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When I was growing up, many women made their own clothes and their children’s clothes, especially their daughter’s dresses.

During World War II, factories turned out war materials instead of sewing machines. The War Production Board assured an adequate supply of sewing machine parts to supply home dressmakers. My mother was only 12 years old when this government photo was made, but mother’s first machine looked a lot like this. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Mother not only made her clothes and mine, she also made dresses for many others in her home-based dressmaking business.

Mrs. Charles Herbert was the town dressmaker of Mechanicsville, Maryland, when Marjory Collins took this photo in 1942. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Many would have described my mother as the town dressmaker of Ashland City. When a customer wanted a dress made, the lady purchased a pattern, fabric, and matching thread and brought it all to our home. First, Mother cut it out on our kitchen table and sewed it together. Then the customer returned for a fitting. After she tried the dress on in our living room (I like to say that there was always some woman in her slip in our living room), Mother pinned it here and there to make it fit that particular customer perfectly at the waist, hips, and under the arms. She marked the hem exactly where that year’s fashion dictated and marked the sleeves at the perfect length for that customer. Later the customer returned to pick up her perfectly-fitted dress.

By homeschooling your child, he or she can enjoy an education that is “tailor made” for him or her, an education that fits just right because God didn’t make any of us carbon copies.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:25-27


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  1. I know I often comment on your daily encouragement posts, but they do often bring such happy memories for me! My grandma was a superb seamstress as well as my mom and my sister. I remember standing on the foot stool while my mom and/or grandma pinned here and there under the arms, side seams, and hem. I tried not to wiggle because I was afraid of getting stuck with pins! I also went to the church with my grandma when she went quilting. I would go around the quilt frame and thread the needles for the ladies because my eyes were young! I have several quilts she made for me and I treasure them! Sadly, I didn’t inherit the sewing gene and my skills end with sewing buttons! Thank you for bringing back happy memories!

    • I always appreciate your sweet comments, Heather. Thank you. It was fun to hear the stories of your mom and grandma, too. It brought back sweet memories for me.

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