My Love of Sewing, How It All Began

I’ve been sewing for, well let’s just say since I was 13 years old.  My grandmother Ollie Shoemaker, who’s been in heaven since 1990, was my inspiration to sew.  My mother often spoke of how Grandma made her and her sister’s school dresses from flour sacks.  I’ve never seen one of these “flour sack” dresses, but as a very young girl, I just thought that to be able to turn a sack into a dress, one must be a genius.

My grandparents lived, from time to time during my childhood, in the same town as our family.  During the summers for some years they would travel up to Oregon, live in shacks, and work in the fields picking fruit as a way of supplementing their income from Social Security.   Close to the age of 13, they invited me to go with them to Oregon to work for the summer.   They cautioned me it would be hard work and I would have to work hard.   I jumped at the chance to go on this adventure with them and be with my favorite aunt who was only four years my elder.  So, with my parents consent, off I went.

It was hard work, they did not lie; I only went one summer.  One also cannot forget the feeling of eating way too many cherries in one day.   But I earned some money and was so proud of what I’d earned.  I earned a whopping $154.00 for the summer.  When I returned home, Mom took me shopping for school clothes.  I was so pleased I could buy whatever I wanted.  But I soon learned that my money didn’t buy a whole lot even then.

One thing led to another and Grandma was guiding me to make my own clothes on a treadle sewing machine she had given my Mom.  Back then, you could sew a dress for much, much less than you could buy one.  This was before the age of big box stores and skyrocketing fabric prices.  I signed up for a sewing class in high school and with Mom’s treadle sewing machine and the notions of Grandma’s genius started my life long love of sewing.

Most of us love winning.  I could never be a winner in sports at school or get the top grades.   For me it was “Winning” to make something that could only be bought for much more money than I could buy the materials.  The thrill for me is the accomplishment of the most professional looking finished product.   Ah, the finished product, that will be an article for another time.  The rest, is as they say, history.

Mother’s Day is not far off.  It is my desire in this post to bring honor to my Grandmother for her guidance given to me when I first began to sew.  My mother, who provided me with a sewing machine and fabrics to work with.  And lastly my husband’s mother, who is in heaven also, and who’s ability to sew anything, challenged me to work with fabrics and designs that have enhanced the skills I have today.

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