Oliver + S roller skate dress

Oh, I was a horrible, reluctant home-ec student when I was 10 years old! (Sorry mom….) I saw no point in learning how to sew from my mother.  She tried her best, entering me into 4H sewing competitions, putting together a group of girls to sew at a friend’s house, offering to sew all of my recital dresses.   It wasn’t me, ever.  I saw no point in it—I preferred academics, and music, especially music.  But both the process and the end results fascinated me–walking through the fabric store touching all of the fabrics, watching my mom line up the fabric on the kitchen table, the whirr of the scissors as they cut against that lovely 70′s orange formica, the pins through the fabric pieces, the pile of buttons to choose from….  Being a musician myself, I never knew why mom ‘gave up’ her career in music and switched gears to becoming a home-ec major in college.  How mundane, I always thought.  How conforming, how insulting to women.  When she gave me a sewing machine when I was in college, I rolled my eyes.  So she re-gifted it–of course–to my sister in law.  I found out later when I went into my closet looking for the machine, only to not find it anywhere.  I can laugh at it now, but at the time, I was mortified.  How dare she!

I get it now (both the sewing and my mom being insulted by my actions.)  Funny how becoming a mom myself changed a lot of things.  There are some skills that are lifetime skills.  Sewing is one of them.  I don’t regret at all the reluctant skills I picked up from my mom.   It doesn’t make me less of a feminist, or less of an academic, or less of an artist.  It makes me more.  Now seeing my 6 year old draft a pattern for her American Girl doll, taking all the correct measurements?  Proud.  Finding patterns that will fit her personality and my sense of design?  Creative.  Turning off teacher mode and turning on the machine to work with the fabric?  Gratifying.  Gathering with like minded intelligent friends to work on sewing projects?  Freeing.


For the first time, I tried a digital pattern, from the Oliver + S Collection.  I loved it.  There was a bit more work printing out the parts and taping them together (and a bit of swearing under my breath as my ink cartridge ran out), but all in all, I prefer this over the flimsy tissue-paper-thin patterns.  One bonus to working on a pattern that is digital?  Scaling, baby.  It took some mad math skills, but I was able to figure out the exact scaling percentage to go from 6 year old little girl to 18 inch American Girl Doll.  Thank goodness for PDFs and scaling capability.  That in itself gave me rock-star status (if only for one day) in my 6 year old’s eyes.  And while she measured and drafted patterns along side me, I made sure that I kept repeating to her that this was part of a skill set that she could do forever–alongside with her reading, and writing, and cello, and piano, and all other awesome skills that makes her who she is.



Happy girl, happy mama.

3 replies
  1. nanann
    nanann says:

    I just love this dress Kathy. LOVE! and love that your daughter helped make the American Girl one. SO much better than I’ve done teaching my girls!

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