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The Gift of Sewing

Dec 15, 2009
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The JOY wall hanging I made 35 or so years ago.

Those of us who sew often give gifts that we have created, and sometimes we receive them from our sewing friends.  Have you ever given or received a gift that was extra special because it touched you in an unexpected way? Because it provided incredible joy? For another reason?

I’ve both given and received sewn gifts that fall into one or more of these categories. I’ll tell you about two of them, and I hope you’ll tell us about the sewn gifts that were particularly special to you.

The gift I made…
When my husband and I were first married and I was a stay-at-home mom, we lived on one income. I made a lot of gifts during those years to help out. One gift in particular continues to have a special place in my heart. I made a JOY wall hanging that year for a close friend whom I still keep in touch with even though we no longer live in the same town. She is not a sewer, so she was touched by the fact that I had taken the time to make her a gift. Every year since then, some time during the weeks before Christmas, she calls to tell me she just unpacked JOY (as she refers to it), and was thinking of me as she placed it on her wall. The phone call reminds me of how much I treasure her frienship. We reminisce about the good times we’ve shared and catch up on “life” since the last time we talked or visited. I am truly touched by the mere fact that she remembers that I made it, and thrilled that it’s still in use 35 or so years later–even if it does look dated!

The gift I received…
The gift I received that meant the most to me was not a holiday gift. In fact it wasn’t even a present wrapped in pretty paper. It was totally unexpected and to this day makes me smile with pleasure. As many sewers, I made my wedding gown and veil. I got married right after college, and didn’t yet have a full-time job, so I didn’t have a large budget to spend on fabric, etc. I wanted my dress, train, and long veil to be trimmed with lace, which meant lots of yardage. I discovered absolutely gorgeous laces while shopping in NYC–exquisitely embellished with beads, pearls and sequins. But I couldn’t afford any of those lovely trims. I opted for a beautiful plain lace, feeling a little bummed by my state of financial affairs!

As I finished each part of my gown, I hung it in our hall closet wrapped in a white, opaque dry-cleaner bag. Unbeknownst to me, as I finished each piece, my grandmother (who lived with us) snuck it from the closet and painstakingly hand stitched seed pearls and sequins on the lace while I was out of the house. Imagine my joy and surprise when I did my final try-on the day before the wedding!! It must have taken her hours and hours. Every stitch was a labor of love, and to this day whenever I look at photos of my wedding–or any wedding for that matter–I think of Grandma and what a treasure her gift was.

Tell us about your special gift–either one you made for someone else or one that you received from sewing friend. How did the gift touch you?

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  1. frannie_d December 30th

    My mom passed away just over 7 years ago and left us a bunch of her flannel nightgowns. My 3 sisters and I were very close to her and share a "bonding weekend" each year on the anniversary of her birth and death. My Christmas gift to my sisters this year was a patchwork lap quilt made from Mom's nightgowns with the backing chosen for each individual sister. One loves football; one loves Betty Boop and the other loves anything Mary Engelbright. I wrote a poem for them right on the quilt so that they'd know they could get a hug from Mom any time they need one. Now I just have to make one for myself!

  2. Sewing2enjoying December 28th

    Since my mother was a prolific and very fine seamstress, I received many, many wonderful sewn gifts in my life. She used to stand my sister and/or I on a chair for our birthdays and tear off our old pajamas and present us with a wonderful, new pair. It was rather a tradition until we became too old to stand on a chair or to tear off our pajamas. I did, however, receive a lovely gift this year, hand sewn by a half-sister I only discovered four years ago. I love her and am glad she has joined my world. She made me a lovely heavy cuddly fleece lap quilt. It is so pretty it could actually be a hanging on a wall. I was very touched by her generosity. I enjoy it each time I sit for an evening to watch some TV. It makes me think of her every time I see it, too. I hope everyone feels the same whenever someone sews them a gift. It is so special.

  3. User avater jillbilly December 28th

    One year I received my great-grandmother's sewing box, chock full of saved-up buttons and bias tape, rickrack and wooden spools of really old, fine thread. I sewed the most decorative buttons onto my baby daughter's Christmas stocking.

  4. Neosha December 22nd

    The best Christmas sewing present was a sewing basket when I was 10 years old. I still have it, 52 years later. My mother died in 2008, but I keep her photo and sewing basket right by my sewing machine.

  5. seabeegirl December 22nd

    THE BEST Gift I received!
    The best gift I ever got was the Christmas I was 8 years old. It had been a tough year for my folks and Mom was doing sewing for others to bring in some extra cash. I wanted a "knickers outfit and a cape." Mom came home one day with a pattern for the outfit AND a bright pink Corduroy with pom-poms for the trim. She told me that she was making it for someone's daughter, but would need my help with it. Well, to make a long story short - Christmas day - there was my outfit, a pair of knickers, a vest and a beautiful cape with gray wool lining from a dress of moms! It was the best Christmas ever - I only wish I still had the cape.

  6. User avater MCN December 21st

    The second Christmas after my wedding, I made angel ornaments out of my ivory silk and brocade wedding dress scraps, and gave them to all the women in my husband's and my immediate families. (I also made little green Christmas tree ornaments for the men, out of scraps from a mantel scarf I'd made for our first house.) Everyone expressed thanks, but I know my mom -- who paid for my wedding, including all of that beautiful material -- was truly touched. She mentions that ornament almost every year, and has sent photos of it when I couldn't get to her place at the holidays.

  7. User avater DaisySews December 21st

    My mother made most of my clothes till the time I was about 20 years old. One Christmas she made three blouses, one for my sister, my niece, and me. She hand embroidered different designs all over each blouse. As much as she used to sew for me, for some reason this one garment really touched me. I guess it was all the hand embroidery that caught my attention.

  8. joyjoy77 December 20th

    This is a great post, provides a lot of inspiration for the holidays. I am currently making a stretch velvet wrap for my mom this holiday. I am doing most of the stitching by hand, including adding champagne fresh water pearls to the hem. I used to make my grandmother something each year, and since she passed away in 2005 I didn't really have the heart to do it. This year is different, and I really hope she loves it, because I have enjoyed making every little stitch.

  9. User avater BeenieD December 17th

    One year my mother gave me a quilt, which naturally I thought was beautiful and such a wonderful, heartfelt gift. That is, until she told me she had made the pieced cover when she was eight years old. ALL sewn by hand! She had found it packed away and decided to finish it for me. I was probably in my mid to late forties! So that gift became a priceless treasure. So much more than just a gift. It is a part of my wonderful mother and represents the talents of all the women who have preceded me in life who are no doubt the reason I can sew today.

  10. User avater CCO December 16th

    A nice post that sewers can relate to.

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