In the very first cracks of memory, before the blond -haired blue-eyed boy joined me, sewing formed a part of my life. Grandma’s silver head bend over red and white squares. Before I could understand it was all for me, I stuck her with a pin.
While we lived on the hill covered in oaks, when mother was at her whirling machine, I would dance by, tripping over little girl feet. Dazzled by strange hieroglyphics pinned to the sandy brown board next to a near finished needlework of girl with dandelion puff, I gazed wide eyed. Spinning wheels whispered incantations, needle and thread obeyed. “Mommy I want to sew.” Childish lips quiver with anticipation. “I want to sew for my baby.” Squeezed between her thighs I reach out little girl fingers. “Watch out! When I was a little girl I sewed over my finger.” Her steady foot worked the pedal too far for short little legs. Her wisdom astounded me. How did squiggles on paper and strange shapes of fabric manifest apparel?
“Stand with your arms out.” “Let’s measurement again.” “Hold still while I pin.” The language of my childhood. Church dresses, winter coats, matching jumpsuits for playmates, mother-daughter jackets. “When will it be ready?” “Why does it take so long?” Impatient giggles, giddy with delight.
When womanhood began to blossom I took up the wizardry myself. Hours spent bent over patterns, deciphering, measuring, cutting painfully slow. Shorts done up the wrong way, full skirts for spinning with barely enough fabric, black and white plaid painstakingly matched. Conjuring folds of fabrics into pieces of pride, I struck out on my own.
Never stoping just to learn to sew, each piece of knowledge I aquire has simply been a manifestation of what has always been in my blood. My mother, her mother, her mother before her, and so on back flow through my veins. The question isn’t can I do this, but how do I move what’s in my heart into fabric. Here I share the exploration of that mystical art, needle and fabric, past down through the women of my ancestry. Delving deep, farther than my mother, past my grandmother, reaching toward my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmothers. Reviving the ancient principles of a self-made life.