My mom used to sew.

Whenever I talk to my mother now about sewing, she says the same thing:  “I used to sew, but I don’t anymore.  It’s easier to buy.”  Every once in awhile she’ll admire something I’ve made, or even offer a bit of advice, but it always ends in the same refrain.

She has dementia, at 76.  She’s too young, but isn’t everyone?  I made my peace with my mother’s condition about a year ago and now I try to call and talk to her and treat her with as much respect and dignity as I can.

But this weekend, when she was returning home from a trip out west with my dad, there was a new development.  During an extended layover at the Atlanta airport, she claimed that the man traveling with her (my dad) was not her husband and she didn’t know him – her husband and life-mate of over fifty years.  For those of you  who have been here, you know what a bitter moment this is.  From what I understand, the Delta personnel, both on the ground and their flight crews, were a god-send to my dad, helping him navigate this new challenge.

My mom and I shared sewing – often making outfits together. She made my high school gowns and many of my sister’s as well.  I wore one of my sister’s gowns to the 1993 Inaugural Ball. She always did the difficult work – I mostly assisted.  But I think sewing was more of a necessity for her, as much as she wanted it to be more.  And I think that’s why she eventually gave it up.

I sifted through old photos and here are some of the outfits she made in no particular order. I wish I had more photos, and probably do somewhere.  Some of the patterns are known, but most I do not know.  My apologies for the poor quality – the photos haven’t been stored well and were meant to capture moments more than anything else.

My mom used to sew.

elizsuz1977
Birthday dress.
prom1986.jpg
Long story behind this dress. I almost didn’t get to go to my senior prom, because I had behaved stupidly (we were stationed overseas and my friends and I went barhopping not long after the Berlin disco bombing). But my mom relented and surprised me with this dress.
Bridesmaid
Bridesmaid at my sister’s first wedding. Vogue 2797.
mattswedding
Mom as mother-of-the groom. I know it’s Vogue, but can’t remember which one.
momdad
Mom and dad, at some event in the 1980s.

IMG_2906[1]
My niece, modeling one of my sister’s prom gowns. I wore this to the 1993 inaugural ball. It also had a bolero jacket.
IMG_2907[1]
My niece modeling another of my sister’s prom gowns (wrinkled from storage). Vogue 1623.

four generations
At my grandmother’s second wedding, around the same time the photo for this site was taken. I can’t be sure who made these dresses. All three were amazing with needle and thread and gave me my love of sewing. Sadly, all three suffered/suffer from dementia.
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2 thoughts on “My mom used to sew.

  1. I am so sorry to hear about you Mom. I understand all too well how it feels to talk to a parent (my Dad) who was once bright and clear, and now has real problems both with memory as well as overall body movement (Parkinson’s and dementia).

    I think it is so special that she sewed, and that you love sewing too. Perhaps there is a way for you to enjoy sewing together in another way? If she still has stashed patterns or fabric, you could share this. I’m always amazed how much great patterns never go out of style, and with the right tweaks, can look modern and hip. Ruffled dresses from the 40s, wiggle dresses from the 50s, A-lines from the 60s, tunics from the 70s are all on trend.

    My best wishes for you and your mom.

  2. Thank you for posting this tribute to your mom. I’m sorry she is so very ill. That must be incredibly difficult and heartbreaking. May your memories of her beautiful sewing and your times together comfort you.

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