Friday, January 1, 2010

A Sewing Solution for Brother

My oldest brother complained countless times about how his shirts did not have enough buttons.

Did you ever count how many buttons are on a man’s shirt? Well, I did and there were seven buttons and button holes down the front to cover any size chest when one or two would do the same. Then take the cuffs in which most have two or four; sometimes more. You run your hand around the collar. Oops, there are two more tiny ones. They are so tiny that they are rarely used with the exception of the laundry lady.

Well, one day I got a little tired of the complaints so I thought I might be nice. So, with needle and thread in hand and a big button box close by I started. About that time brother passed by me with this giant smile on his face that could melt you. I noticed he did this a lot and for some reason you always felt so good doing his chores, etc. We had a sister who could do anything and a couple brothers that he charmed too. I gave birth to one like him. That gene just passed me by. But getting back to my sewing after I received this smile he sorta sweetened the kitty with “I’ll cook supper tonight.” “Great!!!” I said. So, I continued sewing buttons on his shirts but under my breath I said I detest sewing. Happy day I got finished and pressed his shirt and around eleven buttons.

He gets cleaned up and I’m proud to have a happy good-looking brother all spruced up to go to town.

Later when he returned home, there was no smile and I asked if there was a problem. “Oh, I got one,” he said, “Everyone around the Danville Square asked me if I was selling buttons.” No commission this time. He said, “Sis would you please look and find the same size and color for each shirt?” Why? Years later that has become the style. He was setting a style and didn’t know it. When I see someone dressed this way now, his smile is warming my heart. Anyway he was asking for a tall order. “Do you realize how many suppers you will be cooking? And let’s don’t forget the dishes this time,” I smiled back. I continued to look in the button box for matched buttons to no avail. I said to him, “I bet you lost those buttons on a date sometime.”

“How about me riding along on your next date?” “No way,” he would say. “But I’ll just ride along in the back seat and keep my mouth shut and my eyes open. But, you would have to promise if I needed to stop at a gas station for a comfort stop that you would be careful not to leave until I was back in the car.” “No promise and you can’t go!” he would say. “Not even if I gave you my week’s allowance – all 10 cents of it and just maybe I could include milking one of your cows – just one though?” I thought he might fall for that one, because he liked milking cows as good as I liked sewing. Needless to say, I didn’t get my date ride. But you know a few years later and it’s hard to say how many buttons passed through my needle or how many cows I milked that was in his stalls, etc. He did ask me to double date once. We went roller skating at Rollerland in Indianapolis. It was great for a farm gal just to see all the city lights. We then ate at the Pole restaurant by the fairgrounds. I did not pick up any buttons, but did pick up a lot of pointers.

Ma Ma June
(Editor’s note: My Uncle Harold was quite the charmer. When he walked in a room and smiled, the whole room lit up and all of his brothers and sisters would do whatever he wanted them to do. My ‘baby brother’ David looks like Uncle Harold and he has Uncle Harold’s personality. He can always make you laugh or smile. In fact, Mother said, “There isn’t a day that goes by that David did not make you smile or laugh. Ma Ma June’s loving daughter

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sewing Solution

I. The easiest way I have found to patch a knee in jeans:

Lay the leg of the jeans out smooth under the
foot of your sewing machine.
Take your patch and slip it under the foot also.
Start sewing around the outside edge of patch
with regular stitches or zigzag is good.
Also zigzag a few rows across where the tear
Is in the jeans.
remove from sewing machine.
Take scissors and reach down inside leg and
clip stitches. Neat Job.

II. This is another solution for missing buttons on a sweater:

Just cut the rest off.
Then call it TLC cardigan.
They like this because they don’t have to worry
about getting button-up straight.

III. A tip for darning socks – especially those white cotton work socks:
First turn sock wrong side out and then take a light bulb about
100 Watt is a good size for men.
Drop bulb into sock: take needle with stout double thread and
make a good knot at one end.
Start on one side of the hole and whipstitch it shut;
finish with a good double knot.
Remove light bulb and turn right side out.
Now see that didn’t take much time and your man will be so
proud of you after wearing socks with a hole across the heel
and years of begging to darn his socks.

