Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanks, Aunt Audrey!

When I was about 12 years old, I wanted to learn to sew.  My Mom, bless her heart, was not talented in this area.  We owned a sewing machine, but Mom's talents lay in the culinary arts and not the art of creating clothing from fabric and thread.  My Aunt Audrey was the expert with thread and needle.  Her specialty was not clothing.  She owned a business at home and made slipcovers and draperies for homes all over the Baton Rouge area.  Her clientele were referred to her by interior decorators.  Out of her converted garage, she created beautiful home furnishings for years.

I was persistent in wanting to sew.  I viewed the skill as a vehicle to an expanded wardrobe.  I was sent to Aunt Audrey to learn some basics.  She gifted me with scraps from slipcovers and draperies.  Most of the time her clients were not interested in keeping left over snippets of fabric.  Some of the pieces were large enough for me to make a skirt and that's where the instruction began.  She taught me to design, cut and sew  with those scraps that the wealthy ladies of Baton Rouge were casting away.  We decided on making box pleated skirts.  After all,  I was on the chubby side and gathers were not slend-ah-rizing!  (Thanks to cousin Mitzi, for this term!)  A lot of skills can be learned from making a skirt.  Measuring, pleating, sewing on a waist band, matching patterns, working with the grain of the fabric, etc....

To finish off my ensemble, she taught me to make simple blouses of solid colors.  That way I could mix and match my skirts.  I also constructed long ties to be worn around the neck to "pull" the outfit together.  I was so proud of myself.  In hindsight, I wonder how I really looked wearing those clothes from drapery fabric??

In high school I signed up for the Home Economics classes.  I excelled at sewing.  When I went to college I wanted to major in English and my professor told me in my freshman year that I had no talent for writing.  I had a roommate who was studying Home Economics and she persuaded me to do the same.  Luckily I also selected a second major, Science.  Those of you who know me are aware that I taught Science for 25 years.  The Home Economics training has served me well over the years.  People used to tease me and say that I had learned to bake huge cookies by majoring in Home Ec.   These days folks depend on the cooking channel and the home and garden channel on cable tv for their Home Ec training.  Same information, but different source of  instruction.  Here I am, rambling on again...

Back to the subject.  Over the years I sewed.  I made my wedding dress and the bridesmaid dresses.  I sewed ties, shirts and jackets for my husband and clothing for my children. At one point I earned extra money by doing alterations for a dress shop.  (That was an eye opening experience!)  I even made slipcovers and draperies.  Then I put my machine away for about 15 years.  I had grown tired of sewing.

Then the grandbaby arrived.  I have dusted off my machine and begun to create again.  I found this really cute idea to make dresses with onesies.  For those of you who don't have babies,  a onesie is a bodysuit for babies.  There is a neat website that gives detailed instructions on converting onesies to dresses for infants.  It's  I have never met this blogger, but have bookmarked the site and recommended it to others.  If you can't or don't want to sew a onesie dress, you can purchase them from my friend's Etsy shop, Squirrelly Girl Boutique .  She takes custom orders.

I have also found that sewing dresses for special occasions is exciting and even economical.  In addition to the onesie dresses I have made a Christmas dress for my granddaughter.  What pleasure this new obsession with sewing has brought me!  I am including some photos of my creations thus far.  I have become a sewing fool and can't stop!!!

I suppose this blog is turning into a confessional/brag/informational one.  Thanks for reading and thanks to my wonderful Aunt Audrey, who is no longer with us.  I hope she is smiling from heaven as she knows I am thinking of her each time I take a stitch!


  1. Well, I learned a lot from reading this. I didn't realize Aunt Audrey taught you to sew. I lived with her for a few months before I got married....but I didn't learn to sew. You do beautiful work and I know Aunt Audrey would be proud. Your granddaughter is blessed to have you sew for her.

  2. Very nice job with the sewing & the Blog, Dot!

  3. Aw, you're too sweet! I really enjoyed learning about your sewing history too. Very cool. I took home ec. senior year of high school but that was it. Years later I decided to make our Halloween costumes and made a pretty elaborate Geisha dress and samurai outfit. Again didn't touch it for years. Then I kept seeing pics of all these cute pillowcase dresses but had no extra money so I decided I'd learn to make them. :) Luckily my mom had an unused sewing machine and friends and family have blessed me with fabric. You may be jealous but my aunt just gave me her's AMAZING! Anywho I'm having tons of fun. It's a great creative outlet/me time. I get to make things for my baby girl. I'll be able to teach her to sew one day (best part). And eventually hopefully I can turn a small profit since we're a one income family.

    Thanks for the shout out. I am SO thankful for the tips on the onesie dresses. You are to kind!

  4. Margaret SchlaudeckerNovember 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    I learned a lot here that I did not know about you! Jessie is almost the same age as you when you learned to sew. I want her to have this skill that I am just starting to learn a little. Maybe by the time I'm a grandmother, I'll be able to make something for my grandchild! I loved reading this, Dot!

  5. Kristen, Keep adding to your sewing history. Margaret, It's never too late to learn something new. Thanks for reading.

  6. Dot, this is a lovely post, and well done on your grand daughter's dresses/onesies.

    I have a 21 month old niece called Audrey. The name is making a comeback!

    I'd love to hear more of your reminicenses and it's a great way to preserve them for your family.

  7. Fiona, I love the "old fashioned" names. Our granddaughter is named "Olive". Today I received a serger as a gift from my sister-in-law who bought it and decided she didn't want to sew anymore. I am so excited to learn to use it. As always, thanks for reading!