Friday, March 26, 2010

Sewing Roots: Mom

I realized that for some of you, my sewing seems out of context, therefore I decided to write up a little mini-series: Sewing Roots. I believe there will be two installments: one about my mom, and one about my own sewing history.

Here goes:

I grew up watching my mom sew. She sewed for me, for my siblings, for friends and acquaintances. When she cut fabric on the kitchen table, I would climb up on a chair and watch her. And she would reveal bits of information, about the fabric grain, and where to pin the pattern pieces, and what to do with those notches. And I soaked it all in. When she sewed, I would climb up on the end table next to the machine and watch her and she would give me more nuggets of precious instruction, like how you have to take the pins out as you go so you don't risk breaking your needle, and how you have to be careful not to sew your fingers, about backstitching, and how the pedal controls speed.

Me at three years old in a dress that Mom made for me. I loved Strawberry Shortcake, so she made me a dress from Strawberry Shortcake fabric. Prized dress. I still have it. Also, please note the knee socks that are cutting off my circulation. I HATED knee socks.

Opal Claire, my Cabbage Patch doll, with two dolls my mom made for me. The dark haired doll in the middle is named Jenny. I don't remember the name of the blonde doll.

Mom made me a baby doll with embroidered eyes and hand sewn yarn hair. My Cabbage Patch Dolls had the most extensive wardrobe thanks to my mom. I had baby beds, baby blankets, and even a baby carrier thanks to my mom and her sewing. Even my Barbie dolls had clothes made by Mom. There was nothing she couldn't sew.

That's me loving Jenny.
Me in the first grade in another dress that Mom sewed for me.

I have fond memories of going with her to the fabric store and looking through the pattern books. And several times she even let me pick out a few patterns for her to sew for me. It was like Project Runway, 1980s child version. I got to pick out the pattern and the fabric and Mom sewed it while I looked on and learned. I loved being the designer of my own wardrobe.

Of course, Mom's sewing started quite a bit before I was born. When she was 10 years old a doll dress she sewed was entered and won a prize at the Utah State Fair. She sewed many of her own clothes as a teenager, and when she got married she was able to keep the family stylishly dressed despite Dad's small Navy salary.

A dress Mom made as a teenager.

My two oldest sisters with my parents, Hawaii 1971. Aren't the matching outfits just the bomb?

My parents again in Hawaii around the same time. Notice my sisters' matching dresses, and Mom's impeccable sense of fashion. I really love her dress.

Everything the five of us kids are wearing was made by Mom (except for the socks and shoes, and perhaps the chonies).

She sewed for fun, out of necessity, and to challenge herself. When I was 8 years old or so she made me these dolls:

Raggedy Ann and Andy that Mom made. Their faces are painted, their hair is hand sewed. She made these dolls in many sizes for several of her grandchildren and friends.

And around that same time, she made me this Halloween costume and the doll I'm holding:

Honestly, Mom is amazingly talented at sewing. When I wear something I made around her, I'm self-conscious, worried that she will see the flaws. She's a perfectionist and infinitely patient when it comes to sewing things right. You will never see skipped stitches, or crooked seams, or unfinished edges on anything she makes. She is amazingly talented and I look up to her. Thanks Mom!

Mom and me in 2008.


  1. Dying for that dress your mom is wearing, that is So cute!!

  2. I LOVE the dress she made, also. Very cute. Good for you for picking this stuff up. My mom sewed a lot also but I just didn't have the interest. Now, I wish I had. . .:).

    Crap. I just noticed I'm signed in as Rich again. This is really Kim. I wonder what Rich would think if he knew that he was commenting on cute dresses and such:).

  3. Yay! I love the Sewing Roots!


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