I will provide one word of caution though to stand aside when he comes home from work limping and has stood all day with his newly darned socks. He will jerk those work shoes off to get to those beautiful darned socks to wad up and throw like a ball out of sight.

His proud smile just turned upside down with the remark, “Don’t you ever darn another sock for me.”

After that, I just bought new ones for him and kept a basket on my washing machine to hold clean holey socks that were then used in the garage to clean oil dip of cherished pick-up. Ma Ma June
(Editor’s note: All of the above sewing solutions my Mother used on my Dad. She detested sewing. In fact, she began to sew me a dress in 1955 when I was five and it never did get finished. Ma Ma June’s loving daughter, Diana)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I have a lot of solutions for sewing. But, there is one beautiful stitch that I would love to learn and that is smocking. What has happened to that art of sewing? So far, I have not come across anybody or any pattern to teach a novice.

When I was young and up until I was nine years old, my Mother made all of my dresses for school, etc. Then I lost her, but I still have a school picture where she had done a lot of smocking. I remember this one little dress she made for me. It had smocking across the shoulders in the front and across the yoke in the back. Then on the long sleeves, she smocked and finished off with rick-rack.

I would put on my beautiful little dress and go out on the sidewalk and twirl around and around and my pretty little dress just floated. It was something special and so was my wonderful Mother.

MaMa June

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Solutions for the Seamstress

My family and friends would just about ask me to do anything i.e. mix concrete or mortar, be a carpenter or a gopher than to do a favor of sewing. I do know those jobs were backbreaking but the satisfaction when completed was rewarding.

Now take sewing, I have yet to get that same feeling.

My first experience as a seamstress was when I was in home economics class as a junior in high school. I touched a little on it one summer in 4-H. I think I had a skill, but it definitely wasn’t handwork with a needle and thread. I needed a few more tools to make it interesting such as a staple gun; hammer with steeples, safety pins and scotch tape to mention a few. This was long before Velcro.

In home economics we were to make a skirt with gathers, plain placket on one side and a band with one button and buttonhole. I thought this is going to be a piece of cake. Wrong!!! For my project, I chose a navy and white-stripped material. It would really look neat made up and no ironing. I’m talking years ago when everything had to be ironed. As years passed by, a new fabric was invented – no iron polyester. Tulane University in New Orleans invented this great fabric.

I was in New Orleans visiting my sister a few years after that invention. She was at work so I decided to take a bus tour of the town. As the bus driver drove past Tulane, he announced that this is where polyester was invented. Every woman on the bus let out a giant scream and crossed their hearts.

Now the skirt I was about to make was cotton and the wrinkles of seersucker, which I thought, was a plus. Anyway, I got started on my skirt not knowing what I was getting myself into and I think I still carry those scars. For some reason the teacher thought all those gathers should be the same size. I tried to accommodate her but my hands were a little oversized and so were my stitches. I looked at the other girls in my class and they had dainty hands, but not a one of them milked cows. I was satisfied with my gathers so I stitched them on the treadle sewing machine, but it did not pass inspection. You know I ripped stitches four times out of my blue ribbon skirt. I ripped them so many times it left holes all around the top. Being of a farm background, I suggested threading a piece of binder twine through the holes and finish with a nice knot and bow in the front.

About forty years later, someone heard me. I hated that skirt! Oh now, I don’t like to use the word ‘hate,’ but I sure built up a big dislike for it and never wore it.

I walked out of that class with a perfect ‘B’ and how to thread and operate seven different treadle machines, such as Singer, White and New Home sewing machines. I believe women in the township donated the machines as they acquired electric ones. We did have one electric one, but the more experienced students used it until they had trouble threading it, etc. So, I was the drafted student to keep everyone happy. On the treadle machines, I never saw so many kinds of bobbins and ways of threading them and the old belts were so dried out they were always in need of help. I watched for a classmate to have a problem with that electric one. I would then jump over to it, sit down, press my knee on the pedal and take off, throw it in reverse then forward until I felt it was safe for someone to use.

Now that was fun instructing others on all of those sewing machines. That’s what I got out of that class.
Ma Ma June

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Medicine Cure: The Old-Fashion Way Part 2

I remember going to a doctor two times while growing up. Once was for a smallpox vaccination and the other was when my Mother passed away. My Mother’s life was way too short – 44 years old and an aunt visited the doctor on my behalf to get something for me.

