Sew and Sew
I've loved to sew since my high school home economics class taught by the exacting Mrs. Harriet McClure. Our first project was (naturally) an apron. Double-fold bias tape was to encase the perimeter of the fabric. No amount of pinning or basting was going to make this anything less than a disaster but thankfully we moved on to simpler garments. By graduation, I was able to make a beautiful wool suit, as well as a silk skirt, jacket and flowered silk top from complex Vogue patterns.
My grandmother Lake, quite the seamstress, had been a department store hat maker and made beautiful quilts. I remember coming to her in tears when the collar wouldn't lay flat on the aforementioned suit, which she easily corrected. My mother did not inherit her sewing ability, save for the odd Halloween costume. I took Mom's Singer Featherweight with me to college and often whipped up a quick outfit for a fraternity party, and even an elaborate dress and coat made from brocade my parents brought from Hawaii.
After I got engaged, I declined the froufrou wedding dresses at our local bridal shop and decided to make my own wedding gown as well as those of some of the bridesmaids (the others made their own after being sent all the materials). My dad bought me a new sewing machine, which I still have. I often made my own maternity clothes and little dresses for my daughters. As the kids got older, I made scads of Halloween costumes: devil, witch, Eagles cheerleader, Little House on the Prairie, etc. One Christmas, it was huge dolls with clothing for the girls. I made several baby quilts and hand stitched the appliques. Then it was on to prom and special occasion dresses for Alison and Hannah. I went on making clothes for myself until dwindling fabric stores stopped carrying anything worthwhile. When grandchildren came along, my venerable sewing machine produced costumes until they got to the age when they wanted to be superheroes or Disney characters. My last project was several pretty dresses for Lena's American Girl doll (not recommended for your sanity).
Why do I love sewing so much? First, there's the fun of choosing a pattern and fabric, as well as thread, buttons and zipper for the project. I like the discipline of following the directions (always read thoroughly beforehand). Next comes laying out the pattern on the material and cutting the pieces. I love the feel of the fabric as it moves from my fingers to the needle of the machine. Pressing open seams, trimming armholes and the handwork of hemming are comforting in some way. Finally, the joy of having a beautiful and unique finished product is unmatched. I fear this is becoming a lost art, but one I'll always remember with fondness. Thank you, Mrs. McClure.
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.