One of my plans for retirement was to start sewing again and I’ve finally done it! I wondered if choosing a fully lined, fitted jacket for my first project in a very long time was a wise idea but so far, it’s going amazingly well. Sitting at the sewing machine has also brought back many memories. In fact, for many years, sewing was part of the story of my life.
My mother taught me to sew on her old Singer machine when I was still in elementary school. I took one semester of sewing in eighth grade and remember how disgusted I was to learn that our first project would be an apron. I had just finished a skirt complete with zipper and waistband! I would rather have taken drafting but that wasn’t allowed. Home ec was mandatory for girls and only boys took shop courses. Our second project was a short-sleeved cotton blouse. I wore mine a few times but never to school. After all, every girl in the school had one just like it! The only choice we had was colour.
Floor length dresses were in vogue for dances and other formal occasions in those days. I remember making the dress that I wore to my very first formal dance. My best friend, Janis, and I were allowed to miss half a day of school to go shopping for patterns and fabric with her mom! Never before or after did my parents permit me to miss school without being sick! I wish I had a picture of that dress. The style was simple with bows at the shoulders and it was pale yellow. My mother and I went shopping for just the right shoes and purse to go with it and I wore a pair of her long white gloves. I suspect that they’re the same pair that I found in her storage locker when I helped her clean it out a couple of years ago.
In the past, sewing was a matter of economics. Homemade clothes were cheaper than store-bought. During my college years, when we got home from university each summer, my sister, a couple of friends and I would shop for patterns and fabric then gather around my sewing machine and my mother’s to make our summer wardrobe as well as new clothes for the coming school year. Patterns sold for $1 in those days!
After graduating from university and meeting my husband to be on the first day of my new career as a school teacher, I made my wedding dress and headpiece. Then, just a few years later, came the children. I did lots of sewing for the first two but by the time the third and fourth (who are less than a year apart in age) came along there just didn’t seem to be much time for sewing anymore! When the children were all in school, I went back to teaching part-time and there still wasn’t a lot of extra time available. By then, my well used sewing machine was also wearing out. It still handled the occasional mending job but couldn’t be depended on for finer work.
Eventually it died completely and though it had been awhile since I’d done much sewing, I really couldn’t imagine life without a sewing machine. I picked out the one I wanted and Richard bought it for me for Christmas. That was a few years ago now but in recent years it’s only been used for making drama costumes. I’m happy to say that that’s coming to an end. Now that I’ve settled into retirement, I have lots of time on my hands and grandchildren to sew for!
When the kids grew up and left home, they left space for a sewing room. In the past, I had to haul the machine and all the sewing paraphernalia out to the kitchen table to work on and, of course, it had to be put away between uses. Now, one of the extra bedrooms has become a computer/sewing room complete with a table for laying out and cutting fabric and a cabinet for the sewing machine. I can leave a project out and work on it for a few minutes or a few hours whenever I want to.
By the way, Janis is still sewing too and you should see the things she makes! She’s by far the more creative of the two of us. You can check out some of her projects on her blog.