Who Taught Me How to Sew?
The most asked question that I get from inquiring minds is always to find out who taught me how to sew. Sewing is a topic that I am constantly learning through reading and picking the brains of other seamstresses. I consider that every person and book I have come in contact with has added something to the arsenal of skills at my ready. Take the good with the bad even; certainly we can even learn what not to do by watching others and sometimes that is a more valuable lesson.
The first garment that I recall seeing be sewn was made long after I was interested in sewing but it grew the spark for the needle and thread that was deep in my heart already. The act of creating things is part of who I am as a human being. I do not recall a day where I sat without something in my head or a mess of cutting growing around me while I sat on the floor of the living room. That first garment was my 8th grade graduation dress and it was made for me by my Aunt Petey. We chose the fabrics and pattern together while she was on vacation and she constructed most of it while I danced around visioning how pretty I would look while I gave my speech at graduation.
From there I began searching the library for anything I could read about sewing. Old sewing books, rug hooking, hat making, shoe making... any topic I could find. I commandeered my mother's sewing machine and made huge messes in the living room trying to achieve my goals. Through sheer force of will I made wobbly bags and skirts that I wore with pride during high school. I even managed to squeeze out two homecoming dresses for myself and one for a friend as well as neckties for my date to match me. During high school I worked in a fabric store. Being around fabrics and notions and women with experience in sewing brought my sewing curiosities to a higher level of thirst. I began more detailed experiments with better fabrics and corect techniques. Slowly I began paying attention to the steps and not skipping parts. I noticed that the designs came easier to me in construction and that I wasn't needed the instructions in the patterns. Half the time they seemed harder to me any way.
One of the women that I worked with owned her own alterations shop where she invited me to work with her. Through college I worked with Blanca and she shared with me all the wonderful secrets, all the wonderful things she had collected in her life. Under the warmth of her sharing kindness I grew unafraid to take larger projects. She taught me to take every kind of work and just figure it out. Her certainty that I would figure it out grew in me.
That lesson lives with me daily as I take on all sorts of unusual sewing work. It's not ego at all but that spirit that she imparted to me that if I dive into myself, into my brain, and heart that my fingers will know what to do. That spirit has led me to make luggage, wedding dresses, back packs, a tent, and numerous patterns for clothing. That spirit guides me in knowing that I am on the right track in my life. I am at home with my sewing machine and with my tools. I thrive with a challenging project on my plate. I thirst for new problems to solve. I live to share all that I have learned in the same way that Blanca shared with me.