My Mom and Grandma Used to Sew

I am not much good at it, but mom and grandma were whizzes at sewing and all things handmade. Mom used to tell me that nana used to make a lot of her dresses when she was little, which was what she wore in school most of the time. She would get very creative by adding embroidering, trim, and appliques. They were little gems from what I can see in old photos. As she got older, the skill was passed on and mom would fashion great tops and jackets to pair with her jeans (store bought of course). She had dozens of them. She would fold and stack them in the cupboard—neat as a pin. She could even make a scarf with rolled edges.

I did not inherit this sewing gene; and from what I can tell, it is a good one to have. I don’t even have the fashion habit. Throw on what’s lying on the chair and I’m gone. But I do have great admiration for what these two were able to achieve however. They looked good, saved money, and got lots of kudos to boot. Clothing, especially imported, is very, very costly. Just a simple silk blouse can cost a couple hundred dollars.

Grandma had this old Singer without many bells and whistles. It did the basic work of seaming, buttonholes, reverse stitching, and even zigzags. You could make a few adjustments manually. Mom was pretty excited about her state-of-the art Brother with a computer inside that could produce dozens of options within seconds. It was easy to change the size of the stitch, adapt for stretch fabrics, and create super cool designs. She often made baby clothes for relatives that were first rate. One pleated two-year old dress with collar can set you back $100. People really looked forward to her birthday gifts.

Christmas was another world altogether. Of course, we had home-made stockings and special hand-knit sweaters. But the crochet table cloth with holiday flowers was just stunning—and with matching napkins! Way beyond the simple doily phase many women acquire. Easter outfits were no problem and Halloween was a fun challenge each year. Winning the best costume prize in school was a no brainer.

After looking at a few sewing blogs like She Likes to Sew, I’ve been thinking about taking it up as a hobby too, and see whether I am actually any good at it. I doubt that I’ll ever be as good as grandma though. She could even make sequined evening clothes like a veritable professional seamstress. One by one those little circles get applied with painstaking love. I wish I had an occasion to wear one! Mom wore a pretty strapless silk ankle-length beauty for her high school prom fashioned by this couture genius. It was right in style, not retro, and very sexy.

So I have some pretty nice memories associated with sewing. At this moment, the subject is nostalgic since I have not ventured a stitch; but the more I think about it, the more it starts to do its magic. I have been looking at photos online of recent runway shows and have made a few notes that just might come to fruition in the near future—with mom’s help of course.