The women in my mother's family are artists with a needle. My maternal grandmother made all of her own clothes, and they were so beautiful that the customers she served at the department store where she worked liked the clothes she was wearing better than the ones that she was selling. The powers that be eventually told her that she couldn't wear her own creations to work anymore.
Both of my mother's sisters can make their own clothes as well: one still had her dressmakers' form in her bedroom as recently as last year. It's been there since I was a kid and is probably still there. That same aunt, my sweet godmother, made me an intricately crocheted lap blanket with raised flowers on it a few years back, which I snuggle under every chilly evening while watching TV. My mother makes the most beautiful hand-pieced quilts, small and large; some to give away and some to keep. Each of my children sleeps under one of these, and I have one as well--oh, and she also made every curtain in my house.
Compared to these talented women, I'm a journeyman at best. I have a sewing machine and a well-stocked sewing box. I can do needlepoint and cross-stitch and basic mending without too much trouble, but that's about it.
In our small town, the fire department hosts a Halloween parade every year. It starts at the school, and the kids dress up and walk the few blocks through the heart of town to the firehouse with their families. The local policemen block off all the cross streets, and the parade is bookended by flashing-lighted fire trucks, the one at the back blasting Halloween music through its loudspeakers. Good times. At the firehouse, the kids with the best costumes are awarded prizes and then everyone eats hot dogs and drinks lemonade. My kids decided that they were going to participate this year, Thing One arriving at school directly from a soccer game and hastily throwing his Einstein outfit and wig on over his uniform (shinguards, cleats and all) in the parking lot.
I'd only given the kids' costumes a cursory look before today, just enough to make sure that they weren't too small. When they dressed for the parade, though, it became clear that I had some work to do! Einstein's lab coat was down to his ankles and the sleeves covered his hands. It needed some extra Velcro to hold the top closed, too. Petunia's black cat costume was a good four inches too long and she managed to detach some of the fur trim from the pants while putting it on. Most ragtag kitty ever...costume held up with safety pins and shedding bits of fur! Fortunately, Spider-Man's costume was the correct size, although he categorically refused to wear the mask...oh well.
When we got home, I broke out the sewing box. I hemmed sleeves and pant legs and the lab coat, reattached the fur and applied the necessary Velcro. Any one of the other ladies could have done the job twice as well and in half the time, but it was a labor of love and I felt particularly close to them with a needle in my hand, even though they all live far, far away. Not quite ready to start making my own clothes or quilting yet, but at least I didn't let them down too badly today when push came to shove!