Some of my earliest memories are of my fingers sifting through this smorgasbord of buttons when I was too small to even get the lid open by myself.
As I grew older, on many occasions, I’m sure I dumped the contents all over the floor and watched the discs roll in every direction. Then I painstakingly searched all the nooks and crannies until they were safely recovered.
My mom wasn’t really what you would call a seamstress. She didn’t make our day-to-day clothes, but as someone who grew up during the depression she could handle any utilitarian task.
For years she created our Halloween costumes from scratch with lots of hand sewing involved.
She taught me how to sew on a button. I replaced missing buttons on my clothes, but also used them to make eyes for my sock puppets.
Mom also taught me how to mend the holes in my socks, which wasn’t so easy. I really didn’t like wearing socks that had been mended, because the repaired spot was always lumpy and felt strange. Sometimes it rubbed the wrong way on my feet and just bugged me. When I got older I decided that socks were cheap enough that I could get new ones instead of having to mend them. Now I use them for cleaning rags when they wear out. It’s much easier on my feet and my mending pile.
My Barbie doll wardrobe was created with a running stitch at the edge of a piece of fabric, carefully gathered into the shape of a flowing skirt.
I can still sew a mean blind stitch to hem my pants and dresses. I’m not sure if I learned that from her or in my 7th grade Home Economics class. Every person in the 7th grade, boys and girls included, were required to take Home Economics and Wood Shop. I loved them both! Home Ec was the class where I learned how to sew on a machine. We practiced curves and corners on paper without thread to begin with, then graduated to thread and eventually to fabric. I still remember the gold pin-wale corduroy jumper that I made in that class.
I don’t remember my mom having a sewing machine. Everything she did was by hand.
Mom’ll be 90 years old in January and she’s still proficient at hand sewing. She hems her own pants, shortens and hems her shirt sleeves – they need to be 3/4 length, otherwise they get in her way. She also adds darts to the shoulder area of her blouses because her shoulders are rounded and she needs them to fit better.
Between my mom’s hand sewing lessons as a child, a hand quilting class that I took as a young wife and my Home Economics classes in Jr. High, I feel fairly comfortable with sewing.
I made several outfits for our kids when they were toddlers, sewed a red and blue baby quilt for my sister’s oldest son, Jason (I wonder what happened to it), made a fabric baby doll from scratch for my daughter, various crafts and some nice quilt squares that are still laying around somewhere. Someday maybe one of my kids or grandkids will make them into pillows or wall hangings or something.
Now, I’ve become the proud guardian of Mom’s lovely vintage tin filled with all sorts of buttons. When she was moving a year or so ago she was trying to simplify and decided that she didn’t need them all. She let me have the whole spectacular tin.
I’d love to hear about your memories…