Flashback Friday: Kristin from Skirt As Top

Welcome to Flashback Friday! We are in for a serious treat today, with Kristin from skirt as top as our guest. There’s so much I could say (all good) about Kristin. She has such a creative mind, and I love seeing the way her projects come to life.
Jessica recently shared her flashback with us, and Kristin is the other half behind the Film Petit series. They recently channelled Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it was so so so great! You must check it out. Okay, and Moonrise Kingdom… And don’t forget about Fantastic Mr. Fox. I think that Kristin’s flashback is especially special, and am sure you’re going to love it! Just don’t be a baby like me and cry :).

Late one night, a few months ago, I was sewing, as I often do. Suddenly, I needed a zipper and didn’t have the right size in my stash. As a last ditch effort, I decided to look in the saran-wrapped box of notions that my grandma had left me when she died, but I had never opened. It was then that my sewing stopped for the evening, because what I found wasn’t a zipper, but a time capsule.
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My grandma had died in 2010 after living a long and full life. She lost her first husband in WWII and married my grandfather, also a vet, a few years after the War ended. She had five children of her own (including my dad), then decided she wasn’t quite done raising kids, so she adopted one more baby. She was always proud to tell everyone how many grandchildren she had (I lost track around 30). A year or so before her death, she told me the birth story of one of my uncles, where she walked to the grocery store and back in full labor. She was a tough lady, a strong woman. She wasn’t the most cuddly, sweet, always-have-candy type grandma – she was the grandma you learned botanical plant names from, you had memories of feeding the geese with, who told you stories of world travel.
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I think women of her era were more self-sufficient. They came of age during the Great Depression, they raised kids while so many of their husbands were at war. They had to know how to cook, sew, knit, crochet, mend, needlepoint, embroider, can and preserve, garden, make more out of less. Skills that a few of us possess today and that many of us are trying to reclaim, they all knew.
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My grandma could do it all. In her younger days, I’m told she was a prolific seamstress. In her 70s she took oil painting classes, and in her 80s she passed the time by knitting. She knitted a blanket for every great-grandchild at birth, and Em was one of the last to receive one. It’s a treasure and Em knows how special it is – she now refers to it as “great grandma’s blanket.”
  flashback friday I had to sneak this photo in – she happened to be in the hospital with heart trouble the day Em was born. I never met my great grandparents, so I thought it was so cool that Em got to meet hers.

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So anyway, when I was looking for that zipper, I opened the three boxes she had left me – her one grandchild who sews – and was stopped in my tracks. I found her coursework from when she took sewing as a teenager. Tucked inside her “Dressmaking Made Easy” book were graded work samples, smocking, buttonholes, stitch finishes…all sewn by hand. I try to sew in a way that’s technically correct, but I’m self-taught. My sewing now is nowhere near the skill level of my grandma at ages 16 and 17.
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As I think about it now, I’m guessing she’d likely been sewing since she was a child. Those classes took her to the next level and earned her a degree.   flashback friday
Tucked in with her coursework, there was a photo of her mother, religious cards, and photos of her, as well as the (handmade) pincushions she used, with pins still in them. Her graduation announcement and certificate were there too.
flashback friday I’m not sure what lesson I learned that night. I mostly felt in awe of her skill and beauty as a 17-year-old. It made me more sure that sewing is in my blood on both sides of the family, as my mom is also a technically skilled and talented sewist. It made me want to learn more, to build my skills and pass them on to my kids, to continue the legacy of sewing in my family. It made me feel proud that my grandma thought I was deserving of her sewing supplies enough to will them to me. I feel a real responsibility to carry on the tradition. Won’t you come visit me over at skirt as top sometime to see what I’m up to? Thanks so much for having me, Abby! This was such a joy.

Thanks again, Kristin! I love the photos of her meticulous work and the other goodies nestled in with her coursework. What a great lady she sounds like!

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  1. Ohhh thank you for the sweet intro and for the opportunity to post this! Sewing is such an ancient craft, I think it really connects us to our past and I love that. Take care!

  2. I love this post!! It reminds so much of my own grandmother. I wish I had let her teach me more while she was still alive. The women of that generation had so much to share with us, and for so long, we trivialized their wealth of knowledge. They didn’t expect any handouts, and they were so strong and amazing. I am trying to reclaim all that now, to be more resourceful and less whiny and teach my kids the same. Thanks for this awesome post!

  3. like so many of us the women in my family also sew, and with such amazing technical skill. my mom laughs when i use the tern up-cycling all the quilts in her house growing up were made out of old dresses trousers and shirts “thats just the way it was done” she will say with a smile

    thanks for sharing kristin, the treasures she left you are priceless. would you let us know when you use them in a project? please :)

  4. Oh sheesh, can’t help but cry. My own beloved maternal grandmother was a couturier and seamstress and I loved learning from her. She was still sewing until just before she passed last month at 100 years old. My paternal grandmother also was a seamstress and designer, although I didn’t have as much time with her I still have a leather jacket she made and one of my prized sewing possessions, her dress form which almost perfectly fits me. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Kristin! You had me tearing up with that sweet story. Your grandma was a beautiful woman and so talented-what an honor to have some of her sewing things to keep her memory alive!

  6. Such a lovely and touching story. The things that connect the generations are so very special – traditions, recipes, crafts. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing person.

  7. What a wonderful, wonderful story! Stumbling upon a treasure trove of sewing and personal history – I love it!

  8. Wow…such treasured items and memories! (I love that picture of your grandma and Em. I’m glad you snuck it in :-)

  9. Thanks you so much for sharing this, it strikes a chord in my heart as I’m a 4th generation seamstress, well just learning!). My great grandmother from Ireland (who I’m named after) used sewing as a way of keeping the family together when she was widowed at an early age. Both my grandmother & mother worked in dressmaking & tailoring, their skills make me so proud! What a beautiful talented lady your nana was.

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    for the reason that i want enjoyment, for the reason that this this web site conations actually fastidious funny stuff

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