My Mother Was A Seamstress

My Mother Was A Seamstress

When Alice sat at her sewing machine she was happy. Creating clothing was her God given gift and she loved making outfits for family and friends. I was told my great-grandmother made all the clothing for her family… back when the only way you could afford clothes for a family of eight was to make it yourself. So, Alice came by her sewing talent honestly.

My mother’s walk-in closet was full of patterns, McCall’s, Simplicity and others.  She had a Singer sewing machine, the kind with a wood base and the machine would flip under the cabinet, snap into place to create a solid table surface where she would lay out the pattern and cut fabric. When she was done cutting fabric pieces she would flip the sewing machine upright to start sewing. Alice sat at that machine for hours at a time, making the perfect outfits.

Recently looking through an old family photo album, I noticed all of my annual school pictures I was dressed in clothes my mother made, 1st grade, 2nd grade right through Junior High School.  Recognizing the homemade outfits made me smile.  They were always the latest style, fantastic bold colors and the right fit.  Alice was a very good seamstress.

In the later pages of the album I realized there was something sadly different about my annual school photos…no more homemade outfits. Like most teenagers I wanted to wear what everyone else was wearing.  Jordache, Ralph Lauren, Gloria Vanderbilt, the designer clothes that was popular.   You know, as a teen you didn’t want to be teased, especially walking into high school…wearing homemade clothes. You definitely would have been capped-on by all the “cool” kids.

Unfortunately, that was around the same time my mother stopped making clothes and she never found another hobby that made her as happy.  Now that I’m older (and a little wiser), I realize how special those outfits were.  I had a custom wardrobe, clothes created special for me, made with love and with joy.

As adults we all have to do the responsible thing, no matter how much you hate your job, no matter how boring it is, no matter how awful your co-workers or how hostile your work environment, you have to bring home a paycheck to take care of yourself and loved ones.  But if you have the time and the desire, make sure you do something that allows you to have fun.  Find a hobby were you can be creative, tap into your God given talents.  Something that makes you happy and brings you joy.  Your little hobby may become a big part of your legacy and a lovely memory.



Family Heirlooms… Don’t Sleep on That Old Doll

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Antiques Roadshow.  Have you heard of it?  It’s a weekly TV show on PBS that travels across the US several times a year, inviting locals to line up to have their “precious” items appraised by one of AR’s seasoned appraisers.    

I’m always amazed at how many times the ugliest items are appraised at such a high dollar amount, I mean in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Yep, that hideous lamp your grand Aunt gave you 20 years ago maybe worth more than a few dollars, especially if it’s made by a company like Tiffany or Handel.  Think of how many times you gave away or throw out something because it wasn’t your style or you no longer found it useful. 

One man’s trash… you know the rest. 

It’s absolutely true and I’ve definitely have seen it first-hand.  That doll you owned as a little girl is no longer special to you.  It’s just sitting in the back of your closet collecting dust.  That same doll, your old doll, may have very special memories for someone else who once owned her but lost her.  They may have been searching for that doll for years, just waiting for you to dust her off and finally donate it to your nearest Goodwill. 

Nowadays, Goodwill is going behind just selling items locally.   Various Goodwill locations have their own websites.  They know there are buyers around the world, online everyday searching for something special, something they need or consider priceless and are willing to pay what they can to own it.

Because of the popularity of shows like “American Pickers” and “Storage Wars”, millions more people around the world are on the hunt for those special treasures for their own collection, as an investment or to sell for a profit. 

  • Vintage – items that are at least 20 years old
  • Antique – items that are at least 100 years old

What’s old is what’s up! 

Although everything “old”, vintage or antique isn’t necessary deemed valuable on the market, it’s definitely worth your time to have family heirlooms or that piece of jewelry, signed artwork or vintage designer clothes you own appraised.  Even if you have no plans to sell them, it’s a good idea to have valuable items insured.  Of course, condition is everything.  If it is a sought after item, the better preserved it is, the better price it commands.

Items that traditional increase in value have been:

  • Art
  • Jewelry
  • Furniture
  • Cars

Not all art, jewelry, furniture or cars increase in value over time but the right signature pieces and makers have and will.  There are many resources (Warman’s is a popular guide) that can help you learn more about what is considered valuable and a good investment if you want to began collecting or dealing in antiques and collectibles. 

One of my favorite quick pricing websites is:  It’s linked to eBay and will give you an idea of the price of items listed on their website.  You can find almost anything under the sun there. 

However, when it comes to family heirlooms there is always the sentimental value to consider.  The ugly lamp your grand Aunt give you 20 years ago could be appraised at thousands or totally worthless on the open market but if your Aunt holds a special place in your heart, that lamp is much more valuable than gold.  It’s your duty to cherish it and when the time comes, pass it along to the next generation.