To all the clothes I've sewn before

When I was on the Sharon Sews site the other day, her "Flashback Fridays" (Sharon's sewn clothes through the decades) postings got me thinking about a project I've had on hold for a while now.

The background: Over a year ago, my parents moved off the family farm. The farm was the place I grew up with my two sisters; it was also the place where my mom and my grandmother both grew up. And with that many generations of women, many of which were savers, residing there at one time or another, there was a lot of stuff to sort through.The sewing room was the room my mother spent a lot of time going through and packing up and it really was a lot of work. If you're anything like her (or me), and you've been sewing and crafting for decades (sorry Mom), you know how much stuff you accumulate. My sisters and I all sewed in 4-H for a decade each, so that's a lot of scrap fabric. And you always saved the scraps in case you needed them. Same with patterns! At one point in the sorting, my mom had three bags going--one for each of us girls, containing fabrics that she remembered each of us using over the years. That quilted Tigger print that Deb turned into a robe; that striking (my mother's word for extra-special fabric) brown floral that Alice used for a 4-H dress; that sky blue bow-print that I made into a dress off the same pattern that both of them had used previously (Simplicity 8903, in photo)... Mom sorted them all.

And then she made each of us a table runner or centerpiece or something in a crazy-quilt fashion using our fabrics, along with some from the other girl's bags, since sharing clothes and hand-me-downs were regular fare at our place. When she was about to toss the extras, I took the bags to my house, as I wasn't ready to part with them just yet.I also kidnapped the patterns that were special—the ones I remember each of us making over and over, the ones that were used for special outfits like the dress I made for my 8th grade graduation dance (McCall's 7029, in photo), the ones that earned a blue ribbon at the4-H fair, the clothes I made that snowy winter break my first year of college.

An aside: As I went through the patterns the other night, I started thinking about sewing some clothes again--some of these patterns would be fun to wear again and are back in style. Maybe I'll invest in one of those fit-mannequins first, since ill-fitting results are the reason I stopped sewing clothes a few years back. Margaret Ann and her new friend Eloise (a wicker half-mannequin I found in Florida last month)are decorative, not fit-able, so maybe they need a new friend.

The project: My plan is to create a massive shadowbox (3-foot square maybe) with the pattern envelopes, swatches of the fabric, and maybe even a photo or two of me in the outfit. I might copy the pattern envelopes, because I'd hate to lose the chance to make those patterns one more time! I might even disassemble my 4-H records book, where I have drawings of the outfits and notes about cost and hours spent making them, and work those pages into the collage as well. So I'm on the search for a second-hand shadowbox. After all, since all of the stuff inside will be from days past, it seems wrong to buy a new box. Or maybe I'll build one when the weather gets nicer and I can spread out into the sunroom for a little more sawing space.

My request: Have you created anything like this? If you've given this a try or tackled something similar, post a comment and share your tips!


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