Dare me? Bet him!

By Mir
September 25, 2006

Or, no good can possibly come of this….

I am beginning to realize that I have a thing for men who view everything as a challenge to be conquered. Now, a certain amount of pioneer spirit, I admire. I do. But I also think there’s nothing wrong (or unmanly) about admitting limitations.

Clearly I feel this way because I do not have a Y chromosome.

Tonight Otto drew a line in the figurative sand and the game could’ve been on, if only I could’ve stopped laughing.

Really, this is all YOUR fault. Yes, you! I posted about my adventures in shopping for king size linens and several people insisted that MAKING a duvet cover out of sheets was perfectly simple. So after a couple of days of walking past the cover that I bought, the cover which was 75% off and perfectly serviceable if you were willing to overlook the freakishly large yellow rose smeared all over it, I decided that I could never put the thing on my bed.

So today I went back to Target and returned the cover.

“Is there anything wrong with it?” asked the sales associate in customer service.

“Other than the gigantic flower on the front? No.” This was enough of an explanation for her. She refunded my money.

I then headed over to the grocery section and loaded up on diet Pepsi with lime. I should’ve gone straight to the checkout, after that. But no. I had to go back and look at the sheets again.

And they had just one king size flat sheet in the cool striped pattern left. And then I found a plain king flat sheet that would go with it, and I thought HEY IT’S PRACTICALLY A COVER and I bought them.

I bought them, conveniently forgetting that I don’t own a sewing machine, forgetting that when I DID own a sewing machine it was a herculean task merely to get the damn thing threaded, and then all I ever seemed to sew with any sort of regularity were my fingers. Because HEY! It’s the fabric I wanted! It’s $15 for two sheets, rather than $100 for the cover (which was, by the way, still RIGHT THERE on the shelf, mocking me with its infuriating full price-ness).

Now, I’m a resourceful sort. I’m sure I can find someone who sews and somehow get these two sheets turned into a duvet cover. I’m not too worried about it. I have the gigantic flower out of the house and I’m feeling pretty pleased.

Well, I relayed all of this to Otto, and he offered to make the cover for me. My pointing out that he doesn’t have a sewing machine, nor does he sew, was greeted with consternation. He knows someone with a sewing machine and how hard could it be? Well. I tried to point out that I assumed it would take a CERTAIN amount of finesse to make it look okay and not, you know, like two sheets stitched together.

And then he threw down the gauntlet.

“I bet you FIVE BUCKS I can make that into a duvet cover!”

Ooooh, five bucks? And here I was hoping he would just demand that I marry him if he gets an A on his Home Ec project.

On the one hand, I am impressed that Otto would volunteer for this decidedly boring and arguably unmanly task on my behalf. That’s love. Or an unhealthy need to reign supreme in all possible life situations. Either way. On the other hand, I believe this is one of the signs that we have settled into relationship middle age, that we are making gourmet-coffee-equivalent wagers on whether or not a random task can be completed.

Okay, okay. To be fair, I believe the point was that I was blowing things out of proportion, insisting someone who can ACTUALLY SEW undertake this project. I want it to look NICE, and have buttons or a zipper or something along the bottom. Otto wouldn’t notice if the two sheets were scotch taped and stapled together (at least from a distance; if forced to sleep underneath it, he might ask why it’s so poke-y), so he doesn’t understand why I wouldn’t embrace his offer with joy and selective blindness.

This led into an extended conversation about how he could sew ANYTHING if he put his MIND to it. He could be making CLOTHES! Why, people used to make their own clothes all the time! Everyone did it! My pointing out that 1) those people had nothing else to do but cook and clean and sew and save the corn from locusts and 2) it’s unlikely that most of them made clothes that other people actually admired was a moot point. In fact, he started talking about making a new suit out of flannel sheets. Because he COULD, you know.

I had a boyfriend in college who insisted that he could fix the sticky rear tailgate of my 1978 Ford Bronco. The window in the tailgate had taken to lowering slantways and then getting stuck. I allowed him to disassemble the tailgate and remove the rear window, then watched as he checked out all of the parts involved and did… something… and then showed me that the window mechanism moved smoothly, now. I thanked him for fixing it and he started to reattach the window. I was walking away, listening to his ratchet at work, wondering how one would know how many turns it would take to get the tension right…

… when I heard the window shatter into a million pieces. Well, that’s how you know when you’ve overtightened it. You find safety glass in your hair.

