Learning to Sew

Sewing machine foot on floral cloth

Mom gave up her sewing room when my brother turned one. In that room, she had sewn each of her daughters a first communion dress; I recall mine—blue with cap sleeves. With her Singer sewing machine she carefully sewed Halloween costumes and tended to the basket of mending. While I don’t recall when she taught me how to use a needle and thread–hand sewing–I distinctly recall her tactic to coax me into learning to sew my own clothes.

As I entered junior high school the family ventured to the mall for the annual back-to-school clothing trip. Mom told me “I have a fixed budget for your store-bought clothes. For clothes you make–there is no budget.” I recall carefully selecting my tops and pants for the coming school year. Compliments came my way while waiting for the bus. To sew my own clothes Mom and I drove to the fabric store. I selected a pattern for a jumpsuit/overall that used D-rings. Next, I cut the peach denim fabric from the tissue pattern guides. My sewing lessons began and soon I had something new to wear. By college I had sewn from denim to silk cloth and from blouses to skirts.

Clothes remain an integral part of teenage girl life; social currency includes talk about clothes: “I like your top, where did you get it?” and “That’s a nice color on you.” My mother knowingly used that fact to persuade me to sew my own clothes. It was years later that I realized the trick Mom had played on me. She dangled the carrot even though she knew she would need to teach me how to peel the carrot and she had no idea how many carrots I would take. The many lessons learned from sewing my own clothes have stayed with me. “Nice blouse!” becomes so much the sweeter when you can respond “I made it.”

Have a Productive Day,

Anne Meixner

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