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If She Could Teach Me Now

6 May

Singer Sewing Machine

I readily admit that sometimes my longing for my mother is triggerd by my own needs—wishing she could do something for me. Rather than feel guilty about this selfish desire, I rationalize that the nature of  the child/parent relationship is about what we do for each other. Right now, in my teenagers’ lives, I do so much for them. I do not expect a “pay back,” but I hope to experience some reciprocity. More importantly, it is a goal, however idealistic, that as parents who do many things for our children, we ultimately teach them to do these things for themselves.

Why is it, then, that I did not learn how to sew?

That is the need I had/have that got me thinking about how much my mother did for me and how much I did not want to learn some of the skills needed to fend for myself. My mom was a master seamstress. She made curtains, slip covers, clothing and even doll outfits (see Barbie’s Runway post).  She altered clothes to make them shorter, longer, etc. I do not wish to create clothing, all I want to do is sew a simple hem. My mother saved us all time and money. I can remember her sitting at our dining room table with her old Singer Sewing machine fixing something for my sister, father, or me. She wanted to teach me the basics and often asked me to sit with her and learn. But, in keeping with typical teenage culture, the more she asked the more I resisted. I recall responding with the all-knowing, “I’ll never have to do that myself.” I remember thinking how boring and tedious sewing looked. And, now I wish for the ability to do more than sew a button onto a shirt. How smart it would have been to learn to sew a simple hem. Almost every pair of pants I buy needs to be shortened.  When making a decision to buy pants, I add the $10 – $12 tailoring charge and figure in the time it will take to be fitted and to pick up the pants. Sometimes those qualifications make the pants not even worth buying! I fantasize, “If I only knew how to sew….I could wear these pants tomorrow… and they’d be a real bargain!”

There is even more I could have/should have learned from my mother, including basic handyman skills and shopping for antiques. She could hang any frame on a wall, drill holes and hang shelves as well as find valuable antiques and sell them in her shop. And, this is just a partial list of skills she had and wished to share, but that I refused to learn.

What I wonder is what special or even ordinary skills you learned from your mom. Which of her talents did you take for granted or refuse to adopt? If you could be her apprentice now, what do you wish she would teach you?

Barbie’s Runway

6 Jul

Fashion by Phyllis

I loved dressing my dolls as a child and always appreciated the unique and custom-made clothing my mother crafted for Barbie, Crissy and Kerry. You might notice in the photo that Kit, a current American Girl, is not wearing one of her usual outfits. She is wearing a dress my mother made for Crissy (remember her from the 70’s?) –a great sign that classic fashion stays or comes back in style! This was proven last week while my nieces were visiting and chose that dress for Kit to wear to our New York City American Girl lunch. My daughter  has not played with or dressed Kit for about 7 years so it was great to see her getting attention and a makeover.

I have told my daughter and I told my nieces all about the clothing my mom would craft. She would buy the Singer patterns or create her own. Usually she used fabric left over from hemming or making her own clothing—illustrating her special talent and typical economical habit. She even made a fur stole with the extra from her Flemington Fur Coat.  Sure, her motivation was saving money while giving my dolls a tremendous wardrobe, but I am still grateful for her ingenuity. It certainly took a ton of time and planning to provide such beautiful ensembles.

 I wish my mom could see these dolls now! Her creations/their outfits certainly have stood the test of time and still provide a very special link to my mom. I do not know of any other moms who also made their daughter’s doll clothing, do you? While my daughter and nieces did not mind the “no brand” clothing, would girls today be satisfied with this clothing or would they pine for the “real” designer doll dress?  What memories do you have of things that your mom or dad created for you to play with?