Saturday, September 3, 2011

Coming full circle

My mom taught me to sew when I was pretty young, probably ten or twelve years old.  As I grew up a new store bought dress, or any other piece of clothing store bought, was a rare event.  Mom made everything.  Shorts, shirts, dresses,and jeans (which I hated because they just weren't cool!).

Kathleen, Tom, Deanna
How I wish I had this dress hidden away in my cedar chest!

Homecoming 1969.  I was dreaming of a "store bought" dress like all my friends would be wearing.
Lost on me was the fact that I was already wearing the dream mom had slaved over.

When I got married in 1972, I continued the tradition of making my own clothes, mixed in with store bought. 

Jim, Tessa, Deanna
Pregnant with Greg, I soon found maternaty clothes were a dream to "whip up"
No zippers and no fitting seams

The arrival of Tessa in 1974 gave me a reason to expand to children's clothes.  I was having fun!

Tessa - One Year
These little smock tops were easy and quick to make

Then Greg arrived in 1976.  I took a year  off work, so I should have had lots of time for sewing.  Hmmmm.  Boys clothing were not so much fun to make.  And boys clothes looked more home made for some reason.  But I continued making some of my own and Tessa's clothing. 

Then in 1977 I returned to work and discovered a time proven truth.  There are only so many hours in a day.  With a husband, restoring and remodeling a large old house, two kids and a full time job, I no longer had time to sew.  Nada!  The sewing machine was covered and stored, making an appearance only when a seam ripped or britches needed shortening, or to "whip up" a skirt or two for work.  But it was never far from my mind. 

This continued into 1980, when Julie was born.  By now we were designing plans for a new house and preparing to move.  My poor sewing machine was mostly lost in the chaos. 

Greg, Julie, Tessa
I'm not too sure where I found time to make Halloween Clown Costumes

Then something happened.  I hooked up with a friend, Rita, who was into quilting.  I was hooked.  I made a nine patch quilt, she and I took a class together and competed with who could piece together our "Trip Around the World" quilt quicker.  For the life of me I cannot remember who won.  Actually, we both did.  Rita and her sister spent one whole afternoon and late into the night helping me quilt the nine patch quilt.  It had become a sickness.  We couldn't quit. 

Nine-Patch Quilt in muted colors

Again, the sewing machine was never far from touch, but had become like an old friend that I could ignore, but would always be there for me.

When I retired in 2001 ( I think it was 2001...) thread and machines once again caught my attention.  Machine embroidery became my passion.  Towels, wash cloths, t-shirts, hats, bags... nothing was safe!

Recently I've begun sewing again.  I don't believe I'll ever return to the days of home grown clothing.  Bags, aprons, and quilt tops have become "my thing".

Earlier this week I was despairing about how to quilt this Irish Double Chain quilt I  pieced together.  But thanks to an evening of friendship and fun, I now know that I am going to having to dust  off my quilting frames and hand quilt  this one.

Double Irish Chain Quilt Top
 Here we are quilting away at Patti's.  It turns out my friends, Patti on one side, and Rita on the other, went to school together.  I still haven't figured out who half the people were they were talking about!  But what is said at a quilting bee, stays at a quilting bee.  We had a lot of fun visiting and adding some love to this beautiful quilt.  Patti's mom embroidered this quilt top.  What a special heirloom for her family.

Quilting with friends, Patti and Rita


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Something is wrong with that last picture you posted, someone is using the wrong hand?!?!
Thanks for coming, I really enjoyed the cnversations.
Come anytime and I will look forward to quilting at your house next!

Flat Creek Farm said...

Wonderful pics and story. Enjoyed it all!! -Tammy

AliceKay said...

My mom used to make all of our clothes when we were kids, too. My older sister and I were a little over two years apart, but we were dressed like twins more times than not. Same goes for my two younger sisters who are only one year apart. They were dressed alike, too. But we survived. LOL

The gown your mom made for you was really pretty, and you looked pretty in it. I bet she was proud to see you wearing it.

Quilting is an art, and you, my friend, look like you're enjoying it. Nice group of ladies in that last pic. (i won't ask for any secrets) ;)

Hope you're having a great weekend.

