“Mommy, can I sew a shirt for Teddy?”
I stood in the entrance of the sewing room, holding up my pink Care Bear. Mom was sitting at her sewing machine, working on a pair of jeans for my dad. She nodded towards the bucket of scraps that she saved for me, and in a minute I had them spread across the floor as I looked for the perfect fabric. I found a bit of cotton that was big enough to cut into a shirt and complimented Teddy’s matted pink fur. Teddy flopped down on the table on top of the fabric, and the scissors carefully traced a shirt into the fabric around her. Then with a needle and thread, I sat down to sew.
Mom first learned to sew in her home economics class, and liked it so much she went home wanting to do more. Her older sisters got her some fabric and a pattern and told her to holler if she needed help. By high school, she was sewing maternity clothes for her math teacher and a wedding dress for her sister. When I was growing up, she sewed all of our clothes, including my dad’s suits and our winter coats. She was often in the sewing room and so my brothers and I were often there too. I still remember the first time she taught me to use her sewing machine and the first time I was allowed to try the serger.
I was seven when I sewed my first outfit for myself. It was a baggy red-and-pink jumper. After that, I slowly started sewing more of my own clothes. By high school, Mom and I would often spend afternoons together in the sewing room, working on various projects. She sewed both of my grad dresses and my wedding dress, but I made my jeans, skirts and tops. We’d put on some music, and sometimes we’d talk as fast as we’d sew, and sometimes the only sound was the clattering of the sewing machine.
When I started university, I missed those times in the sewing room. My brother and I would often get home from school and head down to Mom’s sewing room. I usually didn’t have a project on the go, because I didn’t have time between exams and papers. But we’d grab one of the spare chairs in the room and watch Mom sew and nibble on her stash of chocolate-covered almonds. It was there that I confided to her my questions about choosing universities, my day-to-day doings, and later, my feelings for a university friend I was starting to date.
Last week, as I was off from work, I started sewing for my baby. My husband and I had gone shopping a few weeks beforehand and gotten patterns, flannel, and stretch-knit. One day, I packed up my sewing and my sewing machine and went out to Mom’s place. We spent the morning sewing together – me working on the onesie, she sewing curtains for a friend. “Just like old times,” Mom murmured while we worked and chatted, and I nodded. It felt good.