Sharon C.

I have many memories of garments from my childhood because my mother loved to sew and was always making something.  She was very creative.  She told me that when I was really young she would always make an “entire outfit,” which I can see from photos consisted of dresses, bonnets, and knitted sweaters.  The old photo albums are full of her talents showcasing her fashion sense and ability to create.

But those are “photo memories” and admittedly I tend to draw a blank about the details for clothing, much less cloth from my past.  I do, however, have a very clear memory of one outfit in particular that became a favorite and has stuck with me in great detail over the years.  I’m unclear as to why this particular outfit stands out—be it the clothing itself, the fabric, or because I thought it to be so trendy—regardless, it was a high point.  

I was in high school and she made me a very “cool” everyday jumper style outfit (bodice and straight skirt) of hunter green, wide-wale corduroy with a red print blouse to go with it.  I’m pretty sure it had a Peter Pan collar.  It also had a belt that matched the blouse.  And to top off the outfit, I was allowed to purchase a pair of gorgeous brown Italian-made, sleek styled loafers.  To die for.

Green and red is not my favorite combination so I’m not sure why this particular outfit sticks in my mind and perhaps it was because it was different than what she normally made for me.  Perhaps it had to do with some landmark moment in my mind.  But to this day, I do love texture and the look and feel of decorator fabrics—including corduroy.

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Debbie E.

           My earliest memories of cloth are the lovely Candlewick bedspread that had such a beautiful texture that I kept stroking this and it gave such comfort. I loved feeling the patterns and picking at the loose threads. I also remember my favourite dress which was  a red and white long dress with a big frill at the bottom and a navy velvet trim, I loved going to parties and dancing and twirling around in this dress. I remember shopping for this with my lovely mum, very special memories now. Gosh these thoughts are hitting me emotionally and this isn't like me.

Susan M.

When I was three, my father built our house. It was small and simple – 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bath. But, soon there were additions – a garage, laundry room, another bedroom for my brothers, and a second bathroom. The best space was the breezeway that connected the original house and the add-on. The breezeway looked out onto the side yard – a mock orange bush, lilac, huge maple tree, a row of bridal wreath alongside our neighbor’s house.

I learned to iron in the breezeway, pillowcases and my father’s cotton handkerchiefs first. I loved the damp cloth, the clean scent, as I warmed and smoothed with the iron. I carefully folded pillowcases into regular rectangles, stacking them on the windowsill that led to my parents’ bedroom. I loved everything about this task: guiding the hot iron, the smells, the transformation of wrinkles to smooth, crispness, the geometry of folding. And, my mother’s praise and appreciation! It was an important job, and I was doing it well. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me the joy of simple, ordinary tasks. I still love ironing today!

Jane M.


The kitchen was a favourite room of mine. It was where we shared lots of meals and cooked together. It was the heart of the house. It wasn't so large , in fact quite compact, running down the side of the house with a back door opening into the garden.  

The table was pine and had two benches as there was a not sufficient room for chairs. There were always serviettes in serviette strings on the end of the table and on the window sill we kept the place mats. Opposite the table was. the gas boiler , fitted in an old chimney breast . It was a good place to dry socks.

The kitchen itself was on both sides of the room , with a cooker and a sink on one side. There was a hatch on the other side through to the dining room. How old fashioned that seems now. Towards the end of the kitchen I think there was a drying rack , and there must have been a washing machine , but I am not sure where it was.  

A lot of cooking went on in this kitchen , from roast Sunday lunch , to making marmalade. My mother had a battered old chip pan and made lovely homemade chips. I guess it where I learnt a lot about cooking and I know it's where I taught my mother to make spaghetti bolangese. It was also the place all my friends came for coffee at lunchtime when we were in the sixth form.

When I think back I can remember the approximate layout , but not the colours or where anything was kept.  

It has fond memories I think because of the people and the cooking. 

Vernon S.



    Feeling the stains of past regrets

        Her fingers deftly move

    The memories of despair aside

        As the silken filaments of hope

    Always there is hope, no matter

        how deep the wound.

