A few months ago I received an email announcing that Karalee was offering sewing classes this summer and I signed my daughters up right away. I knew that Rebecca would be interested because her “TALENT” at the Stake Talent show the last 2 years has involved sewing.
Rebecca models the dress that she made for the talent show in 2009. She received many compliments and wistful comments that they wished more girls learned how to sew today.
Emily was excited to take a sewing class also. Being the jealous Mom that I am I decided to ask if I could participate in the class also. I explained that I already knew how to sew but would like to get some help on zippers and hems. I was excited to be invited to join my girls in taking their sewing class. I’m sew glad that I did too.
Rebecca, Emily and I showed up for class the first day loaded down with 3 sewing machines, patterns, fabric, and iron and lots of enthusiasm. I got some great tips on how to put a zipper in and even got to practice on some scrap fabric Karalee told us that most of the work of the sewing project is in the cutting out, but that most of the problems can be eliminated if you make sure you cut your pattern out accurately. I am humbled to say that learned a lot about the importance of not trying to take “shortcuts” in my cutting that often have resulted in problems later on. After two hours of listening to Karalee explain to us how to rip fabric to make sure it is straight, how important it is to cut the pattern accurately, and the necessity of ironing as you go along ( although, we didn’t iron our pattern pieces) both girls had their skirts cut out.
Our second day of class we got down to the business of sewing. The girls got to practice going straight, doing zig zags, finishing edges, and finally they got to sew the side seams in their skirts. I was glad that there was just the three of us in the class because we got a lot of individual attention, and I knew enough to be able to help out my girls part of the time.
As we were sewing we also discussed our family tree and determined that we were both related to Wilford Woodruff through his wife Sarah Brown. I also was able to begin to explain why I wanted to be part of the sewing class. I explained it as being part of our HOPE CHEST JOURNEY. The Hope Chest Journey was conceptualized from history by Donna Goff and is about preparing daughters to become wives and mother’s. I love how Donna says this,
“All the while she was preparing her hope chest, the women in her life were preparing her, chatting as they worked, passing along a large body of knowledge and skill, incidentally, from one generation to the next, and building bonds of community support, kinship, and sisterhood. These young girls learned about relationships, parenting, family life, recipes, home nursing, and so much more, through listening to and participating in conversations with the women in their lives. Many of the women in this community were informally helping the young girl to prepare to become the queen of her future home.”
I hadn’t even told me girls about the Hope Chest Journey, they got their introduction to it as they listened to me explain it to Karalee.
We have however, already begun our journey, we just didn’t have a name for it. In 2004 I invited my Grandmother to teach my kids to sew. We began with making cute little stuffed animals out of felt and plastic canvas designs. At this time Emily was 5, Rebecca was 6.5, and Isaac was 3.5. They loved having Great Grandma Glasgow come over every Tuesday morning for sewing lessons. Believe it or not, but they all sat quietly at the table and sewed for almost 2 hours each week.
The kids all chose to give Bonnie and Tyler an animal for their wedding present.
The following summer we looked forward to sewing with Grandma again. This year we progressed onto embroidery, and Rebecca (as the eldest(7.5) started on an embroidered pillowcase. Grandma was making one, and Rebecca was making a a matching one. Unfortunately, this perfect example of a hope chest item remains unfinished, because Grandma passed away that November. We have fond memories of our times sewing with Grandma, and my only regret is that I didn’t document the stories that she told us those 2 summers as we sewed together.
And now back to our sewing class. It took us several extra hours on Thursday to finish up the girls skirts, but Karalee hung in their with us and we finally got them done. The girls outdid themselves. I was worried that after 2 hours they would have had enough of sewing each day, but they hung in their and were still happy and energetic and the end of a four hour session. I should have remembered how good they did all those years ago with Grandma and I wouldn’t have worried. Karalee said she was impressed with how happy and fun to work with the girls were. They also enjoyed working with her and telling her all about their American Girl dolls ( who came to class as well).
As I was quietly working on my own projects I was thinking about all the different lessons that could be learned from sewing, like how the little things do matter, how to be patient, to do it right, or do it again, so that in the end you have a product that you are happy with and enjoy wearing, the importance of modesty and beauty, the joy of wearing something that you chose and made yourself. The girls asked me if sewing was cheaper than buying clothes and and we had a discussion about cost and “fair trade” items, but I didn’t even factor in all the other little lessons, traditions, and love that sewing stitches right into the clothing that we wear.
This is just another step on our Hope Chest Journey, and hopefully only the first of many sewing classes that we take from Karalee, because I know I learned a lot, and I hope that my girls did also, and it wasn’t all about stitching.