Monday, December 22, 2008

All Dressed Up!

Hints of the coming Christmas season began early in December at our house when I was growing up.

Intertwined with the carol singing and jingle bell songs on the radio was the familiar whirr of my mother's electric sewing machine, not to mention the hiss from the iron as newly sewn seams were pressed. Of all the clothes that Mom made for us all through the year, it was the pretty Christmas dresses we loved best of all. You see, these dresses were made especially for our Christmas Eve Program at our little country church -- it was the highlight of my entire year!

Here I am in my red velvet dress holding my new walking doll.
With one leg slightly shorter than the other, I thought she had polio.

The anticipation would begin to swell as Mom pored over pattern books and bolts of fabric. Amidst scissors, tape measure, and stick pins, sheets of ecru tissue paper rustled as each pattern piece was carefully laid out on the fabric. It was always an exciting moment when we'd hear the first snip of scissors crunching their way through the layers. Soon threads littered the floor, and we'd hear a whoosh as the hot iron pressed another newly sewn seam.

Clasping hands with Little Sister
-- best friends then and now

With its short puffy sleeves and bodice from peacock blue velvet and a shimmery, frothy skirt of chiffon that billowed when we twirled, I must admit this was my all-time favourite Christmas dress. There was something, too, about the way the chiffon felt slippy-slidy when I pinched it between my fingers.

We'd sigh impatiently as Mom pinned and twirled us around on the chair, checking hems and seams as the final overview was made. But what a proud moment when, on December 24th, we stood in our newest finery with the rest of our Sunday School class reciting mostly memorized poems and warbling through partly familiar carols.

You can imagine how thrilled we were
to have a 'real' doll for Christmas that year.

As a young girl, I didn't fully understand the deep love my mother had for her children. I didn't recognize the sacrificial love that went into creating these pretty new dresses. The wonder of it all is that these gifts of love were wrapped up in the celebration of the Christ Child who came to express the love of a Heavenly Father to our world.

Who would have thought that the whisper of tissue paper on velvet would echo that eternal love to three little girls?

Marveling at it all!


  1. how sweet your memories are, seems you had lots of sisters. funny I always wanted 5 daughters to make dresses for and fix their hair but got 4 sons instead and did scouts and collected rocks, etc. enjoyable but different than i had planned. life is what happens while you are making other plans...

  2. Lin, I know what you mean when you say life happens when you're making other plans. I always wanted lots of kids too, but I never married until later in life (at that point I wasn't interested in the diaper stage anymore).... so I revelled in the 'auntie' role and played it to the hilt --- still do!

  3. Talk about dressing up little girls, I was never to good at sewing so when my folks had there fifty Anniversary (now I have had mine ha ha) I hired a lady to make them long velvet dresses, one in bright pink and the other in a pretty blue and myself in purple
    velvet. They were so lovely we all felt like princesses I'm sure.
    I don't know what happen to those
    dresses I just can't seem to remember to bad they are not still
    around my granddaughters would have loved to play dress up in them when they were small now they
    are all past that stage. My mom
    was always sewing to Brenda, when the depression was on she used to make overall jeans for some of the
    neighbour boys as everyone was so
    poor at that time. She didn't have afancy sewing machine like they do now just a old threadle
    one that you pumped up an down with your feet. But boy did she sew not only for herself but for others. She never charged anything
    either. I must write a story about her life and the experiences she had. Sorry this is so long I get going and can't stop ha ha ha
    Merry Christmas and Blessings for
    the New Year whoever reads this.

  4. What a wonderful post of your very special memories. The velvet would have melted my little girl heart too! My mother was a seamstress also and the sound of tissue paper patterns reminds me of the countless Easter dresses she sewed for me and my sister.


  5. Rosalie, Thanks for sharing your own memories of your mom sewing for people during the depression. Yes, I think you should write some stories about your mom.

    Cindy, Mom also sewed Spring/Easter dresses, but they aren't as vivid in my mind as the Christmas ones.

    What lovely memories for each of us.

  6. Thanks for the beautiful memories, Sis!


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