Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

21st Century girl meets 19th Century technology

(published in Los Altos Town Crier Aug 10, 2012)

I have traditionally hosted my grand daughter for a week during the summer.  At thirteen she has grown into quite the young lady.  I tried to do some make-believe like we use to do with the stuffed animals in her room and she reproved me with “I’m not a little girl anymore, Grandma!”  I knew this was true when I went up to check on her comfort and saw she was no longer sleeping with her Panda Bear, but instead with her Samsung Galaxy S3. So 21st century!

Still, when I suggested a sewing project she was all enthusiasm.  I had a few dress patterns left over from my crafty days, and she picked a nice simple wrap-sundress (Jiffy!  One piece! Lots of straight seams! ) We had a good time at Joann’s Fabric and Crafts picking out the fabric – she finally settled on a red gingham check with a contrasting red polka-dot calico.  The gingham check turned out to be very helpful as it provided lots of straight lines to sew along.

We pinned carefully and she was in charge of the cutting, making sure that all the “Cut on line of fabric” lined up perfectly with the gingham check.  She had a little difficulty at first with the sewing machine. (“It won’t go!  And then it goes too fast! It’s too loud!  I can’t do it!”)  There was a minor meltdown on the couch.

That night an invitation arrived – instead of staying with us through Saturday morning, she could go up on Friday to visit her uncle and aunt in San Francisco for an overnight.  Cool!  But we would have that much less time to finish the dress.  She looked at me, squared her jaw,  and said “So, no more freaking out?”

I nodded.


The next day she screwed up her courage, sat down at the machine, and just did it.  From then on, anything I showed her (fastening an end seam with a back stitch, ironing the ties, turning a corner, doing a hem, hand-sewing a facing) she observed, absorbed, and did.

Maybe it was lucky that I was the one to make the stupid mistakes (cutting along a fold that wasn’t supposed to be two pieces, sewing a pocket one check higher than its mate) and she was the one to correct them.  Certainly it was wonderful that when she wore the dress for the first time to the camp she was attending during her stay, her new friend at camp said “That’s a really cute dress!” and she was able to say “Thank you. I made it myself – with a little help from my Grandma.” So 19thcentury!

It was a great week for both of us.  My granddaughter cleaned up my smart phone and showed me some new tricks I could do with it.  She got us to Skype.  We ate her favorite food, took her to see Brave on the big screen, enjoyed the things she did in camp, and watched our favorite old movies on the small screen.  (So 20th century!)

But the best was The Dress.  19th century met 21st century, and everybody won.

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One thought on “21st Century girl meets 19th Century technology

  1. Jean-Stu Johnston on said:

    She looks darling and this encourages me to relearn and teach a few things like knitting and sewing.  XO



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