Friday, December 30, 2011


I was reading another blog that inspired this post about sewing. When I was a girl, my mother sewed most of my clothes. I got some hand-me-downs, but I can only remember getting one store bought piece of clothing. We had gone to visit my sister Nene, and I had forgotten to pack a dress for church. So my parents took me to the store to buy one. Aside from that, most of my clothes were sewn. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I began to get store bought clothes. My father worked for a women's clothing chain, and would occasionally bring home something that he had found on a good sale. But I never actually was involved in the process of picking them out. But I digress.... :)

I remember that my mother also sewed quilts and other items. She had her sewing machine set up in our family room, and seemed to always be working on something. In addition, when I was a little girl, she taught me how to sew by hand. I mainly sewed doll clothes with my friends. We had contests to see who could make the best "Barbie" clothes. Years later, when I was in a church position working with young girls, I was shocked to find out that none of them had ever sewn before, and didn't even know how to thread a needle! It was a big part of my growing up years, so I felt sad that they didn't have this same joy in their lives.

When I was in 9th grade I took a "homemaking" class at school. They taught us to sew, and we made an apron, and two dresses. I still have one of the dresses that was an apron dress. I use it as an apron now though. My mother has the other apron that she uses when cutting hair. :) In addition, we were required in our class to come up with an individual project. My Aunt R. had given me some quilt blocks that she had painted. They were different flowers with faces painted in them. I decided that for my individual project I would quilt this quilt. My mother helped me some. I quilted all of the flowers, and she helped quilt some heart designs in the plain quilt blocks. But alas, I didn't know how to bind the quilt, so never did that. My teacher gave me an A- for not finishing the quilt. I felt a little cheated because I had done much more work than the other girls in my class!

Even though this post is about sewing, I have to frankly admit that I am not a good seamstress, and I don't make my own clothes now. I did make some of my dresses as a teenager, particularly "prom" type dresses. But I don't seem to have the time to sew my own clothes, and because I'm not a very good seamstress, they never quite turn out the way I would like. But I do sew other things like costumes. I actually really love to sew costumes, but I don't like to use a pattern. I like to come up with my own pattern for most costumes. I think in another life I would be a costume designer for plays. :)

When my daughter was young I taught her how to sew by hand. Then when she was in high school, we told her that we would give her a special "bonus" if she got straight A's. When she did get straight A's, we bought her a sewing machine. I think at first she wasn't thrilled with the gift. I'm sure she hoped for something more "cool". But through the years she has developed a love for sewing, and has made many of her own clothes.

Today I don't use my sewing machine so much for clothing, but for other projects. I'm still not a very good seamstress, but I'm able to do what I want to do. I do think it is a dying art. Today's fabric is so expensive that it is cheaper to buy clothing than to make them. But I hope that I can pass this ability on to my grandchildren. Even my brother learned how to sew when he was a teenager, and made a shirt for himself. Sadly, it was a corduroy shirt, and he didn't know that you have to cut the fabric carefully. The grain of the fabric ( the lines of the corduroy) went vertically on the front of the shirt, and horizontally on the sleeves. lol But he was proud of his finished project. :) I think everyone should learn how to sew!


Grannymar said...

When Elly was young, she didn't want to know anything about cooking, sewing, knitting or indeed any craft. She is now an excellent cook, baker and showing great talent for jewellery and card making. I see needles and wool on the go, so perhaps sewing will come in its own good time.

Nene said...

I will always be thankful to my mother-in-law for giving me a sewing machine. It had belonged to her grandmother (who raised her) and she could have given it to one of her daughters, but she gave it to me because they weren't married yet and she knew how poor we were. I will also be thankful that we were poor, so I was forced to learn to sew. I had some pretty disasterous projects, but I also had some good successes. I think a really special time for me was one time when Mom was visiting me. Gilbert Girl had just graduated from high school. Mom had gone in her room to see her new luggage that her other grandma and aunts had given her for graduation. While she was in there she noticed a dress in her closet that I had made her for Rose Prom (it was actually 4 years old at that time since I had made it when she was 14). There was some other dresses in there that I had made her too. When I showed them to mom she was shocked! She couldn't believe I could sew! She ran out to tell dad, "My daughter can sew!" I had been telling mom all those years that I was sewing clothes for my girls, but I guess maybe secretly she was feeling sorry for my girls that they had to wear clothes that I had made. Anyway, it was kind of a cool, proud moment for me. :0P

Rummuser said...

My mother was a good seamstress too. She had an Elna sewing machine that is still doing duty with my brother! They don't make machines like that anymore.

Subsequently, I spent 23 years in a business revolving around sewing embroidery and handicrafts and learnt how to sew and also make minor repairs and adjustments to sewing machines.

Now, I simply get them all stitched!