Share this article

print logo

Sew Simple by Vicki Farmer Ellis

Dear Readers: My dearest mother, Eunice, our teacher and inspiration, died on Dec. 11. I know many of you have followed this column through the years of her writings. As one of her fans said to me, “She didn’t just teach me to sew, she taught me what to sew.” I will miss her always, my best buddy.

My mother was born in 1917, and her life was not easy, but she lived it with verve and intensity – she certainly was a pioneer for women in business. She was 9 years old, the oldest of six, when her mother died. I can only imagine what the household must have been like. Housekeepers and aunts tried to help hold things together, but the children were split apart and rejoined several times, and soon they were on their own. Life was hard for all during the Depression years. Many of you have asked for more information on her background, so I plan to share with you a short biography that she wrote for her grandchildren. I will let her take over the column for this month and tell you in her own words.

“About Eunice Farmer,” by Eunice Farmer:

I have no memories of making doll clothes as a child; there were too many relatives who thought it was fun. I do remember my very stern grandmother making all the girls in our family spend one hour a day mending socks. This was not a very exciting invitation to sewing. My aunt was a professional dressmaker who made all my clothes from infancy on. To this day, I still marvel at her couturier workmanship. I never wore a ready-made dress or suit. The selection of beautiful fabrics and designs must have inspired my future. My formal education consisted of fine arts and fashion illustration, but economic necessities sent me to the workforce as a bookkeeper. But it was an exciting time to be young and living on my own; boardinghouses could be fun social whirls. This was how I eventually met my husband.

When my aunt moved away to California, what an awakening was in store for me. Rationing during the war years made everything difficult. The fine, custom-fitted clothing I was accustomed to was completely out of my budget; besides, to my amazement, I was a different size on top, in the middle and at the bottom. My aunt never told me these facts. What to do but learn to sew for myself? I attended every class I could find, hungry for knowledge. Then I found a tailor who offered me an apprenticeship. It was almost as if I were born sewing. It was so easy for me, and I had an insatiable desire to be a seamstress like my aunt.

(To be continued.)