Thursday, November 20, 2008

Costumes & How I Was Inspired to Sew

Momma had mastered the art of the safety pin. That is to say that she didn’t really sew. In our house were knitting needles galore and a beautiful bag of miscellaneous buttons that were often my favourite play thing. I would sort them by size, or by colour, or by number of holes, and then put them back into the lovely velvet bag that housed them. It would only be later in life that I would discover that the embroidered “Crown Royale” did not imply that these wonderful bits of Bakelite and plastic had come from the remainents of princesses’ gowns. Millie Francis was my sitter growing up. She was steps away from Kindergarten and she had a box of costumes and if we were very good we could play with them. Millie’s mother, who we called Nana Jeffery, lived with her and had crafted most of them herself. I would often sit with Nana Jeffery in her room. Her mouth looked like she carried a hedgehog in it with the number of pins that would protrude from her lips.It was in late October that Nana Jeffery told me I could borrow the Pocahontas costume for my kindergarten party. I was so excited. Millie’s daughter Marsha had once worn it, and it was the prize of the collection. The day before the party it was gone. It was no where. Then Millie said that Danielle, who had come into our class and to our sitters that month, had taken it home. Danielle. Her mother probably knew how to sew. How could this happen. I was in tears. I didn’t have anything for the party. Momma came to the rescue. She always did. She was going to stay up and make me a bunny costume. I loved bunnies. I slept with my toy “Bun Bun”, who had one button eye from the royal bag of buttens. I had a number of little bunny pets as well. I even had a white fuzzy hat with two dangling strings with white fuzzy pompons on them and would often hop around in the snow pretending I was a snow bunny. It was my favourite. I went to bed imagining how wonderful it would be in the morning to have my own bunny costume.For those of you who may be too young to remember, flour used to come in sacks. These were often saved for various uses in our house. I would like to say it was for environmental reasons. But momma had lived through the depression. She was a pack rat and saved everything. The next morning I awoke to find a flour sack lying on the dinning room table. A hole for my head and two for my arms had been cut from the seamed end. One of the pompons from my hat had been diaper pinned to the back. Three carrots were tied by the greens by a piece of rickrack. I was wearing a flour sack. My favourite hat had been butchered. I arrived at school to face Pocahontas in all her glory. To make matters worse, a girl named Shawna ate one of my carrots. That Christmas, my Santa list had one item on it, a Holly Hobby Sewing Machine. I received that, along with a bundle of purple fabric, which was oddly the same colour as my old bed sheets. The greatest gift had not been the machine, but the will and the drive to learn how to use it, to overcome all, and to be able to say that after 32 years of experience behind a sewing machine, I have yet to master the art of the safety pin.

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