The distant sound of whirring and the foot pedal up and down on the floor. The sliding sound of scissors on the table as pieces of fabric were cut to embellish our bodies. These were the fabrics that wove our life together. My mom would sit at her sewing machine sewing all the clothing of my younger years. Rarely using a store bought pattern, she’d piece together her homemade newspaper patterns. With three girls, two boys and two foster children there was always a need for new clothing. My mom worked tirelessly for hours and hours piecing and sewing one outfit, usually dresses, after another. She stitched by hand the hems of all the dresses, the pant legs of my brothers clothing and many military patches on my dads Marine Corp fatigues. When my sisters and I were majorettes mom and her friend got together and made all the girls uniforms complete with fancy sequins and satin shirts to wear with them.
Many years later when I had my first daughter mom made Jennifer her first dress and bonnet to wear home from the hospital, it was yellow floral and stitched entirely by hand. Mom made my youngest daughter’s first dress too and even made the layette, bedroom curtains, a sheet set and bumper pads for Kelsey’s crib.
My mom sewed through two generations of doll clothes for my sisters and I when we would lose our dolls clothes or they would just get torn from playing with them so much. My mom sewed my daughters doll clothes as well. Mom sewed all four of my bridesmaid dresses when I got married in a little under three weeks time. It seemed as though she could just whip out anything that was ever needed as long as she had a needle and thread. I remember always having trouble learning Math in school but mom helped me with that too. I learned about measurements and fractions from my mom and her sewing techniques. I learned how to fit pieces that seemed impossible and make my own skirts and dresses. I sew myself now and even my youngest likes to sew with me on occasion. The days of sewing and watching mom are gone now but the memories will be forever embedded in my mind.
I’d have to say that what I remember most about mom’s sewing were the sounds that filled the rooms when she sewed. She usually had 6 to 8 straight pens stuck just on the edge of her lips as she pulled them out of the fabric one by one. Sweet sounds of her humming was often heard, though sometimes buried under the whirring sound of the machine. They were usually old gospel hymns, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, “In the Garden” or her all-time favorite, “Where Could I Go.” I loved being with my mom. The way she moved around our home working swiftly and steadily from one task to another. It wasn’t the modern day work or the “Proverbs 31 thing to do, it was just my mom taking care of her family. The greatest title ever bestowed upon her.
©Nancy King, December 2008.