The joy and guilt of putting it off

Lynne did it... and it only took two-an-a-half years. Picture: JH

Lynne did it... and it only took two-an-a-half years. Picture: JH - Credit: Archant

It has taken a mere two and a bit years but finally I’ve done it. Anyone out there who finds sewing tasks easy will probably find it difficult to understand how the relatively straightforward task of covering an oblong of foam cushion with a piece of material could take so long. Put simply, it was because I didn’t know what I was doing.

Old tin (left) too short. New tin (r) is now too tall. Picture: LJM

Old tin (left) too short. New tin (r) is now too tall. Picture: LJM - Credit: Archant

I bought a small sewing machine three years ago and it gathered dust on top of the wine rack (which does not gather dust) for a year. Then came my opportunity to justify my purchase. My son made a window seat for an alcove in his house and said he would like it to have a cushion on top.

In a moment of madness – only equalled by my stupid promise to see in the new millennium size 12 or naked* – I volunteered to make it. My son had only to choose the material.

He did this within days of our conversation in the autumn of 2015.

A year later, in November 2016, I realised I had lost the sewing machine instructions. I asked John Lewis for a replacement copy and the store emailed it over the same day. In summer 2017, I cut out the material. There’s no point in undue haste.

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Last week, I sewed the pieces together. It wasn’t all plain sailing. I knocked the pin box down the side of the sofa and pricked all my fingers scooping them out. I also found out that the sticky Velcro-type product stuck to itself better than it did to the fabric.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that after all that time spent in mental preparation, my work would be exemplary. It really isn’t but I am, nonetheless, rather proud that I managed, eventually, to apply myself to the task and complete it. I tend to be an “if at first you don’t succeed, give up” type of person.

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Working in an industry that works to deadlines, I am used to being in a constant state of panic and yet managing to get the writing done in time. Maybe I need the stress of a deadline, though, because when my son said there was “no hurry” to make his seat cushion I’m afraid I didn’t hurry to the extent of nearly three years, and it has had repercussions.

Normally, I get my husband to read this column. He’ll spot any missing or misspelt words and draw my attention to trailing prepositions, split infinitives and so forth. On this occasion, however, I do not intend to let him see it because it may affect my occupation of the moral high ground. I’ve been up there for nearly 40 years, but if he sees this column he will realise that it has all been Emperor’s New Clothes.

I may claim to be practically perfect in every way, but in reality I am a very long way... er, a long way... um, a little short of perfection.

I would go so far as to say I’m nearly as bad as he is... maybe worse, because he has someone to nag him until he gets things done, while no-one nags me.

While I have been sewing, he has been clearing out the loft. Hello, the Eighties. It’s not surprising there was hardly any room left up there – the shoulder pads alone must have taken up a third of the space.

Being of a thespian bent, there were lots of costumes and props to sift through, as well as yards of sequins from our pantomime days.

I anticipate a few raised eyebrows at the charity shop when we hand in all the pairs of high-heeled, glittery shoes in very large sizes – as worn by the men who played panto dames.

Some things were damaged beyond redemption (even with the help of my one-day repair service – only takes a year). Feather boas had moulted and were now just feathers and a bit of string.

“This needs a button,” said my husband, holding up a checked shirt that was probably in Calamity Jane.

“Put it on my pending pile,” I said. This time I knew better than to rashly offer my sewing services. (Split infinitive there, Lynne. ED)

* I didn’t make it to size 12 but I chickened out of seeing in the year 2000 naked... mainly because the next door neighbours dropped round.

• The joy of dunking. I realise food manufacturers are reducing the weights of products in order to offset increased prices of ingredients but what, may I ask, am I to do with the gaping hole at the top of my special McVities Digestives’ tin. One packet used to fill it to the top and now I am several biscuits short of a full tin.

The satisfaction of filling my tin is somewhat diminished by the yawning gap where, formerly, there were biscuits. The thing is, I won’t be eating fewer biscuits, so there is no economy in reducing the numbers per packet.

Moreover, my previous Digestives tin, c.1980, is too short and has too big a circumference for a modern-day packet. I trust McVities will be issuing new tins without delay.

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