Helen Stuart By Helen Stuart, 10th Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Humour>Funny Stories

I was a do-it-myself-er before it was cool, and I came by it honestly. I used to beg my mom for something "storebought" but thank goodness, now home-made is the new chic, because it was an often funny means of survival in our brood.

What Mama teach their kids

As I write this, I am waiting for a polymer clay bracelet to bake in the oven. It's a gift for my teenage daughter. So far she's liked everything everything homemade I've ever given her, but this will be the first thing she can actually wear, and since she's away at a prep school, I won't actually know if she wears it when I'm not there. Around the house and out back in my "studio", ( a tent like stucture adjacent to a 10 foot kiddie pool for when it gets too hot) I have a half dozen other projects from barely started to almost complete. I'd love to think I'm just the most creative and innovative person in the world, but that's not where my passion for DIY began. It all started with my mom.

My mom grew up in the depression in a family with 9 kids. Her dad would have been well off by depression era standards, but, well, he had nine kids. In addition to being a prolific creator of healthy babies, my grandmother was also a prolific creator of beautiful things that girls love, which worked out fine, as she had seven of them. She knitted, crocheted, tatted lace, and designed and sewed fine outfits, in addition to the things a rural Texas housewife did to survive on the edge of the SW edge of the Chihuahuan dessert when she was constantly pregnant and the modern conveniences were still not taken for granted. My mom was the middle child of those nine kids, so she learned as much as my grandmother had time to teach her, which was a lot, and carried those skills to her own family of three children. Sometimes having such a skilled mom seemed almost like a curse, like when she made one pair of blue jeans of mine last throughout a whole three year recession as I stayed skinny but kept growing taller. She added patches to the worn knees and then painted butterflies on the patches and let the seam allowance out, then sewed darker material too the bottom of the bottom of the hems to accomodate my height, then another layer of denim to hem of the second hem and she slit the sides up to the knee and added a triangle of fabric there so I would be in "style" with the flare bottom trend. They were definitely as funky as the seventies allowed and I wore them often, by need and by choice. One classmate finally asked me why I "wore those butterfly patch pants every day." In a moment of panic I replied, "I don't, I have a whole closet full of jeans like this. "

I also remember my mom with deep love as she would stay up all night sewing a special dress for my sister or me, just because we had dreamed it up. She would shop for patterns and fabric, alter the patterns, and we'd hear the sewing machine hum all night from our beds. In the morning the dress would be hanging on the doorknob, more perfect than we'd dreamed it. More real than anything ever had been

I never dreamed I could create things myself, but at a very early age I discovered I could. I also attribute this in most part to my mother. No matter what we kids created, she would praise it lavishly. "Oh my goodness, " she would say with the expression of an art critic at the Lourve, " I do believe that is the best kleenex ghost I have ever seen. Ever. I'm sure of it now. I love the purity you have caught in his expression. It terrifies me on level, but on the next, fills my soul will faith." She never hung our art on the refrigerator. Our art was too good for the refrigerator. It was framed and displayed with neat little placards throughout the house until we ourselves took it down to use the frames or died of embarrassment. Looking through my mothers papers I find all of our art that she could save from us, the artists. Much of it was pretty good. If I hadn't worn the dresses that she'd made me with such vigor if I had known anything about clothing storage, I would put them in a museum. Especially the bluejeans. It's time to paint my daughter's bracelet. DIY. Those three letters don't begin to cover the generations of knowledge that go into creating something for the ones you love.


Clothes, Depression, Diy, Generations, Home Made, Love, Material, Sewing

Meet the author

author avatar Helen Stuart
I've spent most of my life in the Deep South, and I love animals, nature, and what makes my fellow humans tick. I have an obsession with self-expression, I write, sculpt and paint, anything I can do.

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author avatar Clarence Schreiber
11th Apr 2013 (#)

Doing things and making things are a great way to save money and also can be fun to do. It keeps yourself busy. I wish that some of that motivation to more things myself. This article is a great read.

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author avatar Songbird B
29th Apr 2013 (#)

Your article was such a pleasure to read Helen, and you could feel the love in almost every word that you have for your mum and the creative gifts she helped pass on. A really enjoyable read my friend. Love your writing style\0/x

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