The Seamstresses in my House-Part 2

13 Mar


Judy Wills

Last time I mentioned my first sewing experience.  I would like to quote myself from a previous posting about that:

All those yards and yards of fabric would eventually be made into a Fiesta Dress, or Squaw Dress, as some called it.  Three tiers, each one “longer” than the one above it.  Those dresses could be made from just about any fabric and color combination.  I remember a royal blue fabric with nothing but copper trim – one of my favorites.  I remember a winter dress made from blue corduroy – no trim needed.  I remember one made from fabric that looked like bandana design – no trim needed on that one, either.

 I remember one that was made in light cotton – white – with red and red-and-white trim.  It was great – until I washed it the first time – and the red ran like crazy!!  So my Aunt Jessie took the dress (blouse and skirt) and dyed them beige.  For some reason, the red didn’t show where it had run, and really looked rather classy with the red trim.  Another favorite of mine.  Oh, so many dresses.

And the skirts were not left “pouffy” like they might be today

Credit Pixabay

but  they were hand-pleated after being soaked in starch!  And to keep the pleats in, we rolled the skirt into itself and stuffed it into a nylon stocking.  Jessie’s dogs LOVED to get at those to fight with them!  

One might ask how we “pleated” the skirts.  It was a process, for sure.  The seam that joined the skirt together was done in a “basting stitch” – or a very long stitch.  It was easily removed, which we did before washing.  Of course we washed the skirt as usual.  Then we dipped it into a starch solution, and while wet with starch, we would attach it to a large board by the waistband to the top of the board with old-fashioned clothes pins. 

The board we used was pressboard (similar to peg board 

Credit: Home Depot

but without the holes), about 1/4 inch thick, and about four (4) feet by six (6) feet.  One side was painted white, where we laid the skirt.

Credit:Home Depot

 We would – literally – hand pleat the top row of the skirt.  Then we would stretch a long strip of cloth across the seam of that tier, and anchor it on each side of the board with another clothes pin.  Then we would repeat the pleating process on the tier below that, and then repeat it with the lowest and longest tier.  We would than stand the board upright at an angle, so the excess moisture and starch could drain off the fabric and board. Since New Mexico is such a dry humidity state, we had no fear that the skirt would mildew – and they never did!  When dry, the joining seam would be baste-stitched again, and the skirt was ready to wear.  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, we would roll the skirt together, and stuff it into an old nylon stocking to keep the pleats in.

Most of my fiesta dresses were out of light-weight cotton, with only a few exceptions.  The one I remember the most was the blue corduroy – only worn in winter.  I remember the blue with copper trim was a heavier weight cotton, as was the chartreuse with purple trim.

DiVoran stated:  

Granny made one for me. It was red voile (lightweight cotton) with silver trim. I did find a place to wear it when we moved to Florida. I wore it to square-dancing with several crinoline (stand-out) underskirts.

And that brings me to say that all those skirts were worn with crinoline petticoats under them, to make them “stand out.”

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson and a great-granddaughter. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

One Response to “The Seamstresses in my House-Part 2”

  1. divoran09 March 13, 2022 at 11:25 am #



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