I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Old is New Again

My Grandma was a fantastic seamstress. She wasn't a professional, so maybe I should say sew-er. Sew-ess? And I guess I shouldn't say 'grandma', because all of us grandkids called her Nan. Or Nanny. Everyone else called her Midge. (Her full name was Mildred Maxine, so you can see where Midge came from....right? Hmmm...) Anyway, she would make my sister's and my summer clothes many summers growing up. I remember choosing materials, getting measured, trying things on, standing still on a small stool until the hem was just right, taking the items off and sucking in every part of me so I wouldn't get poked with pins....good memories. She was so good she even made one of my prom dresses. She was really amazing.

And there were several summers where she offered to teach me to sew. We even picked out a pattern, bought material, and started. But when I saw the washing of the materialall the pinning, all the cutting of the pattern and material, before we even got started sewing, I bowed out. We had barely even gotten started. And to tell the truth, I don't even remember what we were going to make together. I just knew I couldn't be cooped up inside that long during summer break. So I didn't ever learn to sew.

After she passed away, and I had my third daughter, something ignited inside me, and I had a desperate desire to sew. I pictured myself whipping up decorative pillows, matching dresses for the girls and I, ties for my husband, summer clothes like Nan made...but the results were less than fantastic.

I started small and simple. I made curtains for our living room apartment on my own. They turned out okay. So what if one was a TAD bit longer than the other? And the hem is crooked, you say? No biggie. They're open most of the time anyway, so no one will notice, right? Oh, they don't meet in the middle, either?


Well, I really had no idea what I was doing, or how to go about it. I am a visual person, so I could figure out how things should work logistically, but actually thinking about taking time to measure and pin things made me twitch more than a little. And I honestly didn't know you were supposed to do that. I don't think I even owned pins. I'm sure I didn't.

When we moved to South Africa as missionaries, I was determined to learn to sew. Our mission partner's wife was also a very good sew-er, and that clinched my determination more than anything else. Since I knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about sewing, I decided to scour the internet and find tutorials and instructions on how to sew.

Did I mention I am VERY GOOD at surfing the net? Well, I am. Now you know.

There are literally THOUSANDS of website dedicated to helping you learn to sew. There are online tutorials, and you don't even need patterns! Measuring and pinning- that's it! And it's not as time-consuming as you might think. It's less time-consuming than taking everything apart and doing it over, ok?

So I became a moderately good sew-er. With my machine purchase, I received several free lessons on how to use it, what fabrics to use for certain items, what needles and stitches were appropriate...I learned a lot. And I am very thankful!

I would now say I am a pretty good sew-er. I can make lots of different things. I have not yet, however, tried to make quilts. Quilts are so beautiful, but so time-consuming. And we don't really need them here in Zambia, because it doesn't really get cold.

I have several quilts my Nan made. Some are from when I was little, and others possibly were made before I was born. One of my favorites was coming apart around the binding. It was looking tattered and worn. I was afraid it would come completely apart, so I wanted to fix it.

I just did a simple zig-zag stitch around the edge to keep it all together.

I took time to carefully pin the edges that had separated, making sure they were even and straight. I lined everything up under the presser foot and gently fed the quilt through. As I sewed, removed pins, and pivoted at the corners, I couldn't help but think about my Nan. Her original hand stitches were still strong in many places.

I knew she would be proud of me for being able to fix this quilt. She would be happy I learned to sew.

When I was finished, the quilt didn't look tattered anymore. It looks fresh and new again, and ready to be loved on for a few more decades. And just maybe I'll make my own quilt someday. Doll quilts count for something, right? That's probably where I'll start.


  • jen

    I, too, had a grandmother who was a seamstress. We didn't live near her, though, so I don't have the memories of being involved in her process, though I know she did make me things. I wish I had had more interest then in learning what I am trying to teach myself now! And yes, I hear you on the measuring and pinning. I just want to GET. TO. THE. SEWING. already, but have learned the hard way to make sure all the pieces and parts are just right before i make them all stick together! Start with a doll quilt, then a baby quilt, then you'll be doing a quilt for each of your girls before you know it!

  • Brenda

    I think you are a very good sew-er! I need to repair some quilts around here. I'm a bit overwhelmed at the thought of touching them, but they need repair. Maybe one day my daughters will look back and not see "where mom messed up Great-Grandma's quilt" but where I lovingly added my own touches. :)

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