January 10, 2010

Marguerite's dress.

I decided to sew over the holidays, which is to say that I decided that my mother and I would sew. My mother is an excellent seamstress and her mother even more. My mom would tell us stories of her mother taking her and her sisters into department stores to pick out new dresses, but instead of buying them, she would pull out her sketchpad and sketch away, go home and recreate the dresses. Magic. Naturally, my mom picked up a lot of this talent. She remembers her mom patiently teaching her to sew using patterns. They would going through each step of the patterns, which were taped up to the cupboards above where the sewing machine sat. My mom did exactly this with me over my visit; she pulled out the scotch tape and tacked each corner of the thin paper above us. We spent hours at the sewing machine together.

It started one day when Marguerite and I went to the fabric store down the road from my parent's house. I strolled through the patterns with my fingers, through the drawers and drawers of sketched girls and vignettes of women in 80's-like stances. I decided on making a dress for Marguerite and a little matching dress for her baby-doll, since she had asked Père Noël for "des habits" (clothes) for her little baby. We chose big polka-dotted fabric and Marguerite wanted to sew an ice cream cone patch on whatever we made. I giggled and agreed it was a great idea (even if it was never realized).

Then the merriment began. I shall never regard a dress in the same way. After this little project, I am frantic about turning things inside out to inspect their making. Reading a pattern is like reading another language, terms you've never ever heard of (at least not in this context): selvege and nap and miter and ease and casing and basting and awl. Good thing I had my translator. Those were lovely moments, sitting there with my mom like that. She is still my mom, but now I can look at her as an adult and a funny thing happens - I see why she was such an enlivening parent. She would say things like, "You're a natural, Em!" with such gusto she had us both convinced (until we pulled the piece of fabric from the machine to see that I'd sewn the wrong sides together) and even then she was still convinced.

In the end, after far more hours than either of us thought it would take, two little dresses were produced. And two little beings looked very winning in them.


Diogenes said...

Wow, that is awesome.

Looks beautiful - you are so talented!

Jill said...

okay, I'm totally impressed! That dress is adorable! Way to go Ems (and Rosie).

I got a sewing machine for Christmas and I'm very excited to get using it. I've just got to think of things to sew now. I need a little Marguerite to sew for. Little boys are not quite as fun in the sewing department. They have been asking me for aprons with pockets though. Maybe I'll indulge them?

Emilie said...

jill you must sew and you must take advantage of you mother's sewing skills as well. my mom and i were talking about it and she says your mother is incredible.

Julie said...

Emilie I love it. I wish Joyce and I had been there to make a matching one. Joyce is still talking about "Margeet" at all times and places. She was telling one of John's co-workers about Marguerite.
Jill you can sew for Joyce - I'll be your best friend.

Rebekah V. said...

I have similar memories with my mom. I always had some hair brained idea for a prom dress two hours before the dance or decide that I would only wear pajama pants that I had made for a year and she stepped me through the patterns. I remember my neck feeling so tense and feeling so impatient with the process. And the saddest thing is that I still can't thread a bobbin. Perhaps one day we can sew side by side. I would enjoy that. Meanwhile, you should definitely continue the journey of the budding seamstress. The dresses are perfect.

Melanie said...

It turned otu so cute and you worked so hard with mom's help. Great work. Love and miss you

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