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