    Willing to make the darning

        That will not restore the old

    But will create a new,  stronger net

        To catch the dreams

    That float towards the light

        Seeking to become

    Children of the web, she weaves,

    Eternal and everlasting.

Judy C.

First Memories of Cloth

65 years ago I stood next to my Mother in a prestigious fabric store, Kaplans, on the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.  We had dressed, as if going to church, for a drive to the Plaza.

Fabric could be purchased at "Five and Dime" stores, however to construct my First Communion dress would be special and necessitate a special fabric store.  Kaplans opened it's doors just one year after I was born, all the fabrics, laces etc. were hand chosen at market by Mr. Kaplan and it was known for one of a kind fabrics etc.

 My most vivid memory was the measuring of the cloth.  The beautiful white eyelet fabric was threaded into a machine on the counter, a characteristic "click" was heard when the employee pressed down on a lever and the measuring began.  At the speed of light, (or so I thought) the fabric was pulled through a unique machine, with a dial on top that registered number of yardage being purchased.  A final "click", a lever would make a cut into the fabric and it was pulled from the machine.  The employee would then tear the fabric, fold it neatly and it would be placed, along with a hand written receipt into a brown paper bag.

The device for measuring fabric was called a "measuregraph".

The device for measuring fabric was called a "measuregraph".

 It was a joyful day, being with my Mother and feeling the pride of carrying out a sack of fabric that would become my First Communion dress.

Sue K.

My Childhood Room

The summer I turned five, my family lived at my grandmother’s home for several months while our brand new house was being built. Then, in August, we moved in. This house was in the last new subdivision south of town, and near the river. In retrospect, it was a very comfortable house which I would not mind owning today. My bedroom was at the front of the house, and had windows on three walls. One looked out at the front porch, with a view to the street, and just opposite the end of the street, about a half block away, was my soon-to-be school. The front window looked out at the lawn and trees and the street. The side window looked out at Kelly and Casey’s house next door. They were littler kids than me, and not of much interest to me, but their mother was nice. My room was furnished initially with old hand-me-down furniture from my parents’ families. There was a single bed, a dresser, a toy-box, and a small, old wooden armless rocking chair. There was a small lamp on a small cupboard next to my bed, under the window. I didn’t put it into the sketch, I see.

But something transpired with my first bedroom which started a recurring theme in my dreams that still crops up. The summer I was 11 I went far away (I thought it was far, but really only a couple of hundred miles) to a church camp in the mountains near the coast. My best friend went too, and we were there for a week. To our astonishment we were put in different cabins at camp, and I was instantly, and desperately homesick. It was a beautiful place, and all the people were very nice, but I simply could not wait to go home again. At the end of the week, my parents and brother came to pick me up andafter another night on the coast, we returned home to the valley. When I walked into my room at home, though, a surprise was waiting for me. While I was gone, my mother had no doubt worked very hard and lovingly to turn my little girl room into something befitting the young lady I was about to become. The walls had been painted blue with white trim, the old chairs were gone, and there was a beautiful, curvy glass-topped dressing table with a blue skirt, trimmed with white eyelet ruffles, with a matching stool and oval mirror. A new white rug on the floor, and a nice new blue bedspread. I learned to love this transformation quickly, but I have never forgotten the first impression. I believe I sobbed myself to sleep. My poor mother...she never let on how disappointed she must have been in my reaction. I suppose she understood me pretty well.

Even now I frequently dream of walking into former spaces I have inhabited, expecting them to be one way, and finding them completely different. Remembering this today has got me pondering the theme of transformation and how that might appear in art.

Donna W.

I was a couple of years past the age of believing in Santa Claus, searching the hall closet for Christmas presents I knew my parents had stashed there, when I first glimpsed the lavender-blue dress that would become a favorite garment of my childhood. I feigned surprise when I unwrapped it on Christmas morning and rejoiced because I knew, even as a 10-year-old, that the loose, tented shape was the height of mid-1960s fashion.

