Whenever I was around my gramma’ I loved hearing the stories of when she was younger. It din’t seem to matter whether she was telling about when she was eighteen or sixty-eight, her stories held worlds of wonder for me. Her ability to breathe life into a tale was nuthin’ less than magical. How I did love her stories.
Have I ever told you that my gramma’ was a tailor? True story! In fact, she used to carry a tablet with her an’ whenever she saw a clothing design she liked, she’d pull out her tablet an’ quickly sketch her favorite parts. Back at home, she would figure out how to create her own pattern so she could include that idea in one of the designs she developed on her own. ‘Course, she wasn’t always a tailor. The story of how she learned to sew is one I’ve always loved.
Gramma’ hadn’t been married very long when she decided she’d like to learn to sew. Knowing that her mama had a nice treadle sewing machine, she asked to use it. Her mama apparently was not the kinda’ person who shared with her children, as she told her daughter that she could use the machine for the mere sum of $5 per day; an enormous amount of money during the depression.
At this point, my grampa’ decided to take matters into his own hands. He told my gramma’ to wait outside an’ he’d be out in a minute. Here, Gramma’ always added that she never did learn what was said in those few minutes, but they did not use her mama’s sewing machine.
Instead, they went to a nearby town an’ bought a brand-new treadle sewing machine for the grand total of… are you ready for this? $5. That’s right; for $5 they were able to get a brand-new sewing machine. They also bought a bolt of material. When they returned home, Grampa’ told Gramma’ that borrowin’ would not be something they would consider doin’ in the future. Then Gramma’ took her new treasure an’ the bolt of material an’ proceeded to learn how to sew.
Using one of Grampa’s farm shirts as a pattern, Gramma’ carefully took the shirt apart an’ cut copies of each piece, then sewed ’em all together. When she was done sewing, Gramma’ was very proud of the shirt she had made. She had Grampa’ try it on for size an’ that’s when the error was discovered. Evidently, Gramma’ had wanted to be absolutely certain that the neck wasn’t gonna’ be too tight, so each time she measured it, she allowed juuuuuuust a little extra to be added.
When Grampa’ tried it on, everything fit perfectly… except the neck. Grampa’ took a handful of the neck area an’ pulled it about two feet in front of him, saying, “Well, Baby; ya’ dun real good. But the next time, you might wanna’ make the neck just a little smaller.”
The next time Gramma’ used a pattern, she was much more careful in her measurements an’ she kept improving until her skills were such that she could make any item she set her mind to. She could make the patterns for an’ sew dresses, pants, shirts, jackets, wedding dresses, suits, winter coats an’ anything else she thought up. I’d say that’s not too bad for someone who had almost no formal education of any kind an’ who taught herself to sew; wouln’t you?
Until the next time, keep a hug on.