In 1968, I was a stay-at-home mom with two little girls, ages two and four, and expecting my third. I had purchased a sewing machine for myself after my first baby was born, planning to create clothes for her. And so I did, throughout the late 60’s. I made dresses and playsuits for the girls, and several Halloween costumes, including a Raggedy Ann dress and wig and a half-man-half-woman outfit. I decorated a child’s room with home-made café curtains, topped by a circus-tent-like valance. The full-length pant dresses and pant suits I made for myself were, of course, one-of-a-kind and therefore fun to wear. Though a college English major, I made the most of one semester of sewing class I took in junior high!
My lightweight, portable sewing machine was used on the dining room table. The new polyester fabrics were a treat to wear and to wash…previously, everything had to be ironed. Dress patterns sold for about 75 cents, whereas now they cost five dollars and more. There were entire stores selling fabric, rick rack, zippers and other notions for home sewing.
However, sewing clothes was going out of style, at least for urban women, as we engaged more and more in productive lives outside the home. “Fashion” was changing, too, and by the 1970’s the only sewing I was doing was to put (unneeded) patches on the girls’ slacks and equip bandanas with ties, to wear hippie-style, as tops!
Those days of sewing and cooking from scratch are long gone, but the joy of creating remains for those of us who still want to take the time. I have designed my own custom handbags, which are not only practical but also distinctive. And now, the most fun in sewing comes from making costumes for the grandkids…when they don’t find a ready-made one they prefer!