Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pattern Genes from Mom

This is an old picture of my Mom at a Girl's Party in her Mother's front yard.
Mom is on the far left, and her Mother is second from the right.
You can see from the clothing and hair styles that fashion and grooming
even in the Depression Era was very, very important.
Grandma has on a dotted dress with tucks detailing the front,
the guest on her left has lovely tailored sleeves on her dress, and 
all of the young women are groomed prettily.
That was how Mom was raised, 
and that was how she was
all of her life.

When I was a little girl, she made most of my little dresses. 
My Dad bought her a Kenmore Sewing Machine from Sears Roebuck, 
and she could make that thing fly. 

She bought her fabrics from Wilson's Bargain Center in Florence, Alabama.

Image by Cathy Wood of the Tennessee Valley Art Association

Founded by "The Tall Man With the Low Prices", 

it had wooden floors that creaked and snapped agreeably as you walked, 
kibitzing companionably 
about the sewing project you had in mind
- a lovely, cozy connection from your feet to the fabric and trims.

We spent weeks of my life in there, with my eyes stinging 
from the copious amount  of formaldehyde used 
in the finishing process of the fabrics, but I didn't care.
I just loved fabrics, same as my Mom. 

When I was very small,
I watched as she and her sister Clara would cut apart brown paper grocery sacks,
smooth them flat, and then lay them out on her bed.
They would spend hours discussing the sleeve design, the fullness of the skirt, 
the waistband and neckline of the dress they were imagining.
And then, my Mom's scissors would start flashing through the brown paper,
following the pencil lines they had drawn and re-drawn.

They had their pattern, and it was time to cut the fabric and start sewing.

Later in life, she bought her patterns from McCalls and Simplicity,
and this was one of her favorites:

She made this one up in pink and white,
but amended the pattern
just like she always did, cutting freehand.

I made up my first pattern by folding a  brown paper grocery sack in half
and cutting out a triangle with a square sticking out from the side-
that was the sleeve, I think.

I don't sew much anymore - 
my days are filled
with happy Pattern Making of a different sort.

Instead of scissors and paper,
 needles and thread,
my tools are pens, scanners,
Photoshop and Illustrator
as I draw patterns for the fabrics
she may have chosen to sew up into dresses.

I think she would approve.

Thanks again for those art genes, Mom.  I love you.
Dorothy Louise Cornelius Sizemore, my Mother.
Happy Mother's Day.

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