Slightly off-topic from Fayston, VT. For Mother’s Day, I bought myself a new sewing machine. Fashion frustration has brought me back to the sewing circle. Sometimes my favorite Carhartt cargo shorts are, well, too casual. Jeans are warm in the summer. I’ve been looking for a simple, comfortable shift dress that looks presentable at work yet withstands the daily mess that my life produces, and – this is very important – has pockets for my lens cap and dog treats.
If the story sounds a bit familiar so far, it’s because it’s similar to how Lilly Pulitzer first started. The company that bears her name is a long way from Lilly’s first simple dresses that she made to wear at her juice stand. Today’s Lilly is too neon, too short, too low, too much lace, and too expensive for every day, dog-slobber-and-muddy-paws-wear. I’ve trolled eBay, etc, for old school, pre-neon no-lace Lilly that someone discovered unworn in the back of a closet, with a couple of great finds but a whole lot of yuck. Then I googled “lilly shift dress pattern.” BINGO. My frustration is shared, I found.
I learned to sew from my mom, who made adorable dresses for me when I was little. Except that I preferred pants. She also made these really cute bean bag frogs, which she would sew for each of her kindergarten students. I started as a helper in the frog factory. Over the years, she made a few frogs for me, too. I still have my frogs.
As a teenager, I sewed a few things I actually wore. I remember a particular skirt I made that I loved, but it almost gave me detention. My prep school dress code specified skirt length, and I made it to spec. The dean was not so sure. He stood me against the wall and measured my skirt, from waist to hem. I didn’t gloat, but a sly smile crossed my lips as I went almost skipping to my next class.
I should also thank my step-mom for patiently letting me invade her sewing room to make a formal dress when I was in college. I remember that it was a royal blue dress and blue stuff went everywhere in that room. I’m really sorry for the mess I made, still.
Fast forward, I sewed curtains for my newborn’s room. On the last panel, I broke my machine. He’s now finishing his first year in college. Sewing machines have become less expensive, lighter, and computerized. I think I’ll start with a bag, then perhaps move onto a jacket for short-coated Linus, as he’s cold in the winter. I found some great polar fleece fabric that would look great on you, buddy. Looking at all the fabric, I can see why quilting is so popular.
I’ll eventually tackle that dress.
Thank you to moms everywhere for their loving patience and guidance. It does stay with us, always.
3 thoughts on “Following the thread: Special Mother’s Day Edition”
Liked this a lot. Nice way for me to start the day.
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Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere. Thank you Becky for the lovely tribute and I’m glad you remembered the sewing I did for you when you were growing up. I loved sewing for you and your brother. Do you remember some of the brother/sister outfits I sewed for you! I would take you along to the fabric store to pick out the fabric. It was always enjoyable and then I did graduate from making dresses to sewing your pants as well. Pink was your favorite color!
Thanks again for the lovely tribute and the frog factory still gears up from time to time!
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Oh my you rekindled a lot of memories for me with this article. I learned to sew with my grandmother who taught me on an old black Singer with a foot pedal that you pumped. As a teenager I made myself lots of skirts..the pencil type skirts that are popular now. I could start one two hours before a date and wear it that evening. I made the Lily Pulitzer type for both myself and matching for my daughter when she was little. Then there were curtains, drapes and more curtains for my own homes. When I tired of making clothing….about the time of the horrible fashions of the 70’s, I made Teddy Bears out of German mohair. My home is filled with them today…every chair, sofa, bed and even the stairs. Then came clothing and adorable curtains with appliqués for the grandchildren. Now my 52 year old Singer is collecting dust in the sewing room and only good for evoking fond memories from the past…..and mending. I often wonder how anyone can get along without a sewing machine. Thank you for eliciting so many memories on Mother’s Day. Enjoy!
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