Elvera told me that she started sewing when she was five. She grew up in the Ukraine and says her mother made her learn to sew because she hated doing it herself. When I asked her if she collected fabric (like I do) her eyes lit up. When she was little her aunt, who was a seamstress, would give Elvera's mother little scraps of fabric. Her mother saved up those scraps and each month she presented Elvera with a little pile of of them to play with. She told me that the scraps were beautiful, far too tiny to make anything from, and she could play with them for hours. I get that because I feel the same way about tiny but beautiful scraps of fabric.
Elvera spent many years teaching sewing in the Ukraine. Today she runs her own business. Her shop is located on the floor below my studio and she is teaching me how to sew. I don't know how this happened. I brought her some pants and a dress to have altered and somehow she decided I would sew things for myself. I say she decided because, well, it seemed that I had very little to do with it.
The first thing she told me to do was to remove the pockets from a dress. So, I dutifully attempted to remove them. A couple of days later I brought her the dress to show her my work. She examined the slightly bulky sides of the dress where the pockets used to be, shook her head and gently ignored my excuses. She laughed and told me in her thick accent, "Vell, it eez a veery straight seam." I grinned, shook my head too and followed her back to her office where she proceeded to take out all of my very straight stitches. While she removed the thread and extra material from the pocket, she told me how when she first came to America, she could buy yards of good material at Good Will for 25 cents each. Not like now. I get that too.
Today, I am following her instructions again and am going to make a dress for myself. When I brought her the pattern I chose she was so pleased. Before I knew it, she'd produced a tape measure and wrapped it around me, showing me how to choose the correct size. She also flipped the tape measure over and measured me in her country's size. Apparently, I am the "perfect size" on top and one size bigger in the hips. Umm, thanks but I already knew that. Ha!
So over the next how-ever-long I'm going to make a dress and I'll tell you how it goes. Well, that's not exactly true. I'm not making "a" dress, I'm making two dresses, because I got a great deal on the fabrics. Oh, and if you don't mind too much, I'll probably share scraps of Elvera with you now and again. They may be too small to make much sense of, but I hope you'll get it because she seems to be a part of my life now.
This little piece of machinery is a mini serger that I got at a thrift store for $15.00. The tag read "works" but I had no idea how to use it. Elvera was intrigued when I told her that such a thing existed and so I brought it to her. She helped me figure out out to thread and use it. :)