I soon fell in love with the stylish center pleat that ran from bodice to hem, the chic three-quarter sleeves, and the way the soft cotton fabric floated across my skin, such a contrast to my scratchy school uniform. But what I especially loved was the garment’s swirling paisley pattern that my father called “psychedelic.” I found it comforting to trace my index finger along the undulating teardrop shapes and could get lost in the mesmerizing shades of blue.

I barely noticed that repeated washings were causing the colors to fade and the hem to fray. I mourned the day when an underarm seam split and my mother pointed out the obvious: I had outgrown my beautiful paisley dress. She said it was time to add it to the pile of clothes destined for the thrift shop.

I regret that no physical remnant of that dress exists, but it certainly lives on in my memory. I suspect it’s the reason why to this day I am attracted to paisley fabric, especially in shades of lavender-blue.

This is a bird’s-eye view of the dining room in the house where I grew up. I loved this room because our family came together here, especially in the winter, when it was too cold to sit in our drafty living room.


In one of my earliest memories, my dad is sitting at the table, holding me on his lap while I work on a connect-the-dots drawing. Once I’ve connected the dots next to all the numbers I know, he points his finger at each subsequent, higher number, and I follow with my pencil. In another memory, he’s making a wire recording of me reading from one of my favorite storybooks, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and I’m trying really hard to not make any mistakes.

Most nights, we ate dinner in the kitchen, but when we had company – my Aunt Bea or my grandmother and my Uncle Bob – my mom served us here, using her just-for-special-occasions white china with the pink thistle design. We usually had a special dessert, and sometimes I got to listen to a few snippets of adult after-dinner conversation before being sent off to bed.

This also was the room where I did my homework, which often took longer than it should have because I’d get lost in daydreams as I gazed out the big window onto our side lawn. It’s also the room that contained my mom’s china cabinet, whose drawers my sister and I loved to explore when mom was on the phone talking to her sister Eileen.

It’s funny how quickly these memories spring up and how clearly I see them after all these years. It makes me wish I had a full-fledged dining room in the home where I live now instead of just a dining area.

Carla D.

 Working With Memory

Some of my happiest childhood memories come from spending time at my grandparent’s home.  Here are only a few.   The house was small by today’s standards but I loved it.  In the front yard were two sycamore trees and I loved looking at the bark because it reminded me of puzzle pieces.  The backyard had two apricot trees that I loved to climb and when they had ripe fruit, it was heaven to pick the juicy apricots and eat them.  My grandpa always had a vegetable garden where he also planted sweet peas that smelled so wonderful all summer.  Closer to the house was a black walnut tree and next to it was a bush with orange smelling flowers.  At the back of the house was a cellar with a door that you had to lift up.  There were shelves of canned fruit and vegetables down there but there were also black widow spiders so I was not supposed to go down to the cellar alone.  One time I did go down alone and was bitten by a spider and had to go to the doctor to have the wound lanced.  Lesson learned.

As far as garments are concerned I remember a silk robe that was sent to my grandmother by my aunt Bess who was living in Japan in 1949.  One day I found it in the front bedroom closet and was awed by the vivid colors and the intricate embroidery.  I can’t remember seeing my grandmother ever wearing it but I know that I wished that I could. (I was only about four years old.)  It was not only beautiful, it was different and I liked that about it.

Another garment that I fondly remember was my grandfather’s overalls.  He worked for the Santa Fe railroad and when he came home, the smell of tobacco covered those overalls and I loved that.  He rolled his own cigarettes and kept the tobacco pouch in his overalls front pocket. 

Where I grew up in California, it gets very hot in the summer.  One of my favorite things was sleeping in the front bedroom with my grandmother.  We would sleep with our heads at the end of the bed so we could feel the cooler night air.  In the morning, we were awakened by the mourning doves.

In the front room was a cabinet and in the bottom drawer were loads of old pictures.  I would go through them over and over and wonder who the people were.  Grandma would tell me stories about some of the people.  I learned that my great grandfather taught music at the college level and could play most every string instrument and the pipe organ.  He also did a few drawings.  Recently I found those pictures in a box that I had saved from ruin in my mother’s garage.  I had kept them through numerous moves because they were so precious to me.  I have tried to organize them along with the stories that I know.  Doing that work, I found out more about my ancestry on my mother’s side which has given me a sense of the history that has made me who I am.

