Remember when you had to take home-ec class in junior high? Our first sewing project was an apron, that had a towel sewn into the waistband, so you could be ready to whip up that tuna casserole with cream of mushroom soup.
When I was in junior high (oh, so many years ago) it was the first time they decided boys needed to learn to sew, and girls needed to take shop class. I loved watching those cute boys, who walked so confidentally through the halls of our school, with scrunched up faces, trying to sew an apron. Of course, they were all using denim, as they still wanted to appear manly. But denim was even harder to sew than the cute floral cottons the girls had selected.
My Grandma Betty was a champion sewer, whipping up outfits for herself and her granddaughters on a regular basis. She loved sewing with double knit, I clearly remember the pink dress I had in second grade, complete with a fancy zipper pull that matched the double knit fabric. It was itchy, and didn't breathe one bit, but I loved that dress.
She got adventurous, and bought an attachment to decorate the faux denim jacket she made for me with decorative studs, and even made me a fake fur jacket, complete with vinyl trim. I loved them, until I hit junior high, and realized that I didn't dress like the other girls. They had Levis, and cute tops from O'Mearas. I was ashamed of my homemade clothes, and they moved to the back of the closet.
As I got older, I wised up (as we sometimes do) and appreciated her talent for what it was. I spent many a delightful summer day at my grandma's kitchen table, cutting out patterns and having her stand behind my shoulder as I sewed pieces together. Always encouraging, always patient, always proud of whatever I finally made.
I managed fabric stores for several years, and was surrounded by the fabric and notions I had grown to love, because of her passion for it. I made all of the dresses for my bridesmaids when Mike and I married, and made many a christening gown for friends when they had their babies. I sewed many little outfits for Charlie, when he was young. I still do sewing for my home, curtains and pillows and chair covers, but I haven't made any clothing in ages.
When my grandma passed away, my sister and I lovingly sorted through her notions and buttons, and kept a few pieces of the fabric she had collected and loved. Most of the double knit was donated to places that could use it, and many of her old patterns were sold at rummage sales. Oh how I wished I had saved more.
But I have many of her sewing things, and I keep them in an antique wooden sewing box I found at a yard sale, that is very similar to one she used to have. And last night I went to a fabric store, and picked up some pretty challis to stitch up into some easy summer skirts. I felt her behind me at the cutting table, nodding her approval as I checked the fabric for any flaws before having it measured. Her presence was there as I picked out thread, and I know she will be behind me as I cut out the fabric at my own dining room table, and stitch it up into something I will be proud to wear.