Sunday, October 17, 2010

Growing Up Sewing

I was trying to pass off writing an artist statement for myself to a friend and when that didn't work, I bit the bullet and wrote it myself. After I sent her a copy she asked for more of my memoirs and I thought I would write a bit about how I got started sewing.

When I was a kid, we didn't have a pot to pee in. Money was very tight with so many kids. As soon as we girls (the first four were separated by one another by about a year) hit junior high we took (mandatory) home economics. One part of it was sewing. I made an apron and a skirt, and my life changed forever. I became a sewer, as did my sisters. I just had a thought; we were not allowed to use the washer or dryer for fear that it would break but we all got to use the sewing machine. I can't ever remember it breaking or us fighting over whose turn it was to use it; I am sure I remember selectively.

The first 'outfit' I made was a sleeveless sailor dress, a morning glory blue with red piping. I remember that I couldn't move my arms because it was so tight. I seem to recall that in the beginning, clipping a seam wasn't top priority. Next up? a dark turquoise suit, consisting of an a-line skirt and a jacket without a collar or buttons. It had been ironed so many times while I was making it that it was as shiny as can be. It was my first encounter with nap and grain.

Each piece I sewed served as another lesson on what not to do. By the time I was well into high school, I was making all my clothes and formals for dances. I could make clothing for a miniscule cost as compared to retail and I could make exactly what I wanted. I was just talking to my sister, reminiscing about how we would all make a dress for a date 'that night'. Overachievers all.

In college I was a big knitter. I still sewed but the room it took up to do in the little dorm rooms and even littler sorority house rooms made me curtail great amounts of sewing. When I was a senior in college and engaged to G, I started the design of my wedding dress. I tatted eighteen yards of lace for it and I remember that the veil components cost more than the lovely polyester blend of my gown. All together it was still under $100.

My bridesmaids investment in the wedding consisted of purchasing a $16 Bobbie Brooks top and $5 to me for the cost of the taffeta for the jumpers I made. I sprang for matching shoes but because you couldn't see their shoes anyway, I had them wear whatever they wanted on their feet. My youngest sister at the time was five and a junior bridesmaid and matched the other girls but we could never harness her long enough to get in the pictures. I am now wondering if I knew back then to match the plaid. Oh well.


Anonymous said...

I quickly made a temp enlarged copy of your photo. You matched the plaids! :) I was trying to figure out who all was in the photo. Karen, Molly, ? Claudia

Anonymous said...

Plllllleease submit this story to Threads Magazine at Taunton Press...pleasssssseeeeee. Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely precious! I can never see your wedding photograph enough!


Gayle from MI said...

When I showed my MIL the fabric I was going to use to make the bridesmaids dresses (plaids in fall colors with green accents for the maids and rust for the one of honor) she almost had a stroke and continued bad mouthing my choices of them ad nausium. Way, way past the wedding in fact.
Thanks so much for posting this. You have brightend my day. If she were still alive I would certainly show her this pick.