My mother’s mother, “Grammy” we called her, was an amazing seamstress. Grammy died when I was eight years old, so I have limited memories of her and I only know this fact because my mother told me.
One of my favorite stories about Grammy’s sewing prowess occurred in the spring of 1934. As a widow during the Depression, Grammy couldn’t afford to purchase new Easter dresses for her two daughters, so she instead made one for each of them. My mother and her sister perused the Sears and Roebuck catalog until they each found a style they liked. Grammy measured her daughters, cut patterns out of old newspapers, and sewed beautiful dresses for her daughters that mimicked those from the catalog. My mother’s was made of green satin.
I always imagined that my mother looked stunning with her red hair and green satin dress as she ate Easter dinner with her soon-to-be in-laws.
My mom, unlike her mother, never learned to sew because she never needed to. Grammy continued to sew clothes for her grandchildren, even making shirts for one of my brothers out of the fabric from my mom’s wedding dress.
When I started high school, there were two classes in which my mom strongly encouraged me to enroll: home economics and driver’s education. At that time, home economics basically entailed learning to cook and learning to sew. Mom freely admitted that her encouragement was more than a little selfish in nature. Although she was an amazing cook, she was quite anxious to have easy access to both a seamstress and a chauffeur.
Being a dutiful daughter, I did as requested and discovered that I loved both driving and sewing! (Cooking, not so much. I think I am an okay cook, but I don’t really enjoy it. I do, however, enjoy eating, which is why I cook.)
During my high school years, I sewed many items of clothing for myself including a five-piece Easter outfit (skirt, pants, vest, blouse, scarf) and my junior prom dress in 1972. (Yes, that handsome young lad standing next to me is my future husband.)
These days I no longer sew my own clothing, preferring instead to sew quilts. During the winter months on the farm, when there is little outside work besides my twice-a-day animal feedings, I spend many hours in my basement at my sewing machine. I have made a baby quilt for each of my grandchildren, I have made lap quilts for many of my family members, and I have pieced together several queen-sized bed quilts as well.
The bedding in the photo was pieced together and embroidered by me. It took me years to finally complete it all because I kept getting sidetracked by other projects (like writing).
A few months ago, I was delighted when I received an unexpected phone call from my oldest granddaughter.
“Grammy?” (Yes, my own grandchildren call me “Grammy”.)
“Would you show me again how to embroider?”
A number of years ago I bought her some embroidery supplies and taught her a few basic stitches. She was now wanting to embroider her name and a vine-like ring of flowers on her new backpack, but had forgotten some of what I taught her. I was more than happy to help her, but the fact that she was calling from Phoenix made her request a bit problematic.
“We can FaceTime,” she told me, suggesting a 21st century solution that my own Grammy could not have even imagined.
So, that’s what we did. Focusing the screen on my hands, I reviewed with her some basic embroidery stitches. I think she did a fabulous job, if I do say so myself.
I think my grammy would be very proud. I know this one is.
(Grammy is mentioned several times in A Year on the Family Farm and also in Another Year on the Family Farm.)
Next Week: I’m Rooting For You!