I was surprised to read that in 1982 President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation declaring September as National Sewing Month.
I was so excited when I read that, since some of my best memories have been those of when I was sewing. Whether with a needle and thread or on a machine, I have always enjoyed sewing.
There is something very magical about turning scraps of material into items you can wear or hang on your window or lay your head on.
Okay, so maybe wearing my childhood sewing projects in public was not something I would recommend, but I was certainly proud of what I created for my barbie doll.
Seems like back in the day everyone knew how to sew. Maybe because that skill was handed down from grandparents who survived the great depression and could not afford to shop out of catalogs or departments stores.
My grandma stitched very colorful play clothes for my siblings and myself out of, get this, none other than feed sack material. Of course, those days of feed sacks being made of cloth have long since passed and burlap might be a bit itchy.
My other grandmother made a career of sewing. She had a steady flow of customers needing alterations. Work she did from home as well as for one of the biggest department stores in Kankakee. She could sew anything from tailor suits to sun dresses.
Grandmother handed down her sewing skills to her daughter who handed the needle and thread down to me so I could pass the skill onto my children.
I genuinely enjoy sewing and followed my grandmother’s footprint. I was able to stay home with my children when they were young by taking in alterations, which eventually developed into a full-time job sewing fully washable stuffed animals, many with interchangeable outfits.
I felt so blessed when my grandmother sewed my wedding dress. It was not only beautiful, but something that kept blessing my family time and again.
It seemed such a waste to tuck that beautiful gown away and never use it again, so after the birth of my oldest daughter when I need a baptismal gown, I decided why not.
I found a pattern for a baptismal gown, then took the material from the train of my wedding dress and created the perfect gown. Which all my children wore for their ceremony.
And when it came time to find a First Holy Communion dress for Stephanie, I decided to turn my wedding dress into her First Communion gown. Fortunately, I was very thin and petite when I married my kids’ father, so I really did not have a whole lot of work to do in remaking the dress to fit her. Something all six of my girls wore for their first communion, along with my wedding veil redesigned for the occasion.
Sadly, fewer, and fewer people are sewing these days. It seems store bought clothes have all but replaced homemade clothing. Tragically, even if a button comes off you see folks tossing or donating perfecting good outfits.
‘Sew’ that is why I feel it is ‘sew’ fitting that we celebrate this month to stitch a few memories. The timing couldn’t be more perfect during this pandemic since we have all been in lockdown anyway.
It was because I raised a mob of kids that friends and neighbors were always donating clothes to our family. And even though my children were little people, we would receive tons of clothes that were ten times the size of any of us.
That is when I took advantage of rainy days to have my children cut off buttons and rip zippers out of clothes that were far too big for any of us to wear. Then I would turn around and utilize those pieces for new outfits I would stitch together. In fact, if the material from those clothes was of good quality, I would set it aside to create new outfits, or let the girls make doll clothes with it or something as simple as a pillow.
I did not have to spend a dime on material to teach my girls to sew. There was always plenty of scraps laying around the house.
My grandmothers will never go down in history for sewing anything as famous as the first American Flag like Betsy Ross handstitched, but their legacy will live on. They handed down a valuable gift that keeps on giving.
Until next time, God Bless,
Mary Kruger is a mother of nine children and a grandmother of 12. She can be reached at Overallmom53@hotmail.com.