If you have a repetitive strain injury, and it hurts to grasp anything in your hands, one of the less welcome events in your day is a button detaching itself from your pants. But this did occur in my day, welcome or not.

I knew that my only hope was to sew the button on using my sewing machine; shoving a needle through fabric, even lightweight nylon, was out of the question. My sewing machine manual hung on the wall above my sewing machine for years and I never resorted to it. So I put it away someplace. I had no recollection of how to sew on a button, and no recollection of where I had placed the manual. I searched for it, and discovered that it was not anyplace. I tried a few things on a scrap of fabric, hoping that the stitches would simply go back and forth and not down. I chipped two buttons during this experiment, an impressively low casualty rate given the importance of my research.

After about 20 minutes of futility, the words, “feed dogs” inexplicably entered my mind. This was scarcely odd because I haven’t any dogs. Then I remembered, feed dogs, the little ridgy things that make your fabric move along. There was some way to disengage them. I opened the compartment where they would logically be located, and stared down the whole mechanism until it revealed its secret. I nudged a lever and thought something moved. I tried again on another scrap, and, Button Bingo. The needle moved back and forth and not down. I set a new button in place, and adjusted the zigzag width. Within a minute or so, the button was secured.

People need to understand that blue thread is fine on taupe pants. It’s what’s already in the machine that counts. Rethreading would have been a dealbreaker.

I e-mailed Vic and told him of the button adventure. He said, “Blue goes with taupe as Spring skies go with the California hills.” That’s because he’s wonderful.

Never, never, never, never never give up.

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