The first house my ex and I bought had a semi-finished basement, but the previous owners had put down indoor/outdoor carpet in it. We had someone come lay down a nice berber, instead, and then discovered that the doors separating the finished room from the laundry area no longer fit because the added carpet bulk now made them too tall. These were folding doors on a track. My ex took the doors out to the garage and said this would be the perfect opportunity to try out his new power saw.

In his defense, I’m sure the house wasn’t straight, and probably the doors were hung funny to begin with, and I forget how he even managed the cutting because we didn’t have a workbench. But let’s just say that I was not at all sad to leave those butchered doors behind when when we moved from that house.

So, Otto? Darling, sweetheart, love? I adore you and I might even give you $5 just on principle because I’m sure you COULD do it. But you’re not going to. Thank you anyway.

And good luck with that suit.


  1. Krisco

    I think that’s a good move.

    Mostly how you gave him kudos and pretending he could because, you know. Men need that.

    Now find an actual seamstress who will be delighted to charge you her hourly rate for the easiest job of HER life (not Otto’s or anyone else (ahem) without a sewing machine’s) and congratulations on your new, nicely made, reasonably-priced duvet cover.

    And I’m glad you got the king.

  2. Krisco

    Er…I do know my tenses, if not in that last commented. Pretend – ed – I believe I meant.

  3. Lady M

    Sorry I’m not local. I would totally do this for you. I’m more the queen of emergency costume fixes than a meticulous seamstress, but making two sheets into a cover should be manageable. ;)

  4. Kathryn

    On one hand, it’s not hard. I’ve made many a duvet cover out of sheets. The secret is snap tape. But on the other, honestly, it’s not worth buying a sewing machine to do. It’s also not worth asking someone else to do, mainly because I don’t think sewing projects to save cash are something that should be asked of friends.

    I’d still give Otto the five bucks, though. Men and their problem solving. They’re so cute.

  5. Cele

    Okay, I don’t know if I’m the voice of reason/unreason, or playing Devil’s Advocate here. But really? How much harm can he do to those two sheets? Ya never know, you might have the next Betsy Ross on your hands, but wouldn’t it be better if he was the next Betsy Johnson instead? Well it could be worse and turn him into the next Betty Ford. :roll:

  6. Trivial Mom

    This really is a fairly simple project. 3 straight seems, and no need to hem because the edge is already finished. You do need a sewing machine, unless you’d rather spend the next 10 years of your life hand stitching the stupid thing.

    As for buttons/zipper, those are a little harder for beginners. Might I suggest snaps. Very easy to attach and hardly noticeable if they’re not perfect.

    I’d do this for you (for free even!) if I didn’t live across the country. Good Luck!

  7. Heather

    My mom does it for me :) Though she never finished the bottom on my current one, I just safety pin it shut. But one of the others has velcro…that also works fairly well. :-) But yeah, it’s super easy.

  8. Whimspiration

    It’s allright, Sewing machines hat me too. *chuckle* I sew everything by hand. Great thing to do when not otherwise occupied.

    It has already taken me a full month to sew one costume for Halloween, so I will pretend to know what the phrase “spare time means, at least in principle.

    But otherwise, it is MUCH easier to sew a straight line by hand than with a machine, and it is stronger too. (use cotton quilting thread)

    Trivial Mom – Ya know, it doesn’t cost but $3 to ship sheets long distance… *chuckle*

  9. chris

    I am so glad that you returned that duvet cover.

    I have sewn a cover before, it is very simple. I could not imagine tackling it without a machine though.

    I bet if you ask around one of your friends will do it for you. Perhaps while you wait, so you can be all OCD while they do it and make sure they do not use any staples of scotch tape ;-)

  10. Bob

    “for this decidedly boring and arguably unmanly task”

    I beg your pardon. Sewing is unmanly? You know, there are a few of us that can sew. I’ve been doing sew since the 8th grade. I made the kids’ halloween costumes (mine too), made my wife a few outfits and my Christmas vests are to be coveted. (or should be) I can cook, clean, change diapers, and can buy groceries that consist of more than beer and pretzels. I can also rebuild an engine, roof a house and burp and fart with the best of them.

    you know, men have an X chromosome too.

