My Mom, Lillian
Like many of you, my mom taught me how to sew. There are so many things that she has given or taught me for which I'm grateful. The gift of sewing, well, that ended up opening lots of doors-- many of which I don't think either one of us could have imagined.
My mom was often sewing while I was growing up. Any special occasion that required a new outfit (usually a dress was involved), Mom was always the first choice: first holy communion, 8th grade graduation and social, senior prom...all made by Mom. Any Halloween costume that came to mind, Mom was asked if she could make it a reality. Gumby one year, M & M outfits for me and two friends another year. Impressive. She taught me to look through pattern books and look beyond the often unattractive illustrations and imagine the outfit in my choice of fabric, or with little changes here and there. My mom is and was methodical, organized, and precise. This also makes her a great baker, but since I didn't open a bakery I'll stick with the sewing theme. I don't suspect I will ever be as fine a seamstress as she, and that's okay with me.
My mom and dad were persons #2 and #3 to hear my plans to open Bolt. To this day, I remember there wasn't a moment of hesitation in their support of the idea. I still think it a bit odd and amazing, considering I had just finished up a graduate degree in a seemingly unrelated topic (Urban Studies / community development). While thinking about Mother's Day and work, I thought about how directly my mom has influenced my work. Without her, I wouldn't have fallen in love with fabric. I would not have tried my hand at selling sewn goods, and chances are pretty good I wouldn't have opened a fabric store.
Over the Christmas holiday, I casually interviewed my mom about her experiences with sewing and parenting myself and my seven siblings. Throughout the years she made many, many clothes for us. Some of them were special, but others simply everyday things--like t-shirts with pandas. She talked about setting up her Singer Featherweight in the living room of their first house and sewing while kids (up to five at that time) napped.
Mom was also generous with her gifts. Besides making things for us to wear, and curtains for the house, she made clothes for our stuffed friends-- even stuffed friends with no real legs to fit into pants. One of my most endearing memories of Mom and sewing, is her helping me make jeans for my absolute favorite stuffed animal (shown off proudly below), embroidered back pockets and all. I remember talking about what we would put on the pockets (apple trees on black felt) and she made the most beautiful of French knots for the apples while I did the trees. They were spectacular.
Mom recently told me a great sewing class story. A bridge playing friend had mentioned that another woman had recognized my mom's name from a sewing class she had taken...forty-five years ago. Forty-five. Mom told me about the projects she made in that class and that she had remembered the other woman too. So, introduce yourself to the student at the machine across from you--you may be sitting across a bridge table from one another in a few decades.
My mom shared with me a skill that will stay with me a lifetime. For that and countless (really, countless) other things she has passed on to me, I am forever grateful. From the depths of my heart Mom, thank you. Happy Mother's Day.