Monday, March 18

cat on calico

This is Wren's new favorite dress to wear, which is a relief to me because it's also my favorite new dress for her to wear.  The first time I pulled it out of a bag of hand-me-downs she shouted, "kitty on!" and tugged at the clothing she was already wearing in hopes of an immediate wardrobe change.  I obliged, she spun around the living room until bedtime, and all were pleased.

If Wren had a more expansive vocabulary I'd be curious to ask her why she likes this calico tunic that's older than either of her parents.  I'm assuming it's the hand-appliqued and embroidered cat detail (per her initial exclamation).  As for me, it's the history and love behind this adorable dress.

As soon as I announced my pregnancy a few years back, my mother-in-law began passing along all variety of baby items that Luke's grandmother and great-grandmother had sewn for Luke, his siblings, and other family members.  I remember the very first thing she gave us was Luke's own baby blanket made by his grandmother and aunts by hand.  I teared up as I looked over the blanket, no doubt due to some combination of first trimester hormones, love of sewing, and amazement that these things had been preserved so thoughtfully for so many years.
Luke's baby blanket
Whenever another sewn heirloom comes down the line to us, I turn it inside out and take in as much information as I can from the seams and other sewing details.  I realized recently that I am actually getting a sort of sewing lesson by observing each piece, as though these women who sewed a generation or two ago are passing along their techniques and tricks.  Each piece is an education.  And each piece is a story.
She always packs her backpack with toys and books for car trips.  This time she was determined to stuff in as many toy vegetables as possible.

And in this case I had the privilege to add to the story by mending a hem that has been let-down and sewn-up more times than my mother-in-law can recall.  I find that so beautiful.  I really think that simple method of extending the life of something (anything!) is so rare to people in my generation.  It's something I hope returns to us, becoming more and more inherent in us all.
The other day I realized that this sweet little tunic looks an awful lot like one on a pattern I picked up at a thrift store some time last year (see the little redhead in green?).  It's not identical, but it's close enough that I might be convinced to make a copy-cat piece for Wren, perhaps minus the lace and bow collar.  The more sentimental side of me has visions of passing along that new dress and this cat-on-calico to my own grandkids someday.

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