Monday, December 3, 2018

Monday Message

(Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2001)
“As we have been continuously counseled for more than 60 years, let us have some food set aside that would sustain us for a time in case of need. But let us not panic nor go to extremes. Let us be prudent in every respect.”

We have some special friends that we visited in Utah before we had kids. They took us to someone’s house to show us their food storage. I was mightily impressed. We were in the military at the time and, believe me, they don’t get paid enough. So even though we did not get paid enough, I began slowly to build a storage. I just thought it was a very sensible thing to do. I still think that way. 

I thought there is no downside to having storage. I still feel that way. 

I started with a couple cans of tuna. Mostly that is all I could do but our neighbors on both sides of our apt (also in military) is mainly who I started for because they would run out of food before payday and at first I had nothing but had them eat with us. After that, I made a point to have a little extra to share with them. I kept getting a little extra every time I got groceries. I just kept it up. Even now, with very little money, when I go into a store I ask myself what could I get to add for storage…?

I heard a comment from a conversation I was not a part of where someone asked someone else if she knew someone who sewed. She laughed and said good luck with that now a days. I do not know how their conversation ended but I thought it was a sad comment. If it would not have been rude I would have joined in their conversation.

It made me think of the time I was in an Amish grocery store and there was a man in front of me, he had patches on his coveralls. They were sewn with love and care, the smallest stitches I ever saw. This is why I push so hard to build our skills. Somewhere along the way the skill of mending was lost.

I think sewing skills are as important as bread making skills.

It is all under living providently.

Living within our means...

Recently, being sick, I was watching Iowa Public Television and there was a cooking show on. The cook, a famous cook, was going over a list of ingredients for what she called "simple sandwiches." My goodness so many ingredients and nothing simple about them at all.
Sometimes we think that is what we need to make things but not so. I had made the sandwich shown for Iowa State University when I worked as a cook forty some yrs ago when some of this cook's ingredients were not even a thing. The same when I watch sewing shows. They use this and that which people never had years ago and still they made their own clothes which were just as good. Is it any wonder people think they cannot afford to learn to sew?

I took sewing in school seventh, eighth, and ninth grade. Only a third of each year. This was something of a struggle. My teacher should have retired twenty years before I had her as a teacher. She was mean and very impatient. Remember the friend I mentioned in an earlier blog post that helped me at the laundromat? She quit school in seventh grade because of this very teacher.   

We were to build a book of swatches. We had the world's worst sewing book ever as our textbook. In truth, I think I am a bit dyslexic but that's no excuse. Our mean teacher would tell us if we did not finish our swatches that we could not take sewing in high school. I wanted to take it in high school because I needed clothes. It came down to tailor tacking. Every day I would try to understand, it was my only swatch I could not get done. I studied it in the textbook every day. It gave a short paragraph under an illustration. I really tried.  

I tried but I was too scared to approach the teacher. I finally mustered all my courage and I went to ask for help. She nastily told me to look in the book. I said I could not understand it, she said she did not know and to go look in the book. So I finally gave up and never did get it done... one swatch from having sewing in high school, it was sad.

So I went to high school, was sweethearts with my now husband, I studied hard and could have graduated early but my sweetheart wasn’t graduating early. So for half a year I had one class two days a week during the last half hour of the day. I would visit my sweetie when he had free schedule and there I was the rest of the time with nothing to do. So I went nervously in to talk with the sewing teacher who was absolutely furious when I had told her what the other teacher said and that I did not need to finish that swatch to take sewing in high school. 

By then the old teacher had retired. The new teacher not only showed me how to tailor tack in just one minute. She said I could come in and she would show me how to sew things in my free time. In there she picked underwear, something she thought would be helpful as I would be getting married in a few months. She helped me to sew a dress for my sister as she was going to be my bridesmaid. It turned out very nice I wish I had been able to take it all three years.

In the picture above this was what I could not figure out from my workbook. This book is from 1947 I could have figured it out from this book but not the one we had for school. I think that was probably when some things went missing.

There were girls in high school sewing making men’s suits and shirts, oh how I watched them.

My mother-in-law is the best seamstress in all the world, she made my wedding dress which cost me $40 in materials.

This is the dress my mother-in-law made for me. I bought the materials for both dresses. I made my sister’s dress with instruction of the high school sewing teacher.

I had a helpful neighbor who sewed who helped me after we had kids. She knew I was frustrated trying to sew, she determined it was my sewing machine and I should get another so I found one used for a hundred dollars. This was a ton of money back then, still is. I got it used. The people were going to be missionaries in a country that the machine could not run on their electricity.

This is still my work horse to this day. After that I sewed my girls’ clothes and have continued to build on this skill...mind you I still probably can’t sew a man’s suit but I keep learning anyway.

So grab a skill and keep on building it and add to all your skills. Share them as you go because there may be a young person out there who needs to know how to tailor tack.


