Monday, February 21, 2011

Why “hidden in the hem”?

When I thought about starting a blog to talk about my sewing projects, all the typical titles came to mind: “i love fabric,” “confessions of a fabric addict,” something using the word “sew,” as in “my sew-called life.”  Well, it turns out other people have thought of these titles, too, and they had already taken them.  So, this required me to think a little more creatively.  I came up with a different title, “More Fabric Please!” but then one day, “hidden in the hem” came to me, and it felt like just the right title. 

So, what is hidden in the hem?, you ask.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you might say more fabric?!  ha!  No, no.

Last summer, after my daughter was born, I was still decorating her room, and I got this idea to hang a peg shelf in her room and hang a cute dress on one of the pegs.  (I totally got the idea from a blog I read, so not an original idea at all.)  My daughter had a little pink tutu onesie that she’d already outgrown that I thought would be cute to display on the peg shelf.  Then, during one of those middle of the night feedings, I got the idea that I would also hang this shirt that my mom made for me when I was little.  My mom had kept this shirt for years and gave it to me to keep a few years ago.  After multiple moves, I wasn’t quite sure where it was.  While my mom is a pack rat, I’m a purger.  I really feared that maybe I had thrown this shirt away. 

But, no, I found it in one of the plastic bins in the garage.  I think it goes perfectly with the tutu onesie. 

Recently, when I started sewing, it occurred to me how special handmade things are.  It’s sad that home sewing is such a dying art, because there is so much personality and character in everything that is handmade.  I mean, there is always a story behind it, right?  Like, the hours that went into making it, the search for the perfect fabric, or all the mistakes made along the way.  Oh, the mistakes are always fun to share, aren't they?

And it brought me back to this shirt hanging in my daughter’s room and the story behind this shirt.  My mom made me this shirt when I was four years old.  It’s the shirt I wore when we escaped Vietnam.  My mom had sewn a gold chain into the hem, so that if we were attacked by pirates (which we were), they would not be able to find it.  And I remember, when we got to the refuge camp, my mom ripping out the seams and taking out the gold chain, which she used to pay for a telegram to my dad to let him know where we were.

So much history in this little shirt.  So glad my mom kept it.  So glad I never gave it to the Goodwill.
It sits next to my daughter’s tutu onesie, so that she’ll one day know the story of the women who came before her, and how far that shirt traveled to hang next to her tutu onesie.

It's held up pretty well, hasn't it?  It has lots of great details, too.

Tilted pocket:

Peter Pan collar:
(I just noticed that the seams are covered.  Wow.)



  1. Great story on the naming of "Hidden in the Hem"!

  2. I absolutely love this post on so many levels.

    And wow, I never knew about your history either. I'm so glad you have such a special symbol of the strength and character of that time in your life, your mother, and now you following in her tradition. The perfect piece for your daughter's room.

    Okay, you really are inspiring me now!


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