Earliest Memories of Cloth.
Some children have a special ‘security’ blanket, but I had Bidey. This was a many-times washed, soft cotton diaper that my mother had given to me, or that I had appropriated, perhaps, as a very small child. I carried it around with me everywhere, and remember chewing on one corner of it, and remember especially the smell of that one corner. In my imagination, it had a soporific effect on me, which might explain why I was said to become agitated when Bidey was taken away to be washed.
Other early cloth memories are so numerous; the christening outfit that I still have preserved in tissue; a pink and blue paisley polished cotton party dress with a full skirt, puffed sleeves and a wide pink sash; the beautiful satin, velvet and lace dresses and suits that my grandmother had made for my mother’s trousseau. I have been sewing since I was around 7 years old. I have made clothing for people, dolls and the occasional animal, bags, guitar straps and cases, pillows, quilts, draperies, wall hangings, flags, sails for boats, upholstery, many dolls, costumes for halloween, costumes for the stage, and special garments for every very important event in my life, most recently, my mother of the bride outfit. If it can be sewn I have attempted it at least once. I even tried to make myself a pair of boots back in the 60s.
My maternal grandmother was my first inspiration and mentor in sewing. She came from a family of tailors and milliners, and was a very accomplished needle worker herself. Though she was not able to interest either of her own daughters, she made sure to teach me to sew by hand first, then loaned me her old machine (an old Singer vibrating shuttle machine that had been converted from treadle to electric somewhere along the line). She was always interested in what I was making, demanded regular reports, and was thrilled by my successes. Though she has now been gone for many years, I feel Nonnie’s spirit in me still when I am sewing. I often wish I could show her what I’m up to lately. My mother hated sewing, but is still my biggest cheerleader.
Jane made a comment in the intro that resonated with me...”maybe you just have a passion for color”. I think I fit that description, and I have always had a passion for cloth in general, its colors, its feel, its design, how it is made and decorated and used. I don’t remember a time that I did not have this passion.