Who Taught You to Sew?
I first learned to sew from my Grandmother Lois way back in the early 1970s using the Bernina sewing machine that I still use. The siren song of sewing was calling out to me and I wanted to join my Great-Grandmother Daisy, Grandmother Lois, and my older sister June in the secret sorority of seamstresses. Like others of my generation, I also took a junior high sewing class where we made elastic-waist skirts and a stuffed doll.
After my grandmothers passed away, I relied upon the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing to help me develop my sewing skills until the Internet changed my sewing life. Suddenly I was able to connect with other women who also loved sewing! And we were able to help each other out with our sewing questions. Because I was at a university, I was able to create a “Listserv” called The Sewing Circle and before long a couple hundred sewing enthusiasts joined our circle. We had meet-ups and shopping trips into NYC and JoMar’s in Philadelphia. There were people in the group who are now famous and professionals who provided their expertise but most of us were just women who were passionate about sewing.
When the economy crashed, I found myself with a great deal of time on my hands, shall we say. At 48, I found myself in the position–like many others–of having to start over again. I decided that I would revive a long held dream of teaching sewing and home economics but knew I needed to take my sewing skills beyond the self-taught level. Fortunately, living in Los Angeles, which has the largest garment industry in the United States, I was able to obtain a custom clothing certificate from Pasadena City College’s award winning fashion design program (PCC students always whip FIDM students in competitions…just had to mention that *smile*).
I have always loved vintage fashion and started collecting vintage patterns and sewing books shortly after The Mister and I were married. One of the things I’ve noticed about modern sewing books is the emphasis on shortcuts to get a project done quickly. Modern designs are also less structured than vintage designs and seamstresses are often dissatisfied with the results.
My doctorate is in educational psychology which means that I’m an expert in how people learn and how to teach so that people learn efficiently (and want to be lifelong learners). I know for a fact that shortcuts shortcut learning. We have to have a strong foundation in the skill and/or concept before we can start finding our own shortcuts.
My goal for Grandma’s Sewing Cabinet is to teach you the sewing and tailoring skills that our grandmothers learned so that they could create fabulous garments and home decor.
Why is your blog called “Grandma’s Sewing Cabinet?”
Remember at the beginning of this post where I mentioned I learned how to sew using my grandmother’s Bernina that I still use? Well, the sewing machine is in the cabinet that my grandfather built for my grandmother. It is filled with treasures placed in there by both my Grandmother Daisy and my Grandmother Lois. Every time I sit down at my grandmother’s sewing cabinet, I feel her presence with me. And that is why the blog is called “Grandma’s Sewing Cabinet.”
My older sister, June, and I have already noticed that the siren song of sewing is drawing our youngest niece, Alice, to our secret sorority of seamstresses and I’m looking forward to the day when she, too, will be sitting at her Great Grandmother Lois’ sewing cabinet carrying on the legacy of sewing.