I can’t believe no one taught me how to do this. Not my mom. Not my school. I’ve bought the needle and thread, and I have no idea what to do with either of them.

For better or worse, I’ve received no judgment from my friends for not knowing how to sew. If anything, they think it’s weird that I care enough to bother.

It’s not even like I’m trying to patch up jeans. Those are expensive, and trying to extend the life of a pair makes good financial sense, even if no one my age is going to bother with it. But shirts? They’re like five bucks. I could buy two, lose one on the way home, and still have wasted less money than ordering a Big Mac.

“Sewing is easy,” the YouTube video starts. “It may seem intimidating, but all you really need to know are a few basic steps. And, uh, yeah, I’m going to guide you through them. Before we get started, you need a few supplies. Obviously, you’re not going to get very far without a needle and thread.”

One step ahead of you, lady. What next?

“This is a thimble,” the video continues. “What is a thimble? Pretty soon, it will be your best friend. It sure is mine! Think of it as a small bucket that goes on your fingertip. You will use it to protect your skin as you press your needle through fabric over and over again.”

Friiiiiiick. I don’t have one of those. I hope there’s something else around the house I can use.

Ctrl+T, google what to use instead of a thimble, enter.

Ah hah, a band-aid! Now back to the video.

The shirt I’m trying to save isn’t even sentimental. This isn’t about that at all. Sure, I like the shirt. It’s a pretty shade of turquoise that I don’t come across often. I even get compliments when I wear it, which is pretty surprising for what is just a solid colored shirt.

This is about me trying to be a better person. Americans waste hordes of clothes every year, far more now than we did in the past. Adults used to own clothes for decades and no one thought twice about it. Nowadays you can replace half your wardrobe every year for a couple hundred dollars.

I wasn’t brought up on a farm, so I’m not about to grow all of my own food or raise chickens. I don’t care about animals enough to avoid animal tested products. I’m not dedicated enough to recycle every piece of paper that I use. I don’t volunteer at the local food bank or have much money to donate to charity.

The least I can do is sew up a tiny hole in a shirt that’s in otherwise great shape.

It’s not because I feel inadequately liberal. I’ll admit that is a strong motivator. You see, I’m a modern day hippie chick who loves her chai lattes, kale chips, and pretty much anything you can make with tofu. I’ve started shopping at thrift stores because it makes me feel good, not because I can’t afford to go elsewhere. I go grocery shopping with reusable bags, and I take really short showers. I may not score a perfect score on the environmentally-friendly-world-peace-tree-hugger test, but I’m confident I could eke out a B.

This is about going further than that. It’s about knowing how to do something for myself. America has always been a consumerist society, but previous generations knew how to grow food, hunt, maintain clothing, patch up the house, and do all sorts of things for themselves.

In my lifetime, I’ve only seen people buy stuff. My parents both went to work, cooked food, did laundry, and kept the house halfway clean. Outside of that, they got help. A mechanic came to fix the car. A repairman worked on the house. They even paid a kid down the road to cut our grass.

My peers are significantly worse. For most of them, cooking consists of eating out or reheating frozen food. Those that don’t use paper plates have dishwashers to clean their cutlery, and their apartment complexes send maintenance men over whenever something needs fixing.

Frankly, none of us know how to do anything for ourselves. I mean, we can think, but what is that really worth? We’re all booksmart, but it’s been four years since I graduated from college, and these days, I just wish I knew more about how to actually fix stuff.

“Once you’re done, cut the string and tie a knot. That’s it! Put on the shirt, go find a mirror, and give yourself a pat on the back. Afterwards, don’t forget to subscribe for—”

Ctrl+W

I don’t need to get a mirror to see that my seam is pretty awful. But it’s a start.

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“Needle And Thread” by Bertel King, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.