Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Snap to it

My mother was an incredible seamstress. She's still alive (hurray!) but she doesn't sew anymore, which is why I say it in the past tense. Her maternal grandfather was a tailor; he had his shop in the Harris Bank Building in downtown Chicago (which, if you are a Chicagoan of certain age you may realize meant that this tailor was big-time). I don't think his daughter, my grandmother, sewed much at all but he did teach my mother to sew with all the precision of a tailor. She could make anything, and the things she sewed never, ever looked homemade. I think she was particularly fond of seeing people's jaws drop when, after admiring something she had on (a winter coat, a tailored jacket, a perfectly fitted dress) she'd tell them she'd made it. My notions box is filled with things like this snap package that came from my mother's collection of sewing supplies and while sometimes I hesitate to use these treasures, I like to think I'm making some deep connection to the past.

I am a long way away from being able to make things that do NOT look homemade. [things = clothing] And I have this make it up as I go along approach that can be problematic. I did finish the kimono shirt itself yesterday (although I'm considering taking out some stitching to do over) but am now faced with solving the "closure" issue since I opted to go without the ties that the pattern called for. I've got these snaps out today because I think I'm going to put snaps inside; the challenge is what to do with the two places where the threads from sewing on the snaps will show on the outside. I'm thinking about making two small squares of fabric to applique over these spots (I briefly considered buttons but thought they'd be a little ridiculously out of place on an Asian-inspired piece.) I'm trying very hard not to let these last challenges keep me from finishing, and as much as I don't want to take out stitches and re-sew anything, I also don't want this to collect dust in my closet because I don't like wearing it because it looks TOO homemade. There's a great scene in one of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, when Ramona and her best friend decide to have their moms make them identical dresses out of a print with monkeys on it, and the friend's dress comes out perfectly and Ramona's is all kind of wrong because her mom isn't much for sewing. As a child, I knew exactly what Ramona's friend felt like, wearing her utterly perfect homemade dress and skipping off happily to school. As an adult, I know what Ramona felt like....

4 comments:

Felicia said...

You should definitely use and value your mother's sewing treasures. If you don't do it know when will you? I like the idea of the applique to cover the stitches. I would probably add the appliqué up on near the shoulder as well to make sort of a design feature of it.

Austen G. said...

I also vote for using your mum's treasures. That's why she bought them...and this way, you're continuing a tradition. As for the snaps...can you open the seam on the border and then sew the snaps on so the sewing only shows on the inside/wrong side, and then sew the seam back up? That would be my plan. Until I remembered how much I hate seam ripping. Then, I think I'd go the applique route. Or, more realistically, I'd probably give up and use a safety pin. Much more my style. Anyway...Good luck!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the encouragement and the ideas!-- I'll forge ahead and post where I end up with the thing. Here's hoping it's wearable!

purple cucumbers folk art said...

Just passing threw,come on over for a visit