Hello! I’m Cherie from you & mie and I’m so excited to be here sharing my flashback with you today! My sewing journey is probably a familiar story to many. My mom sewed. And her mom sewed too. That was just a part of life for many women of their generation.
My mom took sewing classes when she was about 13 or 14 and learned how to make clothes for herself. She made her own dresses, including her prom dresses. She says the main reason she sewed was because at the time, sewing clothes was much cheaper than buying them.
Growing up, my mom sewed for me and my siblings (though mostly for me and my sister) – everything from pajamas and aprons to dresses and Halloween costumes. I didn’t know anything about sewing and I’m sure I took it for granted how awesome it was that my mom was able to make original things for us. From a very young age, I would tell my mom that I wanted to be a princess for Halloween and BAM! A princess costume.
I’m the princess on the right. My mom used an old dress and altered it to fit me and added some lace and other “princessy” details (she also made my sister’s bunny costume and tailored the boys’ costumes too). I remember another Halloween my mom made me a can-can costume after I asked her to. And then when I tried it on, I was too embarrassed to wear it. I’m realizing what a jerk I must have been! I know now all too well how it feels when something you’ve spent so much time creating gets rejected immediately.
In high school, I described what I wanted my formal dresses to look like and my mom was able to create them. I remember looking at patterns and making some adjustments to the design and going to the fabric store together and picking out the colors I liked. I had no idea how much work went into them or how many late nights my mom must have spent sewing. I just remember asking for them and then having them. How lucky and spoiled I was!
Because I didn’t know how to sew at the time, I think there was a very magical aspect to it. I would just dream something up and my mom would be able to make it. I thought that she could make anything!
I didn’t start to show an interest in sewing until after college and I honestly have no idea what sparked it. I started hand sewing Halloween costumes and then asked my mom to teach me to use her sewing machine so I could make drawstring bags and pillow cases.
After my daughter was born, I started dabbling in sewing clothes. I was never taught how to make clothes, but somehow I think that magical “you can create anything” attitude I had about my mom’s sewing carried over to my own sewing and I just kind of went for it!
Trust me – it was anything but magical. I made dresses that didn’t fit over my daughter’s head, armholes too small, bodices falling off her body, and overall ill fitting garments. I wrote a post about some of those almost failed projects here. But with each tragic mistake was a valuable lesson learned and after a few tries I made my first self drafted dress pattern that actually fit!
This is the dress I made for my daughter’s first birthday. I felt so proud of myself and that magical feeling was back!
But even still, I have sewing failures all the time. I’m still making pants too tight or dresses too short. I realize that while you can still have those awesome, almost magical moments where things just line up for you, it’s a lot more about practice, patience, trial and error, and learning from others. Sewing is an adventure! It is hard work with a high payoff (most of the time).
I’ve also learned that the big difference between me and my mom is that she sewed for practical reasons – because it was cheaper than buying clothes and because it was helpful to know how to repair clothes. She grew tired of it and, especially as inexpensive clothes became readily accessible, she stopped sewing almost completely.
I, on the other hand, sew because I love it. Because I crave the creative outlet and the challenge of it. My mom says that I take after her mother, who sewed well into her 60s. And that is my hope – that I will be making clothes for my daughter for years to come – maybe a high school formal dress, maybe even a wedding dress? Or maybe I’ll teacher her to make her own!
I can’t thank my mom enough for the hours she spent sewing for me, the love and care she put into each hand crafted garment and for opening up the magical world of sewing to me. It’s been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received!
And thank you, Abby, for inviting me to share my story here today. It’s been so fun looking back at the past and thinking about how much it has affected who I am today. This is a truly awesome series!