place. It was on the inside of the hat, not much I could mess up in there. Cutting the remainder of the threadbare fabric from the edge of the front of the bill, I thought maybe I could replace only the edge with a new piece of cloth. Glue wouldn't work because the plastic would still be exposed and only make a thorough mess of it.
After a failed attempt at patchwork, I resorted to more drastic measures – the original idea of just ripping that thing apart.
Panic. I had bill in one hand, shreaded fabric that once covered the bill with the kangaroo's arse in the other hand and the crown of the hat on the table in between.
Repeated attempts at creating a new edge for the hat drove me to Google the hat in hopes of finding a new one. It had to be old. They just didn’t make ‘em like that anymore.
Ripped out the failed attempts and cut bigger than needed pattern for the now non-existing edge of the bill fabric. Stretching and pulling, breaking two fingernails, it started to look like it may work. There was no way to anchor the cover to the plastic, so I sewed it shut around it with needle and thread. No machine I had would handle it. My fingers hurt from holding it tight while pushing a needle through.
Three times, I sewed by hand across, back, and back again with needle and thread to attach the bill to the crown. Then three times across and back to re-attach the sweatband. Not all the stitches were very pretty, but those are in the inside part.
Only one regret. I didn’t take before and after pictures.
Where yellow had trimmed the brim of the bill, there is now khaki (from scraps when a customer wanted shorts instead of long pants – I am certain come winter he will wish he had his legs back). A hole on top of the bill is darned with green thread matching the best I could the faded green cloth. It looks like grass for the kangaroo. The kangaroo has still got his arse, but like a prize fighter fighting one too many fights (crooked nose from being broken), the kangaroo looks like someone kicked his arse a few times too many.
But, all in all, I have another victory for the Queen of Needles.