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"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

June 11, 2008


I pulled out my little Feather Weight Singer Sewing Machine in order to mend Mmmm’s pajamas and began thinking about mending. Do people mend anymore? I needed to mend these pajamas because they are very soft and comfortable for Mmmm.

My sister Eunice was the one who made me buy the sewing machine. She was a wonderful seamstress and made most of her children’s clothes as well as her own. She could mend, repair or alter almost anything. She made slider pants, I think they were called, for her grandsons who were playing little league baseball. She would get up early in the morning and sew. She would sew in the evenings too. She said that I must buy this machine. I carried it from downtown to my little apartment on 23rd street. It is the only machine I have ever had. It is really great and most repair men will offer to buy it. It only goes forward and backward – it doesn’t zigzag or do fancy stitches but it is a little workhorse.

I used to make almost all of Kay‘s clothes. I almost ruined her for life by making a pair of textured dark green polyester pants for her when she was in Kindergarten, I think. For years she wouldn’t wear green and anything polyester was not acceptable. Remember, in those days polyester was the great new thing that didn’t need ironing and wore like iron.

I also made most of my clothes. I made one shirt for Mmmm and vowed “never again!” It was way too much work. I could never sew as well as my sisters could and can. My oldest sister, Lyla, came to visit once and spent much of her time in the back room sewing Kay’s drill team costumes. Marlyn has always sewn and still always has a piece of handwork going. As I said, Eunice may have been the best. She had such an eye for fabric and design. Anita has made wedding dresses and suits and all sorts of things. It is sad to think of her hands afflicted with arthritis. Bernie can make silk purses out sows’ ears, almost. She makes the most marvelous little silk bags out of old men’s ties. She braided a wonderful rug out of old panty hose! She has made curtains and partitions and all sorts of things. I don’t know what her latest thing is. I think they all have made quilts. I have made one but that is another story. Eunice was planning to make a quilt for each of her grandchildren when they went to college. Daughter-in-law, Stephanie, has taken up that task for her kids. I am so proud of my sisters – they are so gifted.

Our mother was a good seamstress. She would make coveralls for us out of our father’s old worn out overalls. I can remember her making dresses for my little sisters from old dresses from my grandmother. Grandma was rather large so there was enough fabric. I don’t remember Mother using a pattern unless it was a pattern she made. She used to reverse the collars on Daddy’s shirts when they were starting to show wear. She would shorten and let out and take in. Her sister Ann went out at age 12 to sew for other people. She was a fantastic seamstress and had a home business sewing for people. Do you suppose that there is a sewing gene? I must not have gotten it.

I don’t think people sew as much as they used to. It is so expensive. The “findings” and patterns and zippers are costly, to say nothing of the fabric. I guess I will just continue to mend and perhaps alter a bit. I have warned Mmmm never to bring home another pair of jeans that has to be taken in at the waist.

I was going through some old pictures tonight and found a number of pictures of Kay wearing things I had made her. I rather miss going to a fabric store and going through the remnants to find a little piece of summer fabric to make a little sun dress for my little girl. I sometimes wish I could do it all over again

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