Toriz said...

I like home made clothing... The time taken to make it makes it special. Of course, when you're a child you don't think of that as a general rule!

I'm glad you're getting back in to your needlework, and have found a nice group of ladies to work with... Enjoy! :)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the sewing stories, pictures of your family and the beautiful clothes made with LOVE!
My Mom's family was the same way, but somehow it got lost with me. Maybe someday when I retire, I will start sewing and creating again! It is such a beautiful expression of LOVE for our families and future generations!
Love from Dee

Funny in My Mind said...

I love quilts!
I had my prom dress made. Red satin with a hoop skirt. It was 1988 and shortbdresses were IN but I looked like Scarlett O'Hara. I still don't regret it.
My mom made us many a pair of plaid pants and smocked dresses.

Queenie Jeannie said...

WOW!! What an interesting and fun post!! I've never quilted before, although I appreciate the time and talent that goes into it.

My grandmother taught me to sew one summer and it's one of those things that will serve you the rest of your life!!

I looked a lot like your Tessa at the same age!!!! That's kind of weird and cool at the same time, lol! I have no photos, keepsakes, etc from anything before 1989. (long story)

Rita said...

Wow! Memory lane!! I have never learned to quilt and never went to prom (anti-establishment boyfriend and hated getting dressed up anyways). Learned to sew in HomeEc class. When I had my son in 1974 and he had severe heart defects--he was really skinny, long waisted, and no normal little boys clothes fit him, so I had to sew his clothes.

You're right--not as many little boy patterns even. I made a lot of boy's toddler jumpers, but little cotton shirts were hard to make. My mom brought me to Stretch & Sew classes to learn how to sew on knits (do you remember those stores?) and then I could make him little t-shirts! Sewed a lot for him and myself for several years, but since then, sadly, my sewing machine has only been drug out for repairs for the past almost three decades. You make me want to sew something--LOL!

Loved the trip back in time and all the photos!! :):)

ChicagoLady said...

It's nice to see people who still love the art of handmade items. My aunt used to make afghans, blankets and quilts all the time, mostly for her church bazaar. But I think it's gotten harder for her as she's gotten older. I never could appreciate the work that went into those things when I was young.

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

Your post reminded me so uch of my mother. She made a lot of closthes for my sister and I. I was 14 when she started working so she pretty much stopped then.

I bought my dresses for homcoming court and 2 of my 3 proms. One we hired made. I thought I was so special to have one made for me. I can only sew straight lines, so I've made machine quilts, curtains, pillow shams, that kind of thing. I treasure the quilts my grandmothers hand sewed.

You have an amazing talent.

Intense Guy said...

My mom mostly sewed up hems and replaced buttons and torn zippers and belt loops.

She did make some "ginger bread men" (stuffed toys about 15 inches long) and my MIT attending, Ph.D brother carried his around with him for years and years and years. It must of been repaired dozens of times.

You were (and are) a cutey pie - no wonder Jim fell for ya in Kindergarden...

jewelzmomof4 said...

Mom I always hated having the handmade clothes in school...when you made my skirts and jumpers and stuff. Now I wish I would have appreciated them more. I love anything you make for us and I want to make a quilt someday. I will have to have you help me with that to get it started one day. I still have quite a few quilts you made for me and will always treasure them. I know I was not appreciative of the things you made for me as a kid but with age comes wisdom and now I know how much love you put into those things you made for me so THANK YOU!!

Travis Erwin said...

I admire your talent.

Texas Gal said...

I can't matter how hard I try I can't do it..It looks crappy! I have always envied ppl that can sew. I would love to do things like you do. I have about 4 quilttops that my grandmother made..but I have no idea how to quilt them to make them usable!!!
Maybe someday I can find someone to help me.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely adored this post Punkn, and the pictures are just wonderful along with it for sure. Love the quilts they are so very pretty, thanks so much for sharing with us Hugsssss!!

Vicki Lane said...

Like you i used to make most of my own clothes -- and then turned to quilting. I love your Double Irish Chain -- beautiful!