  11. David

    With all due respect, I think you’d find staples and DUCT tape to be a relatively non-poke-y alternative. Just sayin’.

  12. tori

    Go Otto! I totally always think I can do everythign too. I can…sort of. At our old house, I made “curtains”. They are in quotes because they looked how I have a feeling Otto’s duvet cover would look. They looked mediocre from a distance, but once up close people would try really hard to be polite about them until I would laugh and point out how badly I sewed them and show them all the goofy seams. When we sold our house, the people who bought it asked if we wanted to take the curtains with us. We didn’t, and when I drove by the other day, they still had them up!!!! I’m sure you can find someone who can sew them because I don’t think it would be a hard project for someone who actually knows how to sew. Good luck!

  13. debby

    I sew for a living and … good call! There are some tricks to duvet covers you learn by experience. A good home dec seamstress (or male equivalent) in your area shouldn’t be too hard to find.

    Good luck!

  14. Fraulein N

    Oh, no. Flannel sheets into a suit? Just … no. But since we’re being resourceful here, how about turning straw into gold?

  15. Randi

    I say go for it…tell Otto you’ll give him five bucks if he can turn it into sheets…IF…and it’s a big if…IF he screws up and either can’t do it or they look terrible, he has to buy you the 100 dollar cover you’re coveting.

    See..you end up with a cover either way!

  16. Ani

    Bob! Friend! Manly man who sews/cooks/fixes engines/burps! And diapers!! And cleans! *swoon* Will you marry me?

    Oh darn, I’m already married.

    Kudos to Otto for offering and Mir for declining gently. I’m sure you can find a local seamstress/repair shop to create that duvet cover for you. Unfortunately, it may end up trumping the savings over the oversized rose. But, so worth it. Enjoy the king size bed (when you get it!)

  17. Patricia

    ….I can be a little slow and all — but when you find a friend to sew the duvet (perhaps this is what you can use Match.com for) be sure to have them make it the SIZE of your cover. It just dawned on me that your sheets are probably larger than the cover, you know for tucking. I have one duvet that is quiet a bit larger than my comforter (I go with the IKEA version with down — but I like sleeping under plucked geese and ducks) and it annoys me to no end.
    Oh and in Otto’s defense — didn’t you once mention that you two had theatre connections? Um, when I was making beer money costuming my college theatre productions, we had many sewing machines — one of which was used exclusively to stitch together the giant backdrops (We used to joke that it was Army surplus from tent making — it was a beast of a machine). I’d bet Otto would take the $5 buy beer and get one of the theatre folks at UGA to give the boy a hand.

  18. Susan

    We had friends in grad school who had essentially this SAME conversation one weekend (after many many beers, if I remember correctly), except that the husband went out and bought a sewing machine because BY GOD HE WAS GOING TO MAKE CLOTHES.

    He made his wife a dress. The details of the actual dress are too horrible to recount here, but it nearly ended their marriage. That was ten years ago; the sewing machine lives in a box in their basement and has never been used again.

    The end. (My friends are still married, though, and I think she still has the dress. Just in case.)

  19. shannon

    Asking a friend is not a horrible thing when you are trying to save money. I just finished fabric into 12 table clothes (my best friend did an addtional 4) for my sister. All she had to do was send me the fabric and demensions she needed AND they paid shipping back to them. This is a great thing since it has now gotten me out of having to purchase a wedding gift (clothes are for the reception/party next month).

    Send your sheets to me in Oregon…pay shipping…easy peasy. :)

  20. musing

    Enjoyed this post!

    Have to share this, though. As the page loaded on my computer, I read the title as, “Dare me? Bet html” I thought, wow, gambling with hypertext. Interesting concept. :-)

  21. Shanna

    If you wanted to ship it to Wisconsin, I would do it for you. I haven’t cracked out the sewing machine in a while and am in need of a fix. Email me if you are interested.
    Love you blog by the way. Keep up the good work.

