The Language of Sewing

Hems. Tension. Darts. Inset sleeves. Pleats. Notions1. A-line. Remnant. Basting (and not as in a Turkey!) Bias. Blind-stitching. Spool.  Tracing. Interfacing. Ripper (of which I have become very familiar with through the years!) Gather. Lining. Seams. Patterns. Pinking Shears.

All these words and terms are old friends of mine.  I have neglected them in the last few years because other things in life became a higher priority, not to mention lack of time.  I realize now that much of it was my own tendency to become easily distracted and enamored by all things new or different.

It's not that I didn't realize the value of knowing how to take up a hem, mend a tear, sew on a button, or even sew an entire garment.  No, it was more about eating up life as fast as I could because with every passing year I felt the hand of the Grim Reaper tapping me a little harder on the shoulder, and I wasn't going down before seeing and doing all I could.

Now that I have come full circle, and am on the homestretch towards that "undiscovered country", I reflect on the skills of my youth.  I cannot fathom producing dresses, blouses, skirts, etc. as I once did, but I do love knowing that I could, if I had to.

Sewing is like a riding a bicycle, and getting back on the wheel, bobbin, foot, and feed would be easy as pie.  Oh dear, I am really mixing my metaphors!

 1 - Speaking of notions (i.e., buttons, trim, zippers, etc.), my grandmother and mother were very practical, economical women.  When a garment became irreparable, you didn't simply throw it away.  First, you stripped it of anything useful - old buttons, zippers, hooks and eyes, appliques, even collars, lace or ribbon.  Anything that could be recycled was carefully removed and stored for possible future use.


Play House

Me, in front of the Play house [Summer, circa 1964]
My first small house...little did I know then, that my playhouse would in
in its way be prophetic in how I eventually viewed living space.  It also 
didn't hurt that I grew up in an old house which imprinted on me the value
of using space wisely, and valuing such simple things as being cozy.
Delphine: Boy do I remember that play house...it was so cute and fun to play in. Grandma even had built little cupboards in it. She was quite the carpenter.  
Me: Delphine, I didn't know there had been cupboards in there. By the time I played in it, they were gone. Maybe Mom and Dad repurposed them for another outbuilding, like one of the sheds Dad used for his tools. Anyways, I always wondered about the history of the playhouse. Do you know if it had been something else before it was a playhouse (such as a chicken coop, or...?) I thought it was very cool that it had linoleum on the floors, the old kind, too...
 My family wasn't rich.  We weren't dirt poor, either, although nowadays, some people might look on us then and think we weren't far from it.  When I was growing up, it was like they say - you had love, you had food, you had family and community - it was all you knew.  It felt right.

What we didn't lack was inventiveness, creativity, the make-do mentality, and imagination.

For instance, my parents took a small outbuilding, and turned it into a play house for my sisters.  I later inherited it.  I had a children's ice cream parlor table set, that my Mom had scooped up for little cost from the Lewthwaite Drug Store in Emerson years before when they shut down their soda fountain counter.  We took scrap fabric and made little curtains for the window.  There was a big window that had a screen on the outside, and the inside window swung up on a top hinge, and could hook to the ceiling to provide a lovely breeze during the warm months of summer.  My grandmother had helped lay down old linoleum on the floor, and the walls had been nicely painted.  Many tea parties and conversations with my doll Sally were conducted inside, or just outside if we were in the mood for a picnic...