After my Mother was taken from us, I was only nine at the time and wondered why I could not go with her and the whole world turned upside down. I’ve heard people talk about change of life, but they knew nothing about the change in life this created. She had so much love and affection for all of us and much I wished I could have learned from her. Such a shock coming in home from school running up the lane and find her lying on the walk in front of the porch.

My Dad was the one with only four years of education who was “House-Doctor” manned with his big doctor book, when I stepped on two nails the summer we tore the old farm house down and built a new one. Every board was saved and used in the new home with piles of wood stacked in the chicken lot. Dr. Dad, no M.D. behind his name, but his orders were to get a clean bucket of extra warm water and put so much of this disinfectant in it and soak your foot in it. This disinfectant was a miracle drug. It was called “CNN” and was brown in color and a liquid that came in a square orange labeled bottle. This CNN was used on everything such as scrapes, scratches, cuts and also on cows utters. It had no limit on uses. It was purchased at the Thompson’s drugstore on the north side of the square in Danville.

Later in years I had a step-mother who was a career nurse, but after putting up such a fuss about it became a believer and the last bottle she purchased was between here and Florida. Then, they stopped making it. Maybe it was because there was a fellow that mixed up a batch of something in his bathtub and called it “Had’d Call,” the miracle drug. If my memory isn’t failing me I think you were supposed to drink this one. I hope he washed his feet after and not before mixing that up. It was advertised for a long time, but I didn’t use any for one thing it had to be bought. The reason for its name is that he didn’t know what to name it so he called it, “Had’d Call.”

Well, I kind of got side-tracked for a little while, but after a good soaking of my foot I was to grate a raw potato and bandage it over the nail hole in my foot. This you changed every few hours as the potato turned black and lost its effectiveness. The potato would draw the infection or puss as we called it out onto the dried potato and this you could see. You did this and soaked foot a lot until your foot was no longer swelled to the size of a baseball bat and back to normal when you could get your shoe on. It was a repeat procedure for the next foot, etc.

That was sixty years ago and so far I haven’t gotten “Lock Jaw.” As some would make a mental note, we can tell.

MaMa June

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Medicine: The Old-Fashion Way

I came across my Dad’s medical book the other day. What a book! It’s written by doctors back in the late 1800*s or early 1900’s. I saw a page in the back that you could fill out and send in with a 2 cent stamp to belong to their medical society. I wonder how many years it took before the doctors could sign with M.D. after their name.

This book is four inches thick and there is at the least one inch of items on Castor Oil remedies. Castor Oil was used for all illnesses and diseases. I wished I were the grower of castor beans.

Soybeans are one of the farmers’ major crops and they are finding all kinds of ways to put them to good use in our foods, etc. Wonder why farmers don’t plant every other row in their fields with castor beans? If my Dad was still living, I’m sure he would jump at such a wonderful ideas as he took a lot of pride in spooning this down our throats. We didn’t have a medicine cabinet not even a drawer to hold any. This wonder drug (Castor Oil) sat on the kitchen windowsill. It didn’t need any child safety or as I call them adult safety caps. Where were they when I needed them?

This Castor Oil was also good for exercise. You had the “back door trots” as they were called. We would try to stifle a sneeze when you were within gun shot distance of Dad.

Ma Ma June

Monday, September 7, 2009


We played a lot of games while growing up some of which took a lot of energy, but none of which cost any money.

Our games compared to today’s games would probably sound hokey. Then too, there was not much time for play. Sunday afternoon was our free time before evening chores. We played a lot of baseball. It was really softball as the balls were free taped on the box top of Ovaltine. A good hard hitting batter would smash them lop-sided in no time or they would fall in a fresh cow pile and that ended that day’s play.

We made bean bags out of pieces of burlap sacks or pillow ticking material and filled them with navy beans from the truck patch or used soy beans. We used to throw them over the roof of the hen house. On the first try, if the bean bag didn’t make it and tumbled back to you, the thrower of the bean bag hollered “pig-tails.” When you succeeded getting the bean bag over the roof of the hen house, the player on the other side caught it (honor system) then ran around to tag you.

The games of tag and hide and seek were favorite games to play about dark.

MaMa June