Doing alterations for young children is an exasperating experience! Not only do they wiggle and squirm and have bouts of not being able to stand straight, but have you ever noticed their reaction when you pick up a straight pin when near them?
“Are you going to stick me with that?” they cringe and move a bit closer to Mom and a bit farther away from you.
As you try to convince them that you are not going to stick them – well at least not on purpose – they glare at you latching onto Mom with the grip of gorilla glue and fear in their eyes.
It took about ten minutes of my time – and I was not getting paid by the hour – to coax Jillian up onto the stage in front of the big mirrors by giving my hand-on-the-bible promise I would not stick her with a pin so I could get this hem pinned in her flower girl dress. The dress was long and flowing and big with about four layers of tulle, a taffeta underskirt, lining, and an overskirt of chiffon fabric. You know that type – silky, slippery, ravels when cut fabric. In other words, damn hard to work with fabric! – “Pardon my French,” as my mother would say.
Facing Jillian toward the mirror so as to have something to amuse herself with, I examined the dress and breathed a sigh of relief that the fit was good and only the hem had to be shortened. If those evil pins came too close to her body she would be screaming bloody murder.
I bunched the lining and underskirt up pinning it quickly out of the way and pulled up the chiffon and tucked it neatly into her tiny hands. “Hold this for a minute Jillian while I cut your tulle the right length.” I reached for my scissors and Jillian backed up into the mirror with that fear back in her eyes. Little did I know she was scared of scissors too!
“Are you going to cut me with those scissors?” she squawked and pressed her small body closer to the mirror.
I turned to get a little support from her mom, but she was nowhere to be seen. She had evacuated as soon as she though I had her little darling in the palm of my hand!
“Jillian”, I said as calmly as I could. “I am not going to cut you. Yes these scissors are sharp and I’m glad you are aware of that, but all I’m going to do is trim this fabric up a little on the bottom so you won’t trip when you walk.”
She looked at me unsure of whether to believe me or not and then cautiously inched forward away from the mirror. After some more sweet-talking from me I finally had her in position wielding those intimidating scissors toward her hem.
“Don’t cut my shoes! My daddy bought these for me to wear in the wedding and he won’t like it if you cut them. They don’t have any buckles and see the heels on them. I’m big now so I can wear heels,” she said while managing a slightly smirky smile.
“Jillian, I’m not cutting your shoes, just your hem,” I hissed at her. There was still no mom around to come to my defense.
Finally the tulle was cut and I had Jillian drop the skirt fabric down. As she squirmed and wiggled, making silly faces into the three sided mirror, I slowly pinned and repined that unforgiving fabric turning Jillian ever so slightly to the right as I pinned counter clockwise. Coming full circle back to where I had started pinning I backed up to admire my work.
I blinked and then blinked again. Why was that hem so much longer in the front then it was in the back? I was sure I had eyed it right and had put in plenty of pins to hold the fabric in place. Hmmm? I lifted the skirt of the dress and out peeked Jillian’s bare toes.
“Jillian!” And I said this rather sternly. “Where are your shoes?”
“I took them off. My feet were tired,” she said with a frown.
By now I had little patience left.
Sure enough – there were those big-girl-slip-on-with-no-heels shoes tucked up under her dress. I snatched them up and shoved her little feet into them and then dared her to move a muscle – Don’t even breathe hard and leave those shoes on! – while I began the process all over again!
And again – I was not getting paid by the hour!