Homemade with love by Mama

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

My mother has always claimed it was her three daughters who had the talent in the family and not her.

As her youngest I beg to disagree.

After all, she’s been singing in the church choir for years. She makes a mean homemade chicken salad sandwich and according to my nephew, the best sweet tea in the entire world. As a kid, I never left home sporting a set of braids that were less than perfectly plaited.

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All those things take talent.

But Mom's abilities perhaps shone the most brightly through our clothing. You might say it was a talent born of frustration.

Years ago, Mama used to hire a dear little lady to make outfits for us. When she brought them home, though, Mama ended up more or less having to re-make them.

She wanted our clothes to be just right, so uneven hems, crooked seams or collars that didn’t lay right, well – that simply wouldn’t do.

Finally, it dawned on Mama it was kind of silly to pay good money for something when you were just going to have to turn around and re-do it.

And that’s when the Singer and Mama started making beautiful music together. That Singer sewing machine hummed on a regular basis as Mama created dresses for church and school, play clothes and costumes for Debbie, Sara and me.

When we carried our candles down the aisle of the darkened church each Christmas, singing &uot;O Come, All Ye Faithful&uot;, we welcomed the season wearing the choir robes made by Mama. When we played angels, we donned our long white gowns, wire and fabric wings and tinsel-trimmed halos – all courtesy of Mama.

And we always had a Christmas dress for Sunday mornings – usually red or green velveteen, as soft as my Callie cat’s coat, trimmed with lace. I always felt a bit like royalty when I slipped into one of those holiday creations.

Kettle cloth and corduroy were routinely whipped into durable jumpers and dresses for school wear. Dotted swiss was transformed into summer frocks for dress up occasions.

As a 6th grader attending school in Honoraville, I played an Indian chief’s wife in a Thanksgiving play put on by our advanced reading class. And Mama created my costume for me. Her way with a few yards of chicken house curtain, some geometric print braid and fringe transformed me into as believable a Native American as one bespectacled pale face with blonde braids can make.

In my teen years, back in the funky ’70s, Mama sewed a pair of bell bottoms for me that were made of cloth cleverly printed to look like patchwork-dotted denim. She also made a matching bandanna print shirt. Boy, was that a &uot;bad&uot; outfit – in the best ’70’s sense of the word - and it was certainly one of a kind.

Then there were the fabulous designer-look suits she created for us to wear for college…the assorted and sundry bridesmaid’s dresses…Sara’s darling costumes for &uot;Oklahoma!&uot;…my two wonderful Bicentennial gowns…my witch costumes (childhood and adult) for Halloween…well, there is hardly time and space to list them all.

You have to chalk it all up to talent, creativity, a certain degree of perfectionism – and a generous amount of Mama’s love.

Thanks for the memories, Mom. They wear very well.

Angie Long is the lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 132 or via email at angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com.