the beginning

10931212_817980344935937_4544330137242526206_n[1]i was also country when country wasn’t cool!

i’ve been sewing for years decades a very long time, a very long time indeed.  a friend and i were discussing our sewing past over a glass of wine recently and i couldn’t help but smile when she asked how  learned to sew.  i learned at the hands of the best….my mom….who learned from her mom….who learned from her mom.

my mother would tell you that she was an “okay” sewist, but she’d be fibbing.  she made most of our clothes growing up and for many, many years did expert alterations at a local upscale men’s shop.  she could do things that i don’t even have the energy to learn.  if a man wants a pair of 36″ waist dress slacks, in my opinion he should purchase a pair of 36″ waist slacks…NOT a 48″ and then have them altered to fit.  i watched mom tear apart shirts, pants and suits, then put them back together quicker than i can make dinner!!

but i digress….i want to talk about how/when we all learned to sew.  for me it started with mom…and grandma played a role too.  when i was barely 7 my little sister was about a year old.  i spent the weekend with my grandma and she helped my make a gift for my sister.  it was a flannel nightgown…pink, with kittens curled up in little balls.  we pinned the pattern pieces in place and to my dismay, realized that we didn’t have enough fabric.  i was ready to quit and go cry over the unfairness of it all when grandma did the impossible.  she showed me how to piece together two pieces of fabric….it was a miracle!!!  we worked together to finish that nightgown…without tears.  and i was hooked!

gma mcgruder sewing here she is, well into her 90’s, volunteering at a local museum repairing lace. this woman was a quilting marvel, putting together the most beautiful cathedral window quilts…every stitch by hand.

mom led me through the 4-H program, from the required apron and headscarf through the tailored suits and everything in between.  she always told me “i’ll buy you all the fabric you can sew, but you have to finish each project”. (wonder if i can still wrangle that deal with her!!).  she let me slide on a few of those projects, like the pink gingham drapes (remember those mom?? i really had a “thing” for pink gingham!) many years later, in college, i was grateful for the skills she taught me (and still am!!), as i could accept a date, walk uptown and get fabric (sold in the back of the small clothing store in my college town), stitch up a pair of “really cool” pants that FIT and meet my date that same evening!!

mom sewing

here’s mom in the 70’s…the only picture i have of her actually sewing, and while she may look like she’s frowning, she’s not…she has pins in her mouth!!  (sorry about the picture mom…it was this one or one of you in a swimsuit…you can thank me later!)

from 4-H to prom dresses to graduation dress to wedding dress…we were quite a team. and she’s still someone i go to with questions or problems.  priceless.

so, how did you learn to sew? still remember those first projects? i can still describe the fabric used for that 4-H apron and headscarf!! maybe you’re the one doing the teaching these days. share your memories with us…your favorite dress, your doll clothes, your wedding gown. it’s cool again!!


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