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Rememories: Big Granny's Butterfly Dress

Posted on 09 November 2009

I love textiles.

Especially vintage. My grandmother had a cabinet on an entire length of wall that she kept her sewing fabrics in.   I use to love digging through it for all different sorts of cloth.  There were a few woolens and some plaids, laundered flour sack calicoes, as well as some weird synthetics that must have been on clearance.  But it really didn’t matter what it was, I just loved digging through and touching each little neatly, folded bundle. She was the one who taught me how to sew.  I learned one summer when she started me on pillow cases made from recycled sack cloth.  This was before recycling was cool.  My great-grandmother also lived with her and Grandpa.  It was she who showed me how to embroider.  I added little embroidered daisies with French-knot centers to the edges of my pillow cases.  I think that is where and when my love for fabrics started. One of my favorite rememories is coming to the farm one summer during the milo harvest.  For some reason Mom didn’t pack the right play clothes so Big Granny (that is what we called her because my great-grandmother was Little Granny) reached into her fabric cabinet and snatched out a wide, ombre-striped cotton.
Oh it was lovely in a 1960s sort of way.  Broad purple stripes wept into pinks and oranges on a crisp, white seersucker ground.
I can still see it like yesterday.  Well, Big Granny was a 'get ‘er done' kinda woman; a no nonsense, 'grab the chicken by the neck and have it for supper' kinda of woman and right before my very eyes, she took the fabric and with a magician’s deftness quickly measure me up and down with it.   Then with a yank, she  rrrrripped it into (sans sheers) and then went wham bam at her sewing machine, and before I knew it, I’m donning a new play dress in less than five minutes.   And if that wasn’t amazing in and of itself, wham bam again and she made another one for my sister Hedy! So there we stood dreamily in our beautiful new butterfly dresses.
Hedy and I looked like a cross between something Jacob gifted Joseph and something from the Merry Prankster’s ‘Further’ bus.
As I stood there admiring the “butterfly sleeves’ with my arms outstretched, Big Granny was already loaded up in the ‘ol pickup, banging on the horn beckoning Margie’s city girls to come and ‘git ta work’ in the fields. I wish I still had my butterfly dress.
I still wish I had my Big Granny.
[caption id="attachment_454" align="alignnone" width="616" caption="Paper-doll & Butterfly Dress"]Paperdoll & Butterfly Dress[/caption] Here's a little paper doll I created to help cement the rememory.    I hope you enjoy.

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  • Rose: May 16, 2016

    I loved your story! It too reminded me of by gone days when my sisters and I would spend days with my grandmother! She also was quite the seamstress! I remember sitting with her under the shade of a large oak, gentle summer breezes playing with the fabric she held in her lap. My grandmother was teaching us to embroider! I wish she was still around and she is in the many influences we have carried on such as sewing, cooking from scratch ( I still use my hand for measurements instead of spoons)etc. Bless her heart!

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Shari, I’m with you. I never fully appreciated it all either – not that I want to wring chicken necks, but who knows when that back-to-basics skill might be needed! My Big Granny would love to be right in the middle of all of this designing, sewing stuff. Makes me wonder about the legacy we are leaving. I hope it is a good one. It might be lost to my boys, but I definitely see your influence in both of your girls artistic expressions.

    btw: we all love your blog – Mom has even tried one of your recipes.
    Again for anybody new to Double Talk, Shari Lidji’s blog is great. See rotten bananas blog

  • Shari Lidji: May 16, 2016

    I love your story Cheryl….and I can see your bold striped dresses now. No time to dwell on design decisions……just great instincts and the desire to outfit her grandkids. One of my grandmothers did all of the things I love to do today. She died when I was just 11…..I couldn’t fully appreciate her talent. Like you, I wish I could know her now. I think we’d have a blast together. My grandmothers name was Big Mama. She was about 4’10".

  • Shari Lidji: May 16, 2016

    also loved loved loved your daddy’s cowboy boots. the cutest things i’ve ever seen!
    may i run the photo next week?

  • Shari Lidji: May 16, 2016

    Cheryl, thanks for the mention of my blog. I hope everything is well in Yoakum and that a good weekend is in store.


  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    What a great rememory – thanks for sharing. I still can’t cook like my grandmother. She also measured everything with her hands – even the wonderful homemade bread. Now when I make bread, if I’m one bit off of a measurement, it messes up the whole thing. Did you ever set out under the big shade trees and shell peas? Another favorite rememory. I loved the way that felt!

  • Continue Reading: May 16, 2016

    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this particular information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Thanks Shari – weekend is starting out great. The Cardinals won their first playoff game and Jack had 2 big touchdowns. He is sailing on cloud 9 and I’m back to the design board! Hope yall have a great one too.

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    certainly – I tried to post it to your site but didn’t know how or if I could do it. We would be so proud to see them – they are a family heirloom.

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