Monday, November 12, 2012

makin' jammies

my brother and me in our jammies, 1991
my grandma engels was a superstar sewer and pink-lover extraordinaire.  she never really officially learned how to sew, just kind of taught herself by taking apart clothing to see how it worked and sewing it back up again.  this is exactly my style of sewing too, and i am honored to sew on the very same forty-year old viking that she used for all those years.  i also inherited her thread collection, and the notions and odds and ends of a lifetime of sewing, including a delicious stash of metal vintage zippers and three coffee cans filled to the brim with buttons (some of them from her own grandmother's collection).  in all the years that i've been sewing since she died, i've gone through many of these materials, but she had so much pink thread in particular that i'm still using it.  i always think of her when i do.    

she was awesomely talented at sewing doll clothes - the bag of them i found recently seriously took my breath away.  unfortunately, the poor woman had three sons and when a girl (my mom) was finally born, she turned out to be a tomboy.  then she had six grandsons, and wouldn't you know it - when the one and only granddaughter came along (that would be me), she too turned out to be yet another pink-hating tomboy.  i wish she could've met shoshanna - finally a girly heir to inherit all those teensy barbie clothes!

every winter, she sewed a new pair of flannel pajamas for my brother and me (and i think all the other grandkids, too - only now can i appreciate what a labor of love that must have been!).  she was always really cool about not trying to make me into a girly girl, though it must've been tough for her to sew yet another pair of rocketship/cowboy/soccer pajamas year after year.  those jammies were the jam!  super soft, always with plenty of pockets, and made from fabric representing whatever we were most interested in at the time.  (pictured above: my brother and me in 1991, rockin' our jams.  shoshi is matty's age in this picture and sure does look a lot like him, i think.)

i'm trying to have all my christmas presents done by december 1 this year, which is no joke when you make the bulk of your gifts.  so i'm knee-deep in a ton of projects right now, many of them with shoshi, working on art projects together that she can give people "all by myself."  (post about this to come.)  so i've been quite busy (in a nice way), which is why i have no idea why the flannel section beckoned me so strongly when i stopped by the fabric store yesterday.  "all flannel $2.99/yard!" the signs proclaimed.  oh, dear me.  visions of my grandma's jammies danced in my head, and before i knew it i'd bought five different flannels, lord help me.  i spent my sho-free afternoon (gamma leslie takes her every sunday) blissfully creating my own flannel pajama and nightgown patterns out of the various pajamas that sho wears now, which is exactly what my grandma used to do.  i'm itching to sit down at my machine tonight.  there is something quite beautiful to me about using the very pink thread that my grandma used all those years ago, to finally make that pair of long-awaited girly pink pajamas for the great-granddaughter who she never met, but would have adored.

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  1. "delicious stash of metal zippers" love!!
    i have few things that when seen can only be called delicious, they are keepers, they are for life, some were handed down, some were found. good to know i am not the only one that thinks an object can be delicious.

  2. Something about this made me a little teary-eyed. My Grandmother's are all gone, but there's always something wonderful about doing those little things and passing them on to my own children.

    When my Great Grandmother died I ended up with her sewing box and lots of her notions and doodads have made their way into the clothes and things I've made in the years since then. I like that. It feels good.