Princess Zurg has wanted to learn to sew for the longest time. For Christmas 2010 we gave her a sewing machine. I really, really intended to teach her how to use it. It’s not like I don’t know anything about sewing. I know a few things. I’ve used sewing machines before. Specifically, I used a sewing machine when I took Home Economics in the eighth grade, and I also used a sewing machine when I decided to sew my own temple dress in 1996 and I stitched half the bodice before my mother took pity on me and finished the whole thing herself. So yes, I have some sewing experience. No, I was not under the illusion that I had extensive sewing knowledge that I would simply pass on to my daughter. I knew that I would need to give myself a, ah, refresher course before I could tutor PZ in the womanly art of sewing. I didn’t think it would be like riding a bike. I did think it would be a bit more like doing algebra. You know, a little perusal of the material and it would all come back to me. I did it before, I could do it again.

So. Sewing. It’s not at all like algebra.

I figured we’d start small, with simple projects. For instance, we made Girlfriend a pillowcase for Christmas. (With puppies on it! It’s so cute.) That went well. I figured we would gradually work our way up from there, eventually ending up in the arena of actual apparel. But PZ has been wanting to do actual apparel for such a long time that she just isn’t willing to wait any longer. She told me she wanted to make herself a new Sunday dress. I figured, okay, that’s fine. I’m a grown woman who’s used a sewing machine before. I passed 8th grade Home Ec. I think I might have gotten an A. Surely I can fumble my way through a basic dress pattern.

Because I am a terrible mother who lacks enthusiasm for her daughter’s sewing project, my MIL took pity on PZ (and me) and took PZ to the fabric store to select an appropriate pattern and the appropriate fabric. PZ had this particular vision in mind–being that she intends to become a fashion designer someday (hence the interest in sewing, which I have not nurtured nearly as much as I’d hoped I would)–so my MIL tried her best to help her find materials that would approximate that vision. They came home with the pattern and the fabric, and my MIL volunteered to take the boys this evening so PZ and I could examine the materials in more detail before beginning the project in earnest.

Well, I’ve spent the last hour or so examining the materials, and I very much want to cry right now.

It’s not at all like algebra. It’s not at all a basic dress pattern. It’s a dress with a fitted bodice and a skirt comprised of many panels, and oh by the way she will need to add sleeves to it, so voila, here’s another pattern for some other item of apparel that does have sleeves, so we can just do a mash-up of those two patterns, okay, only incidentally this dress laces up the front and she doesn’t want it to lace up the front because that looks like a corset and that will look slutty, so we’re going to have to figure out some other mode of fastening (whatever I think is best, she’s not really that picky).

This is impossible. This is Just.Not.Possible. I read the pattern instructions. They’re in English, but I don’t know all the words. The sentences don’t make sense to me. There are diagrams, but I can’t discern the relationship of the diagrams to reality. It’s not at all like algebra. It’s very, very complicated. I don’t remember it being this complicated in the eighth grade. I don’t remember integral calculus being this complicated.

I can’t do this.

I can’t.

I don’t mean that I don’t want to. I don’t want to, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that I can’t. I can’t do it. It’s above my pay grade. It’s above my level of expertise. It’s above my level of intelligence. There is no possible way I can accomplish this task.

The fabric’s been bought. There’s fabric and lace and interfacing and…something else I don’t even know what it is. It’s very unclear. I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to my daughter. She’s going to need another sewing mentor, and I need to find one fast.

Just as soon as I throw my son a birthday party and make a fool of myself clogging in front of a bunch of old people and throw my daughter a birthday party the following week and then I think the housekeepers come again OH CRAP WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME???

Easter! I still haven’t shopped for Easter!