Kris L.

My Favorite room growing up was our living room.  It has a ton of memories for me.

The piano where us girls spent alot of time playing duets and singing.

The book shelf that I read every book I could.

The fireplace full of christmas stockings each christmas.

The wooden rockng chair that my sister and I broke on the first day in the house....(had to go to our room for the rest of the eve).

The couch that seated lots of friends and family thru the years.

It can go on and on.......

That room is no longer a part of our lives now, but for the family that is currently there....I hope they can feel that this room, this home was held together with lots of love .

Michele K.

I tried to remember a first cloth in my memory. But in fact what came to my mind was photographs of myself when I was a child, wearing this or that. I could’nt remember a cloth directly, something that I loved or hated to wear.

So I kept thinking. And now I can remember some moments of my childhood with a connection with clothes.

I remember that, during the hollidays, I was allowed to wear shorts, it is linked for me with summer and the fact that we were not allowed to stay in bed after 8 o clock . I had red slippers that I loved. One day, I forgot to put on my shoes and went on to school with my slippers on. When I realised, it was too late to go back home, and I was torn between the idea to be late and the shame of wearing my slippers at school. It was terrible. I went to school. I don’t remember if they laughed at me.

I remember some evenings at home : I was very young, maybe 4. At that time my parents had a tv and it was still very rare. Sometimes, I was allowed to stay later with them if they were watching some program.  And I would go underneath the table to lye down, near the dog who was already there, asleep. The carpet was of a creamy colour, with brown motifs on each side. It had lovely fringes and I loved to make braids with it. That was not allowed and I was doing it when my mother was at work . Very vaguely, I remembermy father taking me in his arms to bring me to bed. Lots of people don’t like the smell of dogs. I always had dogs and love their smell. Maybe all that is linked ?

Denise B.

My favourite garment was a dress.  I was probably about 7/8 years old.  It was a summer dress with no sleeves, from what I can remember.  But what I liked about the dress was the material.  It was made of white cotton, very much like a tana lawn.  Printed on it were spots, probably about ½” in size.  The spots were various pale colours being pink, blue, and possibly some others but I can’t remember.  I loved the dress.

Sadly, it met an end when we were burgled and they used my dress with the pinking shears to break the front door open to escape.  

Looking back, it was probably the material and colours used that drew me to the dress, rather than the style perhaps.

Gael L.

First Cloth

My first cloth memory is of my baby blanket - my blankie. It was so soft and cream-colored and just the perfect size. I loved the feel of it on my skin - sof,t but slightly nubby. It had texture. And around the edge was the usual satin-type binding. Within one of those covered edges, the blanket was folded, so it formed a sort of lip within the satin cover, along the length of that edge. My favorite thing to do was to unfold that, systematically, as I sucked the thumb on the other hand. It was repetitive and relaxing. I feel calm just thinking about it. I wouldn't stop or let my parents take the blanket away if I was in the middle of that wonderful edge. And, I wouldn't cheat and repeat that edge - I'd make myself go all the way around the blanket til I got to that fold again. 

When I wasn't sucking my thumb with it, I was building forts and wrapping my stuffed animals in it. I took it to preschool; during naptime I'd cover my head with it so I could secretively suck my thumb (not allowed!) Ah privacy! And a little disobedience. I loved being in my own world under that blanket, away from all the hustle-bustle of the preschool, free to do what I wanted to do.

In kindergarten my parents decided it was time to give up the blankie . . . so they told me the fairies were going to pick it up & give it to another child. I reluctantly agreed to this - didn't think I had much say in the matter. But I missed that blankie. I told my parents, and a week later poof! they asked the fairies to bring it back. I remember thinking well that wasn't such a struggle now was it? I just asked for it and I'm getting in back. Enjoyed it for a bit longer, and let it go back to the fairies for good.

