Idioms are often used as witty lessons reminding us to pay attention to the task at hand or help us to understand more complicated ideas. There are thousands of idioms in use, many are familiar to us all, and often are liberally sprinkled in our spoken discourse such as – an uphill task, three sheets to the wind, the buck stops here, a piece of cake, once in a blue moon, like a bull in a china shop, poker-faced, sticky wicket, drop the ball, raining cats and dogs, and so many, many more.
Idioms are at times puzzling to comprehend for those attempting to learn a new language. For native speakers of a language, their meaning can often be guessed.
A few commonly used idioms related to sewing and their intended meaning:
A stitch in time, saves nine - a little effort now to fix a small problem prevents it from becoming a larger problem that may be more complicated by delay. (The word nine may have been used simply for its sing-song rhyming ability.)
Like finding a needle in a haystack – that which is nearly impossible or difficult to find.
Let’s sew this up or we have this project sewed up – to gain control of…to complete or finalize.
Hanging on by a thread - in great danger of losing something valuable. Likely to fail soon unless circumstances change.
Sitting on pins and needles - extreme nervousness or very anxious while awaiting results.
Mending fences - reestablish good relationships after conflict.
Ripped to shreds - to criticize severely. To utterly destroy.
Fell apart at the seams - extremely emotional over a situation.
I was in stitches - to laugh very hard over a joke or funny situation.
Patch up a relationship - to return to a contented relationship previously broken after miscommunication or circumstances.
Cut from the same cloth – individuals similar in temperament or culture.
Button idioms – cute as a button, press the hot button, push the panic button, and for caution to say nothing - button your lip!
Many idioms have their origin in a literal not figurative sense however their origins are no longer part of everyday tasks or are lost to obscurity. They have been passed along to us as bits of wisdom, cautionary warnings, or past lessons learned. Sewing idioms teach, amuse, communicate ideas and often give us pause for thought.
Sew happy, sew inspired.