By Marcie Everhart
My mom has been an award-winning seamstress most of her life.
Above she is wearing the outfit that won her the sewing division of the Betty Crocker Home Economics award, given to the high school’s best seamstress. She wore the pin proudly on the lapel of her graduation gown, and we searched high and low for that photo! No luck. Also, there is a better photo of her modeling the winning outfit in the annual fashion show, in which you can see more details of these awesome striped gabardine trousers and the matching inset of the top’s neckline.
She hand-made most of my clothes growing up and many of the “occasion” outfits later — weddings, initiations, inductions, proms, and whatnot.
Above, the infamous “Princess Leia” dress I wore to a 1981 prom as a junior. The back was draped and could be flipped up as a hood. I went with a single-bun coiffure as opposed to the double-bun, and most of that fell down. Good lord, I was a geek! Lol. Aaaand, that’s my brother in the pic with me. Need I say more?
This one was especially memorable — an icy baby blue satin ensemble with an intricate “fold-over” jacket with hidden ties and snaps — for an honor society induction. The strong memory involved the Glorious Dream the expensive, fancy Vogue pattern represented. Vogue patterns were much fancier, harder to figure out, more French than Butterick or Simplicity!
In 1986 she won the Golden Thimble award from our daily metropolitan newspaper. She was featured in a story about her making my wedding dress, its matching fur-trimmed cape, four bridesmaid dresses, her own mother-of-the-bride dress, a candlelighter’s dress, plus the bridesmaid dresses of my sister-in-law who married a month later — all on her 1946 straight stitch Singer sewing machine. Oh, and all the hats, haha — fabric-covered, mesh tulle-infused buckram forms.
All these exciting collaborations translate into opportunities to flex the imagination, experience freedom, and share encouragement during any minor setbacks. We worked together as a team, bringing to life the ideas that delighted our hearts. Sewing projects allow a mother to support her daughter’s creative choices, building confidence in a girl that she can carry into adulthood. My mother taught me that you don’t ever have to accept things the way they are; you can make them be the way you want, by pursuing your vision into reality.
A few years ago, she gave me “mother’s” rings that had belonged to various women in our family…I love the way they look like a jumble of exciting gems, representing a jumble of children with different personalities.
My strongest impression of my mother is … her hands. They’re capable, efficient, lovely, and loving. They are always busy in my memory — flying over a ten-key as an accountant, smoothing fabric fed through a sewing machine, shifting gears in her getaway car, leveling baking ingredients with a butter knife. These hands know how to do things.
Do we have the same hands? Yes and no. I don’t think my hands know as much as hers, yet.
The Real-Real Behind the Scenes
The Real-Real Behind the Scenes Take Two
Ohmigosh, this US Marine Corps shirt with a staff sergeant’s chevrons on the sleeve…lol. You can get one at any Army surplus near you or online. I know it’s kinduva big deal right now to not wear genuine military-issue clothing, it’s even called “stolen valor” sometimes in military circles, but the retired Marines I used to work with loved it and thought it was a perfectly fitting thing for me to wear on casual Fridays with jeans. They called me Sarge long before I ever wore the shirt.
Besides I’m far from the first.
A Little Background Music
I’m loving everything Sofi Tukker is putting out right now. Their statement on this video: “Kids have a natural ability to be creative, chaotic, and totally all embracing of every part of themselves. When we grow older, we are taught to button up, quiet down, fit in, and compare ourselves to ideals. We are inspired by the kids who haven’t been taught to color in the lines yet.” My mom is Sophie and Tucker in this video.
It’s easy to purchase vintage military clothing from online surpluses, Ebay, and such if you know what you’re looking for. Google phrases like “vintage USMC khaki shirt.” Below are two examples of the cool stuff out there. Sure, you can buy cleaned-up, girly-versions from fashion retailers…but I love the idea of honoring someone’s real service by wearing proudly their real shirt. And you won’t find the badassery of a “Hell on Wheels” patch for the 2nd Armored Division except in the re-sell world.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas!
*Current photos of Marcie and Ty by Dale Amlee