Still have that blankie in a basket in my closet. When I reach in, the feeling is unmistakable. My blankie. 

Mary L.

My memories associated with cloth are bountiful.  My grandmother taught my mom to sew and she passed on her skills to me at a very young age starting with how to thread a needle.

One of my earliest memories is my First Communion dress the mom created and I still have tucked away in a box.  The dress is white cotton and organza with a full "twirly" skirt meant to have several lacy petticoats underneath.  It has puffy little sleeves, a scalloped hem line and long wide ties that mom starched heavily so they would form a lovely huge bow in the back. With the fabric scraps, mom designed a small draw string bag as an accessory.  In it I carried my prayer book, rosary, cloth hanky, and a dime for the collection basket.  I remember the care my mom took in making sure my hair was set in pin curls the night before First Communion.  The long veil and wreath of flowers would sit upon my head full of delicate curls.  I wore the dress every chance I got which was usually just church on Sundays.  Autumn and cooler temps came too soon and I had to give the dress up for warmer clothes.  Fortunately ,my mom had sewn a hidden tuck in the skirt and was let out in the spring.  I was so grateful to have a second summer with my precious princess dress.

There were few pictured in those years and most are faded, bent or cut.  Here are two pics that I have of the dress and me.  The one is on First Communion Day.  I am on the left.  The other is family photo of the eight of us...there was one more to come.  I sit on top and have my brother pushed way to the side so I could have the dress spread out properly.  I, also , noticed that my hair is in casual mode.  I am guessing that a group picture was going to be taken and I ran inside to put on the dress....princesses do that :)

I wanted to respond to Jane's reference to runners high in the video.  I love the comparison to the creative practice.  As a runner,  I often have people tell me they started trying to run regularly but are always out of breathe and can't keep going.   I tell them ... most runners experience it at first and that I don't get in a comfortable rhythm till several miles in but then everything just flows ( well most of the time).  I find the same thing with creative projects.. often walking into the studio and picking up my work is the hardest part.  One of my favorite running quotes is by Priscilla Welch. "If you want to became the best runner you can be, start now.  Don't spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it."  I replace the word runner with lots of other goals often.

Vernon S.

                                  The Art of Cloth                                    

    Writing down the chosen words,

        hurried in the onyx-shadowed night

    Knowing that the luminous truth

        hidden from the cleansing light

    They must not fail to tell.


    They brush away the salty stains

        tinted with a touch of blood

    And try to swallow all the pain

        wrapped in prescriptive tiles

    Like tiny marble tombstones


    The language of visions seen

        but not heard, drawn never voiced

    Accented by tiny strands of spun light in

        dimpled, colored cloth forever unworn

    Layered with meaning measured divine.


    The eyes of wisdom and understanding

        look down on that which they have made

    In their own immortal and spiraled image    

        their fingertips gently caress the surface

    Their faces shiny and wrinkled in delight.

Maria S.

Memories of cloth

Of course it was my first blanket.  Pink with satin edging.  It was a great comfort.  As I grew up, fabric always brought me comfort.  The texture of it, the warmth.  I often had a small piece of fabric in my pocket, even when I was off to college. 

Memories of room

We were many children so there wasn't a lot of space for individuality.  But I did manage to create my own space by building it on our front porch using an umbrella and whatever fabric I could find.  I stayed in there all day long until it rained, which I loved.

Sandy G.

          Even with the many fabric scraps I was given to play with, my daddy’s chair is my earliest  memory of cloth. I was around 2 years old.  It was one of those big overstuffed armchair from the early 1940’s. It had a dark wooden frame at the bottom with curved claw type front feet.  The end of the arms were shaped like the feet and I loved to rub my tiny hands over and over them.  With delight, I dusted those feet and hand claws with Sandra’s special dusting cloth.

          The cloth that covered that wonderful chair was a beautiful blue brocade with a green blending to turquoise swirl.  Also traveling around was an intermittent, narrow to wide golden swirl During the day I would climb up in that chair with a couple of books.  As soon as I finished looking through those books I would lay them on the small round table, that belonged to my maternal grandmother and wander my hands over the fabric so I could feel the different layers.  Next I would choose one of the wandering swirls of colours and follow it. I never seemed to tire of doing this.

