|My grandparents! Grandma wearing a dress she made :-)|
When I first started sewing in 2013, I was under the general impression that I was the first one in my family to really pick up the trade. My mom alluded to having done it in the past and told me she had a machine somewhere in the basement (that we found and I use) but I had never seen her or anyone else in my family ever sew a stitch. The more I got into it and started bring my machine to my aunt's house, my grandmother would just observe me, make a comment here or there mentioning that she used to sew, and then go back to observing. It wasn't until I started walking in the house with dresses I made, affirmatively answering someone who would ask, "Tasha, did you make that?", that she started giving me "Back in my day" stories! She would say "I used to sew alllll my clothes!" and I would give her this "yea, okay" smirk and keep it moving. lol Little did I know, that my grandmother had mad skills before generations after her were even a thought!
My grandmother, Ometa, was raised in the Canal Zone in Panama when the US had control of the Panama Canal. She and her family grew up with little to no money so she was no stranger to the "make do with what you have" mentality. She used to tell me about how they would eagerly await packages from America with food and school supplies and that is what they lived off of. Even after meeting my grandfather in Panama City and starting a family, they were still living in poverty and had to do what they had to do to survive. I came to find out, she did in fact make ALLLLL of her outfits. Mostly because they didn't have money to buy clothes. Basically, if she didn't make something to put on, she wouldn't have had anything. She became so skilled, story has it that she would get some fabric in the morning and have an entire party outfit ready by the evening to go out! She picked up the nickname "Hot Needle & Thread" because of her speed.
My mom tells me that every Easter, my grandmother would get the fabric on Saturday and sew up outfits for her 5 kids AND herself to be ready by Sunday morning.... all from scratch! No patterns, just measurements. All of her children attest to the same thing. I can't even IMAGINE being able to do that, but she did what had to be done. It sounds shocking but in those times, in that place, that was common. What an amazing legacy to be a part of.
|My grandmother made all of the girls dresses in this photo for Easter... the day before! Can you guess which one my mom is?! lol|
A month before she passed, I stayed over the house with her for a week while my aunt went to visit Panama. I brought all of my sewing stuff because I wanted to get a few projects done that week while I was there. I already had them cut out so she mostly saw me putting things together. The first out of 3 that I brought was my Red Bomber jacket. I will admit, I'm a pretty slow sewist- but she made sure I knew it! hahaha After the 2nd day of constructing it, she said "Uh uh! You too slow! If that was ME I woulda done sew it up, put it on & gone!" loool What made me feel good, though, was when I finally finished, I went to her room to show her and she said "WOW! If I didn't see you sit right there in front of me and make that I woulda said you nah make it! It look like it from the store!". Such a humbling compliment from an amazing seamstress-and a lady that wasn't too easily impressed (haha)!
Although my grandma isn't here anymore, I'm happy that I can follow in her footsteps and cling to this trade I love with her in mind. (Now I know why I was her favorite grandchild ;-))
Forever stitched on my heart
|Grandma and Me (wearing my Christmas Refashion)|