All of these stories are so interesting! I don't know what's worth telling about myself, but here goes.
My mother taught herself to sew, and sewed for my brothers and sisters and I when we were young, because often we couldn't afford to buy 'ready made'. And it wasn't until I was older and tried sewing clothes myself that I realized how much love, time and work went into each garment she made, every one sewn to our specific size and with definite ideas about what we wanted. Back then, I thought nothing of asking Mom to make a couple of bathing suits for me! Where she found time to sew for 4 children, in addition to working outside the home, cooking and cleaning I'll never be able to figure out. Occasionally, Mom would sew something for herself but only if everyone else had not only what they needed, but what they wanted. My mother was a true Christian saint of a woman.
My grandmother sewed too, and brought back the most amazing fabrics from far away places like Paris and Germany. I remember one shift dress (shifts were all the rage back then ; ) she made for me out of silk she picked up in Paris which had little Eiffel Towers and parisian scenes printed all over. Grandma also liked to embroider, and I must have been around 6 when I first picked up an embroidery needle. We did crewel work together, needlepoint and other embroidery and she was always so proud of every little thing I did. The actual sewing would come much later for me.
I remember my mother asking me if I'd like to learn to sew, and my answer to her was, "Why should I learn how to sew when I have you?". The irony of this statement would become obvious and back to haunt me later. But, back to my sewing history.
When I was in highschool, I wore hippie clothes (back in the 70's) and tried my hand at making purses. This was the first thing I can remember actually sewing. My dear mother made for me the cutest little smock tops that were so popular then, and I sat watching her sew them for me and for my friend, again thinking nothing of asking her to "stitch up a few"! I'm so glad I did get to tell her before she passed away how selfish I was back then, not realizing how much work and time went into making such a garment. This revelation dawned on me while trying to make a tube top for myself, out of knit.
Tube tops were very popular in the 70's and 80's, and I looked at one thinking to myself, "surely anyone can make a tube top". So I bought the terry knit fabric, and set about making my tube. The stretchy thing turned out to be several sizes too big, would have fit my horse and no matter how I cut the fabric. I tried and tried, and never could get it to look right. With this failure, I abandoned sewing with the rationalization that if someone couldn't even make a tube top, they certainly shouldn't be sewing! Little did I know I could have used a serger for this, or that there were other, better stretch stitches I could have used for success. But in any case, I swore off sewing for years.
And then my little girl came along. At the time I had accidently strolled into a small heirloom sewing shop in the little town we lived in, where I saw the most beautiful baby clothes I had ever seen. This was the first time I had ever seen fine swiss batiste fabric. The smocking and embroidery took my breath away, and with much encouragement from the nice lady who owned the shop, I signed up for a smocking class. To my utter amazement, I was able to do the smocking for a dress yoke and bonnet. (for this pattern I had purchased a little book in the shop called, 'French Handsewing by Machine', by Martha Pullen ; ) But the day finally came when I had to actually USE these smocked pieces by putting it in a garment. I was utterly mortified at the prospect....sheer terror stuck my heart with the thought of it, but again with much encouragement from the shop owner (God bless your dear heart Linda, wherever you are!) I forged on. Motivated mainly by wanting my little girl to wear fine clothes like these, I gave it a try. And so when I completed a little yoke dress and matching bonnet, no one was more surprised than me! I did it!
One day I was browsing around a high-end baby boutique, and was awestruck by the most beautiful little white batiste bib I had ever seen, embellished with shadow embroidery. I think they were asking something like $40 for this little bib, and I thought to myself SURELY I can make this! And to my delight I made a baby bib, complete with shadow embroidery. I think I can credit this little bib (simple as it is) for all the encouragement I needed to try yet more sewing. And as they say, 'the rest is history' ; )
My sewing horizons expanded when my daughter was about 7, and a woman at our church noticed the pretty little clothes my daughter wore. She recognized these as heirloom sewing and praised my sewing : ) She was a sewer too, and had a business making custom drapery and occasionally sewed clothes for special occasions (mostly bridal). She asked me if I would work for her (she had other women doing the easy stuff), and this I did for several years. Forced to complete things I had been given (and on time!), I gained much confidence this way. I am very grateful to this woman for everything she taught me, and for thinking I could learn to do sewing as she did. I learned alot working for this wonderfully talented woman (who did everything the old fashioned, as she said the "right" way ; ), and later did sewing out of my home. This was how I made a little extra money, and could still be a stay home mom. I sewed for local decorators, all of the costumes for school plays and anything else needed by church or school. And for my daughter, of course.
And then we decided to move to a farm, where my then very tomboy daughter could have horses (as I did when I was a tomboy girl ; ). All of the work needed to bring this fixer-upper up farm to par took all of our spare time for a few years, and my sewing then switched to things like horse blankets and the like. These sewing machines of mine (always gifts from my dear sweet husband) have certainly served me well throughout the years! I often wonder how anyone can manage without a sewing machine in their home!
My first sewing machine was my mother's old Kenmore, and in 1986 an Elnita. And then my husband bought me a Babylock serger. I was so intimidated by this machine, I tried to sell it right away! Well, thankfully it didn't sell and I was forced to learn to use it. Now I CAN make tube tops! LOL! (of course I wouldn't wear "tube tops" anymore ; ) Several years later, my husband gave me a Janome 8000 for Christmas, and I was absolutely floored at recieving this gift! This machine utterly amazed me. And this sweet husband of mine knows terms like, "differential feed" and "heirloom pinstitching"....so I now have a Babylock Ellure with more heirloom stitches and a Necci serger with differential feed : )...both gifts from my husband who thinks I'm an amazing sewer. Bless his dear heart. He also knows the names of famous sewers like Martha Pullen, Mizlilly, Vada, Anna, Sparkle, and many others who are here on this forum.
Now I sew things for my home (horses are a thing of the past now while my poor husband just does alot of mowing!), but I most love sewing for babies, my first love. Through this group, I've gained much needed inspiration and know-how and my heirloom sewing has taken on a whole new scope! I'm ever amazed at the answer to questions I never even thought to ask! No matter what the question or problem someone is experiencing with their sewing, there is always someone here (usually several people!) who have the answer or solution. And I must say that I've met THE most wonderful Christian women here. Of any forum I've ever been associated with, this one is by far the most wonderful because of the kind hearted and extremely talented women who are here. I'm so very glad I checked it out!
And by the way, my daughter now maintains, "Why should I learn how to sew, when I have you?!" Payback? LOL!