Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Great Moments in Fabric Literature, Vol VIII



Some of my evening and afternoon dresses were made at my grandmother's, where I would stand patiently while Ellen Murphy stuck pins into me and while her assistants stitched the bones of whales into linings to support me during my working hours. Ellen always referred to "my work" which was, of course, "to meet a man."
Ellen would stand a short distance away from me, and making sweeping motions with enormous shears, she would cut wildly into satin and tulle and velvet. I felt like a trembling lay figure as I stood there with her fierce green eyes on me and the shears clicking around me. When the cutting was over, the pinning began. This was even more uncomfortable. Pins pricked the lay figure's skin. It turned out that she was human after all. Ellen objected to any wincing.
"Save your dancing for the ballroom floor!", she would say crossly.
At last she would be pleased. The smile of a satisfied creator would run over her freckled face as she stood off and surveyed her handiwork.
"We'll get him with this one, Miss Lula," she would announce confidently.

Louise Andrews Kent, Mrs. Appleyard and I, 1968

Have you and Mrs. Appleyard been introduced before? No? Then let me do the honors.
She and Louise Andrews Kent, her real life counterpart, lived in Vermont and Boston from about 1912-1968. Mrs. Kent was a prolific writer, and if you come across her Mrs. Appleyard books, grab them. There is no better way to learn how people lived in earlier times (this would be the United States before, during and after both World Wars) than reading her books.
This excerpt is from her autobiography, which contains interesting stories, including one about seeing the Great White Fleet in Bar Harbor before the Spanish American War, and details of daily life as it was lived back then.
People, of course, are the same as they have always been, but also, boy were they different as well.

I have found my Fabric and Sewing In Literature Project lots of fun. I have been re-reading my favorite books (I am a Multiple Reader, as confessed previously) and finding lots of great examples.
What favorite examples of sewing and fabric in literature have you seen lately?

3 comments:

The Slapdash Sewist said...

What a fun series! I can't think of anything in particular but I'll keep my eyes peeled. In terms of a book deliberately about fabric, I recently enjoyed A Perfect Red, but that was based on your recommendation so it doesn't help you much!

Myra said...

Nothing lately, but the Little House books have some sewing and quilting chapters. My favorite is when they get a newfangled sewing machine and sew Laura's things and wedding dress.

badmomgoodmom said...

I greatly enjoyed the series. If anyone else finds any, can you post a link in a comment here?