Saturday, February 16, 2008

I blame my mother

I blame my mother. Maybe if my mother had better taste in dresses, I’d never become a sewer. Did you see the movie Hairspray? In one of the scenes, Penny—dorky, clueless Penny—is wearing the same dress that I wore to my first day of junior high. The exact red plaid cotton with the white collar. Which, by the way, was several years AFTER Hairspray took place. Did I mention the ankle socks? No, this was not Gwen Stefani kind-of-cool. The “it” girls were in pleated wool and knee socks featured in Seventeen magazine.

My mother was no Mrs. Pingleton. She never threatened to lock me in my room, and in fact, told me I looked great every day when I left for school, but she was not into fashion (Which should have been evident by her complimenting my outfits).

So I learned to sew. Dresses, and jumpers. Those were the days when pants weren’t allowed on high school girls for fear we’d inflame the high school boys. The fallacy in that logic is that a randy boy (Oh, is that redundant?) could drop his pencil on the floor under his desk and sneak a peek up the unsuspecting girl’s skirt. Over and over again. Some guys never tired of this. Yeah, Gregg, I’m looking at you.

All my best friends sewed. (We also wrote Beatle fanfic, but that’s another blog.) We talked fabric. We even critiqued each other’s work, without knowing the word. And we shopped. Yard goods were everywhere. We could ride our bikes to three fabric stores. Sears carried fabric. Montgomery Wards had yardage in the catalog.

All through high school, college and married life, we sewed. We sewed our wedding dresses, our trousseaus, our bridemaids’ dresses. We sewed capes, and muffs, and fantasy gowns. Baby clothes, baseball shirts. Even men’s pants. (Wouldn’t you marry a guy who agreed to wear the pants you made him? Seemed like a vow of undying love.)

When the sixties hit us, in the early seventies, we sewed skimpy tops out of bandannas, decorated our jeans. We sewed broomstick skirts and baby buntings. Then came the eighties, and working girl wardrobe. No time to sew, but still the urge.

I still harbored the creative energy so I decided to make a quilt. This was 1983, and resources in my small town were few. Following a library book, I spread the fabric out on the kitchen table. I marked the rectangles with a pen and cut. With scissors. You can see a picture of my first quilt on my website. So ugly.

This was pre-rotary cutter. The quilting bug didn’t take hold. It was too hard. I had a full-time job, family, night school. But the first thing I did when I got laid off, five years later, was enroll in a quilting class. Oh wait, the second. The first thing I did was buy a new computer and start a novel.

Both loves, writing and sewing, were tied together and ever-present. There were seasons of fallow and plenty. Sometimes I didn’t write, somedays I didn’t sew. Sometimes the pilot light was the only thing lit, but still the urge to write and sew never left me. Now I have the best of both, writing novels about quilters and stampers who kill and the woman who solves the crime.

Thanks, Mom!


Monica Ferris said...

I hope this gets posted. I wrote something yesterday for the cell phone rant (good stuff!) and it vanished. Today's post is wonderful stream-of-consciousness writing. I haven't read your books (shame on me), but now I want to, just to see more of that writing.

Kathryn Lilley said...

A belated apology, Monica--I was fooling around with the blog's permissions yesterday so I may have accidentally blown away your comment--and indeed, I was on a rant! Next week I'll take on people who RSVP and then don't show up for parties (grin). I want to add my own "Thanks, Mom," to today's post--for being an early believer in my writing. Good post today!

Terri Thayer said...

It says the comment moderation has been enabled. That explains why my mother's comment didn't get through. I got an email about the comment, but it doesn't tell me how to approve. And I don't see where to change this.

Thank you both for your lovely thoughts on my ramblings.I only have one book, Monica and it's just been released.

Just after I finished my writing at Starbucks, I very nearly got run over by a woman driving 45mph through the shopping center, of course, while talking on her phone.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Oh. My. God. Terri, I'm glad you're okay!

Becky Levine said...

Hmm, more of that writing at Starbucks, ha?! :)

Okay, so guess why I don't sew? Well, mostly because I hate it, mom did sew. Wonderfully. All the time. And our clothes for years. Remember Stretch & Sew? I know you do.

I wanted to sew. And I did learn how to. I even made a few things. (And I did embroider flowers all over one denim shirt in the seventies!)

But when I grew up and had a child and fabric was more expensive than finished clothes? Well, I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't have to sew to be a good mother. Beside, I would never be able to paint the necessary dragon on all of his t-shirts! :)

Thanks goodness for people like you that CAN quilt and give us such beautiful art to enjoy.

Terri Thayer said...

I was fine, don't worry.

Can we fix this comment moderation thingy? I can't see how.

Kathryn Lilley said...

I think I got it fixed. I un-enabled Comments Moderation and approved the waiting messages. The whole thing is very unintuitive!

Betty Hechtman said...

This is my first blog comment so I hope I do it right. Terri, your sewing comments brought back memories. I used to sew all my clothes and my mother's clothes. I made my wedding dress. And, yes Becky, I remember Stretch and Sew.
But But I'm afraid my poor sewing machine is sitting idle these days. The last time I used it was to sew up the lining for a purse I crocheted. I am going to order your book today. Can't wait to read it.

Becky Levine said...


I think it's fixed. When I posted, I thought my comment got lost, but it's up there today.

I still have the Singer (with metal gears) machine I bought when I was in high school, used from a neighbor who ran a used sewing machine & vacuum cleaner shop. Anyone know why those two things are always together?

Betty, I Just finished your Blue book. Really enjoyed it!

Rosemary Harris said...

I bought a portable sewing machine at a tag sale a few years ago and my Ukranian cleaning lady told me I'm the only person she works for who has one. I like that. I mostly take things in and make pillow covers, but I still like the fact that I know how to do it. Skimpy tops out of bandannas sounds cool, though....maybe I'll give those a try..

Terri Thayer said...

from my mom, whose comment got swallowed:

You're welcome, I think. Now, about those white socks-------

She also mentioned the horrible purses she made me carry. Thanks for the reminder, Mom.

Terri Thayer said...

Hi Betty! So exciting to see your comment. When's the Crochet

Some of those old sewing machines are worth a lot of money, so be sure to check Ebay before you get rid of them.

Terri Thayer said...

I didn't finish my sentence. When's Hooked on Murder coming out?

Premature commenting.

Betty Hechtman said...

Becky, I'm glad you enjoyed Blue Schwartz and Nefertiti's Necklace. Terri, Hooked on Murder comes out May 6, but is already on Amazon for pre order.
I feel like I have the history of sewing machines. I have an old treadle, an old singer that doesn't even go backwards, a new singer with a bunch of cams I could never figure out and a new Brother which is so light I thought the box was empty.