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The Great Dress Making Project

When I was in 7th or 8th grade my mom helped me sew a dress from scratch. We went to the fabric store, picked out a pattern, found some fabric and began the process of sewing a dress.

As a teen, my mom had been in 4-H and regularly sewed her own clothes not only for 4-H competitions but to wear to school as well. I’ve seen the newspaper clippings of her wearing her prizing winning fashions–the outfits were pretty good.

When I was a little girl, my mom bought the patterns for American Girl dolls and sewed me multiple outfits for my two dolls. My dolls were very well dressed and never lacked something to wear.

So I think my mom’s challenge to me in middle school to sew my own dress was her way of passing on her love of sewing to her only daughter. Only I really had no interest in learning how to sew.  I especially didn’t want to have to wear a dress I had sewn myself. While I’m sure my mother was hoping it would foster a sense of pride and satisfaction in my work, I worried my friends would think I made my own dress because we were poor.

But, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and set aside time each weekend to work on the dress. There was some big event on the calendar that served as our deadline to finish the dress. The plan was to wear the dress to that event. Each weekend we worked a little bit more on the dress. My mom taught me different sewing tricks about how to finish a seam and work with a pattern.

When it was all said and done, I had a pretty cute jumper dress. I don’t really remember what my attitude was during this time, but I can take a guess. I was a young adolescent girl participating in mandated mother daughter bonding time. I’m sure I wasn’t always a complete pain, but I’m pretty confident I didn’t enter into each sewing lesson with the same excitement I expressed when hanging out with my friends. I’m sure I gave my mom some attitude more than once during this project.

It kind of sucks to grow up and become a mother only to look back on all the crummy things you did to your own mother doesn’t it? I’m sure she imagined this project differently in her head. She might have even hoped I would have asked to sew another dress with her once we finished the first dress. But I never did. In fact, after finishing that dress, I only used the sewing machine a handful of other times. Any hopes of passing along her love of sewing ended with we finished the final seam on my dress.

But the other day, while sewing a button on some pants, my kids found some scrap fabric and asked me to sew them something. After some thought, I realized I had enough fabric to sew each of them a pouch. Using some hand stitching tricks that I’m sure my mom taught me during the great dress making project, I made three little pouches. These were even less fancy than my jumper dress, but in the eyes of two three year-olds and a five year-old I was a sewing genius.

To this day, when I find myself mending a hole or replacing a button, I’m thankful for the ease with which I am able to grab my sewing kit to repair the problem.

I have my mom to thank for that.

Happy Birthday Mom.