My earliest memories of anything sewing related are of my mother making baby sleeper outfits in anticipation of my first sibling. They were made of a baby soft terry cloth in pale shades of yellow and green because, of course, back then parents had to wait until delivery to see the gender. I remember being slightly miffed that I wasn’t getting a super soft pair of jammies. I would have had to have been around 3 years old.
I also remember my mom working on beautiful embroidery. Not cross stitch, but scrolling leaf work with intricate designs and colors. I was in awe of all of the embroidery threads and their beautiful colors. Obviously my sister had not yet arrived on the scene. I am now quite amazed that my mom was able to do that work with me hanging off her shirt sleeves, let alone the four rascals that came after me. I am quite positive I was very insistent that she let me “help” her. I don’t know what happened to all of the other pieces of embroidery that my mom did, but the one that remains is a green leaf patterned blessing that hangs at my Grandma’s house. Sadly it bears the marks of some possibly too helpful little hands? Coffee was spilt across a swath of the piece, never to come out completely. May this have been the cause of Mom setting aside her embroidery forever? I am not sure and I am afraid to ask her.
My first memory of doing anything myself with needle and thread was learning how to do candlewicking. I remember it was winter time and I can recall at least one sister also vying for Mom’s attention. I think it may have been an extreme case of the winter shut in crazies that drove my mom to attempt teaching a five/six year old something as complicated as needle work, and candlewicking to boot. If you have never seen or heard of candlewicking I am not really surprised
Do you recognize it now? You might be familiar with it from the bedspreads done in candlewicking patterns. You can read a quick history of it here on the site I found this picture. Mom, I just have to say you were entirely crazy to try to teach a five to seven year old how to do this. I don’t think there is any way I would attempt it now as an adult. My memory says I had some success at this but I don’t think there are any remains to prove it, so those memories may all be delusions of grandeur.
Then finally! Finally I got to use the glorious sewing machine. This would have been the summer after 3rd grade. I have pictures to help me date it. I am wearing my glorious, treasured Ewok t-shirt and my brand new for the school year jeans. In my arms is my first sewing creation. The beloved pillow. I won a blue ribbon, and I got to wear my Ewok shirt. Did I mention that I loved that Ewok shirt?
For sewing to have become my life long passion and profession you would probably expect me to say that I had some sort of amazing revelation or fantastical calling on my heart to become a seamstress. Nope. In fact I wasn’t particularly gifted. I struggled A LOT. I made so many mistakes. Not just regular mistakes, but repetitive mistakes, over and over. Right side, wrong side, inside, outside, left, right major melt down issues. In college I once put a suit together with two right sides of the body at least 5 times. I think my friend Shanon ended up finishing the piece for me because my brain just could not get it. I don’t cry very often, but I cried that day because I was focusing, contrary to what the costume designer accused me of. I was focusing with all my might and it still wasn’t working.
So why in the world would I continue on such a challenging for me path? Academics came pretty easy for me. I could have pursued writing, teaching, or psychology and been perfectly successful. It would have been a lot easier. There would have been less frustration and fewer tears.
But at the end of the day I just want to sit on my Mom’s lap and listen to her reassure me that, yes, I can do it. Just try one more time. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect this time, next time it will be better. Keep trying, don’t give up.
May my sweet girl hear those same words of encouragement coming back to her when she is grown. Teach your kids, teach them when they are young, and teach them with love. You never know what passion you might ignite in their hearts. Thanks Mom.
And here is an Ewok, just because.