As we wrap up May, it seemed the perfect time to remember that traditions come in a lot of forms. Yes, tradition can be about where we are from, or religion, or how we write our wedding invitations. But sometimes tradition is simply about shared history and passed along crafts and skills. Like Rachel, I grew up with the tradition of sewing and handwork. This summer I showed David how to use a sewing machine, officially bringing him up to speed with Meg, circa 1985. And while I haven’t sewn my kid any clothes, I have done needlepoint for his room, because the traditions of handcrafts need to be honored. So here is Rachel with her moving story and photo essay on sewing a wedding dress. (I might have to fly to Austin next February, just to see it in person, because it sounds HOT.) Are there ways that you or your family are honoring traditions of craft and skill for your wedding or marriage?
by Rachel Wilkerson, APW Writing Intern 2013
When I was a little girl, I hated fabric stores. Hated them. It felt like I spent every Saturday in one fabric store after another while my mom and grandma perused pattern books, had fabric cut, and spoke a language I couldn’t understand for hours. Even though my mom made me tons of cute clothes when I was young, I just got so bored in fabric stores. It wasn’t until I was in need of a semiformal dress for my eighth grade graduation that I realized just how amazing it is to have someone close to you who can sew, and sew well. Since then, I have enjoyed going to the fabric store with my mom and grandma, because a trip there means I’m about to get an amazing Halloween costume (my mom’s specialty) or a fancy dress (my grandma’s).
I was on the fence about having my grandma make my wedding dress. I didn’t want to take advantage of her generosity or make her feel like she had to make it. Plus, making my dress when I was living twelve hundred miles away presented some challenges. At the end of 2012, I tried on a few super wedding-y wedding dresses to get an idea of styles I liked, and earlier this spring I tried on a short lace one that I actually thought about buying. But ultimately, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a dress. This was due in part to the fact that I couldn’t really afford any of the dresses sold in stores and then there was the fact that I didn’t really love any of them. (Why doesn’t anyone make long-sleeved, off-the-shoulder wedding dresses?! Oh, wait, because it’s not 1989 anymore, Rachel…) But the main problem was that buying my dress just didn’t feel right. Because my grandma sewing wedding dresses for women in our family and even close friends (and now their daughters) is just…what we do.
So last week, on a very cold and rainy day (weather I have missed terribly since moving to Houston!) my mom, grandma, and I headed to Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, MI to get the fabric for my wedding dress.