The Dark Side of Sewing

While teaching at a recent Sewing and Quilting Expo, I had a very interesting conversation with a trio of women. These dear ladies were staying in the same motel as I was and at breakfast they were analyzing the jacket of the commentator on tv. I, of course, couldn’t resist getting in on the conversation, which led to my asking them if they were there to attend the Expo. They answered yes and told me they were garment sewers. They then asked me and I told them  I had a background in garments, but that I currently focused on quilting. They knowingly looked at one another and one said in a low voice: “she’s gone to the dark side”. I laughed. Quilting? The dark side of the sewing world??? What made garment construction so light??? Have you heard this expression before?

I thought about that conversation many times during the Expo, and on the ride home I began thinking about the portion of my life in which I made garments. I began sewing when I was 7. My mother taught me to make a sleeveless dress (which I, alas, no longer have). I liked sewing right away and began taking Home Ec as soon as I entered Middle School (Junior High was the correct term at that time :-). During High School I made many of my own clothes and continued my sewing education all the way through a tailoring class my Senior year. I loved to sew! I’ve made clothes for many members of my family over the years.


When I got home from the Expo, I began digging through closets and drawers, and discovered that my pack-rat tendencies may finally prove to be a good thing!

Nautical themed fabric bell bottoms? Got it! Green fringed poncho? It’s there!

Halter Dress? But of course (it was the 70’s)! Oh – and I made Mike’s sport coat and vest too. Matching plaids was an adventure!

DS Mike-plaid-and-me-halter

Purple and yellow plaid wool blazer? Who wouldn’t hang onto that? (sorry the photo is B&W)


Puzzle Costumes? (kind of scary, isn’t it?).

puzzle costumes

A quick tour of closets and the attic yielded the inspiration for a new lecture: “Gone to the Dark Side”. I began pairing up these interesting (and often “laugh out loud”) garments with quilts, and have been having a very entertaining trip down memory lane.

I not only have old clothes and quilt stories to share in the talk, but I’m putting together a slide show of “vintage” pics showcasing myself and various family members actually wearing these garments long ago (you only got a sampling here). I’m also including quite a few modern quilted garments that combine both these old and new skills. If you’re a child of the 70’s, a past garment sewer, or you just want an evening of chuckles and entertainment, I think you may find this new lecture interesting. I would be so grateful to have you share my website: with the Program Chairpersons in your guild. My email is: . Or better yet, please send them to my blog!

7 Opinions

  • Bonnie Camp said:

    Love your comments! My best friend in high school was mortified that her mother made all of her clothes (not the sweaters or blouses). They were lovely! Pleated plaid skirts with everything perfect. But in the late 50’s anything that was home made was not good. It was how her mom could make ends meet while raising 4 kids. Her dad owned his own “garbage” business. They weren’t even sanitation workers then. I wished I had a mom who made things for me and she wished she had a mom who worked and had money to let her buy her own skirts.
    I hope to see your dark presentation someday. Love your creative use of life. bonnie

  • Loiri said:

    How fun! and you guys are so cute! Sure brings back a lot of memories. Mike looks like my husband, haha! I have a similar background, sewing many of my own clothes basically out of necessity but I loved sewing from when I was really young. I had younger aunts that sewed.. And I made my husband several tops/shirts (never a sport coat!, which yours is awesome!). Also many costumes. People still talk about my husband’s flying monkey costume, complete with the little hat perched on his head. I’m sorry we got rid of those things when we moved. Imagine the Goodwill people opening the bag and finding a flying monkey costume or a Foghorn Leghorn costume! Sorry those were back in the days we had little money and alas no decent cameras/photos. But thanks for the fun memories. And…dark side? Maybe they meant that you’ve fallen into the dark hole where you always need more and more fabric and stuff?? Thanks for such a fun blog. You are an amazing person and teacher, Lori

  • Ann admin

    This post brought back so many memories!
    Thanks for sharing those photos. I did smile a lot as I read your notes.

  • ary Van Grinsven said:

    Chris- the teacher in me has to reply— there are still junior High’s. middle School are grades 6-7-8 and junior high are grades 7-8-9. I remember halter tops, bell bottoms and cork platform shoes!!

  • Evelyn said:

    You gave Joan and I a real chuckle. We wore felt skirts (mine had monkeys instead of a poodle on it). I made lots of full skirts and wore heavily starched crinolines under them. I love the puzzle outfits. It is wonderful that you have kept them. You will certainly get senior quilters’ attention when you show them off. I actually feel like I entered a new wonderful place when I became a quilter. We are anxiously awaiting your arrival. We’ll call tomorrow to discuss some activities.

  • Barb J said:

    Puzzle outfits were cute but the BIG glasses!!!!!!! WOW :):)

  • Cari admin

    loved these memories of the past, I don’t think I have photos of some of my efforts…at least ones I want to share. Think it would be a great program and full of laughs for many types of groups.


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