Friday, January 17, 2014

A (Sewn) Piece of Family History

The content of a house can trigger all sorts of revisions to family history.  
~ Louise Erdrich

Seventy-two years ago, in 1942, a young woman and her five year old son accompanied her husband to Missouri, to visit his family.  The weather was unseasonably cold and the little boy didn't have a jacket with him.  One of his aunts - his father had three older sisters - pulled a remnant from her fabric stash and - without a pattern - whipped up a little coat for him.  

In my grandmother's memory, the coat was red.  

While going through one of her trunks last week, we found it...  

She hadn't mentioned the stripes, and the red has faded in a dangerously (for a five year old little boy) pink direction.  

But I have grown up on stories of the amazing sewing skills of my dad's aunt Esther.  Look at the underside of this sleeve - it is a two piece sleeve!  (Without a pattern!)  

And this facing - done in the style that I hate doing because - even WITH pattern pieces - I can never get to line up just right...  

According to my grandmother, there was a fancy children's clothing shop in town and the saleswomen used to hate to see Esther come in, because she would never buy anything.  She would look over the latest styles and then go home and re-create them, on her sewing machine, for her daughter.  

Look at the adorable belt and tiny pleats she put on the back:  

And the fancy seams (flat felled?) she put in:  

I love having this little piece of our family's history.  In this case, I don't think any family history revisions are called for...  

I just wish I could find a picture of my dad, at five years old, wearing this jacket...  Wouldn't that be perfect?  


  1. This find is incredible! I think its so awesome that you found something sewn without a pattern (wow!!!) That your dad wore. A true treasure! I do hope there is a pic somewhere....

    1. Thanks, Jenny - I think it's pretty awesome too! :)
      So far, no picture - but I have my fingers crossed...