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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Sewing: Thanks, Mom for Teaching Me

This Wednesday marks the 5th year my Mom has been in her eternal home with Jesus.  I miss her.  I missed her for a long time before she really left us  as ours was the path of Alzheimer’s Disease with her.  Then, 4 short months after she passed, Daddy went to be with her.  Just like the two swans we always felt they were, together quickly forever.   Here are 2 pictures of her that I love the most.

Londa's Mom, Arlene Luer

When I think of Mom … 

I always think of the precious skill of sewing that she taught me.  I think I caught it by ‘osmosis’.  She liked to say that “Londa grew up underneath the sewing machine.”

The first thing I remember her making was the skirt for my vanity of ballerina fabric.  I remember matching outfits she made for the 2 of us.  I also remember some apple print dresses she made for my friend next door and I.  She made my Jill Doll some beautiful clothes.  See my recent Blog Post HERE. 

Some fond memories include sitting in the park downtown in early June and watching all the little girls parade by on their way to the Virginia Theatre for their annual dance recital.  They were all dressed up in their ballet and tap costumes AND they got to wear make-up!   She promised me than when I was old enough, I could take ballet lessons from Miss Rose too.  And, sure enough, I did.  Those lessons cost $5/month – a sacrifice she told me many times that she and Daddy made because they knew I loved dancing so much.

Not only did she make MY costumes for those recitals, but she also made LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of costumes!  In fact, one stayed in the ‘dress up’ box for years through my daughter’s growing up.  Back in the mid 50’s, knits weren’t around for clothing, except perhaps undies and hosiery – and thinking of it, I guess our dance leotards.

To sew a ballet costume meant a process something like this:

  1. Fit a muslin – princess seams as I recall to accommodate budding figures.

  2. Use fitted muslin as the pattern from which to cut the satin – or taffetta.  (I remember being taught the difference!)

  3. Insert a metal zipper up the center back and elastic around the legs.

  4. Gather yards and yards and yards of stiff, pokey NETTING for the TuTu – shorter widths at the bottom, graduating to wider widths at the top layer

  5. Stitch all those gathered layers to the muslin Band that was hand-stitched to the satin base ‘leotard’.

  6. Adding lots of sequin trims by hand.

Stitched with love by Mom

And all of that labor was done from the dining room table where she cut – with scissors as this was long before rotary cutters.  She stitched in the corner of the kitchen on the Singer 301 black head machine.  Where she stored all that ‘stuff’ – I’ll never know – but I vaguely remember a closet there in the kitchen.

In fact, she made enough costumes that one year that those earnings (I remember about $10/costume) added up to help fund a family vacation from Illinois to California!  I remember the NON-air-conditioned Chevrolet we bought brand new for that trip.  Allow some memories to flood back…

  1. Grandma helping us tape up newspaper to the windows to keep the sun out

  2. Traveling across the desert at night

  3. Eating powdered donuts in the car every morning for breakfast and the red plaid cooler holding our lunches for roadside picnics

  4. SIX of us in that little Chevrolet – 2 weeks to CA and back home again.

  5. DisneyLand! Marine World!

The Last Thing Mom Made for Me

She always said that the last thing she remembers making was my white pique dress and jacket that I wore for my Confirmation in 8th grade.  In our church, that was the culmination of a year of study with the pastor and the time we ‘confirmed’ our faith in Jesus for ourselves.  After that, she put me on a clothing allowance of $25/month.  The only way I figured I’d be able to have the clothes I thought I needed was if I made them myself – which I DID!  I never looked back.

When It Was Time To Go To College…

I’ll always remember her guidance in selecting a major at college.  When she asked me what I wanted to ‘be’ when I grew up, my answer was simple:  “A Wife and a Mother”.  Her wisdom then replied: “Well, how about Home Economics?” Though I wish now I had gone to a fashion design school and forgone all of the ‘other’ stuff that the college degree required (chemistry, history, earth science, etc.), her guidance was wise.   I have been blessed to be both, a wife (45 years this June) and a Mom to a boy and a girl.

I owe my Mom much – but especially, the role model she was to me of digging deep into a hobby one loves.  I think she’d be very very happy with what I’m doing these days – teaching other young girls this time-honored skill at my Londa’s Sunroom Sewing Studio here at my home.  And, the Days for Girls project – she’d love that, I am certain.

Thanks, Mom!  I can’t imagine my life without the beauty of creating with needle and thread.  Someday we’ll work together on those angel wardrobes……..  

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