Sew It Is

Dresses Mommy Made Collage.jpg

I seldom pull my sewing machine out except for an occasional ripped seam repair, but once upon a time I sewed – a lot. My interest in sewing began in 7th grade home economics class. Our first project was to sew simple pillowcases (years later I repurposed one of the cases to create a clothes pin bag).

Clothespin bag made from the a pillowcase I sewed 50 years ago!

Clothespin bag made from the a pillowcase I sewed 50 years ago!

The second year we advanced to a skirt with an elastic waistband with rickrack adorning the seams. And by my final year in middle school I had sewn a dress for myself. Later as a college student and young wife, I made some of my own clothes, a few shirts for my husband, and after our family grew – a few simple clothes for our boys.

Sewing has been in my family for generations. My great-grandmother, Sallie sewed beautiful quilts by hand, and I have a few cherished squares from one of them.

One of the quilted squares from my great-grandmother’s quilt

One of the quilted squares from my great-grandmother’s quilt

At a time when farming could not pay the bills, my grandparents took jobs in the small town of Mayfield. My grandmother, Loretta was employed by the Merit Clothing Company, a business catering to men. Her job was making men’s suits, a task requiring skill and precision. Years later we granddaughters would benefit from her expertise in the form of winter coats and feed sack dresses.

Beautifully made coats created by my Grandmother

Beautifully made coats created by my Grandmother

Some of my Grandmother’s feed sacks are displayed in my kitchen.                                                              Wish my chicken feed came in such lovely sacks!

Some of my Grandmother’s feed sacks are displayed in my kitchen.

Wish my chicken feed came in such lovely sacks!

My mother developed the same skills – sewing all our dresses from infancy to wedding day and beyond. Her sewing machine was positioned in the corner of the family room and I spent many hours sitting on the couch talking with her while she sewed. I’m sure it’s no exaggeration to say she sewed hundreds of dresses in her lifetime. And her girls weren’t the only ones to benefit from her skills – it was not uncommon for her to sew for others in need. Even in her 90’s she continued to repair or sew clothes for her friends and family.

These are all dresses my mother made for us.

These are all dresses my mother made for us.

Our sons appear uninterested in this skill, but both of their wives have sewing skills far beyond my own. I was so excited when Julia, our oldest granddaughter, asked us for a sewing machine for Christmas. And the last time we were visiting them in California, both Julia and her younger sister, Jacinda were practicing their sewing skills on their mother’s sewing machine.

One of the most precious gifts I’ve received was sewn by my daughter-in-law, Katie. While sorting my late mother’s clothes, I came across several pieces she often wore. I couldn’t bear to part with them, so I asked Katie if she would make book bags for my sisters and me using my mother’s denim skirts for the bags with blouses serving as the linings. What a precious way to remember my mother and what a beautiful way to stitch generations of seamstresses together with love.

Book bags made from Mommys clothing.jpg
Karen ShawComment