25 April 2019


When I was eleven years old in sixth grade, I acquired my first friend. Her name was Joanne Shalmo. She came from a family that had stair step children, one for each year. She was the oldest. Her father was a teacher and her mother stayed home to care for this large family.

That year after Christmas, she showed me a skirt her mother had made her as her present. I was in shock. People can make clothes? I thought they were made in factories by huge machines like other commodities. Fabric went in one end and clothing came out the other. She said that no, her mother had sewed this on a sewing machine.

She took me downstairs and her mother had an old electric Singer. I was fascinated. She let me run a piece of notebook paper through the feed dogs without thread so that the needle made a trail of tiny punctures in the paper. I was mesmerized and knew I had to have one.

 My birthday is a week before Christmas and I was always getting the short shrift with one gift for both. I decided to play this gambit to my advantage. I asked for a sewing machine for BOTH from both my parents and grandparents. It worked. I was the proud owner of a Brother sewing machine which was just being imported to the US.

I bought a pattern and taught myself to sew. I could recount endless stories about the lessons I "gave myself". I'm smiling and shaking my head as I type. By the time I was in ninth grade and was exposed to "Home Ec", I made my dress in a few days and sat around the rest of the time waiting for the others to finish. By the time I graduated, I was making formal gowns for my mother.

A long time ago made with a Vogue pattern

Today I printed and framed my Artist Statement for the solo show. It starts with this: 

From the minute we are born until the day we die, we are wrapped in fabric. We have an intimate relationship with fiber. It is our comfort, our protection and in it we present ourselves to the world.

Today on her blog, Louise Watson  who I follow had used her sewing machine to make perforations in both fabric and paper and sent me off on this stroll down memory lane. Thank you Louise.


  1. Replies
    1. I don't know about amazing but I am a woman obsessed. I so enjoyed the trip down memory lane thanks to Louise.

  2. Loved reading your story, Beth, as it took me down my own memory lane!

  3. Beth you really grabbed my heart with this story!! Thanks for sharing. Pam Gonzalez

  4. I remember my mum trying out and then buying the Elna I now have. Memories and a lifetime of fabric fun!!!

  5. Lovely reminsicence. I did not realize you were a newspaper star when you were a sophomore!! Do you still have that original machine?? And a ballet dancer too! Have you met Lesia Sochor, local artist who had the show about sewing at the library? You have to watch this video about her show called "Threads"!

    PS I don't think Woodie's paid us for being models! (I would have paid them!)

  6. I forgot the link to her video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUS8FEnusIg
    Also, stick with it, it starts philosophically, then goes into her relation to sewing...

    1. alas no machine and Hechts did pay and they gave us the clothes we modeled. I even took ballet a few year after this article then again after my son was born.

    2. Thank you Rita. Just noticed the other comment. I LOVED the video and I hope others will check it out. Very moving.


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