Sunday, September 16, 2007
Sewing Lessons
Memories of my mother, sitting at her Singer, sewing Barbie clothes are still so clear. One dress in particular, a black clingy get-up, with a 'fancy' black net petticoat underneath seemed like the most lovely thing in the world. Later on I realized Mom was sewing them to make money to purchase Christmas gifts for my siblings and me. I remember her machine humming away, the pedal down on the floor between her feet, and the big wheel on the side that she turned back and forth as she sewed. Everything about sewing called my name. I didn't 'want' to learn to sew, I had to.

It all began with a birthday gift - Barbie, when I was in third grade. She had black bobbed hair, white pearl earrings, her lipstick, shoes and bathing suit were all fire engine red. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Ken eventually moved into our house, there was a wedding to make them respectable, and they lived together in the black plastic carrying case, with the pull-out drawer that held those little shoes. There were hangers above it with all her garments. The Childcraft book's instructions provided hours of fun, making Barbie furniture for them out of various items found around our house. They eventually went the way of most toys, lost in a move when I was thirteen. I'd played countless hours with them, and mourned the loss when I realized Barbie didn't survive the move. Not Ken - for some reason I never really missed him. For my fiftieth birthday, my mother replaced Barbie with one just like her, purchased on Ebay for about $60 more than the orginal one cost. Sometimes I think ahead of the hours Addison and other future granddaughters will spend dressing her, playing on the family room floor, with outfits I've sewn. Maybe a black clingy get-up with a fancy net petticoat...

I began sewing because Barbie couldn't live in only a swimsuit - she wasn't that type of girl! She needed proper attire for shopping, going out into the world. Mom made me some outfits, but eventually I wanted to learn to sew them myself. I remember taking newspaper and laying it on the living room floor, drawing a circle, with another circle in the middle, and then cutting a slit up the side. Whallah! A skirt. It just needed a bit of sewing.

Of all the practical lessons my mother gave me, sewing is the one I treasure most. That black Singer sewing machine had to be a luxury for her, and now that I own a couple of my own precision machines, I know thread tension is a touchy thing. Yet she let me sit down and learn to sew, making little skirts and shirts and such. Eventually when I was a bit older, I took Home Economics and learned courduroy has a 'nap', which will make your clothes look half upside down if you cut the fabric out wrong, pleated skirts and silk blouses are not beginner projects, and sometimes when you sew something and end up throwing it in the trash, it's okay if you learned something in the process. Zippers and buttonholes are not for the faint of heart, but with practice can come out respectable. I learned to sew over the years, and it's a love that has not only stayed with me, it has grown over the years.

This week, inspired by another blogger, Anna at Pleasantview Schoolhouse, who loves all things domestic and is learning to sew, I went to Ebay and bid on a box of 78 patterns, unseen. They arrived this weekend.

It was like a little Christmas party for one, opening up the box. The patterns ran the gamut from babies, children, teenagers, women to a few for men, and one wedding dress pattern was included. I loved that it had been used, at least once. I sorted them by size and type, and refiled them in the box, setting aside a few that I'd like to use this fall.

These two have long skirts and capris that will be fun to make. The tops could be made, cut out long enough to fit someone 5'10". Stores rarely offer that. Some things never go out of style, or if they do, then I'm comfortable throwing fashion to the wind sometimes.

Some were so old, they dated back to the 30's and cost 25 cents. Just looking at the artwork, and realizing whoever those garments were made for is now collecting Social Security, gave me pause to think. Patterns now cost anywhere from $8.95 on.

I had fun looking over some 'little girl' patterns, making plans for Sarah and I to someday sew little sundresses, etc. for Miss Addison. So far only one granddaughter, but she's a dandy!

This one? It just tickled me. We don't have any men in our family who could really use any of this, thank the Lord! Still, I'll keep it just for the laugh value. It reminded me of Sonny Bono for some reason. Or maybe even Donny Osmond way back when. Or Inspector Cleauso?

As I went through all 78 of the patterns, I was struck that I can sew every single one of them. After 45 years of time spent at various machines, there was nothing in the box that was beyond me. Not that I'm offering to make anyone a wedding gown! Still, it did make me newly thankful for a mother who cared more about letting her daughter learn a life skill than whether her thread tension got messed up a bit. That I will remember, as Sarah begins to learn to sew, then a few years down the road, Addison. No matter the cost of the machine, some things cannot have a value placed on them. And machines can always be adjusted by the friendly repairman!

Going through that dusty, musty box of patterns - it felt good all the way to deep inside me, where that little girl in me lives. Thanks Mom. For pretty dolls, black clingy dresses with fancy net petticoats, and so much more! xoxoxo


  posted at 10:04 PM

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    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

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