I will warn you up front that this post contains a Memory Lane for me and a Practical Application, which being interpreted is, "This got long!" If you not interested in either, or you just don't want to read all my utterings, feel free to click the "X" button at the top of your screen and move on to the next thing on your agenda. I'll still love you.
I love sewing.
Wow. Can't believe I just typed those words and put it out there for everyone to see! I grew up watching my mom make everything from little dresses and short sets for me to a leisure suit for Dad (yeah. . . in the 70s—and he actually wore it and received compliments on it!) and personal items for herself (didn't even know those could be made at home!) Mom LOVED sewing, too. I don't know if it was the actual act of sewing, the fabrics, the choosing of the style, or if she just needed an outlet after caring for a husband, five children, and a home all day. I remember her sewing late into the night just like I'm on my computer late into (most) nights. I fell asleep to the whir of her machine more often than I fell asleep to the smell of pound cake—and that was quite often, my friend. Perhaps in today's world, I would've fallen asleep to her tapping on the keyboard as my children do.
Mom could probably have been a professional seamstress and/or fashion designer if she had wanted to and if she had had the same opportunities as someone else with her skill set. And in fact, her own mother was—a seamstress, that is. Mammaw (that's what my Southern heritage demanded I call her) didn't make custom clothing, but she worked at a factory with a machine at her command all day. Mom loved finding darling, yet practical fabrics on the remnant table and figuring out what to do with it. Often, it was a dress for me, or a pair of shorts with an elastic waist (takes less fabric!), or a whole outfit. I'll never forget the summer I went to a camp (can't even remember which one although the memories are real!) and Mom made all my clothes special for that week. Of course, she had every expectations that I would wear them beyond that week, but I was outfitted to a "T" for camp (no pun intended: my name starts with a "T"!) She made tops with cap sleeves to go with matching shorts AND skirts. She gave me options! It was amazing.
The ultimate (and I think) final Seamstress Act was her making my wedding dress. And, that, my friend, is a post for my upcoming, significant anniversary. You'll just have to wait.
As for MY sewing abilities, well. . . they fall far below my mom's. If the world was all we could imagine, we might have been quite the team in fashion design! However, when I was in high school, she tried to teach me how to sew just as I've tried teaching my youngest how to play piano. Aly doesn't want to learn and neither did I. So why try? I couldn't grasp how to visualize the end product in order to follow the pattern in a comprehensible way. Give me a recipe and I was just fine. A pattern? Not a chance on earth that I would complete it without ripping the stitches out fifteen times before it was one cohesive product!
I hated 'ripping out'! And Mom would never do it for me. If I made the mess, I had to rip. Ughh!
Mom used to say, "Well, if I could play piano like you without practicing, I'd like that, too!" She was insinuating that I needed to practice sewing in order to do it like she did! She was also giving me a compliment on my piano playing without actually saying the words. She struggled, and still does to some extent, with being open and bare with her feelings. BUT. . . she can sew AND I knew how she felt about my musical ability!
After I was married and had my own home, I chose to sew curtains for our windows just because it saved us money! After I had my first baby, I learned that 'smocking' is an art form and I was hooked! I took classes at a darling shop with other new moms and sewed Emily's first smocked dress on a borrowed machine. It was her third Easter dress, she was two, and that machine gave me fits beyond what I want to remember. After the resulting heirloom dress for Em, I was hooked. I loved the quietness of sitting smocking, then using French seams, piping, and topstitching to finish off the piece.
I went to the shop where Mom had bought the machine of her dreams and the owners remembered her and wanted to help me out. They had a used machine in the same brand as Mom's and as I was pining over it, they offered to let me make payments on it till I paid it off. I didn't want to make payments, but I so wanted a machine I could trust so I bought it with visitation rights till it was all mine. It didn't take long since it wasn't very expensive anyway and I was off and running.
I've never made clothes for my kids for economics' sake. The cost of fabrics and patterns have really gone up. It's more economical to pay $3 for a pair of silly shorts at Tar-Jay than it is to pay $10 for the pattern, even if you get the fabric for $.50! However, I did love machine-appliqué and smocking and made gowns and t-shirts for my girls (and their friends) and a few dresses. Writing that makes me want to pull that stuff out again! And maybe I will, after all the current projects are completed!
That Memory Lane walk was spurred because I recently did some sewing. No shorts with matching shirts. No leisure suits. No smocking, sadly. And definitely no intimate wear! Nope, I've come full circle and I sewed curtains. My sister-in-law is a teacher that loves baseball. Go figure! She fits in so well with our family! Her classroom theme has always been baseball and she came up on some vintage-looking baseball fabric. She thought curtains would be great and wondered how I thought she should do them. . . When she talks like that, I know she is really hoping that I'll say, "Garsh, Erin. . . it's not that hard! I'll just do it for you!"
Guess what I said. . . "Garsh, Erin. . . it's not that hard! I'll just do it for you!"
So I brought her fabric home and stitched away. I strapped on my pin cushion. . .
. . . just like Mom used to do. Oh! Look at the time!
She didn't have enough fabric to gather them at the top, so I decided to make tabs.
Again, because of the lack of fabric, I chose an alternative, one of my favorites: navy blue grosgrain ribbon. Grosgrain is my friend!! I cut 8-inch pieces of ribbon, folded them in half, and pinned them between the vintage and muslin.
Oh, you don't know about the muslin yet, do you? I decided to back the fabric with a simple muslin to create more opacity when the sun shone through the windows. That probably doesn't matter to her 3rd graders, but it mattered to me.
I stitched the Vintage and the Muslin right sides together except for a small portion where I could then pull them right side out.
You'll have to make sure to poke the corners out really well and you might even have to use a pin or seam ripper to pull at the corner so that it's square—just DON'T RIP the fabric!
Next to your machine in Sewing Importance is your iron. You MUST IRON everything as you go, at every step. This is the secret to really "rockin'" sewing. (I'm sure Mom wouldn't have described it quite like that , but she was really a stickler for the ironing!)
See the difference between what was ironed and what wasn't? The reason it is so important in this particular case is that I followed the turning out and the ironing with a top-stitching. If I had tried top-stitching without ironing, I would've had one wrinkled, messed up. . . . MESS!
I topped the whole thing with a navy blue top-stitching and it really set it off, especially with the navy ribbon.
My favorite part? There's a #7 on the fabric. . . that's the best.
Are you wondering "why?" I'll tell you. . . because that's my little guy's number. That's all. Just a soft spot for me. Love that Little Guy, love this fabric, and love the curtains in Erin's classroom!