Well, my mother taught her son to sew as well -- but after a few projects, he decided he preferred racing the sewing machines. With me, the sewing stuck.
The first thing I remember making was a bright green tube top. (We're talking BRIGHT green -- this was the mid 70s.) A great beginner's project, really -- one big rectangle with elastic casing at both sides. I don't remember how old I was -- eight? ten? --- but I do remember how proud I was of that garment. It's a feeling I still get whenever I complete a project.
Two absolute commandments were drilled into me by Mom. They were:
- Always always ALWAYS align the grain.
- Be wary of Simplicity patterns.
The second may have been more a matter of opinion, but the first? Words to live by. They've been so well instilled that I simply cannot begin a project without taking the time to find the true grain. The thought of just throwing down fabric and cutting into it sends shivers down my spine.
She taught me many other things, of course, but what I remember are the feelings. The excitement of looking through pattern books, the joy of mulling over fabrics. She taught me that sewing was a form of self-expression, and -- most importantly -- she gave me free rein to express myself. The baggy bright Hawaiian shorts I made in high school and wore to death were one thing, but the men's pajamas I converted into a suit with four inch shoulder pads to emulate David Byrne in "Stop Making Sense"? That must have been a test. (It's a two-way street, by the way -- I only rolled my eyes once over the striped capri overalls she unleashed upon the world sometime in the late 90s.)
Most of all, she taught me that sewing could be a way to show love -- both to others and yourself. Sewing and love could be a matter of planning: growing up poor in South Texas in the 50s, she wore dresses made from flour sack fabric. She fell in love with one certain rare print and, though it took months, her mother made sure to find and buy enough flour with that print to make her a dress. Sewing and love were evident in the velour robe in crazy 60s colors in her closet, made by my father for her their first Christmas together, as well as in the Gunne Sax dress she surprised me with in junior high.
So, a Mother's Day thank you...although Mom, we're still going to have to agree to disagree over those overalls.