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Are You My Cousin?: A Prom Dress, Sewing Machines and Family History

Are You My Cousin?

Discovering My Ancestors -- One Cousin at a Time

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

I tell the stories of my ancestors’ lives. Whether they lived 20 years ago or 200 years ago, they each have a story to tell. Some ancestors tell their stories willingly. Others must have their stories carefully teased from the records. Sometimes the stories are sad. Sometimes the stories are happy. Sometimes the stories are just funny. Regardless, my ancestors’ stories shaped their lives and the lives of those that followed. Come and share in the tales!

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Prom Dress, Sewing Machines and Family History

I found myself last week needing to alter a prom dress.  I do know how to sew, but it is not something I do very often.  When I do sew, I tend to stick to simple projects with straight seams.  I actually feel more comfortable with hand sewing, but this project required taking in the bodice of dress.  For that I needed the sewing machine.

This was my mother's sewing machine acquired in the early 1960's. No programmable stitching features here. It usually sits in a very nice cabinet.  I needed more space and better lighting for this project, so I took it out of the cabinet for this project.  Fixing the bodice of the dress was a breeze (much to my relief!)  To fix the hem of the dress I went looking for the instruction book since I needed to use a special foot. 

Look what I found in the drawer: 

It was published in 1958-that's before I was born!

Below is my grandmother's (Cecile White Howard) sewing machine.  It is a White rotary sewing machine and still works, though it definitely needs servicing. It sits in a beautiful cabinet.

Sewing was definitely a large part of my female ancestors' lives.  Mostly out of necessity, I am sure. Sewing skills were also a source of pride. Though my great grandmothers Esther Richardson Talbott and Mattie Maddox Howard both as young mothers in the 1920's, oral history tells me  they were very talented seamstresses.

While I may not sew with the skills of my great grandmothers, the prom dress alterations turned out great.



Blogger Karen said...

I also have a White sewing machine, in a basic cabinet. My husband bought it for me in 1966 at the Connecticut State Fair. I used it for years. It needs a great tuneup, but it's still a good machine.

May 10, 2012 at 10:41 PM  

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