Memories . . . .
Carolyn, over on her blog, raised an interesting question earlier this week along the lines of who was your sewing teacher and why were they special. I am pretty much self taught, with the exception of a Kenneth King class via Patternreview on couture strap seams, so there isn't a clear cut answer for me. I have been greatly inspired by my own mother.
She must have learned how to sew either from her mother or in Home Ec in high school. I'm not sure. I know my grandmother said her aunts taught her how to sew, but grandmother didn't say anything about my mother's experience. My mother died when I was 12 in a car accident, and needless to say, I ended up using all the sewing/craft stuff. I got a machine, patterns, fabrics, notions, knitting needles, crochet hooks, craft books, embroidery floss and transfers, the whole nine yards (and more). I still have all the knitting, embroidery and crocheting stuff, and have used it plenty. The only true sewing stuff I still have is the poor old pincushion and the tracing wheel. The sewing machine my father still has, and undoubtedly, I'll end up with it some day. In short, I began sewing on the machine right after her death, with the notion in my head that if she could sew, so could I. My first project was a pair of bubble gum pink brushed twill, triple row elastic waist culottes. I figured that was an easy enough pattern. Needless to say, I've come a long way from that pair of culottes.
Here are some memories of my mother and her sewing:
Some of my earliest memories were of me playing under the dining room table while my mother sewed. We lived in Germany at the time in base housing in a large apartment building. My mother had an old Singer (I think) that would only do straight stitches, I'm pretty sure. The reason I say this is that whenever she needed a buttonhole done, she'd have to take it downstairs to someone she knew to have the buttonholes made.
I remember the day the new Singer came home. I was about 3, and it was a very big deal. My dad still has this machine. It still is a great machine, and would do all sorts of "automatic" things, like buttonholes! You could also do fancy stitches with it, provided that you put the correct cam in the top of the machine. I remember the white plastic box that came with the machine with all the cams in it. One of her first projects was to make a dress for herself. It was a watercolor fabric - mostly yellow and greeny yellow and purple, a dark royal purple. (Do remember this was the early 70's!). The dress was empire waist with flutter sleeves. It also had dark purple velvet trim at the waist. The trim I remember well because she sent my dad and I out to get the ribbon. Now why she would do that, I can't imagine, but off we went. I remember standing in the store looking at an entire wall of ribbons in little clear plastic boxes, packaged much like watch bands are today - all in various widths and colors. I remember my dad asking me which one I thought we should get. I'm sure he knew, but was involving me, or he really was wavering between 1/2" and 5/8" - he's like that. Whatever we bought was right, because it went on the dress. She also used a fancy shell like stitch on the hems of the sleeves in dark purple, thread, too. She probably wore the dress with the bright yellow patent wedge clogs with the cork wedges (she had a pair in patent lime green, too and a golden yellow woven leather pair, too).
[Yes, I have a pretty good memory and remember all sorts of little details]
With the new machine, she made all sorts of stuff from clothes for the family to home dec. She absolutely loved holidays and she would make me all kinds of outfits to match the holiday. This continued even into elementary school after my brother was born. I remember the time she made us matching emerald green and white outfits for St. Patrick's Day! My brother was just over a year old, and he had a white turtleneck and green jumpsuit, and I had a white ruffly blouse and green jumper.
She also made me an outfit for my first day of kindergarten - it was aqua blue denim, and was a pair of jeans and matching jacket. She used the special "arrowhead" stitch cam in dark aqua to embellish it. In my excitement, I was running home from school that day, fell on the sidewalk, and you guessed it - put a hole in the knee of the pants. My clever mother saved the outfit by hand embroidering an owl patch in brown/orange/gold to put over the hole and embroidered a matching motif on the back of the jacket to unify the whole thing. My mom was so awesome - I would have been annoyed if that would have been me!
One last memory - the fabric stash. Yes, she had one. It was in large cardboard box in the closet. She saved every scrap from every project (in case she needed to fix holes made by some little girl!), and she organized each different fabric or related fabrics in old bread bags. When we needed a piece of fabric, we would go through the box pulling out bag after bag of fabric. I'm not sure whatever happened to that box, I think my dad got rid of it. I know he rolled his eyes at it more than once, but he's a pack rat too, I just never bothered to mention it to him!
I have other memories, but I'll save those for another time . . . . .