Four Women, One Dress

Tonight I am at the sewing machine. I’m remodeling a dress for North Carolina daughter. I can’t be sure it will fit her but I have a fair idea of what is needed. I’m praying with every seam that it will turn out well. I think the prayer will be answered and I’m sewing with confidence.

The material is satin. It’s creamy white and soft and surprisingly different from today’s satin, because it is 70 years old. Seventy years ago, my grandmother sat sewing with this same fabric. She was a skilled seamstress, making a wedding dress for her daughter. Her daughter was a different size than my daughter so I have taken the dress apart to resize and change the design a bit. I have to admire her work. She was careful, and gave attention to details. It was a beautiful dress. I have seen it in the pictures of my mother’s wedding.

Grandmother Clementine Warner Boone

Expectations of what wedding dresses should look like have changed so much from 1950. I don’t know what they are making them out of these days that they should cost thousands of dollars, but I know the one my grandmother worked on was made out of love (and satin, and lace).

The work on this project has been an emotional experience for me. I take apart a seam and realize that was thread put there by her machine. Her hands touched the fabric in this very place as she guided it under the needle. She probably peered closely at that button as she sewed it on, just as I am as I remove it. We are linked, she and I, by many things that aren’t tangible, but this dress can be touched and felt. The whole idea is kind of eerie, almost sacred, to me.

And our daughters, the one who wore it so long ago and the one who will wear it next month, they are also linked by the same dress. Mothers and daughters, four women, seventy years, one dress. I love it. It has specialness that can’t be bought.

But as I said, we will see if it fits and seems appropriate for the ceremony. At the least, it will be in a picture. And to some of us, it will look beautiful. Just sayin’…

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things F


repurposed dresses from the 80’s and scraps from other projects – now a tablecloth


Defined: 1)A cloth produced especially by knitting, weaving, or felting fibers. 2) A complex underlying structure: “the fabric of society”.

I hardly ever meet fabric I don’t like. I like to look at it, feel it for smoothness and thickness, see how it lies and bends. I love to make things with it, which is why I have accumulated what we call a “stash”. It’s fabric that is waiting to be used for something. It might have been bought for a specific project which never got off the drawing board, or it may have just been too good a price to pass up, but of course, I’ll figure out how to use it later. From every project that does get done, there are scraps of fabric and even these have a charm all their own when combined with each other in various colors and designs. That’s what I love about fabric – the endless variety, beauty and usefulness that it’s capable of.

From years of sewing everything from clothing for my own family, wedding dresses for friends, and home decorating with curtains and coverings,  to clothing for horses, and dogs, I have gained a respect for cloth. It has to be chosen correctly for its purpose, positioned to drape correctly, handled and fashioned “just so” or it will not behave. Watch a couple episodes of “Project Runway” and you’ll see what I mean.

I have often thought while sewing (really, I have) that there are so many parallels between fabric and society. That second definition really says it all. The fabric of society that is us, is complex and it underlies everything that is important and dear to us. We all have our part in making that fabric look and act the way it does. We are those fibers that get woven together in actions and dependencies over a lifetime. We are stronger together, but we are only as strong as the weakest fiber and there are many things that can stress and weaken us.

There are some fabrics that are woven with the expectation that the fibers will be smoothly aligned and uniform. Others show the beautiful twists, turns and flaws that make them unique and priceless.  I get kind of excited just thinking about it. It always sets me thinking about whether I make the fabric of society weaker or stronger.  Do you see what I mean?

This stack of fabric is an art exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

Part of my own “art exhibit”, my stash



Sew What?!

Back in t he old days, we had to learn to sew.  Everyone took one semester of sewing in high school, and it was a popular project in 4-H. Some people even made a lot of their own clothes (me)! Since then I’ve made quite a few things and worn out a couple of sewing machines in the process. I’ve made home decor projects, several wedding dresses, baby clothes, doll clothes, but I haven’t often sewn horse clothes. Well maybe not clothes, but accessories would be a better label for this project.  Some horses just want to stand around looking pretty, you know?

It started when my friend and former employer decided to adopt three Freisian horses. They are beautiful animals and have done carriage pulling for a lot of their careers. They are semi-retired now and have the “life of Riley” (they have it pretty sweet, for those of you who don’t know Riley. Come to think of it, I don’t even know Riley, but I know what it means.) My friend also has a lot of horse art and in looking at one of her wall paintings she began imagining her own charges looking just like the horses in the picture. wp-1466703198542.jpgClearly, some horse capes were needed. With tassels, please. I decided to take the job.

I have been to the stable and met my models and measured them. They are sweet animals and on the large side.  I have been trying to imagine how to sew their capes ever since. It’s just a rectangle, you say, how can it be hard?  I will tell you. There is a lot going on when a horse walks and this piece of cloth has to stay on and not scare the horse, or anyone for that matter. It has to be durable, comfortable, and in this case not terribly expensive. All these things add to the complexity of the project.

I initially spent time on the internet looking for suitable fabric because there aren’t a lot of fabric stores to visit. It wasn’t going well. Fabric is ridiculously expensive in our country, and as I said, these are big horses – lot of yardage. Then luck happened and the only fabric store left in my town went out of business and put most of their stuff on sale at 60% off. The fabric and tassels were there. The purchase was approved. I’m now sewing. This is probably one of my weirdest projects, just sayin’.



A to Z Challenge: A Q Word, Quilt

a log cabin pattern
a log cabin pattern

I’m a collector of cloth.  When a pair of jeans is no longer wearable, I cut the legs off and save the good denim pieces. I save scraps from all the garments I make for myself and others. I find cloth at garage sales. Some of the most interesting pieces come from men’s shirts (really!).  I know that if I don’t have enough cloth to make even a small garment, I can make a quilt. One winter I took some of my favorite cloth prints and made squares in the log cabin pattern.  When I had enough of them, my aunt Helen helped me decide how to place them together.

This quilt became a tablecloth.  Most of the cloth was left from a dress of mine (the darkest blue), some dresses I made for the girls (the blue and white prints), a skirt that I recycled (dark blue plaid), a few men’s shirts and assorted scraps, and a red print that I bought new just for the quilt. Since it’s kind of a patriotic color theme I use it in the summer over Memorial Day through July 4th. Every time I look at it I remember the dresses, the shirts and the people who wore them.  So, you see, I have several reasons for loving this item.

tablecloth of memories
tablecloth of memories