This blog has changed over the years. Right now I post pictures of sewing projects and What I Wore to Work Today, with some other stuff thrown in. I’m in my early 30s and live in the Southwest. And, because I always find myself asking this when I’m looking at another blog and wondering if I could pull off the same outfit, I’m 5’2″ and 105 pounds.
When I was maybe 9 years old I loved using a typewriter. I would pretend to write for a newspaper, which I called Rabbit Style News for a reason I can only guess at now. Maybe it was because I really liked rabbits and writing in the style of would one would be great. Just a few articles from this paper remain, possibly because I only wrote a handful. This website is the realization of my childhood dream. I’m a much better typist now.
My first memories of sewing involve making little pin cushions by hand for my mother out of rectangles of fabric stuffed with cotton or batting. The first quilt I can remember working on was when I was maybe 9, living in Colorado. I was sitting on the living room floor, facing east (my memories are usually situated spatially), cutting scraps into tiny squares of fabric that were 1 inch by 1 inch. I recall thinking, “Ok, so I’ll use the latest square as the template for the next one in order to keep them all the same size”, which is the exact opposite way to avoid small deviations drifting further from the original. I don’t remember what happened with that project, although I imagine I let it go by the wayside after an hour.
Around the same time my mom made me an apron. I remember choosing the fabric and hand towel. The decision came down to pink floral and a peachy orange. I chose pink and my mom made the apron, in an adult size so I could use it later too. I still wear it in the kitchen, and my joke is that she didn’t want me to get fat as a grown-up — the apron strings are the perfect size, and probably wouldn’t fit if I were much taller or bigger than I ended up as an adult.
In 7th grade Personal and Family Life Sciences, aka home ec, we made animal-shaped pillows using sewing machines. I made a black-and-white checked turtle with fuchsia accents. When I was 14 my mother signed me up for a week-long sewing class in a woman’s basement studio. A friend and I made drawstring bags, plaid shorts, and a shirt. Over a decade later I still have the bag — made of an obnoxiously loud fruit print — to hold knitting supplies. I never wore the clothes, although I now own 3 pairs of plaid shorts, so I guess even then I had the same style.
After freshman year of college I came home for the summer excited to make myself some knee-length pencil skirts, I’m not sure why. I bought fabric for two and made one, which was ok but not great, about as good as could be expected for somebody who hadn’t really used the sewing machine since a short class four years earlier. I didn’t make the second skirt and only wore the first skirt twice.
A year or two later I added a floral green stripe down the side of a pair of old jeans. I don’t remember how I was able to do it, somehow using the sewing machine all the way up the pant leg. I finished another part of the hem by hand while watching tv (facing south, as it happened). I added more fabric patches to a different pair of hand-me-down jeans from a friend. Friends and family alike hoped I wouldn’t keep wearing them, and yet I did throughout college. I still have them, although now they reside in the Costume/Nostalgia bin.
A few years after college I decided I wanted to make an apron for my boyfriend that he could wear when we frequently cooked dinner together. It would be black and have skulls, a hard-core ass-kickin’ death metal apron that a man would wear with pride. A friend’s mother lent me her old sewing machine, eventually admitting that she didn’t want it back and it was mine to do with as I would, and I made a butcher-style bib apron using Skullfinity fabric. Then I started making purses, several little handbag clutches for myself or as gifts. My fabric collection was growing, and soon I could say I truly had a “stash”. Within six months I made my first quilt. Then I made another, this time for my mom including pieces of her recently-deceased mother’s clothing. (Macabre, or touching? You decide!)
By this time I had a nice new machine given to me as a gift by my boyfriend and his parents. I had a beautiful quilt book given to me by my mom after I checked it out of the library several times. I had a book about knitting and a book about crochet, given to me by my dad and stepmom. I had become a crafter, somebody whose hobbies include those old-timey hobbies of sewing and quilts and such.
It took me a quarter-century, and finally I relented to my nature. Throughout the years the signs were there that I would end up sewing, and I wouldn’t admit it. I wasn’t going to become my mom, making weird puffy pants out of fabric with American flags and elastic at the ankles, even though I loved wearing them in 5th grade. I wasn’t going to thrill over vintage patterns, even though I recall going through my mom’s pattern box for an hour at a time. I wasn’t going to make clothing or blankets as gifts, even though I loved the crochet blankets and Christmas stockings my paternal grandma made us and the bib with a velvet dog that my mom made and the quilts in the house that incorporated fabric with the trains that my dad loved.
So this is what it has come to: I have become my mother, as happens to many women. I’ve become my mother who made her prom dresses and wedding dress and babies’ clothing and children’s fancy Easter attire and life-size dolls and llama leads and dog sweaters. I love sewing and quilting and making things. I am slowly learning the skills that I could have been honing years ago when instead I was pretending to myself that I didn’t sew and never would, because that’s weird or unnecessarily feminine. I hope to use the same patterns that my mother and aunt and grandmother did, as a connection to the women who came before me.
I draw the line at macrame, though. I have my dignity.