Aunt Emily

Emily Bowyer Hammel was my father's older sister. She was the dearest person I've ever known. Over several adolescent summers, she patiently taught me how to sew and how to cook. I loved her. Sadly, she has been gone these few years and I miss her very much. However, I am carrying on her legacy of sewing and trying to carry on her legacy of caring.

Thursday, January 8

Sewing Back Story??

Lindsay T ( offers up the question: What is your sewing back story? Part of that is evident by the name of my blog: Aunt Emily's Legacy.

As a baby and young child, I was blessed with hand sewn and smocked dresses made by Aunt Emily and my grandmother. I made elaborate wardrobes for my dolls. About age 12, I spent a few weeks in the summer at Aunt Em and Uncle Al's. This started me on the road to actually sewing for myself.

By high school I was sewing many of my own clothes. The pattern above, for example, I used for my homecoming dress - the pink version, but in hot red panne velvet. I made my prom dress - sea green satin with a sweetheart neckline and a hoop skirt. The dress itself was a copy of one my mother had worn in 1948 before she married. I also made my graduation dress, a white cotton with circles of white and pink flowers in a tiered style. I think this was my first use of a Vogue pattern AND I still have it. The prom dress was cut up long ago.

I continued to sew my first year at university. I did not go back to school and entered the workforce, so I sewed again. Marlo Thomas patterns (mid-70's), dresses, not really suits as they hadn't reached the fashionable stage for young women at that point. When I went back to school three years later, I sewed again, this time more casual things.

While in graduate school, I continued to sew. My niece, Jennifer was born in 1979, and I made her smocked nightgowns, and a few things as she got a bit older. Somewhere in here, I tried my first quilt - a large weathervane pattern in burgundy and pink.

Back in the workforce, I continued to sew, but we are now approaching the "Dress for Success" period - suits, blouses with tied bows, etc.

In the early 80's, I lived briefly in Mississippi, in one of the towns that hold Pilgrimage in the spring. My favorite trip was up the river to Greenwood, where the a Steinmart loaded with fabric was located. I made a few "southern belle" (or northern ding-a-ling) costumes.

When I got married, I just didn't have the gumption to sew my own dress. I did make the dresses for my two flower girls, but that was the only sewing I did - my own flowers too. Really, I kept sewing until the early years of my marriage. By 1990, my sewing was very periodic. I still sewed, but usually when a friend came down for a weekend, or I wanted something I couldn't find.

Most of the 90's was a pause in sewing. I still looked occasionally at pattern books (and began to think that I'd already sewn many of these items before - the 70's were making a comeback). I started a few quilts, fiddled here and there. Discovered CRAZY QUILTING, which I entered into enthusiastically. I met a wonderful group of women (The Cincinnati Five) who were also big Crazy Quilters. Made lots of projects in Crazy Quilting.

Then, a few years ago, I got interested again. When we moved to our new house six years ago, I made curtains for two of the bedrooms. I started a quilt using the 3 Sisters Paris Flea Market fabric ( still a UFO). I has been only the past two years that I've really started sewing clothing again.

Now, of course, I always collected fabric, even when I wasn't sewing!!!! Which is why I have such a huge stash! And now, I love cruising the vintage pattern sites to find things I've made before - 1968 through last year!

So that is my story. I only wish I had been as influential with my nieces as my aunt was with me. Jen and I had a conversation a few months ago about how she would like to sew, and I wish I could show her. Oh well, that is one regret that can be repaired.

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