Goodbye, Frilly Dresses

Post by Deanna McCool

It’s time to let go of many hand-sewn dresses I made for my now 9-year old girl.

I’m filled with dread.

These clothes – these! They can’t just be dropped off at Goodwill. I wanted them to be loved and appreciated by someone who enjoys hand-sewn girly treasures.

But this morning I suddenly remembered a neighbor who appreciates handmade clothing and has two granddaughters younger than my girls, and I knew she would love them as much as I have.

So I went to work, going through my daughter’s closet and drawers and gathering the dresses.

As I lovingly stacked up the outfits, though, I started crying.

Goodbye, frilly dresses.

Each dress or skirt brought back a specific memory.

Oh, there are the two I made for our trip to Disney.  She really looked cute in those.

The butterflies! She loved the big orange butterfly on this dress.

She twirled around in this one and felt like a princess.

This shirt – this one, ha! – she went into preschool sticking out her chest and smiling so her teacher would compliment her on her outfit.

But just as I mourned the “loss” of the little girl who needed ruffles on everything (she still likes some ruffles and girly styles, thankfully, so it’s not *completely* over), other thoughts started popping into my mind, too.

I was reliving my time as a beginning sewist. Walking back through the years.

You can correct me if I’m wrong, but there seems to be a pecking order in the online sewing community when it comes to sewing, you know? Sewists who sew and design clothes for adults are at the top. Sewists who sew for kids – but do it well – are somewhere in the middle. Beginning sewists who start out sewing children’s wear are at the bottom.

I’m a big Project Runway fan and I’ve seen the groans of disappointment when it’s “children’s wear week.”

Food for thought: would Oonaballoona (actress and sewing blogger Marcy Harriell) be as popular if she only sewed for kids?

But the mild undercurrent about the pecking order in some circles is a loud and boisterous chant on those hate-blog sites.

This one is just a “mommy blogger.” That one is just a “mommy sewist.” 

And if someone shows an outfit for sale that’s less than perfect, there’s my favorite phrase: “She’s a mommy scammer.”

As if there’s something wrong with learning, with growing, with getting started. With not yet knowing how to do an FBA or even a French seam.

I now sew for myself too, and not just for my children. But, like other moms and dads, I started sewing garments when I had kids.

We were all once like children at our sewing machines. Remember when you purchased your first serger? Remember how scared you were?

Did you serge your first outfit for a child who wore it to her or his first day of school?

Was the beginning of your sewing journey also a beginning for your child?

Our children grow and change.

And so does our sewing.

The tears I shed over those little outfits soon turned into joyful thoughts about what I’ll sew her next.

Another dress with pockets. A playsuit fit for a tween. Maybe some jeans someday, if she ever decides she wants to wear them.

I’m already sewing a special blouse and skirt for my older daughter, who’s 14 and who will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic church next month.

There’s lace involved. I wouldn’t have tried that a few years ago.

Our lives with our children are a journey, and our sewing grows with them.

And while I mourn the loss of innocence as my youngest emerges from childhood to the tween years, I can find joy in growing with her.

Goodbye, frilly dresses. Hello, tailored skirts.

Don’t ever, ever, feel ashamed for being a “mommy sewist.” Even if you never sew for anyone other than your children.

Embrace your kids. Embrace your sewing journey.

What will your child learn next?

How about you?

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