  1. I enjoyed this topic, thank you for writing about your frustrating experiences learning to sew. And thank you for sharing how difficult it was, I often worry that folks only see success and don’t realize that usually we have huge struggles before success :). In high school I was always wonderful in math and science. My senior year i took trigonometry and never understood it at all. I went to tutoring each week and did lots of exercises, but never could grasp it. The teacher, seeing how hard I tried, gave me a passing grade so I could graduate :). Lovely thing to do...funny, in college my major was economics, but I avoided the higher end math part of it. After the experience of not understanding trigonometry, I learned all about empathy. So there were a lot of life’s lessons in that failure.

  2. I was fortunate to have a Mom who sewed and she began to teach me when I was 8 years old. By high school I was making all of my clothes. I tool sewing in high school and improved my technique by adding to what my Mom taught me. I congratulate you on persevering and learning in spite of the setbacks.

  3. I make a very, very good living sewing for others. I don't do custom work as there is no money in it, but I hemmed 5 pairs of pants toady and mended several items and then made a bridal veil out of left over scraps. I had 5 more pairs of pants come into hem and a zipper to replace in a a pair of men's suit pants.

  4. I am a new subbie. Your story touched me deeply. I went through the same thing. I had three teachers that should have not been teaching sewing and I suffered dyslexic too. I still struggle with sewing but YouTube has been the best teacher I could ever have. I am forty-seven now and I am learning how to sew from teenagers. Bless them for ruling the world and bringing the love of sewing back.

    Thank you for your beautiful blog. I really enjoy it and look forward to your posts. Beautiful picture of you and your sister.

    I have been reading all of your blog. I love your stamp room. I just adore it. I can't stop admiring pictures of it. I am a stamper too. You helped me so much with designing my own room. Thank you.

  5. I enjoyed your post because you persevered and learned to sew anyway. Too often our "role models" only teach us what NOT to do! Your empathy was a lesson hard learned but so valuable. I have several of those Kenmore work horse machines and LOVE them! Those old all metal machines are like gold because they will last forever. The first machine I bought was the same Kenmore and I love it to this day. I bought several extra over the years just to be sure to have one "in case". Blessings!

  6. I think there is one of those teachers in every school. I often wonder how they managed to get there and keep their jobs. I had a 6th grade teacher (all day) that I thought was just plain mean. She was a "look at your book" person, as well.
    One day, I firmly announced to my mom that I wasn't going back to school. Since I had always been a super easy going kid, my mom believed me that something was amiss. So, I moved in with my grandparents and went to school near them. All was fine after that.

    I had a little chuckle about Hilogene's experience with Trig. I had the exact same with geometry. I had to take it to graduate from college. I sat in the front row, spent hours on it each week, went through 2 tutors- one was my cousin who has 3 advanced degrees, one being a Master's in Math! He would drop his head on the table and gently bang his head! I just didn't get it. I turned in all my homework. It was always wrong. I took every test. I always failed. And I never missed a class, I asked questions, etc. The instructor gave me a D and I was shocked. He told me he'd never seen anyone try so hard and he didn't have the heart to keep me from a college degree over a class "you'll never use anyway." Believe me when I say that I danced out of the classroom that day to his chuckles.
    Even though that D killed my GPA, I still graduated with a 3.6.

    All the ladies in my family were multi-talented, but I was always too *busy* to learn. I had too many other things I thought were more important than sewing, crocheting, etc. I did learn to embroider, though. I could kick myself for not learning to sew well, but I'm learning now. I feel that as long as I'm still breathing, it's never too late to learn a new skill.

  7. I never took sewing -band and business classes took up every spare hour. I was taught what I know by my sisters and mother occasionally. We all need the arts I just wish I had found the time to take those classes. I know some great basics and try my hardest to make garments right. I can't imagine being able to sew such a beautiful wedding dress and bride's dress! Perfect. What talent.

  8. What a great story and lesson. My home ec. teacher was crabby, too, but we didn't have to do a swatch book. I wish they still offered these classes in school now days.

  9. I love this story! I don't have any formal sewing training, but I do well enough to get the job done, although I have plans to grow my skills- my daughter will be in school full-time next year and my days will quiet down considerably. You and I own the same sewing machine- I inherited mine from my mother, who mainly used it to hem pants and nowadays just takes her pants to the dry cleaners to have it done. I've made pajama pants, multiple Halloween costumes, aprons, skirts, a superhero cape, a pair of shorts, a rice bag... I'm looking forward to all the things I'll be able to do in the future when I have more time. (I'm hoping to make my husband a set of rice-bag hand warmers for his birthday, which is right after Christmas!)

    My son's school offers sewing classes and, dropping my daughter off in the preschool room across the way, I was always jealous and in awe of the girls (I only saw girls, but I'm sure there have been some guys taking the class too) laying their patterns out in the hall. What a wonderful skill they'll have the rest of their lives!

    Thank for your this lovely, inspirational post. :)

  10. Love the pic of you and your sister. Great story, so sad that jr high teacher was horrid to you.


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