Hi to all and Merry Christmas!
Pardon me for feeling nostalgic today as I think of so many Christmasses past. So much time has gone by as have many joys and sorrows. I credit my sewing to my mom, so many years ago. I still have my mom; she's nearly 89! She feels guilty for not doing many things with us girls when we were young because my dad was so sick and took so much of her time. He started having heart attacks when he was 33, one after the other, one ambulance after another, often late at night. I was the eldest of three and at nine felt pushed into a leadership role when they would leave for the hospital and leave us behind, in the dark! Mom's expert care kept dad going for 30 more years until the end came, quietly, like always, in the dark. There were endless doctor visits and special meals she always made him; she was busy. She wanted him to live. What she did though was open that old, black Singer at the end of the kitchen, in a small alcove. It was there I would observe her stealing a moment or two away from the stove to stitch. She'd let me try on the scraps. She didn't have much time to give me instruction but she never told me I couldn't try. There may not have been much active instruction but there was no discouragement either, not even through the endless thread jams I caused (really it was the blasted machine). She'd patiently come to fix it for me. She was never critical or discouraging. So, I went on to learn and by eighth grade had made several dresses to wear to school. Gosh, I'll bet they were poorly made because when I look at some of the things I made my for my kids now, I cringe at the construction.
Discouragement did come. It came when I made a sleeveless bubble for my first child, a girl, home from the hospital. It was mid July and I had a pretty blanket too but the nurse said to me, "you're not going to take her home in that, are you!" Some how the hand sewn on pink elephant applique that I bought at the dime store and the snaps that didn't quite match up became glaring sore spot and I didn't sew for a long time after that. I threw that little garment away, feeling like it really wasn't worthy of my beautiful white haired blonde daughter. Today I realize how special it was to have made that garment. I wish I had it to show my Jennifer now because it was my first act of love, as a new mom, to want something from me to her for that special day, her homecoming! We may first get a good laugh out of it and then a good cry at the tender gesture made by a very young, first time mom.
Then, there was a terrible car accident in 1990. I lived but had time off work. The insurance company paid me child care fees because I couldn't take care of my children, by then there were 5, the last only a year old. I thought about that extra money. So many things I needed, so many the kids needed, too. Finally, while trying to forget the accident and burrying myself in craft magazines, the idea came. It wasn't long before the idea came home in the form of a new sewing machine, a "real one" this time. My first real gem was a 1475 Pfaff. It never had a thread jam!!!! I loved the hum of it, the clink of metal feet being changed, the familiar light oil smell, and the warmth of it's light which stayed on for many hours. That was the beginning of a love affair with many Pfaffs, sewing machine and sergers. The big leap was into Brother high end sewing machines and EMBROIDERY!! The most recent love is a Babylock Evolution . . . . more humming, instead of chugging, lots of warm lights and blow in threading! Wow, it knocks my socks off!!
Fast forward to many christening gowns for the 16 grandchildren which I finally had the confidence to tackle after a Martha Pullen 3 day sewing seminar in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the 1980's, when she actually taught. Still, I look at those first gowns and see glaring errors but I also remember the love committment to it and to the growing child it was made for. I still cringe at having to do zippers and buttonholes because I never formally learned how but now that retirement has finally come, I'd like to learn more about the construction features on my well loved Brother Quatro.
So, when I go to see my mom here in a few days, down in Florida, she will likely again mention her regret at not doing more with my sisters and I when we were young. I want to remind her how much her encouragement meant to me when I was young and how it opened then door to a pasttime I truly love and which gives me such joy and diversion from my own struggles in life. How she had the time and patience to encourge me when her world was crumbling around her, I will never know but it WAS enough and it WAS a lesson for me now with my grandchildren. It will be well used because I am a Grammy to 16 and counting!
Merry Christmas! Dana