Wednesday, June 04, 2008

butterfly dress

When we were growing up, our mom always made the best clothes for her five girls. I loved the dresses she sewed for me, but I also dreaded going to the school library because the volunteers there would ooh and ah whatever I was wearing, asking if my mom made it. Of course she did!. But I was shy and didn't want the attention my adorable clothes garnered.

I had a red cotton jumper that always felt very "swiss miss" to me because it had a clever vest closure trimmed with a woven floral ribbon. There was another beloved dress from first or second grade that included a puffed-sleeved white blouse, cobalt blue plaid skirt, and double-breasted blue velveteen vest.


Mom made most of my Sunday dresses and school clothes, but she was up to almost any challenge. During the whole designer jeans craze in junior high she sewed a pair of blue jeans for me. I remember two prom dresses, dresses based on my sketches and ideas, Halloween costumes, mini-skirts, and countless other projects. Mom made virtually whatever I wanted. I can only remember once when she said no to me, the day before my high school graduation when I decided I needed a yellow silk tank top and wrap skirt. It would have been really pretty, but the day before graduation and the party we were having? Not very considerate of me.

I had almost forgotten about this dress. My sister Sharri and I had matching butterfly dresses, made from some squares of printed silk that Grandma sent Mom. Each dress has a butterfly embroidered on its bodice, lovingly embellished by Mom.

This is the smaller of the two dresses. Dr. S loves it, and so do I. I probably shouldn't be letting her each ice cream in it or wear it for play, but she's a pretty neat kid and seems to respect her clothing so that she'll take care not to mess something if she knows it's special. And I can't stand to save it just for Sunday, since she'll outgrow it so quickly anyway.

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have this dress. Once it's too small I'll probably display it on a hanger someplace, maybe in her bedroom. I hope that someday she'll be able to dress her daughter in the same dress and can tell her own stories about it.

And maybe she'll add one of the dresses I've made for her, and pass that along to her child as well.

20 comments:

  1. That's very sweet, Liesl. I love hearing stories about families. I'm sure Dr. S will cherish that dress and the ones you make for her as well. And probably ones of her own to add to this family heirloom collection.

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  2. My mom did the same thing for me and my 4 sisters. I really never had store bought clothes until college and even into my married years she still would make me things if I asked her. I used to sew more of my clothes but I've moved to quilting. My mom made swim suits, jeans, etc. Just like yours. It was fabulous though I didn't realize it at the time. I sure wish I had some of the clothes mom made me now! Or even scraps. Sigh. One of my fantasies is going back in time to my mom's sewing stash or fabric shopping with her and bringing it all to the future. Crazy, I know.

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  3. I can relate to being a shy child. Even now, I'm embarrassed when someone knows I made something. Not because I think it is poorly made, but like you said, because of the attention it brings. Showing projects on my blog has been a big step for me. The dress pictured is so beautiful! I love the trim.

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  4. What a beautiful dress and even more beautiful family connection. I just wrote a ginormous blog post about my mom and her sewing machine, so I can relate a bit to the connection of which you write. Unfortunately, I have none of those clothes to share with my daughter but maybe someday she can share the ones I made for her.

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  5. As a daughter of the same mother, I too remember those dresses fondly. I especially remember the purple dress floral dress trimmed with not one ribbon but two - purple AND pink! I must have been only five but I remember seeing it hang above the sewing machine and thinking it was the most beautiful dress ever created - and it was just for ME!

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  6. What a sweet, sweet dress and what a talented grandmother the little butterfly girl has. I think that's what makes homemade clothes so special, of course, all of that love imbued in each stitch. She is just adorable.

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  7. I absolutely love your blog!!!...and then today's about all the clothes your mom sewed for you! My mother did much the same for my sister & I!...& I so loved it!...and I sewed lots of my two daughters clothes too!...& they did too! It is a wonderful legacy to pass from one generation to the next!....Heidi :)

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  8. That is such an adorable dress and it looks really cute on her! My grandmother made a lot of clothes for me as well (including a prom dress) so I can absolutely understand your attachment to them and desire to see them used (but neatly) again. I hope we get to see some of the other dresses some time!

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  9. The dress is precious! I remember matching dresses that my grandmother made for my sister ad I--I wonder where those are? Now that I am expecting a little girl, I am somewhat getting into the idea of getting some frilly, girly clothing for her. Thanks for sharing such a sweet memory!

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  10. My sister and I had matching pink A-line frocks with a large appliquéd Sun flower on the front. (It was the late 60's or very early 70's baby!)I loved to make dresses for my daughter but she refused to wear them, she was one of the boys! I ended up selling them at a market in a large country center- quite lucrative as there were no alternate outlets and mothers were yearning for something a bit different to enable them to identify their child in the park. It was not unusual to have three or four kids dressed in exactly the same outfit!!!

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  11. How amazingly sweet! You and she both are so lucky that dress survived the years.

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  12. 1. That dress is adorable.
    2. You have the mom I always wished I had. I mean, I wouldn't want to trade my mom, but I always wished mine would sew. Sigh.
    Beautiful though. Simply beautiful.

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  13. Liesl, I too had a lovely yellow dress that my mom made for me, along with every other piece of clothing that I owned until I was five...I didn't know you could shop at stores for little girl clothes until the summer before kindergardten! My kiddo now has this dress, and she very quickly grew out of it. Buy a Tide Pen and take lots of photos :)
    Thanks for your lovely story.

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  14. Lovely! I'm sure she'll keep it just like you did. Such a neat collection to have.

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  15. Oh my gosh, my first or second blog entry was all about having someone make a pair of Calvin Klein jeans for me. I loved them so much, I bought the pattern (again) from Ebay. Should have figured I wasn't the only one!

    Your pictures are just lovely.

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  16. That's really sweet. Sounds like your mom rocked! And I love the handing down of the skill, and that dress. Lovely.

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  17. it's so dainty! I love it. I really wish I had more of my childhood clothing, esp the handmade items, but my mom, always the giver, donated them all to underpriveleged families. Ah well, at least they served a good purpose.

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  18. Hi, I have ventured over from Townmouse, and really like your blog. Your probably thinking but it's June! I like to peek to see what some of the older posts are like b/4 I put people onto my favorites list. My mom and grandma made most all my dresses while I was growing up too. After a divorce my mom didn't have time so gramma took over. I wish I had saved clothes from when I was a kid (we didn't have room living in a mobile home) because I got 3 daughters. Although I have sewn/saved for my girls some of their clothes.
    I would recommend writing down some of your memories and passing that down with the clothes too.
    Enjoy your blog. Thanks

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  19. That last posted comment should have read from Jean C.
    Jean C.

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  20. oh you hit the nail on the head. i love it when my little girl wears something that i had, or loves something that i once had.

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