Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Homemade Clothing

I cut out two of the patterns I bought recently.  One for a Laura Ashley-style nightgown and the other a sundress; both for me.  I bought white muslin for the nightgown.  I'm trying to decide if I want to embroider the bodice and yoke area with my sewing machine and, if so, what color to use.  I wish sewing for myself was as easy as sewing for my granddaughters.  I'm thinking I should have a dress form.  I know they're expensive.

Speaking of clothing patterns.  What exactly did dressmakers and home sewers do before paper patterns were invented in the 1860s?  I imagine prior to the invention of the sewing machine in the 1840s that making clothing for your family took a long time.  If you didn't have a store to buy fabric you'd have to weave it yourself then you'd have to design what you were going to make, measure for it, cut it out and then sew by hand.  This must be why the working class had only one outfit to wear during the week and possibly another outfit for Sabbath to wear to church.

My Granny Pack had an old Singer treadle sewing machine.  She made clothes on it and in her later years used it to piece together quilts.  Before that she pieced by hand and always quilted by hand.  After she passed away I inherited her Singer.  I was never able to get it to work and it's been in storage for 12 years.  I think of all the clothes she must have made for her three daughters and four sons. 

There wasn't a telephone in her house until after Grandpa died in 1972.  No running water or bathroom either.  You hauled water in buckets from the well and used the outhouse to do your business.  Grandpa never wanted modern conveniences although electricity did come to the mountain about 1951.  Still, she continued to use her woodstove to cook on and the electric stove during the summer.

She kept house for herself up until a year or two before she passed.  She brought in her own wood and kept the stove going to heat the house during the winter.  She was in her 50s when Grandpa died.  She went to work as a housekeeper at one of the state parks.  She had never worked outside of her home.  She was a shy woman and thought of herself as "backward."  Being a housekeeper was hard work but she never complained.  I know she enjoyed the time she spent with the other women working there at the lodge.  I think the most difficult thing for her was having to ride the tram down to the cottages at the bottom of the mountain.  I'm afraid of heights.  I've ridden the tram a time or two and my stomach drops as soon as the car starts moving along the rail.

My Granny was a quiet woman.  She was kind and caring.  She was very giving and was there to help anyone who needed help.  She could drum up a meal from leftovers out of the fridge and feed a bunch of people.  I could look in the same fridge and not see anything to eat.  She once told me that when she and my Grandpa were courting he would walk 10 miles one way to see her.  To me that meant love.  Why else would somebody walk so far?

Granny made the most beautiful quilts.  I don't know if she ever followed a quilting design or thought them up herself.  Either way they were beautiful.  I have a couple that she made.  Mom has some.  My sister has one or two and my Uncle Edmund and Aunt Barb gave one of Granny's quilts to Ralph and Jess as a wedding gift.  I've made at least six quilts in my life.  Each one takes about a year to make although I still have Joe's quilt on the frame.  It's been there two years.  I started it when he was about eight years old and he's 26 now.  I know!  There are only three more rows of stars to quilt between the eight pointed stars.  I get lazy or distracted and move on to something else.  That happens a lot to my knitting projects, too.  Right now I happen to want to make clothes.  Hopefully I'll finish Joe's quilt before his girls are grown up.

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