My Mother’s Gift

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Me being cute

My mom made the most adorable clothes for my sister and I when we were very young. She filled our home and our lives with creativity.

I remember as a little girl trips to the fabric store were a feast for the imagination. I would look at pattern books and dream about wearing long gowns and elegant dresses. The fabrics and ribbons were enough to keep me dreaming for hours of adventures and places where someone might wear such delicate cotton, or dazzling sequined lace (this was the 80’s mind).

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Me and my sis likely at Easter in dresses made by mom

As we got older mom would let us pick out the patterns and fabrics for our clothes. I feel bad sometimes thinking about the color combinations my younger sister got as hand-me-downs, but I think my sense of style has always been quirky and sentimental.  How could sentimentality not play a role in my fashion sense given that my most positive experiences in the world of fashion happened in my mother’s sewing room.?

 

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Mom before she was mom

Mom had one of those “She who dies with the most fabric wins” bumper stickers stuck on a cabinet in her sewing room.  I don’t think she cared about winning that title in the end! Her laughter, the sound of her voice humming along with the radio and the click, click, click of her sewing machine are all deeply ingrained in my idea of a mother’s love. When I was about twelve years old mom decided it was time for me to learn to sew on a machine. She taught me to crochet at age five, and I was doing cross-stitch and embroidery from I think about age nine, but using an electronic machine that would potentially cost a lot of money to repair was not for little girls.

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Mom and dad, she didn’t like this photo, but I like her dress.

I was so proud to graduate from cutting patterns and pinning pieces together to actually sewing! I remember the first thing I made as a test was a little nine-patch from gingham. I  believe I used a blue gingham and a yellow gingham and I pinned it to a cork board that hung near her old sewing machine (which is the one I used). That cork board was one of her geniuses, today it would be, possibly is, a “hack”. Patterns are much easier to follow when pinned to the wall where you can read them and stick a pin in the directions you are working on at the moment.

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Me and my sister in more mom made dresses

I have not yet found a photograph of the first item of clothing I ever made, but I remember it clearly: The fabric was bold primary colors and black tropical print replete with toucans and the article itself was a pair of MC Hammer pants. I didn’t even know who MC Hammer was! I just liked the photos in the pattern book (well, it may also have had something to do with my deep desire to be just like Denise Huxtable from the Cosby Show). Patiently teaching me to sew my own clothes and allowing me to choose my own style was one of the best gifts mom gave me.
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The girl petting the goat here is my sister. She is wearing an outfit that was originally mine, and is therefore rather baggy. Look at the detail on the top, we were clothed in love nearly every day. How many people get to say that?

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