I was one of those kids who skipped two grade in elementary school and entered secondary school shortly after my twelfth birthday. My salvation that first year of high school, was the weekly double-period classes in the Home Economics room! I was already fairly proficient in the kitchen but the sewing area caught my fancy. This is were my foray into wearable art began!
As a child, our family shared the farmhouse with my grandparents. My grandmother, now no longer required to carry the full brunt of the ‘female’ work on the farm, would do her housework in the morning and spent the afternoons doing handwork or making quilts on her treadle machine. Sometime in the summer we would hide under the quilt, set up on the lawn for a quilt bee at which the church ladies and neighbours would gather. But mostly, I loved to sit with her and watch as she embroidered, crocheted, knit and stitched.
That year in high school I had the chance to practice my fledgling skills in knitting, crochet and embroidery and build on them by learning to sew. And did I learn! The following summer, I begged for fabric to make clothes. The Simpson Sears and Eaton catalogues offered such an array of colours! I soon learned it was easier to convince my mother that I needed fabric than it was to convince her I need new clothes! There was one hiccup. Although her mother had been a professional seamstress, my mother didn’t like to sew! Moreover, her electric sewing machine baffled her. She never liked mechanical things!
I started the summer frustrated by an electric sewing machine that didn’t work well. Until then, it sat idle except to patch ‘work-clothes’ for the men. It needed oiling and the tension was away out of adjustment. That’s when I learned how to read manuals and do basic sewing machine adjustments – skills that have served me well over the years. Classes in sewing, preparation for teaching Home Economics, and some wonderful training from Paddy Mann, the designer, helped me refine my skills. For many years, I made all my own clothes, including suits and later many items for my children – until I wore out my first sewing machine and I was told it needed to be replaced!
Many years later I did replace that sewing machine, and began to sew again. I began with updating my quilting skills, moved on to experiment with quilt art and that led to participation in a Wearable Art group where I could let my creativity flow. Today, I continue to sew garments – mainly to make a ‘statement piece I could never afford to buy, even if I could find it in a store! I’ve dabbled in smocking dresses for my granddaughter and great-nieces. I’ve reconnected with my knitting needles. That’s what you will find here!