Sewing Back Story

Lindsay T had a nice post yesterday about one's sewing past. You can click here to take you to her post.

As she noted, bloggers may have written something before. Yet there are more new sewists and bloggers potentially and they may not have gone back to a previous post on this subject. So here is my "sewing back story":

My grandmother was my inspiration. She was born in 1906. Lived on a farm with about 10 other children. They pretty much lived off the land. Her inspiration was a Sears and/or Wards catalogue. She and another sister were the seamstresses as well as her mother. They made clothes for themselves and the other sisters. My grandmother from the time I was born until her retirement worked either with Health Tex making children's clothes or Tate's Manufacturing making men's uniforms-shirts and pants.
My grandmother bought me my first sewing machine which is a hand cranked, beige Singer machine for little girls. She had me cut out squares and we sewed them together so I could learn to make sew a straight line. I made a small doll quilt.
In Junior High-perhaps known as middle school now-I was REQUIRED to take Home Ec. My first sewing project was a blouse. We were taught (supposedly) how to take measurements. The blouse was huge on me and ended up fitting my mother who wore it proudly. It was a beige cotton blouse with bust darts, buttoned up the back and had sleeves. The next year we made skirts, plus we had an at home project.
In High School, I did not take Home Ec. as it was not required. I did continue to sew and two of my girlfriends sewed as well. So we were influenced to make certain clothing items based upon our teen idols styles.
After graduating from High School and attending college, my sewing came to a halt.
When my DH and I married, I needed clothes for work and social ; money was tight. My grandmother again purchased a Singer sewing machine for $90 and gave it to me. It was a black Singer with a pedal with only straight stitches and an attachment to make buttonholes. I remember sewing an evening gown and cape that I needed for a special Young Career Woman's event in Richmond, VA. I won our local contest. The state wide event for which I needed the gown was in Richmond. I came in second losing first place to a woman who was a budding state attorney. I had become the 12th female in the US to become a CEO for a local non profit organization that was a member agency for a then national non-profit agency. This was 1978 and woman were just beginning to move up the career ladder. The evening gown was from a knit of some sort and required a zipper. My grandmother did not believe in basting. You don't baste in industrial sewing settings. So I inserted that zipper with some issues but I remember having anxiety about it. Also that Singer machine could be hard on knits. But the dress survived and I was so proud of that accomplishment.
My career allowed me the opportunity to move to Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and back to Virginia. I continued to sew during all of this time even though my salary continued to improve and I did buy more clothing, but also I began to buy better quality fabric. Moving to Florida was my real first opportunity to meet some sewing stars such as Sandra Betzina, Linda McGhee, Louise Cutting and a few others. This is where I also learned to make better fitting adjustments and such. Also my body was past 40 and was beginning a new chapter in its look! So making clothes straight from the pattern without adjustments was a thing of the past.
I continue to sew today. I certainly know much more about sewing and fitting. I could stop sewing today and purchase more clothes but I choose to sew as I like what I create and I know I will not see someone else wearing the same garment as I am. I also like the creativity and the stress reduction from my every day work. I think it is better for my mental health than a psychiatrist.

Thanks Lindsay for encouraging our back story and I will be reading other blogs to learn your story.


  1. Yes, Linda, thanks so much for sharing here. You've moved around a lot like I have.

  2. Great story - it is so nice to learn a little more about each other this way.


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