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    DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    by Mary Beth Ellis
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It's late. I'm late posting today, and I'm sorry. For the past week, I have been very concerned with togas. No, don't ask. I have made two of them, and there has been patterns and thread and directions and wrong sides together and interfacings and tears and hemming and ribbon and again, seriously, you don't want to know. I will simply submit to you that after two separate attempts at sewing classes, if there's a way to unspeakably mangle the act of adhering two pieces of fabric together with a piece of thread, I will find it, and then I will cry about it like a little *&%#^. I'm trying hard, really, really hard, not to categorize this as a basic human failing, but at 31 I'm running out of things to be competent at, here.

I'm thinking back on my life and trying to categorize all the things I've done without notching some kind of catastrophic failure or humiliation along the way. So far, the Success List includes:

1) Braiding my own hair

I'll get back to you when the togas are pressed, but I don't have hopes of that going very going well, either. I've managed to anger the iron, somehow. All I did to it was plug it in, and it started beeping in an extremely pissed manner. I'll get back to you on this once I've apologized.

turning in basic humanity competency card at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (17)

My list of successful undertakings includes:

Painting t-shirts and white canvas tennis shoes with fabric paint.

It's been ten years since I've tried that, though, so I can't promise that I could still be successful at it..........

As for sewing, there's not enough Prozac on Planet Earth for me to even consider trying. You're a braver woman than I'll ever be!

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWiserlemmingAZ

Who knew there was sewing involved in a toga?! My toga pretty much consisted of a draped bed sheet and some sort of tacky flashy gold belt. I am fairly certain my date's was a bed sheet with a rope as a belt.

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Bell

Don't feel bad. I also missed the sewing gene. Ironic because my grandmother was a professional seamstress. I realized my deficiency when I went to make a pair of very SIMPLE pants for my son. I went through all the different steps (which seemed very long, tedious and boring to me) and ended up with two long tubes attached to each other. No waist, no crotch, no back.

Apparently I had sewed the back seam and the front seam together thinking they were the side seams. I pitched the whole thing in the trash, sold my sewing machine and have been happily sew-free ever since!

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

I thought the first anniversary was Paper.

Let's see...MB's competencies...:
1. writing
2. humor
3. writing with humor and a depth of understanding that most people either ignore or run from, shrieking
4. The Stack
5. Teaching fly-boys how to think outside of a cockpit
6. JTP
7. Your many friends

That's just the start of a long, long list.

And as someone with a dusty sewing machine under her desk, I can attest that sewing is not easy. Especially at the beginning.


May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

I have to admit, I'm trying to wrap my head around the idea of sewing togas. Isn't there a time-honored college tradition of such things that involves draping bedsheets? Maybe married people get fancier togas. :)

If all else fails, work the hair. A fetching laurel wreat, or perhaps a circlet of fake flowers, will focus the eye on the head instead of the seams.

Good luck with the iron...they're evil in general, I've found. (I had to iron my way to a 10-speed bike. I grew to hate my dad's work shirts. And pillowcases. Who irons pillowcases?)

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

And all this time thinking that for a toga all you needed was a white bed sheet—clean preferable. Guess Jim Belushi lied to me all these years :-)

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Well, of course I considered the bedsheet solution, but I don't think it works as well when your bedsheets are butter yellow. And those are our WEDDING PRESENT SHEETS. From BED BATH AND BEYOND. Besides, have you ever tried to make a toga out of a contour sheet? It doesn't work so well.

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

I don't cook or sew...among a myriad of other things. I can't imagine doing either. Don't feel bad!!!!

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris

".....but at 31 I’m running out of things to be competent at, here."

Ouch! Ouch, ouch, ouch! Stop! Please, don't be so hard on yourself! You are wonderful!

Take it from an "old" lady.. (50).... you are just hitting your stride of things at which you will be competent. Seriously! You will only continue to get better and better at those things that really matter. So you can't sew a toga... meh. You have JTP, the nephews, and you bring joy and laughter and good tears to all whose lives you touch in person and through your writing.

Even Martha Stewart doesn't do all her "stuff." She has minions. Sadly, minions aren't sold on the cheap single twin sheet aisle at BB&B...

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCA Sailing Lady

Oh, thank you, all. And CASL, I certainly didn't mean I'm old-- just beyond the ingenue age. I'm getting used to the idea that this very well might be a good thing :)

May 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

MB, if the seams come out crooked, you can always add a rope belt to go along with the head wreath that was suggested above. The belt will pull the fabric, and the seams won't look so crooked.

Actually, since they probably sewed things by hand back in the toga days, you can tell people that you were going for 'historical accuracy' anyway. Which, now that I think of it, means you would be underwearless under your toga...which may be not such a good idea if you're using light fabric.

May 31, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

Hi MB!!!

Don't be down on yourself - I can think of 2 things that you're great at:

1. Braiding your own hair (at 37 I STILL can't do that and I run a successful business)
2. Making me laugh on a consistent basis

Your site is saved as one of My Favorites for easy clicking!!! :-) Revel in that and to heck with the togas - they aren't worth your talent anyway! And don't we have people to do that???


June 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMissy

The last time I angered an iron, we had to part ways indefinitely. Good luck with the togas - don't forget the cool sandals to go with!

The Mystery Maiden
Shot In The Dark Mysteries.com

June 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Mystery Maiden

Doesn't the BFF Carah live close by now? I would definitely take a trip to her house and sewing machine! I can't sew OR braid hair, so you're a step ahead of me!

June 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElisabeth

MB - if you are still having trouble, I can come over and help. I've sewn togas more than a couple of times and we are probably even using the same pattern. I was stupid enough to pick a fabric that frays - even more fun. Oh, and being able to braid your own hair is a VERY important skill!

June 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I thank you. But they're done and done, for better or worse. I wanted to fight through it because this was supposed to be practice for sewing "real" clothes... maybe I'll go down to something simpler. Like a scrunchie.

June 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

You totally reminded me of my sister when she was like 7 - my aunt ran a sewing class for kids and she loved it - and she started out making scrunchies!!! Start small and give yourself someplace to go...if you are so inclined to go there...

I am a fellow french braider as well - in fact I did my hair that way a few weeks ago - totally brought back 1985. I learned how to french braid on my Twirly Curls Barbie!

June 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris

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