Stitching Christmas

‘Twas Christmastime, 1934.

B & W Family  Xmas

The little lady ambled out to the drug store to pick up a copy of Needlecraft: The Home Arts Magazine. Turning the pages, flipping by the ads for Listerine and Royal Baking Powder (“I’m a Widow… with 5 Children… and I can’t afford to take chances with cheap, doubtful baking powder”, for French’s Bird Seed and Biscuit, next to menu ideas for grand yet frugal holiday dinners, she read a letter that she could have written herself.

Letter to My Husband

And, when she turned the page, there was the Singer itself.

A Singer for Xmas

“The magic means to all the clothes her heart desires!”A few pages further, the latest fashions.

Sketch of Three Women

Truly, anything was possible, frills and furbelows and cute red slippers to match a swirling red hem.

I inherited my grandmother’s machine, not a Singer but a Domestic, the name stamped in gilt on its wooden cabinet, a couple of bobbins still in the drawers. She sewed voraciously, making all the clothes for my mother and her sisters. At Christmastime 1934, was she mulling over her paper patterns, thinking about that material she had seen on sale recently in her little Tennessee town?

Sewing was a way of dreaming, of making your way psychically out of the deprivations and difficulties of the time. Sewing made what was hard, soft. It still works for people who remember how to thread a needle.

1 Comment

Filed under Fashion, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman

One response to “Stitching Christmas

  1. Lori

    My mother found an old Singer sewing machine at a garage sale back in the early 1990s. She took it to a shop and had it refurbished, including the wooden cabinet it fit into.
    Then, miracle of miracles, she gave it to me!
    I still have it, and it still works. It has all metal parts, nothing plastic, nothing computerized. Yet I treasure it.
    I used it to mend my kids pants when they wore the knees out. I used it to make my oldest girl a back pack for her 6th birthday. It has mended high school back packs, sewn pants and shirts, a pillow or two, and has made some curtains.
    I should make a quilt, when I get the time.
    I recently turned an old pair of Levis that my youngest son grew out of into a purse, and everywhere I go people remark on it.
    “Oh, what a clever idea!” “Where did you buy that? I want one!” “You should make those and sell them on Etsy!”
    As to the old illustrations, weren’t those old fashions wonderful? Wouldn’t you love to see those again, say, walking past in a mall?

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