          I can vividly remember how large the living and dining area was; where  the windows and doors were locate; and how the dining room table and buffet cabinet were positioned at the other end of the room. But for the life of me I have no memory of the other furniture in the room It is as if daddy’s chair is surrounded by a halo.  Maybe because  every night I would crawl into his lap while he read me a ‘big” person’s book, meaning that it had chapters. What is interesting to me is that even now I can still smell his pipe tobacco fragrance surrounding us while he read to me. 

Julia J.

My first cloth or the first cloth that comes to mind. I’ll take the ladder. Why, because I often think of that lime green granny square afghan I made as a child. I must have been 8 or 10 years old. My room was transitioning from hot pink to lime green. A big girls room. Lime green carpet, wall paper I got to pick out myself,  white bookshelves my dad made… a water bed!  I can still visualize my afghan wadded up on my unmade bed. Pumpkin my cat curled up on it. Pink items still all around. Maybe not all around but there. I might still have that afghan in my cedar chest. I’ll check in the morning.

    I think this afghan comes to mind for a couple of reasons… an old picture of it on my bed, making it with my grandmothers, the sense of accomplishment, the quiet time to myself while making it, the way it made me feel; safe. This afghan held a lot of significance in my childhood. Both of my grandmothers taught me how to crochet. They were both so kind and loving. Warm and safe just like my afghan. I don’t remember who bought the yarn for that specific project but I remember having to save my money and save it quick enough so that if I needed more yarn I had to make sure the store would still have the same dye-lot. Isn’t that funny I’ve been searching for the exact right color my whole life.

Hunter Gatherer:

Granny square afghan, Cat, Feeling safe, Feeling warm, yarn, searching and saving for dye-lots, Grandma Cox, Grandma March, Rose butter lotion, oranges

This is the afghan. It’s full bed size with 5” squares.

I put the above picture in Photoshop Elements and decided to alter it using a variety of filters and effects. It printed nicely on fabric and it’s perfect for cutting into smaller strips for quilts.

This one I have incorporated it with a picture of some Madrone bark I took at Oregon Gardens a few years ago.  I made this one in a variety of colors. 

This is the Madrone bark after I edited it and before I layered it with the afghan picture.

 Instead of the Madrone bark I used a picture I took of some moving water at the river along with the afghan picture.  I really like the way this one printed up. I just had to add the hot pink! I even printed this out on silk organza. It came out really nice.

I’ve been thinking about doing another layer on this particular piece, maybe with some ink or paint… hmmm, this is fun!!!

Chapter 1 Part 2


Hmm, a favorite room. My bedroom was special. Although my favorite room was the glass family room. Oh my goodness what a special place that was. One good memory after another. Drawing this room made me realize once again how special my parents were. My mother, artsy, funny, lively. My dad a carpenter, architect, electrician, mechanic… an everything. This room was an add-on that started as a patio and became a second family room atrium style. Goodness my parents were talented. Tons of windows, plants everywhere. I remember parties, girl scout & cub scout gatherings. Tying mistletoe with red ribbon, sorting Girl Scout cookies, making holiday wreaths. Melted toys, arranging flowers, a dead bobcat (still haunts me!). Easter parties, Dixie cup ice cream sundaes, chocolate dipped bananas, sleepovers, wicker furniture, beautiful terra cotta tile. Storing my first furniture items for my first apartment. My first child, Christopher, scooting across the tile floor in his walker with my silky bantam chicken riding on the try eating his cheerios. Wow, this one room has so many good memories. Some moments of sadness thinking about my mom. She’s passed away so many, many years ago. My dad is still as talented and supportive as he’s always been. I had a magical childhood.

Hunter Gatherer:

Birds, Lava rock, plants, girl scouts, Kangaroo mouse, cages, florist, antique stove, antique icebox, mistletoe, red ribbon, parakeets and canaries