  22. Heidi

    Hey, Otto ain’tcher ex-boyfriend OR ex-husband, so making the assumption he can’t do something because he’s a Guy is really unfair (or, because you can’t do it). Sewing.is.really.not.that.difficult. Especially if you’re talking duvet cover. Nor is adding a strip of oh-so-convenient velcro across the bottom. Go, Otto!

  23. Jenn2

    Now, see? This is why you’re just not mean enough. Make him buy two flat sheets, make the duvet cover, mail you the results for inspection, and then tell him, “Um, no.” Betcha wish you’d thought of that.

    By the way, sewing a duvet cover is a giant pain in the tuchus. ‘specially for a king size bed.

  24. Latte Man

    I took Home Ec in school… and I will be the first to admit, that while there are few things (I believe) I can not do, it was adbundantly clear to me very quickly that mastering the sewing machine was not one of those things. It was so aweful that years later, while making costumes for a community theater show, I made costumes… by hand. Because I was not (and still will not) going near a sewing machine.

    Good luck with the Suit Otto.

  25. Em

    BTW, don’t know if the link will work on here but the Today show had a segment this morning on buying mattresses. I hoped it might help when you went out to buy your king!


  26. InterstellarLass

    Never trust a man with a saw. Unless he’s the dude from the New Yankee Workshop. Otherwise, run.

  27. erin

    My momma made me my duvet cover for college because I was a picky little snot that had to have pink. We got two sheets (one pink, one yellow) and she sewed them together WITH this cute little flowered piping she made herself and buttons at the top to close. She’s really good at making curtains and things like that but always claims she sucks at sewing, so I’m sure you could get it done by anyone who can sew modestly well (even if you have to settle for no piping).

  28. Daisy

    This sounds like a case for the Brave Little Tailor. Or was that the Brave Little Toaster? Never mind.

  29. Meramoo

    I can sew reasonably well, and I still can’t do decent-looking buttonholes, so I think you went the right route. I hear tell of machines that will do them for you, but mine’s 40 years old and still kicking.

  30. Rebecca

    On our first date my husband told me, “I could walk on water if I read the manual.” I think that overconfidence is just part of the male progaming. I love a man with a little swagger, so long as he can back it up. Wish Otto luck with the duvet for me!

  31. Otto

    You folks have so little faith.




  32. Lena

    Mir, I think we have a new Project Runway contestant on our hands!

  33. Kris

    Mir, darling? Clearly the Pepsi with Lime has gone to your pretty little head. Are you clearly nuts woman?

    I bet him $100 he couldn’t clean my house immaculate. *snort*

    (Then I’d bet him he couldn’t lay still for 20 minutes.)

  34. Karen Rani

    Mir, don’t read this.

    Otto. My dear sir. Do NOT attempt the task. Yeah yeah, I love Mir too, but really. Find a tailor or buy the woman a duvet cover.

    Trust me.

    This website may or may not have gone through 40 revisions. On. the. masthead. alone.

    If you choose to undertake this mission, prepare yourfineself with a seam ripper. And Tylenol.

    This message will self-destruct.

  35. Gillian

    Otto, I am totally on your side here. Why, years ago people made the fabric for their clothes before they even constructed the clothes themselves! They did that long before people had those laborious pedal sewing machines let alone the fancy electric ones we have today. These were people without college degrees too. They just had common sense and pluck. I think you should just buy yourself some flannel and go right back to basics. Just hand sew yourself a pair of pajamas with that cloth and show that Mir you’re the kind of man who doesn’t shirk the needle and thimble. Ahem. They did it by candle light too! Sniggle — snort — ahem. Mmmmmmmph…Bwahahahahahha! I am not laughing. I have to go and dye some wool now. Seeeeeee yah.

  36. rachel

    funnily enough, my husband sews much better than I do (OK, that isn’t hard). When he was a boy scout he had 4 uniforms, so all his patches had to be sewed on 4x. So his mom made him do it. And his dad used to repair sewing machines, so my husband knows how to hand sew AND machine sew. I bet he can even do buttonholes.

    However, he spends 90% of his time in front of the computer. I’m thinking he should be making my kids fancy clothes to wear with their new UGG boots.

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