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.