Austin Stories B. C. – Imperfectly Good Therapy

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain. I am way, way behind, but intend to make it to Z! Today I have made it to T.

As I go through photos for this series, I sometimes chuckle at what I am wearing. Or what my husband is wearing. And I have been surprised to see how many of the clothes were ones I made – like these plaid bell bottoms with cuffs I shared in the previous post.

Nice matching of plaid at the seams, if I do say so myself.

I don’t sew much anymore, but It was a favorite pastime then. I remember one time when I had the week off but my husband didn’t, so we couldn’t go anywhere. I spent the week just sewing. I was either working as a social worker or doing a social work internship at the time. I later realized that my week of sewing was so enjoyable because it was an antidote to working with people on people problems that are not easily solved or completed. While I was sewing, there was no conversation other than the thoughts in my head, or an old movie or As the World Turns on the television. I could make what I wanted with fabric I had chosen. If I made a mistake, I could rip it out and do it over. I had instructions to follow, including illustrations. I made the pieces fit together, even if I had to force the fabric to do my will. I could finish it to my satisfaction, or just stop and leave it be.

I can’t find any scraps from a dress I made that week, nor the pattern. It was a turquoise wrap-around dress – no buttons or zippers. I wore it fairly often, but wished I had used a lighter-weight fabric.

Imperfectly good therapy.

I suppose it could be embarrassing to admit that I still have scraps from almost everything I ever made, but I’m not. I could have worse traits. I thought it would be fun to make a mess in my sewing nook and pull out scraps to match with some photos. I wonder when it will be fun to put everything back?

I shared this photo in a recent post.

A simple loose-fitting sundress or jumper. I wore it to my husband’s high school reunion in 1981.

Me and my mom around 1983. At first I couldn’t figure out what that “bunny ear” is at my mom’s wrist. Then I remembered that I tied a hot pink belt at the waist of this dress. When she put her arms around me, it must have flipped an end up to reveal the back side.

Most of the clothes I made were pretty simple. (I promise, that dark top on the right was bright green.)

Sometimes I took on a pattern with sleeves, buttonholes, and pockets. And stripes.

Bad photo of us with me in a jumpsuit.

I even made a shirt for my husband. Silky synthetic fabrics with vintage images were popular. I’m just wearing one of his flannel shirts here, but I made a few things for myself with that 40s vibe.

This was one of my favorite dresses to wear around. I made the pattern twice. The other one in a light blue calico, but I preferred the print of the brown one. In my grad school graduation photo, you can see a sliver of this dress peeking out. They ended up in my girls’ dress up box.

I found a couple of skirts still intact. Was I ever that size? And I found more fabric scraps, but now things are such a messy mess from me looking through pictures and fabric scraps that I think it is best that I stop.

I stopped sewing for myself when I had kids, and started sewing for them. The only sewing I have done the past few years are port pillows and masks. The oncology center I go to stopped taking handmade items because of Covid, so I haven’t made port pillows in over a year.

Recently I have been thinking of making a few simple dresses that would be cool and comfortable. I wonder what size pattern? I wonder when someone will clean up the mess so that there is room to sew? I wonder if it will still be imperfectly good therapy?

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday, where other bloggers are responding to the prompt photo for today – not the one from August 21st. Pay them a visit. It will be good therapy. I promise.



4 thoughts on “Austin Stories B. C. – Imperfectly Good Therapy

  1. What a great post! I was also a home sewer, so I totally appreciate the talent it took to match up those plaids at the seams. My favorite pattern was a sleeveless A-line dress — very simple with a zipper up the back. I made a few of those and wore them throughout high school. I admire some of your more complicated creations here. My most complex was a three-piece suit set — navy blue denim with fully lined jacket, straight skirt and slacks. After that, I left for college in the 1960s and soon after switched to t-shirts and jeans!

  2. This is another super post that made me laugh. I spotted those bell bottoms in you previous post and instantly recognized the era. I confess to proudly wearing some plaid bell bottoms myself. Of course they’re gone now, but the triple-hole wide belt is still in service.

    Back in June my small family was finally able to arrange a burial in Washington DC for my mom and dad. Just an hour before we were to leave to drive up there, I still hadn’t decided what to wear for the occasion. A black suit didn’t seem right any more, especially as it was going to be a hot day, Then I remembered two shirts that my mom made for me, a kind of peasant blouse with slightly puffy sleeves that she made when I was a member of a Renaissance early music group that occasionally needed to dress up in “old world” costumes. So for this special day, I chose the blue one. It felt good to wear a memory.

    Just recently I packed up dozens of her sewing patterns that she had saved for YEARS and donated them to a local thrift shop. Along with bags of small material scraps she thought too pretty to throw away. And this is already twice inherited as I recognized some fabric belonged to my grandmother who was a champion quilter. I’m hoping this stuff might find a place in some sewing crafter’s home. Now I just need to figure out how to get rid of the dozens and dozens of crouched doilies that date back 100 years!

  3. Oh yes, the triple-holed wide belts!
    I am sorry to learn of the loss of your parents. I missed my father’s funeral (far from where I live) as the pandemic was beginning to surge beyond NYC and other early hot spots. One of the terrible consequences of the pandemic is our inability to gather and mourn and remember and heal together. Wearing that shirt was a perfect way to share a memory of and with your mother.
    I have been known to pick up a few crocheted doilies at estate sales. I just love the handiwork. I have also picked up a few vintage patterns. Who knows why? I often think I will make quilts with fabrics worn by family. Maybe your mom had the same idea.

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