My Nana, Ida Jane, for whom I am named (gratefully, only the middle part!), was a seamstress extraordinaire.
She sewed quilts for every season to cover the beds in her boarding house in the Catskill Mountains.
She of course, sewed all the clothes for the family members which included herself, her husband and a brood of children.
She even sewed a trousseau for my grandmother, Edna, when she married in 1908.
Although you can't really see them adorning the jacket she sewed in this picture of her, she was also a lover of beautiful buttons...buttons which I remember playing with as a small child.
The buttons were kept in a green cookie tin about nine inches tall that had a red lid. Whenever I managed to pry that top off the tin, out spilled the most wondrous collection of sparkling bits and pieces...small treasures for a two-year old to clasp in her fist and marvel at!
When she married, Nana's daughter, Edna (my grandmother) started off married life with a hand-sewn trousseau of lacy undergarments threaded with blue satin ribbons, long gowns with full skirts and narrow bodices, and an amazing coat with a high collar, turned back cuffs in a sporty plaid wool, and, of course, fabulous buttons!
Edna was a woman ahead of her time...bold, funny, even outrageous, she refused to ride astride like other gentlewomen of her day, and instead designed her own split skirt so that she could ride her favorite horse, Lady, with comfort and ease!
Besides her sense of design and her rebellious nature, Edna had a gift for business. She played any instrument she picked up, so she taught music to children for a while, then opened a successful ice cream parlor in Tannersville, NY.
The store quickly attracted summer visitors, and NYC musicians vacationing in the mountains. They jammed with her afternoons and evenings in the ice cream parlor, while consuming quanties of Edna's delicious milkshakes and sundaes!
My mother came along in 1912, just as my grandfather's new car business was beginning to prosper. Pregnancy and motherhood did not slow my grandmother down much, and my mom, Carolyn, went along for the ride...often on the lap of the "kitchen girl."
My mom developed her own sense of style, under the watchful eyes of both Nana and Grandma Edna. She learned to sew and knit wonderful sweaters, and by the time she went off to Douglass College in 1930, she was outfitted in style ~ red wool coat with a lamb's wool collar, strapppy shoes, and a flapper haircut!
When my sister and I came along years later, she made sure we both knew how to sew. From the age of four or five, Cindy and I quickly learned how to take a strip of fabric, gather the top with a running stitch, and make skirts for our dollies!
Mom's little black Singer sewing machine made us scores of dresses, bloomers and blouses. She
fashioned clothing that stays in my thoughts even today.
One morning, as I sat with a pencil and paper in
front of me, trying to come up with a new jacket design, my sister called me and told me to open up my email.
In the note, was a picture she had found of my first day of kindergarten. There I stood with my best friend, Noelle, in a red and green plaid jumper Mom had made for the occasion. It was trimmed with red rick-rack (remember that???) and best of all, she had made a blouse with a Peter Pan collar!
The resulting jacket I designed carries remnants of this wonderful outfit...Peter Pan collar and curved pockets and hem that mirror that special memory!
It seems that everywhere in my childhood, there were the bits and pieces that created the person that I am and the business that I love today.
The buttons that Nana and Grandma Edna adored....
Grandma's business sense and rebel spirit....
Mom's sense of design and style, along with the gift of encouraging me and making me feel special and loved....
The sense of design, color, style, and art that informed the clothing of the women in my family, inspires my work today...
What inspires you?
What challenges you to be the best you can be?
Who were the women, and men, in your family that channeled your energy, you heart, and your spirit?
Please feel free to share your stories and your pictures so that we can ALL be inspired!