I ♥ Pom Poms


I love summer, but who doesn’t? It’s the long days of sunshine and the unhurried pace of things. These days I enjoy my summer days by biking country roads through cornfields and having a beer with friends, but when I was young, my summer days looked much different. First of all, we didn’t have cornfields where I came from. Trees and grass, yes, but no corn.

No, in junior high I enjoyed a wonderful schedule of laziness that filled my summer days absolutely full of absolutely nothing. And it was fabulous.

1. Biking to Rachel’s house. From there Rachel and I would take the bus to the mall, walk to parks, complain about how boring life was, and talk about absolutely everything.

2. Walking to 7-11 for Slurpies. On the hottest days, I could always rely on 7-11 to be over-air-conditioned. The lady behind the counter could also be counted on for telling us, “this isn’t a library” as we loitered at the magazine rack.

3. Walking to Thompson’s Grocery Store to spend my allowance on the newest issue of Vogue. I knew it was too-grown up for me, really. So of course I loved it.

4. Biking to Van’s Variety on Northwest Highway. This throw-back five-and-dime with creaking wood floors had everything, I’m pretty sure. Sink stoppers, kiddie slingshots, seam rippers, ice cube trays, shoe laces, Paydays, and Bull’s Eyes. And literally everything else you could ever need.

Van’s also had a small section of sewing sundries. It offered a humble selection of the barest sewing basics, but it was enough to tide me over in between trips to the fabric store. A small caddy of button cards, a sweet little rainbow of thread, rickrack, and bias tape. And a four skinny bolts of polyester pom pom fringe.

I loved those four skinny bolts of pom pom fringe and one summer they inspired one of my must-make projects. After stalking that pom pom fringe for the better part of two months, and dreaming on ways I could justify buying a yard, I had it! I knew what I would make! I would make a pair of short white shorts, trimmed in fire engine red pom pom fringe. So I asked the nice lady to please cut me one yard of red pompom fringe and I bought myself some happiness that day. The shorts pattern that I had at home was more like a culottes than shorts (It was 1990, people. There was bad stuff goin on then) so I decided that my too-short jeans from last school year were going to become white jean shorts that day. I threw them in the washing machine, DOUSED them with bleach and let ‘er go. They didn’t get as white as I wanted (more of a cloudy sky blue?) but that would have to suffice. Then I laid them out on my bedroom floor and carefully scissored them into shorts. Hand sewed the hem, hand sewed the red pom pom fringe to the underside, and they were done. I added a souvenir Yosemite patch to one of the back pockets (‘cuz “More is More”) and then they were really done. And they were wonderful. Never mind that they were a little too short, and that pom pom fringe on the hem of your shorts is not that comfortable to walk in. They were wonderful.

When some fashion maverick decided that pom pom fringe was in a few seasons ago, I was so happy! I wanted to write a thank you card that said, “On behalf of the thirteen year old fashion designer in me, Thank You!” I’m seeing pom poms and pom pom fringe in lots of fun places these days: caftans, jewelry, gladiator sandals, short shorts (trendsetter me!) and shawls. It never looks fully elegant to me, but always fun and fabulous.