Friday, September 13, 2013

A Learning Experience

Recently one of my former sewing students, who attended my evening sewing class, sent me an essay that she wrote as part of her nursing curriculum.  She was asked to write about "a learning experience".  She decided to reflect upon her mom, a gifted seamstress, and what led her (Susan) to enroll in my sewing class after the birth of her daughter.  It turned out to be a beautiful reflection on growing up with a mom that sewed for her and her sister and why she sews today.

I asked Susan if I could share the essay on my blog as I have heard similar reasons from other students as to why they want to sew and I knew this essay would touch others as much as it did me.  Here are her words and thoughts, written so meaningfully:

"My mother was a great seamstress, and she loved to sew. She loved sewing matching dresses and outfits for my sister and me, to the point that in every childhood photo we looked like twins born three years apart. Everyone we knew, and even some we didn't know, would bring my mom pants to be hemmed, shirts to be mended, or patterns for dresses and suits they wanted. She would sit in her sewing room for hours, many very late night hours, finishing Easter dresses.

I never really appreciated the fact that she sewed every single dress and many outfits that I wore from birth until I was in college. She was usually pulling me away from the television or a "very important phone call" to have me try on whatever she was making "just one more time" in order for the fit to be just right. My sister and I still joke about how she never accidentally stuck us with a straight pen until we became mouthy teenagers. I still remember standing in the hall, huffing and puffing, and rolling my teenage-girl eyes, and my mom saying "Oh, Sus...I'm so sorry! Did I stick you?" in her sweet, southern accent. Little did I realize what a smart lady she was until I was older.

My sister and I were constantly asked growing up, "and neither of you learned to sew? That's a shame! You're mother is the best seamstress I know!" I always smiled and was polite but thought there was no way that I'd ever want to sit in a room, hour after hour, pouring over material, machine malfunctions, and crazy patterns only to make something that someone would discard and never think of again after they outgrew it or the season changed.

In 2000, three short years after I graduated from college, my mother was diagnosed with Alzeimer's Disease and dementia. She was only 51 years old. Since she was unable to do the math calculations needed to measure fabric, sewing was one of the first activities that she was unable to do. Even though her mind was dwindling and she showed no interest in ever sewing again, I was sad that skill that she was most good at, and loved to do, was lost forever.

When I found out I was pregnant with my only daughter, Hunter, in December 2009, I got an overwhelming desire to make all of the cute baby items that my mom had made for me. Burp cloths, bibs, animal toys, and yes, even a sweet baby dress. I immediately found a great sewing teacher in Matthews and signed up for lessons. For three months, I drove an hour for lessons and back home again. I could not wait to finish my first item on my own. Although it was a simple project, the flannel ladybug baby blanket with pink ribbon taggies on the corners was exactly what I wanted to make my sweet baby girl.

I've now been sewing for four years and of the projects that I've sewn, I love watching my daughter wrap her baby dolls in the ladybug blanket the most. Now I know why my mom spent so many hours sewing all of those matching dresses. And who knew? I turned out to be a pretty good seamstress after all."

- Susan W.

Thank you again, Susan, for sharing your story!

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