Things I learned from my grandma
18 OCTOBER, 2018
I am not one of those women who can say they learned to sew at their grandmother’s knee. I don’t remember my grandmother actively teaching me to sew. I guess she never thought I would be interested, and I never thought to ask her, more’s the pity.
She could stitch anything
In terms of technical aspects of sewing I would have to say I am basically self-taught, and admit that for a long time, really didn’t care for it. But I did persist as a teenager in figuring out how to make my own clothes mostly because I couldn’t find the kinds of things I wanted to wear, and probably wouldn’t have been able to afford anyway.
Lillia & Oscar
So, at heart that is what I learned from my grandmother. She was an amazing seamstress, the result I’m sure of growing up in a very small rural community in French Canada and later raising her children through the depression. But really, that was also just how it was; women needed to know how to make clothes for themselves and their families just as they needed to know how to bake bread and pies, can peaches and grow tomatoes.
Her sewing machine was an old Singer. It had originally been a treadle machine, modified at some point to be electric and it lived in her bedroom.
Her sewing machine was an old Singer. It had originally been a treadle machine, modified at some point to be electric and it lived in her bedroom. I wish I had that machine now, even though it didn’t do anything fancy—not even zig-zag stitch. But it was indeed beautiful.
My grandmother was a quiet woman and seemed rather bemused by childish imagination and daydreams. I remember staying at Grandma’s house once, a visit of several days on my own, and probably getting a tad bored, imagining a glorious costume for a solitary game of make believe. Something romantic and sweeping to be queenly. I asked if I could have some fabric to make myself a skirt (not of course having the first clue how I would do that.) Grandma offered to make it for me, and miraculously produced a perfectly lovely gathered cotton skirt in seemingly no time at all. I remember the colour and the pattern being really lovely. However. It was knee length and kind of … normal. Not queenly at all. I can only hope I was at least somewhat appreciative, and swallowed my disappointment sufficiently. (Hey, I was probably only about 8)
Photograph by Giulia Bertelli via Unsplash
But what I learned I think, when looking back was all about being self sufficient, figuring out ways to solve problems and that making things is never second best, but in fact a pretty brilliant super power.
Many decades on, I am so grateful Grandma; thank you, merci.
Lillia Emery Sauvé 1895-1991
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