Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mom, the seamstress.

My mom's sewing table, taken by me sometime 2005ish

My mom has always been a woman of many talents. She's Sue the baker, Sue the gardener, Sue the voracious reader, Sue the hip hop dancer. I have already come to terms with the fact that in moments of contemplating being a grown up, I always strive to be a grown up she would be proud of. This shows its head most particularly when I am gardening, and also recently in my latest attempts to be a decent cook: the reason I enjoy doing these things are partly due to her genes. One of her particularly talented hats, however, will never fit on my head: that of Sue the seamstress.

My mom, when she is not working overtime at her job, attending Zumba classes, gardening, painting and redesigning a room in the house on her own, walking or biking with friends, singing in the church choir, or one of the other numerous remarkable things which make up her weeks, can probably be seen sitting at her sewing machine. If she's not at the sewing machine, she's on the couch with some type of yarn or fabric and a sewing needle in hand, extra pins pinched between her lips. She made too many outfits for me, my brother, my sister and I as kids to count, in addition to all the blankets, comforters, and hats and scarves and everything else. I just looked through some old photographs to find some good outfit examples to scan, but picking just a few proved too difficult: she literally made everything.

(This one stood out though:

Often, when we were all too small to object, she crafted matching looks. My sister would call this one our Unfortunate Lumberjack Photoshoot.)

Hours and hours of our childhoods were spent in the fabric store. We always complained about it like the whiny kids we were--because geez, she took FOREVER in there, and it was BORING--without comprehending the magnitude of awesomeness occurring right in front of our faces. She would buy all this pretty fabric and then MAKE IT INTO STUFF. Often for us. The idea of doing this myself blows my mind now. Feebly sewing up holes in my clothes is pretty much all I can muster (and I have to say, makes me feel pretty proud of myself). I do remember keeping myself semi-entertained as a kid by staring at all the fun buttons in the button-and-zippers section, by running my hands over the silky fabrics, and loving the way the employees flipped the rectangular stacks of fabric to lay them out on the cutting table--flip, flip, flip--three yards, please--and the satisfying rip of the efficient snip of the scissors. It took some serious fabric cutting skills to work those tables.

Even though we're big enough to buy our own clothes now, her nimble fingers have never stopped making magic. She currently spends her Saturdays voluntarily babysitting a pair of twins for a busy co-worker; she is constantly making them what we call Sue Originals, too. If she grew up in the current culture of 20-and-30-somethings-making-DIY-into-a-living, she would have an incredibly popular Etsy store and the cutest stand in the Saturday Market. Those mommy bloggers would eat her stuff up. We've tried to tell her this a few times, and she always gives us a look which I believe says, "Yeah, uh, I have a real job." She could BE a contestant on Project Runway--she probably just wouldn't want to. She just makes beautiful things for the people she loves, just like her mother did before her. You know, no big deal.

Do not be misled, however--her talents extend beyond just baby clothes and scarves. She also makes beautiful outfits for herself all the time, of course, such as the dress she made herself for my brother's wedding last fall:

And the two times I went to prom in high school, she made my dresses both times, too. The one she created my senior year, black with sassy, interesting straps and two sheer layers of fabric dotted with gold revealed on a slant on one side, is perhaps one of my favorite dresses I've ever worn, shown here as I twirled on the back deck.

She did my funky hair, too. Did I mention she's also an amateur hairstylist, who cut my hair for so long that when I entered the "real world" of college and made my way to a Super Cuts for the first time, I felt like I was on an alien planet? But, back to the clothes. It's easy to get distracted when writing about a woman of so many talents.

Kathy and I are finally getting around to starting to make some plans for our wedding which will tentatively be held next year, after a very long engagement. I got an email from my mom last week and when I read it I had a sudden urge of wanting to cry. It said, "So you can say no, but, I could make your dress." When I told her on the phone today that I would, of course, love it if she made my wedding dress, that in fact nothing else would even make sense, she at first sounded surprised. "Really? Well, okay." And then, naturally, without skipping a beat: "Well, I already have some ideas."


  1. Made me cry..absolutely amazing just like your mom!!! Loved it!

  2. i can't wait to meet your mom! this one made me cry

  3. Awwww I love Sue <3 seriously Jill, can you mom adopted me? just for a while, until I started to get along with this world... and OMG, you are finally getting married, I want pics, loads of them ;)