On September 21, 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared September as National Sewing Month (Proclamation #4976) “in recognition of the importance of home sewing to our nation.” Sewing skills have long been a part of our culture and have provided needed items for our lives as well as providing a relaxing, therapeutic activity for many of us.
At one time, most homes had a sewing machine, used mainly for clothing construction/mending and home decorations. Today, most sewers are quilters, crafters, and embroiderers. The machines of today range from basic machines with a few stitches to combination embroidery/sewing machines that can scan and stitch sophisticated designs. These are very different from the Singer treadle machine that our great-grandmothers used!
The theme for this year’s National Sewing Month is “Sewing Builds Generations of Memories.” Sewing is a skill often passed down through family members and can certainly bind the family together with memories, both in mind and in cloth.
Some of our mothers may have preserved tiny garments made by themselves or other family members to pass along. You can be sure that lots of love was put into each of the stitches in the garment, whether by hand or machine.
Wedding gowns are also items that were made, treasured, and passed down through generations. These gowns are often altered to fit succeeding brides or may even be remade if the fabrics/laces are age-damaged. If the wedding gown is too damaged to be worn, consider using part of the gown to make either a hanky for the bride to carry or a ring-bearer pillow.
Quilts, of course, are items that are passed down through families as well. I have a few quilts from my great-grandmother that I treasure. I remember using these growing up both on the bed and for wrapping things when moving. Today, quilting continues to be enjoyed by many. I often hear of families who continue to quilt together. One family I know schedules a yearly retreat for any members who want to quilt. They spend a week enjoying both creating quilts and memories with each other. We often have grandmothers in the store shopping for a sewing machine for the grandchild who wants to make quilts with them.
Sewing machines can also contribute to stitching memories. There are many of us who still have our first sewing machine or we have passed that machine on to a friend or family member who sews. I have my great-grandmother’s treadle machine. Although I never got to see Granny use it, a neighbor shared a memory of her using it. He used to work for my grandfather and great-grandfather on their farm. Apparently, Granny would drag her machine out in the yard under a tree and sit and stitch where she could keep an eye on what was going on!
Even if you don’t sew, you may be recipient of sewing memories. T-shirt quilts are very popular today and you may choose to have those shirts and memories put together in a quilt. After my father passed away, I took his old work shirts and dress shirts and combined those in a quilt for my nephews. Each quilt also had photos transferred to fabric of each grandson with my dad. The nephews don’t sew, but the quilt is, hopefully, a keepsake they will pass on their children and a reminder of the grandfather who loved them. If a quilt is out of your reach, shirts can be made into a memory pillow as well.
Sewing notions shared from generation to generation also build memories. Some of us may have sewing baskets/boxes of our mother or grandmother along with much used notions. Using my mother’s sewing shears while working on a project evokes good memories.
At The Sewing & Vacuum Center we can help you to being building sewing memories with the right sewing machine for your needs. Remember that we will teach you how to use your machine when you purchase it from us. We want to help you create some cherished stitching memories!