The New Domesticity: The Town Dressmaker & Back-to-School Clothes
We sat around the dining room table, each equipped with a needle and thread. Shimmering white beads and lace were strewn before us, and, although we couldn’t sew as quickly as we could chatter, we were definitely making headway. And it was a good thing. We had 7,000 beads to go.
Months before, my mom, sister and I had visited every bridal shop in town. After slipping in and out of countless frills and flounces, I just couldn’t find the perfect dress. I admired the bodice of one . . . the skirt of another . . . the sleeves of . . . well, of my own imagining. My ever-creative mother provided the obvious solution: she would make my wedding dress.
It was a labor of love, and month by month, my dream dress took shape. The application of 7,000 beads proved to be somewhat daunting, even for my tireless mother, so she decided that an old fashioned sewing bee would be just the thing. With a trio of friends gathered ‘round, we looped bead by bead onto the lace. It was as though we’d stepped back in time, multiple generations gathered in a tribute to love and beauty as hands stitched and voices trilled.
There was something charming about having a gown perfectly fitted to my size and style. It was an exquisite, one-of-a-kind dress, and I couldn’t help but think back to an era when women hired dressmakers to create their wardrobes. Each garment designed with precision and care, women must have been much more thoughtful, both in their choice of fabric and in the ongoing care of the clothing.
And, if these garments were to be made for growing children, how much more durable and versatile must they be!