Sewing

     

I am the youngest of four girls, born to lớn a mother who was widowed when I was an infant. She sewed the clothes – jackets, skirts, jumpers, blouses, shorts – my three older sisters và I wore. She sewed out of necessity và as a way to pass the time when she was mourning the death of my father. My sisters & I were well-dressed, despite our limited budget. The four of us frequently had outfits all alike. For my cousin’s wedding, when we were young, we wore navy blue suits she had made. Someone said they knew how she had spent her time that winter. Making our clothes saved money and it brought my mother some relief.

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She often sewed in the evening after we were in bed. I remember waking up to the whir of the sewing machine và feeling a sense of comfort. Eventually, she placed the new dress she had made for me on the chair by my bed. It was a dream come true. Sewing was one of my mother’s hobbies: she sewed her wedding gown, which I still have. When she was a child, a seamstress came khổng lồ her family’s house & fit, cut, and stitched her clothes in the sewing room on the third floor of their home.

Wearing the clothes my mother made was very special to me; she put so much of her time & attention into the outfits she made for us. It was her way of saying she loved us.

My father’s two sisters were artists, but my mother said her artwork was her sewing. She loved to lớn work with material and knew all the different kinds of wools, silks, & cottons to lớn make skirts, suits, và blouses. The sewing machine she used was a simple, black Singer. She could maneuver the material under its foot và evenly apply pressure to lớn the pedal for a perfect stitch. Once, I asked her if she ever considered a career in fashion design and she said, “No.”

She was meticulous in her work: ironing the seams và darts, fitting the sleeves lớn the shoulders of the blouses and coats, pressing the lapels of the suit jackets. She always said each little thing you did made the final outfit have a tailored look. Lượt thích her handwriting, she took the time to vì it precisely.

It was a special sự kiện to go downtown khổng lồ the fabric store with my mother after school. We would pick out the material and the pattern I wanted. These shops also had colorful threads, buttons, and zippers & she knew how to lớn match the thread lớn the material and what form size and màu sắc zipper to lớn buy.

I was so proud of her sewing skills and that she had taken the time to lớn put so much of herself into making me look nice. I was tall so she tailored the sleeves và the hems of my outfits lớn fit perfectly. When she finished making my clothes I had a one of a kind outfit; you couldn’t tell they were homemade. There was always the final fitting where she would measure the hem and check the fit of the waist & sleeves. “Now stand still,” she would say as she knelt with a yardstick, checking the length of the skirt khổng lồ be sure it hung evenly. “Ouch,” I would cry when a straight sạc pin pricked my leg.

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She kept charts on our measurements and sizes so when we were away she could make us skirts và blouses that were the correct size. I haven’t thrown out any of the clothes she made. Each one evokes a special memory of a time in my life, how much I meant lớn her & how hard she was trying to have me look nice.

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She made me the most wonderful red wool spring coat. We picked out the material one March vacation when I was home from college; it was warm và sunny when we drove to southern Vermont to lớn a fabric store. I wore the coat on my first date with the man who would propose marriage lớn me. She also made the plaid suit I wore when I defended my dissertation in graduate school. I still have the last suit jacket she made for me.

She was very neat and organized, storing the pins, tapes, buttons, & buckles in small boxes. In her sewing basket she neatly arranged threads, thimbles, needles, and bobbins. She lined up the patterns & stored them in a vị trí cao nhất dresser drawer. After she finished making an outfit, she would always wrap and tie the scraps and store them in a bureau on the third floor.

She taught me how khổng lồ sew and I now sew well enough khổng lồ make clothes that look store bought. One birthday she gave me a sewing basket, which I still have. Gradually I filled it with tumbles, threads, needles, & buttons. Then she bought me a second-hand, black Singer sewing machine.

When I finished graduate school I needed outfits for my job interviews: I had a doctorate from Columbia University & was applying for jobs in midtown Manhattan. I found a fabric store at the subway stop at 34th Street và Fifth Avenue. The owner, an elderly man, helped me pick out material for suits, skirts, và blouses.

I came trang chủ on my March vacation & my mother và I sewed for the week. By the over of the vacation, I had several tailored, high-quality suits and blouses for my job interviews.

When she came to new york to visit me she always wore one of the suits và blouses she had made và she looked stunning. A lack of ready cash was not going khổng lồ stop her from being fashionable. As she got older, it became difficult for her khổng lồ sew. She never complained, she always had some mending or handiwork lớn keep her busy.

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I have kept her sewing supplies: threads, zippers, pins, patterns, & buttons. Sewing was such a big part of her life; I can’t – nor vày I need to – part with them. When I look at them I think, I don’t know how you did it, lớn find the time to lớn make so many nice outfits for all of us. Keeping her sewing is my way of keeping her close lớn me và saying I appreciate all she did.