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Mom to the Rescue | Closures Essay

Illustration by Lisa Adams.

The following reader story was featured in the Closures department of Threads #107, June/July 2003.

Mom to the rescue

I have four daughters and love to sew, but for many years I have only sewn for myself. When the girls were little I envisioned sewing all their high school formals while singing happily like the little mice in the scene from Cinderella. But the reality has been that for the girls, clothes sewn by Mom were a little “different.” They didn’t look like everyone else’s. They didn’t have that label that meant they were acceptable. So I sewed for myself and tried to accept, with as much good grace as I could muster, that they needed to fit in with their own age group. They in turn tried to muster some enthusiasm when I showed them something I was proud of having accomplished.

A welt pocket?” they’d say. “Yeah, sure . . . great job, Mom.” But my creations remained odd to them.

However, one of my daughters has been cultivating a relationship with me as a seamstress-mostly to add trim to her jeans, or help cut another pair for capris. One summer, she got a job as an intern for a fashion magazine in New York. Her disinterest in sewing vanished as her Midwestern mind-set was blown open by the fashion variety out there-and her wallet was blown apart by the high prices.

“Mom, could you make me some clothes?” she asked. This was the music my ears had been waiting to hear since the last time Halloween was an event in our house. But I should have remembered that old adage-be careful what you wish for because it just may come true.

I went to New York to visit her and brought with me the guide to sewing spots in New York City from Threads #93. I couldn’t wait to see fabric stores and arrays of trims and buttons only found in New York. She took me to see the boutiques in SoHo that are “mad cool” and “way edgy.” She showed me the deconstructed pieces she coveted; the seams were on the outside, the colors clashed, the elements of each garment were torn and mismatched, and they were outrageous prices.

“One of a kind,” the salesperson assured me. “No kidding,” I thought to myself as we left the shop.

When we got home we began the projects she’d selected. We took old jeans and ripped off the waistbands, opened the leg seams, and sewed more denim into the inverted Vs. One was left like this as a plain skirt. This I had done in the ’60s, but I didn’t bother her with the fact that her new, edgy, cool skirt was something I’d done in college too.

For another one, we cut jeans off at the hipline and added flounces. The result resembled a squaredance-type skirt with the flounces made from retro ’30s flower prints in browns and oranges on a cream background. She was quite pleased.

“This last project requires lots of safety pins,” my daughter said. We split too-small black jeans up the side seams. We were going to insert dark blue denim cut from too baggy pants legs on the sides and into the front and back Vs. She had me stitch up the front and back, but didn’t give me instructions on what to do with the side seams.

“No,” she told me, “there won’t be any side seams. That’s what the pins are for-to pin the sides together.”

“You’re going to pin a skirt together-and then wear it out of the house?”

“Think of it this way Mom, none of the pins go into me.”

When it was finished, I had to admit, the result was “so very SoHo,” and it looked great on her. It was secure and does have quite a flair. Best of all, she loves it. Even better, her sisters have come to me with their requests. Working together makes me very happy-almost like those little mice from Cinderella.

Cynthia Rothbaum lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Do you have a sewing story to share?

Email it to [email protected] and you could be our next Closures author.

Other Closures essays you may enjoy:

“A Sewing Legacy” by Sharon Broussard, from Threads #76, April/May 1998.

“Specially Designed by Mom” by Paul Hadella, from Threads #200, Dec. 2018/Jan. 2019.




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