Mam’Maw was an awesome seamstress and was skilled in many other forms of needlework as well. She could reproduce a dress simply by looking at photos. Many of my school dress where made by her. The dresses fit perfectly and looked as though they came from the Sears catalog because that was most often her inspiration. I'll try to add a couple of pictures later but first I have to get the scanner figured out.
Since Mam’Maw raised me I was always there when she was sewing. I would watch her every move, totally mesmerized by the processes of cutting, pinning, stitching and so on. Like all small children I wanted to do what I saw the adults doing, I would beg her to give me a needle and let me try. Finally one night when I was about 4 she gave in and handed me a real needle, thread and swatch of fabric. She showed me how to do a running stitch and then let me play. I think she may have even given me a button or two.
There were no toy needles back then, she gave me the real deal but admonished me very sternly that I was only allowed to use it while she was with me and that I was to put it back in pin cushion so no one would get hurt. She told me that if I didn’t follow the rules I wouldn’t be allowed to use her things again. I enjoyed sewing so much that I carefully followed those rules.
Needle work just seemed to come second nature to me. By the time I was in my early teens I was making my own clothing. Remember how carefully we picked out the outfit we would wear that first day of school. It had to be just right so as to favorably impress the other students and teachers. The first day of sixth grade my outfit was one I sewed myself. I still remember it. It was a Madras plaid, hip length tunic over a pair elastic waist bellbottoms. I didn’t like the elastic but I wasn’t skilled enough for flies yet and since no one could see the waist I felt I could live with it. My results weren't seamstress quality by any measure but they were pretty impressive for a 12yr old if I say so myself.
However teaching someone to sew, crochet, knit, quilt, embroidery, does not come easy to me. I just don't have the same aptitude for teaching the skill that I have for doing it. Part of the problem is my own patience, I would rather being doing my project than teaching someone else. And that, I am sure, is the reason my skills didn’t get passed down to my children the way I had hope. They each can do a few things but none of them are truly skilled.
I'm not sure what it is but there something about being a grandmother that makes teaching come much easier. I not sure if it’s more maturity on my part or if I am not so pressed for time the way I was while raise 3 of my own.
So I’ve decided to try and teach M a little of what I know so that maybe she won’t be so inept with needle and thread. I started out trying to teach her to crochet but that didn’t go so well. Recently I’ve been letting her sew a bit on my machine. She seems to truly enjoy it, it’s the only thing I’ve found that will get her to put down the game system willingly and without demands on my part. All I have to say is, “do you want to sew” and she’s ready.
We’ve been doing small projects like and old school bean bag and an apron from a panel. But I think she’s ready to move up to patterns and learn to pin and cut properly. I think we’ll try a pair of pajama bottoms next.
Honestly I don’t know why I didn’t think of sewing panels and such with my kids but no need in crying over spilled pins now just move forward with what’s in front of us.