Hot! I Remember Mama

Yes, I fondly remember Mama. I’ve spent weeks thinking about my mom and trying to remember everything I could about her. You see, my mom passed away when my youngest daughter was just over three years old. Mom was only 68 years old. Unfortunately her health declined rapidly in her later years and she died during surgery.  One thing I distinctly remember was that my mom did not want to end up in a nursing home, old and needy, so I guess it was a blessing that she left us before that. Still, even as I write this, emotions well up inside me, because she could have been her now, and not missed so much of our lives and we her’s.

Mama and Me

I remember a lot of this and that about Mom, she was born and raised in Mass. in a big family with five siblings. She moved to California with her sister after WWWII and met my father, a sailor, who had been at sea for over 4 years. They married and moved to a small town in Northern CA, where they bought a small house and raised three children. I am the the oldest. Mom was the traditional  stay at home mom and housewife of the 50’s. She was a good cook and took great care of us. She was very crafty and loved to sew in the earlier years. There was always a sewing machine in our home in its hardwood furniture case. Needless to say, I was drawn to it at an early age and Mom saw to it that my interest was broadened. I started with Barbie doll clothes with her assistance and then moved on to more challenging items like aprons and skirts. My mother drove me to 4H classes where I learned even more about sewing. In 4H we were challenged to make garments for the local county 4H dress reviews. You actually modeled your garments and won ribbons! Mom would help me with anything that I had trouble with, from blind stitch hemming to putting sleeves in. She was always very supportive and helpful. Later, during my teen years, and during changing times for women in the late 60’s, Mom went to work. She had worked before she met my dad as a telephone operator, which I always thought was so admirable (I also worked as a telephone operator). She had that pleasant voice on the other end of the phone. I  distinctly remember that voice when I was sick at school and had to call home for Mom to come pick me up. It was so kind and reassuring. The jobs she had were manufacturing and service oriented and she worked until she retired. At that point, she took care of my dad, her sister, and her sister-in-law who needed her friendship and help.  She was always very loving and supportive of me through my own trials and triumphs. She also baby-sat all of her grandchildren while we worked.

Now, about the dress, I have this old picture of my mother that I believe is from the late 40’s or early 50’s. I think it was taken before she met my dad. She’s wearing this great dress, that looks like it might be a light wool fabric, with eyelet trim and buttons down the side. Weeks ago, I was planning ahead for future challenges when I came across this fabric at Jo-Anns. It’s just a quilting cotton, but it looks like a wool. I know my mom’s dress could have been any color, but the slightly sepia colored photo inspired me to match that color. I used the same pattern that I used in the button challenge and  lined the whole dress with a synthetic cream colored fabric, which gives it weight and a great feel inside. I absolutely love this dress, not only because it reminds me so much of my mom, but it just fits so perfectly! I made a belt to go with it, but it can be worn without it too. For the photo shoot, I pin-curled my short straight hair and wore it under a scarf (out in public) just like mom probably did, and then did some fun photo-editing to do the side-by-side photo of us both. I borrowed her bun with the clone button.

Fabric: Quilting cotton from Jo-Anns soft brown color with faux wool pattern
Pattern: Simplicity 8142
Year: 1969 (back when I was 15!)
Notions: eyelet trim and nine new buttons
Time to complete: about 10-12 hours
First worn: May 5, 2012
Wear again? Absolutely!
Total price: Under $15.00

With a belt

The doll is an Xmas gift from Mom when I was 5

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who sew on the Sew Weekly!

Hope you share your sewing skills with your children. Thanks for all of your friendships. Barbara



Barbara is a resident of Northern California. She loves to sew and has pledged not to buy retail clothes for the year of 2012. That means she has to make her own, or buy it at a thrift store. I hope she doesn't spend too much on fabric. When she shops for fabric her eyes light up as she imagines the possibilities! She's like a kid in a candy store.


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  1. Barbara, lovely inspiration.

  2. Great effort of love. Wonderful matching photos of you and your mother.

  3. Barbara, your dress is beautiful and there is so much love for your Mum in your post! I will add your pattern to my wishlist. I am not a luddite, but some of clothing from days gone by managed to be stylish and comfortable / practical at the same time. You totally nailed this one!

  4. Beautiful post, Barbara. And I LOVE the belted look. Gorgeous!

  5. What a lovely tribute mom! And the resemblance is uncanny!!

  6. Wow mom, this post has made me teary eyed! You put your heart into this blog and dress and it really shows. Great job mother, I love you :)

  7. Love it! Your mom must have been an amazing woman!

  8. Beautiful, Barbara. Your tribute moved me, and the dress is just wonderful.

  9. Barbara, what a loving story about your mom..I really enjoyed it. You and she, really look alot alike, I love your dresses.So pretty.. Happy sewing.

  10. What an absolutely beautiful post–a beautiful dress–and a beautiful you! Happy Mother’s Day—reading this brought a lot of light into my day!

  11. Barbara, I thought you were talking about my Mum when I read this. I am so fortunate to still have my Mum, but everything else you wrote seems like our Mum’s came out of the same mold. Thanks to them we love creating and loving our own families. They taught us well. And I think your dress is beautiful, especially as you look so much like your Mum.

  12. Barbara what a beautiful tribute to your wonderful Mom. You two look so much alike in that side by side photo. My Mom sewed too all my life making all my clothes and I carried it on with my own two kids as well. I’m still loving sewing today after all these years. By the way I love the posts you do and always look forward to them. Nan

  13. Barbara, I love your dress! It is so similar to mine, pattern wise, but I love yours so much more. I enjoyed reading about your mom. Happy Mother’s day Barbara!

  14. Awww….I’ve noticed your avatar photo and wondered about it. As soon as I saw your dress I recognised it. What a great recreation, and lovely story to go with it!

  15. Beautiful as always Barbara! You are one mom that inspires me! Happy Mother’s Day!

  16. What a lovely dress and a wonderful tribute to your mom! And mad photoshop skills (or is that skillz?). I like the pin curls a lot and the 70s does 40s! You had me weeping; your mom reminds me of my grandma, who moved a long way from home after WWII, married a man in the air force, was a switchboard operator, and the kindest, most supportive, and strongest person I’ve had the privilege to know. Also died too early. Both sad and happy to remember.

  17. Thanks for sharing your memories and WOW you did a great job re-making her dress. It looks really lovely on you, the fit is great and I love the color and the little ruffle. Just beautiful.

  18. Aw gorgeous post Barbara thank you for sharing, fab interpretation of her dress too a really great fit. And Happy Mothers Day to you too.

  19. Oh, Barbara, this was a lovely tribute to your mother…I feel like I know her now! Your dress is so perfect and sweet. Honoring your mother by making a near replica of a dress she wore is such special thing to do. I know you’ll treasure the experience forever.

  20. You are a beauty, just like your mother. Beautiful tribute from a loving daughter to her loving and sweet mother, just made my day. :)

  21. Barbar you look amazing in this dress. Love the details and I bet your mom has a big smile on her face. Happy Mothers Day!

  22. You make the most lovely flattering clothes Barbara. Love how you’ve made quilting cotton work with a heavier lining. Great idea. You’re side by side pic is fabulous too.

  23. That is a really lovely dress! You have captured the essence of her picture so well!