Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sewing By Ear

I have always admired those that play the piano and have even begun taking piano lessons recently myself. Both my daughters play the piano and my youngest began playing at the age of 4. She would just hear a song and go to the piano and begin pecking it out. This fascinated me and the whole family actually. I just thought I'd throw in this picture of my two girls just for fun, since I mentioned them.

 As a child, I heard the term "playing the piano by ear", but I never really knew what was meant by that. When I saw this remarkable feat being done by my own child, I knew then what they were referring to. They don't have to read the notes, they just play by instinct. I also believe this is a gift from the Lord. Since this is a sewing blog I'm sure you're wondering where I'm going with this. In my previous post I mentioned a term I coined, "sewing by ear". Well, here is how I came up with that term.

When my oldest daughter got married she wore a dress she and I designed together. I adapted patterns from the 1800's. (Literally from the 1800's) It was a great challenge to say the least. Don't get me wrong, I was greatly honored that my daughter had asked me to make this most sacred of dresses, especially after insisting as a young girl that she would NEVER want me to make her wedding dress because I had made almost every dress she had ever worn and she wanted something from a bridal shop. I had actually come to terms with the fact that this opportunity would never be afforded me and we would one day go shopping for a wedding dress. I just knew this would be one dress I would NOT be making for her.

After getting over the shock and awe of her request that I make her wedding dress, I began the 4 month process.  As I looked over the authentic patterns from various time periods in the 1800's, I considered the special request for redesigns made by the bride to be. Of course she wanted something different! I decided to make two dresses, one out of inexpensive muslin fabric in order to develop the design and make any major mistakes that I might encounter and the "real" wedding dress I made of white satin. Since I had a full time job, I had to sew at night and on weekends. My daughter recalls this process and laughs, saying that her dress magically appeared. She says she would go to bed at night and it just "appeared" the next morning for her to try on for her fittings.

As mentioned in previous blog posts and my profile, I have sewn since I was a child. I got my first sewing machine when I was 12, made most of my clothes in high school and all I wanted when I graduated was a new sewing machine. I made my children smocked and heirloom clothes, have taught various sewing and smocking classes, have sewn professionally and considered myself somewhat of an expert. I reiterate this because I was extremely shocked when I became challenged by the terminology and directions of the patterns made over 100 years ago. Nothing in Simplicity, McCalls or even the heirloom patterns I had previously used ever looked anything like this. I relied heavily on all the skills I had developed in over 30 years of sewing, but still struggled. I never felt like giving up, however, nor did I feel I had "bitten off more that I could chew" as one might think to be the normal reaction. I had longed for this opportunity, even when my daughter was a baby, to one day make her wedding gown. The process was a lot of work but, I had a passion for it. I knew that I had the ability to do it even though I had never done this before.

On more than one occasion, as I constructed the dress, I felt divinely inspired as to what to do. I would go to bed perplexed with a problem in the construction process, only to wake up the next morning with the idea of how to handle whatever it was that had stumped me. I'd immediately jump out of bed and go to my machine which was at the foot of my bed in those days. I would solve the problem and sew onward.

I told my husband that I was "sewing by ear". I truly felt like that's what I was doing. There is no way I could have had the outcome I did on Magan's wedding dress had I not had the Lord's blessing and inspiration.

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the final result. What a beautiful day it was and what a beautiful bride! You know, she and her husband James will celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary in August? Wow, the time has gone by quickly. I just had a thought concerning her musing that the dress "magically appeared" as if elves were making it. Was I sewing by "elf" ears? Ha!

This is a picture in front of the temple in Orlando, FL. If you're thinking the dress was a little hot for August, you are RIGHT! She originally designed this dress to be worn in December, but was so "in love" they couldn't wait so they got married in August.

They really do make a cute couple.

And they are living "Happily Ever After" in Sugarland, TX (at the time of this posting).

 I await the request for a baby blessing gown. I should actually go ahead and get started on it anyway. As a matter of fact, she has already told me I will not be able to work when she has a child because she will have me "pumping" out baby clothes. That's okay, I've done that before and in triplicate!!

As you probably well know, I've been creating custom children's clothes for customers through my stores, Chandler Heirlooms & Design on Facebook and Cheirlooms on Etsy. I am working feverishly to get my Cheirlooms Children patterns designed and printed. These efforts are in the infant stages. The process is a lot of work, but I have a passion for it. I am sure that I have the ability to do this even though I have never done this before. Hmm, I think I've heard that somewhere before. Once again I have to say, I'm....."sewing by ear."

My precious children are all grown up, plus this picture is six years old!!!

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