PRIMECOLUMNIST Remembering past Aprils
By Jane D. O’Donoghue PRIME Guest Columnist
was having their annual fabric sale. My mother was determined, as usual, to purchase the material and start sewing early for Easter. She was a talented seamstress and with five daughters and one son, she was challenged to have everything completed by the holy day. One of us bused downtown with her to purchase the needed goods. Usually we shopped at Forbes & Wallace, but we also checked Steiger’s for their offerings. These aisles offered upright bolts in every color, texture, and price. There were plaids, checks, florals, and a plethora of shades.
The Doherty kids at Easter Sunday, siblings of PRIME columnist Jane O’Donoghue.
PRIME photo courtesy of Jane O’Donoghue “Extremely funny…
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loaded with pattern books by Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick, Hollywood, Advance, and a few others gave us ideas. We spent much time perusing the latest fashions there.
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16 PRIMEAPRIL 2012
from bolts using a yard stick as a gauge. After our selections were complete, we shopped for threads to match, buttons and any findings required for the garment. The button counter held a fascination for me. There were so many beautiful colors, shapes and varieties. Some were on cards and others in drawers offered for perusal. With a feeling of satisfaction, my mother and I bused home with visions of beautiful new outfits for Easter. We all know about good intentions and that one thing leading to another, and how time goes by. That’s routine. Suddenly the uncut fabric and unadjusted patterns became a threat and Mom started her sewing with frenzy. She spread her work and spent hours at the sewing machine. Basting was a must and fittings routine as the new garment was completed. She demanded an even hem, not one hanging “like an outhouse door”. We stood on the table as she measured and pinned.
Bit by bit each one was completed
except hand sewing. The hem also must be hand done with a hidden stitch, never machined. The ironing board and steam iron were set up and close to her work area. By this time maybe it was Palm Sunday and a week to go. Often we were given assignments such as keeping needles threaded ready for her,
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he ads blazed in the newspapers: “Sale! Buy Now! Prepare for Spring!” It was February, and Forbes & Wallace
or a quick trip to a local variety store for more thread. Matching color was demanded.
Easter Saturday found her almost done with hand sewing and maybe a few buttonholes to be finished. Bath and bedtime came early. She also remembered to buy the candy to fill Easter baskets. This she completed when we were asleep as we never saw her as she counted each jelly bean into the six baskets. I suspect it was a very
Jane D. O’Donoghue
late night for my mother. Yet, next morning, we were up and ready for the Children’s Mass, our new clothes completed in time. Our baskets were untouched as
we fasted before church. I always tucked a few jelly beans in
Neighbors watched to see what special fashions my mother had made for us.
my pocket for eating on the way home. If we were lucky we might even have new shoes to make a tapping sound as we walked down the aisle. Coats and hats might be new, or hand-me-downs from siblings.
Years later we
heard that neighbors watched to see what special new fashions my mother had lovingly made for us. We
always had to
leave the house together. No stragglers. Didn’t want us looking like “Brown’s cows” one behind the other down the street.
In church, I have to admit there
was much checking Easter outfits on our friends. Even a few chuckles maybe of price tags hanging from hats. We tried hard to be devout with all the distractions. After church, we enjoyed a big breakfast, devoured our candy and visited Grandparents nearby to show them our new outfits. Through the years, even into our
adulthood, my mother sewed for us. We challenged her more as we chose to mix and match patterns, or she created some designs of her own. The ultimate was four wedding gowns and a set of clothing required for a new nun. Then Mom went on to First Communion dresses for Granddaughters. There were costumes and gowns created through the years. She never missed a deadline although it was close at times. Old photos show her skilled work
proudly worn by her daughters on Easter Sunday. Thanks Mom. P.S. I still bring jelly beans to church on Easter and if you sit near me, I’m willing to share.
Jane D. O’Donoghue is a Hungry Hill native and retired school librarian. Her writing has appeared in local and regional publications.
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