Friday, July 16, 2010

A Brief History of My Life in Sewing, part 1

When I decided to start this blog about sewing patterns, I was certain that I had lots and lots of photos of myself in the outfits I'd sewn over the last 4 decades. After poring over every single print and negative in my possession, I came up with only a few faded, blurry memories. But I won't let that stop me from boring you to tears sharing them with you.

My love of fashion and sewing started when I was very young. Here I am with my younger brother. Notice the faux leopard clutch and the oh so fashionable Dr. Denton footie pajamas. (As you might deduce from the plastic rocket he's holding, my brother was the brainy one.) The year was 1963.

I learned to sew as soon as I was old enough to reach the knee pedal on my mother's old black Singer. I insisted that she teach me to sew teeny little clothes for my Barbie. Since my mother hated all things domestic, I learned more swear words during those early lessons than sewing skills.

Despite those early challenges, I persevered and my sewing skills were pretty darn good by the time I got to high school. I remember having no fear of sewing the welt pockets in a brown corduroy fitted vest that I made in my junior year. I also made matching pleated, cuffed trousers.

For the life of me I can't remember what pattern I used, but I loved this blouse that I made. How do you like those long collar points? (Circa 1974 - Please ignore the goofy hat and concentrate on the matching nail polish instead.)

Growing up, one of my favorite pastimes was flipping through the pages of the pattern catalogs at the local W. T. Grant store. My favorite pattern company at the time was Butterick. I was fascinated by the Young Designer line of the 70s. I loved Betsey Johnson, Gil Aimbez, Clovis Ruffin, Kenzo!

For my high school graduation in 1976 I wore Kenzo. I sewed the jacket and shorts from Butterick 4793 in a crisp white linen cotton blend. I added a red cotton tank top and rope espadrilles with a wedge heel and ankle ties, just like on the pattern envelope. (I made those pants, too, in black cotton, just like on the pattern envelope.)

I could have sworn I had a picture of myself wearing that outfit. Who doesn't have pictures from their high school graduation? Alas, the only photo I have of that momentous occasion is this one:

Cute, huh? But no Kenzo suit in sight. You can barely see the espadrilles peaking out from under my graduation gown.

What I remember most about that day, (besides finding out that I was one of the top 10 smartest kids in my graduating class - I guess my brother didn't get all the brains after all), was the reaction of my classmates to my choice of outfit. Over and over I heard, "Why didn't you wear a dress?" "Everyone else is wearing a dress!" My point exactly. I didn't want to look like everyone else. That's why I sew.

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