My grandmother never bought her clothes. She made most everything she wore. Sometimes her sister in Montgomery, Alabama, would send her store bought dresses. That was a time when the sewing machine (and the piano) was the most prized piece of furniture in the house.
She baked her own bread, biscuits, cornbread, hoecakes, white bread, and pancakes. The flour and meal came in big fifty pound fabric bags. The feed sacks and flour sacks came in pretty floral prints and stripes, bright calicoes and solids.
She would wash and dry the fabric and lay it out on the dining table, pin a pattern in place, trace it and cut it out. We would have to stand for what seemed like hours while she pinned the hems. She made all of our clothes that way. We literally wore flour sacks to school.
Here’s a picture that made it in the local paper of my older sister and I picking apples. These were clothes my grandmother made. Too bad it is not in color.
Sometimes she sewed rick rack onto them to fancy them up or did smocking across the bodice.
Here is the interesting part. She sewed everything on an old foot powered sewing machine. No electricity, just a rhythmic motion of her foot rocking the floor pedal back and forth. It rocked the entire house.
We have the old sewing machine up for sale now, trying to clean out the garage. All of the books and accessories are with the old machine. It’s a 1927 model, The Sphinx, and it was trimmed in gold, a really fancy number.
Can you imagine having to sew your whole family’s clothes by a pedal powered machine? I can’t even imagine doing that on an electric machine like my other Grandma had. And nothing got thrown away. If it did not fit, it was altered or passed along and altered to fit someone else. We’re such a throwaway society now. That’s hard to imagine. We take so much for granted nowadays.