When I was a child, I spent every summer with my grandparents. They lived on ten acres of land in the middle of nowhere in northern California. A ride to town took at least 20 minutes. They used resources wisely, and very little went to waste. My grandparents kept a huge garden and spent their days canning what they grew. This was something I learned from them, just before heading off to college, as I won the most coveted prize at the California State Fair for my canned green beans. It wasn’t just canning. My grandmother spent years teaching me the lost art of sewing.
It was my grandmother’s love of sewing that made the biggest impact on my life. Both my mother and grandmother worked at Fabric King in Anaheim. They had so much fabric in the store! It’s no wonder my sister and I spent our years growing up in hand-sewn outfits. There’s not a class photo before fifth grade that you won’t find me in a hand-sewn outfit, just for that day.
Learning how to sew
I learned how to sew from my grandmother. I took Home Economics in high school because I already knew how to sew, and I could take a class doing what I loved most. Even if I was only fixing football jerseys. I felt free making something unique and knowing that I could make something from start to finish on my own. I made many skirts (with matching shirts), my high school baccalaureate dress, and I even had sewing requests from friends.
Today, my mother is teaching my daughter how to sew. After all, my mother made my wedding dress in two days. She was the perfect person to teach my girls. There are so many things kids today are missing out on. Being able to sew is just one of them. It was when my daughters wanted new clothes for their American Girl dolls that I had the notion that they should make their own. We bought patterns and materials, and my mother patiently began the sewing tutorial.
We continued sewing lessons over the years, including teaching my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop how to make a pillow. It was so much fun to see these city girls learn a new skill.
From a sewing hobby to business
My daughter, Emma, had a mini-project for a Young Entrepreneur class this past year in 5th grade. Each student had to think of a product to sell, create a prototype, name their business, design a logo, and draft a business plan. She chose face covers for kids because she had already started to learn to make them from my mother and me.
Emma turned her class project into a real business. She knows that face masks and covers are available from many places now, and they probably won’t always be needed. (I can’t wait for the day when we don’t need to wear anything on our faces at all.) But for now, she’s using this sewing skill and interest in making products as a way to learn everything she can about how to start, run, and be responsible for a business.
When we were faced with the pandemic, three generations of women fired up the sewing machines in our house. I find myself tearful when I think about what we’re doing and how proud my own grandmother would be. I am so grateful that my mother has more patience than I do. Because teaching is not something I do well. But honestly, I don’t think my daughter would love it as much if I were teaching her anyway. There’s something about learning from your grandparents that makes it easier.
One face cover at a time.
You can visit Emma’s KidCover shop on Etsy and find her on Instagram for her latest updates. It looks like Emma caught my sewing bug. She already has over 100 sales on her Etsy shop. And she’ll continue to sew and sell KidCovers as long as they’re needed.