Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sewing Part 2: Good and Proper

Sewing as a teenager, and as an adult, allowed me to get more wearables for my money. This skill was demonstrated to me by my mom, grandmother and aunt. My freshman year of high school, I repurposed a couple of other hand-me-downs into garments that I could wear to school. After that, I sewed clothing from patterns and took a home economics course, and it changed my everyday life.


The wife of our school superintendent, Mrs. Ferrell Mallory taught our home economics classes, similar to the FAC’s class of today, but not really. She taught many life skills for the average girl of that day, which included managing a household and sewing and cooking. There could have been something about child rearing, but I don't remember that part. 
When it came to sewing, Mrs. Mallory was strict. Our sewing had to be good and proper with nothing handed into her for a grade unless it was nearly perfect. Tearing out seams and re-sewing garments again and again was tedious work, but it became the normal and I (eventually) appreciated the outcome. Mrs. Mallory's skills and knowledge base seemed vast to me. During my time in her class, I ate Baked Alaska and caviar for the first and last time. My group tried our hand at a soufflĂ©. We also learned to cook several dishes, including her version of American Asian food. I tried it out on my family, but--um, they didn't like it and said so. Mrs. Mallory taught her students how to identify furniture styles including Duncan Phyfe and Queen Anne. It matters for nothing these days, but I can still identify styles of furniture. She walked our class to her beautiful home, a block away, to see firsthand the styles of furniture she had taught on. I loved it! We also walked downtown to a fabric store. There we viewed and discussed fabric. This aided our class in creating fabric books for class. 
One more note before I move on. Even though she taught us how to dress a table, use our manners and get in and out of a car properly while wearing a dress, Mrs. Mallory never said or implied that we owed our future husbands these skills, or even that we needed husbands. She taught what she believed were important (girl) skills for the day. However, she also encouraged us to be what we wanted to be.
The First

The first garment I sewed for my class was this jumpsuit. I made it from a funky rust color, ribbed double knit in the short version (surprise, surprise). Everything I wore was short: dresses, skirts, halter tops, shorts. This jumpsuit was a perfectly sewn garment. Trust me on that. Eventually, I made another short version, from another double knit, but the color was either purple or blue and white. I wish I had photos of me in one. I didn't like wearing the heavy double knit of the 1970s, but that is what we had to work with and wear. I also made garments from corduroy and cotton.
At that point in time, I would ask my mom for my clothing allowance to purchase fabric and patterns to make my wardrobe for each school year. In the long run, I got more for the bucks. However, I remember the first time the huge Sears (and Roebucks) boxes arrived at our house, a few weeks before school began. I was the only family member who did not have clothing inside, except for underwear. I was sad. My mom was sad for me. Such is life.
Learning how to sew was awesome and changed how "much" clothing I owned and later how I decorated my home. Come back next time and I'll show you patterns (several) of the day, in Sewing Part 3: The Fashion of It


Pat Hatt said...

Well at least you had undies in the box lol Sure is a skill that you can put to use all through life. Your teacher sounds like a wise one indeed, as life skills should be taught more

JoJo said...

You definitely got more for your money by making your own clothes though.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa - gosh you were well taught; the cottons and corduroy I could manage other materials not so much. Your Mrs Mallory was one excellent teacher - and I bet you remembered so much you weren't aware of at the time ... but now so much comes back. What a great example of a teacher ... thanks for these remembrance posts ... cheers Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

Mrs Mallory sounds like a wonderful, wonderful teacher. And her work lives on...