Joyful Tales: Guest blogger, Joy Healy, writes about growing up with a mother for a seamstress in Tomball, Texas.
My mother was a whiz with the sewing machine. Although she owned and used her share of Simplicity and McCalls patterns, she also employed a keen eye for designs. When called upon, she could be a copycat designer.
Growing up, I was often surprised by a new dress, skirt, blouse etc., that mom would whip up while I was being educated. The big yellow school bus would leave Eldon, Charles and me at the beginning of our dirt road in the country (Cemetery Road in Tomball, Texas) to walk home the three-quarter mile stretch. We would all arrive home, hot and thirsty, to mom, who would greet us with a smile, probably some tea or lemonade, and then I would spy it – my new outfit! I was quite a tomboy, but I loved those new clothes. The more the merrier!
Buying clothing for me was quite foreign. After all, when you have a mother who is a master seamstress, why would you drive the thirty miles into the big city of Houston to shop in expensive stores (and weren’t all the stores expensive to a country gal wearing homemade apparel?). However, as a teen, I became more and more aware that not all my friends wore homemade clothing and I began to exert pressure on mom to take me shopping for storebought.
On one trip into a big city Houston department store, mom and I walked through rack after rack of beautiful dresses. I thought, “My parents would never buy any of these special dresses for ME.” I found one dress that was to die for – a sleeveless shirtwaist dress made of pure white cotton. It had a sweet waistline, with several buttons spaced up the front. Running over the buttonholes was green trim that simulated a flower stem; and, yes, appliquéd tulips just made the dress!
Mom whipped out a pad of paper and began to sketch. Two days later, I was wearing the exact dress to church on Sunday morning. I jutted my chin out in pride that I was as stylish as the next teen, wearing my replica of an expensive store-bought dress.
Today, I joined a new group – the American Sewing Guild. The ASG is a national organization that promotes sewing in any form. For most of my life, I have sewn, whether as a learner as a child, or as a new mother who wanted special outfits for my three children. During the Seventies, due to the high cost of sewing materials, many of us stopped relying on homemade clothing. However, there has been a wonderful resurgence in sewing all across our great land. Thousands of women and men have begun/resumed sewing all manner of products. We all understand the inner satisfaction of turning out a product from scratch. These days, when satisfaction is sometimes very hard to find, getting to know your sewing machine can be a very worthwhile effort.
By Joy Healy
Joy Healy is retired and lives in Olmstedville, NY, with her husband, Ed, and their Black Labrador, Bella. Until Spring 2010, she taught English at Albany High School, in Albany, NY.