Last Christmas, my husband gave me a sewing machine. (It was a request on my part, not a "Happy Valentine's Day, here's your iron," type of thing.) I've done a few practice stitches on it, but nothing much else so far. My mother taught me to sew when I was a child, and I made some stuffed teddies and bunnies and a patchwork pillow. I helped her sew some seams on an outfit or two. But I've never made my own clothes before.
My paternal grandmother, Ruth, was a great seamstress. She made most of her own clothes, including a gorgeous floral dress out of quilted fabric that she wore to my parents' wedding. My father remembers her laying out patterns on the kitchen table, where, instead of pinning the fabric to the cloth, she weighed the pattern down with silverware while cutting it out. It probably stemmed less from a dislike of pinholes than from the lack of time experienced by a widow with a small boy, a full-time job as a nurse, and a household to run. The fact that she could sew the fabric without it slipping apart is further testimony of her capabilities.
Ruth died before I was born. When he first saw me, her brother Allen greated me with the words, "Hello, Little Ruth." The resemblance has continued. Except for my eyes, which are purely from my mother's side, I look precisely like Ruth. I have a picture of her when she was a teenager. I displayed it in college dorm room, and my friends and those of my roommates were always asking, "Where did you go to get that old-fashioned photo taken?"
This weekend I purchased fabric and a pattern to make my first piece of clothing. The fabric is royal blue charmeuse and the dress will be a sleeveless sheath. I'm hoping to use it for fancy occasions, but the most immediate use will be for Halloween. With red sequined horns, I'm going as The Devil in a Blue Dress.
My parents say that Ruth would be very pleased to see her only granddaughter sew. Neither of her daughters do or are inclined. My father has actually sewn a stuffed rabbit for my mother, but I'll be the first of her family in two generations to cut out a dress. I'm a little nervous about the process, but I'll have my mother on the phone if I need her. Hopefully, I'll also have the assistance of Ruth, sending down some angel dust to help her granddaughter complete one of her own favorite earthly endeavors.